Here’s your chance to sample our heralded Great Divide Mountain Bike Route fully supported and load free! We’ll travel from the lively resort town of Whitefish, located near Glacier National Park, to the southern end of the spectacular Swan Range, one of Montana’s less-visited geologic gems. Not far away rests Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the West.
Riding mostly on abandoned logging roads and a bit of single-track trail, we’ll experience the high country of one of the world’s great wild-land complexes. Along the way, we’ll encounter a variety of flora and fauna — the sharp-eyed might even spot wild huckleberries ripe for the picking, or the occasional bear on a distant hillside. We’ll layover for a day in Seeley Lake, where you might rent a canoe and paddle the gentle Clearwater Canoe Trail. Back on the bikes, we’ll skirt the boundaries of the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wilderness areas and crest the Continental Divide before dropping into Lincoln, our ultimate destination.
|Start Date:||Jul 12, 2014||End Date:||Jul 18, 2014|
|Start Location:||Whitefish, MT||End Location:||Whitefish, MT|
|Total Days:||7||Riding Days:||6|
|Average Daily Mileage:||36.0||Surface:||Dirt|
|Riders:||50||Airport:||Glacier Park Intl (FCA)|
|Tour Leader:||Tony Neaves||Caterer:||Riversong Gourmet (Paige)|
|Meals:||Catered meals||Accommodations:||Camping, Motel Options|
|Physical Difficulty:||Intermediate+||Level of Support:||Fully Supported|
Whitefish. Mid-afternoon we’ll meet up with the tour leaders and fellow group members for our first map meeting, our first dinner together, and our first night of camping under the big skies of Montana. If time permits before the tour begins, or after it’s over, when you’ll be in even better shape, you may want to tackle the glorious Going-to-the-Sun Road in nearby Glacier National Park, an iconic American ride. Also nearby: Whitefish Mountain Resort, a popular resort destination and home to some super fun mountain-bike trails.
Whitefish to Bigfork, 44 miles. Today we’ll ease into things along a route that wends through the most civilized countryside we’ll visit during our weeklong ride. The network of rural valley byways links the resort town of Whitefish with the small artistic community of Bigfork, nestled at the mouth of the Swan River on the northeastern shores of massive Flathead Lake. Most of the ride is paved and relatively flat; however, there are a few gravel sections. Our overnight camping will be hosted by Big Fork Elementary School.
Bigfork to Condon, 62 miles. Today we leave the agrarian countryside behind and ascend what the Great Divide is known for: mountains! Riding from Bigfork to Condon, most of the day will be spent on Forest Service dirt roads, with plenty of climbing and descending. The first climb, at six miles, is the longest, but it is followed by an unforgettable downhill. Our path follows a series of rolling, primitive dirt roads squeezed between the base of the stunning Mission Mountains and State Highway 83. We’ll enjoy some fantastic views of the Swan Range to the east before reaching our overnight camping destination.
Condon to Seeley Lake, 44 miles. Today’s adventure starts out with seven miles of pavement; after that, it’s all dirt roads with a short section of single-track thrown in for good measure. About halfway into the ride, there’s the option of stashing your bike in the woods and hiking the half-mile to hidden Clearwater Lake, a sparkling gem that’s perfect for a bracing dip. From the day’s high point, get ready for a memorable downhill along Morrell Creek, followed by some rolling terrain into lively Seeley Lake where overnight camping is at the Seeley Lake Motor Lodge.
Layover day in Seeley Lake. This small Montana town tucked into the banks of sparkling Seeley Lake is a perfect place for golfing, and canoeing on the Clearwater River and/or Seeley Lake, hanging out on the beach, walking around town, riding the snow-free paths of the Seeley Creek Nordic Trails, or hiking the Morrell Falls National Historic Trail. Oh, and did we mention the outstanding ice cream scooped up at the ever-popular Stage Station? We’ll camp for a second night at the Seeley Lake Motor Lodge.
Seeley Lake to Lincoln, 67 miles. Today’s ride takes us along rolling Forest Service roads and includes a lunch stop along the Blackfoot River near the tiny hamlet of Ovando. You’ll skirt Monture Creek, originally named Seaman Creek by William Clark of the Lewis & Clark expedition, after his Newfoundland dog, Seaman. After cresting scenic Huckleberry Pass, we’ll enjoy a great downhill and a nice cruise into the town of Lincoln, named for the president by gold seekers who rushed into the area during the 1860s. Overnight camping will be at the Lincoln School.
Lincoln to the Continental Divide and back, 35 miles. Today’s ride will take us up to the Continental Divide via Poorman Creek at 6,376-foot Stemple Pass. After enjoying the incredible views and the accomplishment of the climb, we’ll complete a clockwise loop and descend back to Lincoln along the South Fork of Poorman Creek before rejoining the main Poorman Creek Road. Our Whitefish-bound shuttle will depart at 2 p.m. from Lincoln, arriving at our point of origin at approximately 6 p.m. Take our word for it: This 250-mile sampler of the world’s longest off-pavement cycling route will leave you craving more — and, since you’ll have bagged only about 10 percent of it, there’s lots more to be ridden!
"I enjoyed the terrain and scenery - just spectacular!!!!"
2013 Tour Participant
About Arlen Hall - Sierra Sampler tour leader: Rarely have I encountered a person with the people skills, business skills, organizational ability and desire to make others happy that Arlen possessed
2011 Southern Tier Participant
"I took this trip with my 73-year-old father and we both enjoyed it immensely...he was given an award for being one of the two oldest riders on the tour. It made him feel very good."
2008 Tour Participant
"The climbs on this tour were very challenging, but worth the effort - to get to the next beautiful town & lodging!"
2013 Tour Participant