Great Divide Trail around Banff

Discussion in 'Canada' started by version6.1, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. version6.1

    version6.1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Vermont
    I am looking for information on the Great Divide Trail in Canada. I'm a Vstrom 650 rider from North Carolina, Blue Ridge Mountain area. My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to ride to British Columbia this July and he has seen an article in an adventure magazine about the Great Divide Trail that runs from Canada to Mexico. We are interested in trying some of it out when we're up in the Banff area. Can someone tell me what kind of road conditions I should expect in mid July (and tire recommendations).

    Thanks...
    #1
  2. r_crabb

    r_crabb Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    286
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    The most commonly done Great Divide trail is laid out between the Canadian border and the Mexican border. I don't know if anyone has continued the routing into Canada. The route was laid out by some folks on mountainbikes; search on adventure cycling in google, and you should be able to find their website. I think it's something close to adv-cycling.com, but don't quote me. You can get the paperback book from them, as well as high-quality maps laying out the route, and GPS waypoints.

    There have been several threads regarding the Continental Divide trail, and there's one group doing it from South to North this July. Their thread is under Upcoming Rides.

    I've done the Divide trail twice on my F650GS Dakar. First time, had Saharas on, second time Karoos. The Karoos were more fun. There's quite a bit of gravel involved. Tourances would be OK if it was dry the whole time and you went really slow.
    #2
  3. version6.1

    version6.1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Vermont
    I was thinking the Karoo's look like a good choice. Can't get the Enduro's for my bike. Although my boyfriend is taking his Dakar and currently has the Sahara's, he was wondering if he should keep the same tire on for the whole trip or use Tourances up and then switch to Karoo's or TKC 80's when we go more off-road. Thanks for the info...

    Does anyone suggest a good map of Alberta and British Columbia that shows fire roads. Also looking for suggestions of great off-highway rides in both of those provinces.
    #3
  4. r_crabb

    r_crabb Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    286
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Kinda depends on how you're going to get there. If you're hitting the slab until you get to the Canadian border (what is it, about 2500 miles from where you are?), your Karoos will be junk by the time you hit any off-road. Saharas won't be in fantastic shape, either.

    Last year, I put new Tourances on before I started my trip, and shipped a new set of Karoos to the BMW rally in Spokane, WA. Rode the Tourances out to Spokane, changed tires at the rally, shipped the Tourances to Santa Fe, NM. Spokane's only about 250 miles from Eureka, MT, and my intent was to ride the knobbies on the highway for a few miles, then do the Divide ride, then remount at Santa Fe. Didn't quite work out that way (an even longer story), but my Karoos would have been toast by then.

    I guess it's a long way of saying that if you're prepared to change tires on the road, you may have a little more flexibility in your tire choice. One way to do it is to ship tires ahead of you, either to friendly dealers, or hotels, or whatever. I've also heard of people shipping to post offices, but haven't ever done it.

    Anyway, good luck.
    #4
  5. tango

    tango Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2003
    Oddometer:
    78
    Location:
    Alberta,Canada
    as just stated the Divide Trail runs from the Canadian to Mexican border and is not so named in Canada,however,The Alberta Trunk Road would be the logical extension of that ride.In the lower half of the province its largely paved but above highway 1 it's a gravel road wellworth the ride.Ithink it will be labelled as highway 22.Once you get here most bookstores carry mapbooks of the fireroads of Alberta and BC which are very detailed.I'll try to find an online map for you and get back.
    #5
  6. billy_037

    billy_037 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    231
    Location:
    Chinook country
    You can go on the trunk road almost to Jasper (Columbia Ice fields).
    In Coleman, at the Husky gas station, turn north (trunk road or 40). Eventually you end up in Kananaskis Country). Follow you way to Cochrane, and go further north. The part North of Cochrane is the nicest piece of gravel in Southern Alberta, as far as I know.
    If you want to, I can get you the map.
    Because the major part of the Trunk Road is private (logging industry), you will not find this road on most maps.
    #6
  7. version6.1

    version6.1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Vermont
    Just checked out the roads you were explaining on my Atlas. Great information.... Lots of camping, too. Let me know how I can get ahold of one of those maps, and is it a problem to ride on the logging roads (like are there a lot of logging trucks ready to run you down....and do they get on you for riding on private property?)

    Thanks again...
    #7
  8. billy_037

    billy_037 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    231
    Location:
    Chinook country
    First of all, even that the Trunk Road is a private road, it is open to public users. There is some logging traffic, but when I see them coming, I stop and let them pass.

    The easiest way to check the maps out. Go to Mapquest. Look for the city of Coleman (West of Pincher Creek in the Crownest Pass). At 27 Ave, you turn North. After 5 km, it becomes Trunk Road (40). Just a very small part of the trunk road is displayed on Mapquest. Just move north on the map, and eventually, west of Longview, it will show up again. Follow the 40 west (paved part in Kananaskis country), direction Banff. Follow the 40, over Highway nr.1 to Highway 1A. Turn East, direction of Cochrane, approx. 20 km west of Cochrane, the 40 shows up again (only very small part of it). If you move north on the map, you will see road 734. This road (part of the 40) will lead you north to Nordegg, and if you want go further North to Hinton (little town east of Jasper).

