Great Divide Trail 2012 :: Montana Section

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is a stunning collection of gravel roads, singletrack trails, and paved highways that traverses from Banff in Alberta Canada to the border crossing at Antelope Wells in New Mexico.  Each Summer Quest will complete a section of it van supported. 

This trip started in 2012 and completed a section of Montana.  There is a hiatus for 2013 as the trip leader, Brett Simpson, will be attempting a race on the entire section.  It will return in 2014 and visit Wyoming.


The costs for this trip are primarily the flight and the cost to Quest, which quite frankly is about as cheap as you're going to get for a trip like this. With a 12 passenger van as a support vehicle, you couldn't do any better.

Gear List



July 28th (arrive) to August  5th (Depart).

Here is a general outline for a moderately strong rider with average bike skills.  The biggest challenges are distance, climbing and sequential days of riding .  No technical riding skills are required.  ~250 miles of riding.

Saturday, July 28/Day 1 – arrive Missoula Int. Airport (MSO);  take shuttle to hotel (TBD); ; get supplies; bike prep; if you arrive early you can get in a warm-up ride; group meeting.

Sunday/Day 2  -  45+ miles;  (van) drive 1 hr to Seeley Lake, a very scenic recreation area in the Lolo National Forest – home to the largest nesting common loon population in continental U.S.;  unload bikes;  ride Seeley Lake to town of Ovando (lunch?) – this area is close to where they filmed ‘A River Runs Through It’; ride  to Coopers Lake and the NFS Big Nelson Campground.  This campground, on the shoreline of Cooper’s Lake near Ovando, Montana, is a semi-remote, developed campground which offers shady rest and a beautiful view of the lake and adjacent mountains. Vault toilets, no potable water.

Monday/Day 3  -  ~56 miles;  ride from Coopers Lake to the Canyon Creek area.  A big climb at the start of the day; pass through town of Lincoln (lunch?) – 1,900′ elevation gain;  then ride into the Helena NF (Ted the Unabomber had his isolated lodging near here) and up to Stemple Pass, continental divide crossing #1 (~6,800′ asl) – 2.5 mi steep uphill, 3,000′ elev. gain.  Ride down and down to Grady Ranches campground – remote and rugged, no toilets and no potable water.

Tuesday/Day 4   -  45-50 miles;  Still in the Helena NF there will be two more continental divide crossings today, and an ‘alternate’ route will be taken to avoid Helena and riding on major highways.  Camp at Moose Creek Campground – luxurious – toilets and potable water!

Wednesday/Day 5  -  ~50 miles;  Ride through the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF and camp before reaching the town of Butte.

Thursday/Day 6  -  ~50 miles;  Three continental divide crossings today in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF.  Camp (or more comfortable lodging?) near the town of Divide, Montana.

Friday/Day 7  Many options for today.  Ride a full or half day and then pack the bikes and drive to Missoula  (2 hrs).  Or pack up first thing in the morning and explore natural areas along the way to Missoula.  Or, if desired, drive to Missoula right away and then enjoy some great single-track riding in the Missoula area.  Good food options abound.  Lodging with shower and pool.

Saturday, August 4/Day 8  –  Ride the great singletrack trails around Missoula and depart Sunday.

Sunday, August 5/Day 9  -  Departure day.

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."    — Robert A. Heinlein

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