European Bikepacking Routes

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 28Luxembourg, GR5/E2 trail

Two years ago I wondered about bikepacking routes in Europe.  After eight months of riding, researching, and blogging from Amsterdam to Sevastapol to Athens, this resource is the culmination of our efforts.  Europe is a great place to explore by bike, off-pavement, and self-supported.  Eat great food, visit fascinating cultural and historical places, and learn new languages, in between bike rides.  In Europe, there are rides and routes for every interest and skill level.  Use the search function or the archives on this page to learn more about our rides in Europe through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Czech, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Greece.

This is an incomplete list of European bikepacking routes.  These routes are either mapped, signed, and/or available as GPS tracks.  Many routes originate as self-supported off-pavement endurance races, multi-day stage races, or challenging routes for solo ITT.  Some are government tourism projects.  Others are the creation of avid riders or cycling organizations to promote the riding in their home country.  Lastly, some routes suggested here are repurposed walking routes, which may be done in sections or as a whole.  One route is currently planned, but is incomplete.  Additional rouetplanning resources include online retailers of maps and guides, or digital trail-finder resources.  The basic concept of this project is to awaken the world to the breadth of bikepacking possibilities in Europe, despite the lack of a single superstar route such as the Great Divide Route, Colorado Trail, or the Arizona Trail.  Bikepacking is a global phenomena, born of the passion to ride somewhere, off the beaten path, self-supported.

Use these links as a springboard to do your own research and riding.  Some routes may be easy with significant paved sections, non-technical terrain, and uncomplicated logistics.  Others are extremely challenging, with a large component of hike-a-bike.

Any assistance to improve the list is welcomed, including relevant comments about any of the listed routes and new route suggestions with links.  When possible the routes are linked to the most informative or relevant webpage, which most often originates from the route organizer or creator.  In a few cases, routes are listed without an official webpage or an official GPS route, such as The Red Trail in Poland, but the route is known to exist on the ground, is signed, and is indicated on Compass brand maps (and others).  To keep this listing simple I have chosen not to indicate the distance, difficulty, or source of route guidance (map, GPS, signs).  These features may come in the future, and if anyone wishes to host this list in further detail, contact me directly.  Start dreaming and get riding!

Please use the comment form below and check back in the future as this page develops.  Special assistance is needed to include routes from many countries, including: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary (The Countrywide Blue Tour?), Serbia, Kosovo, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belorus, Russia, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.  Israel is not in Europe, but is included due to a growing bikepacking scene.  Surely, there are many more routes in the countries listed.  Tell your friends.  Share it online.

Spain: TransAndalusTranspirinaicaTransiberia, Camino de Santiago, Camino del Norte, Transcantábrica, Via de la Plata; GR 48, Transnevada.   Many Spanish route maps and guidebooks available from labiciteca.com.

France: Traversée du Massif Vosgien, Traversée du Jura (maps), Traversée du Massif Central, GR5/E2 trail; VTTrack.fr for interactive MTB trail map of France

Belgium: GR5/E2 walking trail (general info); also, some images and info about the section in the Ardennes Mountains

Germany: GST: Grenzsteintrophy

UK: Bearbones 200, Cairngorms Loop, England-Wales-England, Highland Trail 550, Lakeland 200, Pennine Bridleway, Ridgeway Double, South Downs Double, Coast to Coast, Trans Cambrian, Welsh Coast to Coast, West Highland Way Double, Scotland Coast to CoastDevon Coast to Coast (Westcountry Way).  All routes and links thanks to selfsupportedUK.net.

Italy: Italy Coast to CoastTuscany TrailSan Remo-Monte CarloMyLand Non-Stop (Sardinia), Alto Adige-Südtirol Extreme Bike TrailDolomiti TrailItalia TransmountainsThe Fat River (fatbike route), Transardinia.  Most routes courtesy of bikepacking.it.

Switzerland: National TrailsAlpine Bike #1Panorama Bike #2Jura Bike #3; Alpencross; National website for Mountainbiking in Switzerland

Poland: The Red Trail (Sudecki and Beskidzka, basic info only).  Compass brand maps show all hiking trails and cycling routes, including the long-distance red trails.  Note, the red trail is not a single trail across Poland, but a series of trails with lesser trails marked with painted blazes of other colors.  There is a route most of the way across the country E-W, mostly along red trails.

Czech/Slovakia: 1000 Miles Adventure

Montenegro: Top Biking Trail 3: Eastern Enchantment

Greece: Bike Odyssey

Israel: Holyland Bikepacking Challenge, Israel National Bike Trail (in progress), Israel National Trail (hiking, open to bikes?)

Other resources: Footpaths provide the basis for many routes in Europe, most of which have developed over the past century.  Generally, these routes allow bicycles, with local exclusions, but they do not exclusively travel singletrack trails across wild lands and will pass towns, farmland, and paved sections.  The European Rambler’s Association (ERA) aims to complete a long-distance international trail system of footpaths throughout Europe, with numbered routes from E1-E12 currently in various phases of completion.  Most routes are assembled from pre-existing local and national trails. Each country may provide more detailed resources in the native tongue via dedicated websites or guides about national trail systems, such as the GR5 listed in France and Belgium, above.  Most often, printed regional trail maps can be found at local touristic centers, and commercial maps and guides may also be available.  Detailed roadmaps are also suitable for broad-scale navigation, and often show more detail than typical road maps in the USA.

Also worth mentioning is the EuroVelo network of cycling routes, fashioned much like the ERA, with international cross-continental routes numbered 1-12 in various stages of completion.  EuroVelo routes are generally ridable on a trekking bike, hybrid, or rigid mountain bike, and in some places are not recommended for a tire less than about 40mm.  Check out the EuroVelo6for the popular route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea.