    Need more help, just let me know.
    #8
  9. version6.1

    version6.1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Vermont
    Thanks a lot for the detailed information... Much appreciated. I've got it printed out and ready to go.... come on July...
    #9
  10. dastick

    dastick dastick

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    I have done the route mentioned between Coleman and Nordegg and the roads are very well maintained and I think could be done with any tire choice. I have seen many a V-strom on these roads. If you want to do a nice side trip into Banff, take the Smith Dorian Spray Lakes road (Butifull area), off of the paved part of highway 40 before you reach Kananakis, that leads to Canmore (town 25km east of Banff), then take the number one into Banff. You can then connect onto the 1a in Canmore and take that to 734 (40) and continue North. There are backroad mapbooks avail. for this whole area. I will try and find out if they have a website for you to order.
    #10
  11. richc

    richc Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    Oddometer:
    7,607
    Location:
    Baja, Motorcycle Heaven
    These folks have the Great Divide maps and GPS waypoints - they've got the section from Banf to Rooseville, MT mapped out. They're a good group - I'm a member and get steep discounts on their maps.
    #11
  12. dastick

    dastick dastick

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    #12
  13. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Budding Adv. Traveler

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    434
    Location:
    Peterborough, ON, CA
    I vote for the back roads map book or MapArt has some detailed books. Use them both.
    #13
  14. version6.1

    version6.1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Vermont
    Thanks for these great sites. Just looked at the Backroads site - that's just what we were hoping to find.... We really appreciate your local knowlege with these detailed route suggestions!

    Janet
    #14
  15. Stand Up

    Stand Up Ride non-painted roads

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    361
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    I've got all the Backroad map books. If you don't want to buy one, I could PDF you a couple of pages. The great divide trial runs through a Provincial Park and a National Park, so you won't be able to dirt it into Banff. I've done alot of the gravel roads on the east side of the Rockies (that are open...there's still snow/mud up there), so let me know how "dirty" you want to ride - single track? creek crossings? etc and I'll try to recommend something. There's a million people in Calgary, so I'd just pick up tires here or in Missoula, or Great Falls.

    Stand Up
    #15
  16. HighwayChile

    HighwayChile greetings from Wa state

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Oddometer:
    5,008
    Location:
    Bow, WA USA
    go to http://www.dualsportbc.com/forums/
    this is geared more toward hard dirt not street but has some great rides if you get more west

    the bc government has soem awesome dirt road maps in pdf for free, i cant remember shit, i;'ll try to find the address, anyone else know it? alberta probably have the same
    #16
  17. Owlseye

    Owlseye Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    236
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Forgive me if I'm repeating a bit of information here, but if you cross the border in the Waterton/Glacier National Parks area and choose to take paved roads north, you might want to check out highway 22; beautiful area through the "whaleback" eastern slopes of the Rockies. At Longview (check out the pubs there Ian Tyson and friends occasionally play impromto) check out hwy 532, a 100 mile road to Kananaskis, over several passes and valleys.
    For information purposes, the Great Divide Trail is a dis-continuous series of hiking trails through Waterton, Kananaskis, Peter Lougheed, Banff , Jasper Parks, and continues into the Willmore Wilderness Park in Alberta and terminates in Kakwa Provincial Park in BC. It's 700 miles of hiking, and some bushwhacking. It was outlined in a "Backpacker" magasine article (May 2001). We have hiked alot of it (ecept the most southerly and northerly areas) and it would be primo dirt biking, except for the illegal aspect. Many of the areas don't allow mountain bikes let alone motorized vehicles. And yet horses are allowed... (another topic for another day?)
    Incidently for those who choose to endure the monotony of the prairies and head north to Alaska through Edmonton, The Reynolds Museum in Wetaskiwin has an excellent motorcycle display/exhibit this summer. Wetaskiwin is just off Hwy 2, about 100 km south of Edmonton. An excellent museum about all sorts of mechanized vehicles-- farm machinery airplanes cars trucks etc.
    See you on the way-- I leave June 11 to Inuvik.
    #17
  18. version6.1

    version6.1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Vermont
    We were just going over our tire choice, again... I'm limited on what will fit on my Vstrom (same size as 1150gs). We're liking the idea of taking hwy 22 to Nordegg, then trying the Alberta Trunk Road north (as far as we can handle it - is it just packed gravel or pretty rutted out and jarring?) then over and down 93 to Kananaskis from hwy1. Right now we want to focus on the area around Jasper N.P., Banff N.P., and Rocky Mt. Forest Res. Glad you mentioned the pub to check out. We were hoping to find some along the way for some friendly conversation and darts (and good beer).

    About tires. I'm looking at the Metzler Karoo's - hoping it would get me through the mud and terrain with more confidence than these street trailwings that I'll be changing out around Calgary. Any input on these tires or another recommendation? I don't want to miss any good looking dirt/rocky roads along the way, just because of my tires. But still want to be able to get on the pavement and make some miles - just in case we decide to make a dash for Alaska. I hate to miss anything...

    The dual sport BC site is great... Thank You...

    Janet
    #18
  19. tango

    tango Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2003
    Oddometer:
    78
    Location:
    Alberta,Canada
    i've done the section between Nordegg and Calgary numerous times and I usualy use trailwings on the GSA .Anywhere you can't get by with TW's you don't want to take your Strom.If its not the road its a bush trail fit only for quads or full on dirtbikes.If it rains or snows (unlikely but not impossble)the road is beaucoup slippery and you'll be crawling.The only other big bike I have ever met was a Tenere.My advice is keep the wings on for the mileage and if you stand on the pegs everything will be just fine.Bring your flyrod.
    #19
  20. tango

    tango Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2003
    Oddometer:
    78
    Location:
    Alberta,Canada
    i've done the section between Nordegg and Calgary numerous times and I usualy use trailwings on the GSA .Anywhere you can't get by with TW's you don't want to take your Strom.If its not the road its a bush trail fit only for quads or full on dirtbikes.If it rains or snows (unlikely but not impossble)the road is beaucoup slippery and you'll be crawling.The only other big bike I have ever met was a Tenere.My advice is keep the wings on for the mileage and if you stand on the pegs everything will be just fine.Bring your flyrod.
    #20