If you wish to submit a route, please provide a link to the best source(s) of information and a brief description of your experience on that route, if any.  To qualify a multi-day off-pavement route for this listing, consider that it must be documented in detail, like the routes listed on Pedaling Nowhere-Routes or Bikepacking.net.

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 72

Poland, The Red Trail

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 48

Czech, Sumava National Park

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 102

Ukraine, Polonina Borzhava

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 37

France, Traversée du Massif Vosgien, Château Bernstein

Nicholas Carman1 800

Ukraine

Nicholas Carman1 1184

Serbia

Nicholas carman1 588

Slovakia, 1000 Miles Adventure

Nicholas Carman1 1715

Greece, Bike Odyssey

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 33

France, TMV

Nicholas Carman1 2107

Greece, Bike Odyssey

Wpblog001 1263

Luxembourg, GR5/E2 trail

Wpblog001 1192

Belgium, GR5/E2 trail

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 3

Guidebooks for routes in Spain.

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 74

Poland, The Red Trail: one of many PTTK resources for hikers and cyclists available in the mountains, often serving hot food and cold beer.

Nicholas carman1 467

Maps in a Slovakian supermarket.

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 25Belgium, GR5/E2 trailNicholas Carman1 1789Albania

Two stops in Amsterdam

De Vakantiefietser

WPBlog001 657

De Vakantiefietser has an extensive supply of global cycletouring equipment and information, including: maps and guidebooks, camping gear, lighting, luggage, and complete bicycles from Santos, Idworx and VSF fahrradmanufaktur.

WPBlog001 650

WPBlog001 651

WPBlog001 654

WPBlog001 652

WPBlog001 653

WPBlog001 655

WPBlog001 656

The shop is located at: Westerstraat 2161015 MS, Amsterdam, NL

Reisboekhandel Pied à Terre

WPBlog001 631

Reisboekhandel Pied à Terre stocks an extensive collection of maps and travel guidebooks, for local and global adventures.  This is an especially good place to research European routes and adventures.

WPBlog001 658

WPBlog001 661

WPBlog001 662

WPBlog001 663

WPBlog001 668

The bookshop is located at: Overtoom 135-137, Amsterdam, NL

Fly by Cycle

WPBlog001 195

Above: 13,588ft Cottonwood Peak at sunrise.

A $150 plane ticket from Albuquerque to Denver is a relative bargain, considering that I purchased it last minute and that it allowed me to keep my schedule at work and to be in Denver in the morning for NAHBS.  Still, I was determined to make the most of the expense and a little reconnaissance from the air is always inspiring.  Incidentally, I was almost always within sight of something I recognized on the ground and something I have ridden by bike, including some local routes in the Jemez Mountains, the Great Divide Route, and the Colorado Trail.

Flying above the Jemez Mountains and the Valles Caldera near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Cochiti Canyon is at the bottom of the frame.  About a month ago, I stole away for a multi-day trip out of town on the Pugsley.  Riding into the night, I awoke above Cochiti on FR 289.  I had previously ridden this road with friends.

WPBlog001 202

On that same 5-day trek with Cass, Joe and Lael, we also linked singletrack leaving from the Pajarito Ski Area, encircling Los Alamos, and descending Guaje Ridge.

WPBlog001 173

Nearby, the 31 Mile Road (FR 144) climbs over 5,000 ft from Espanola to connect with the Great Divide Route above Abiqui and Polvadera Mesa.  The road is seen as the prominent white squiggle in the bottom right quarter of the frame.  Jeremy and I left out of Santa Fe for a few days of riding in the mountains, and soaking in hot springs.

WPBlog001 186

Zoom.  Within proximity of our campsite for the night, before cresting the ridge to connect with the Divide.

WPBlog001 190

This blank canvas is the southern end of the snow-covered San Luis Valley.  This fall, Lael and I rode some pavement south from Del Norte, CO to meet Joe and Cass in Santa Fe.  We rode this section in the dark, and camped in a super secret spot in Antonito, CO.

WPBlog001 191

And a bit further north, Monte Vista, CO, I believe.

WPBlog001 192

Here, the Rio Grande cuts across the San Luis Valley above 7000ft between Del Norte and Alamosa.  It is easy to see here why the river runs dry along the Mexican border– irrigation.

WPBlog001 193

To the right, the northern peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range, south of Salida, CO.  Cottonwood Peak is sunlit at the bottom, and featured at the top of the page.

WPBlog001 196

WPBlog001 197

Descending towards Denver and over the Front Range, this is the start of the Colorado Trail at Waterton Canyon.

WPBlog001 198

Chatfield Reservoir– geometric picnic and camping facilities are the work of the US Army Corps of engineers, most likely.  Lael and I got lost in this maze of roads and trails on our ride to the trailhead of the Colorado Trail.

WPBlog001 199

Denver.  The city swallows almost everything, except for the natural curves of this river.

WPBlog001 201

Arriving in Denver, I reassembled the Hooligan and rode to NAHBS.

WPBlog001 203

Goodbye old Missoula

20110905-081630.jpg

Home to more cycling advocacy and non-profit groups than most major cities, Missoula’s future is in good hands (Thanks Bob). A decade from now, Missoula will make old news of Portland and Minneapolis. While the future lingers on the eastern horizon, there are signs of old Missoula at every turn.

Willis Alan Ramsey is the originator of the phrase “Goodbye Old Missoula”– the title of a song on his only album.

20110905-081704.jpg

20110905-081809.jpg