Alberta Rockies 700 Classic

The Alberta Rockies 700 Classic was the original bikepacking challenge in the region. With over 700km of mixed gravel and pavement with some huge climbs and descents, this route is the perfect way to explore the Rocky Mountain range.

As a point-to-point route, it will take a bit more planning and coordination, but is guaranteed to put a smile on your face as you explore the foothills of the Rockies, what may feel like a stone’s throw from the Prairies.

  • Paralleling the Rocky Mountains for 700km
  • Crossing of twelve rivers, Oldman, Highwood, Bow, Red Deer, Clearwater, Ram, North Ram, North Saskatchewan, Blackstone, Brazeau, Pembina and McLeod
  • Long climbs and long descents

Resupply:  Resupply is extremely important on this route.  The first reliable resupply is at km 228.  The section between km 290 and 550 has very little services.

  • Main resupply locations are Canmore and Nodegg.
  • There are some other resupply locations along the route that have limited hours.

(Keep from existing)

  • Prepare accordingly: When going off the grid, ensure that you tell your loved ones where you are going and how long you plan to be gone. It may also be prudent to have some form of satellite communication device.
  • Wildlife: Most sections of this route are very remote.  Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to see wildlife including bears.  

The Alberta Rockies 700 Classic is a mix of gravel forest service roads and paved secondary highways, a hardtail 29er mountain bike or gravel bike will be fine for this route.

Mountain Bike: For mountain bikes, you can use whatever tires you have at hand. Something on the 29+ spectrum might be a little big for this route and will slow you down somewhat. A full-suspension bike would be overkill and is not recommended.

Gravel Bike: A cyclocross bike is not recommended for this route. That does not mean it is impossible to complete it on 38C tires, it just means that it would be more difficult and harder on the body. If using a gravel bike with 700 wheels, you’ll want to have 40C tires or larger, with something in the 45C – 50C range being ideal. If using a gravel bike, you want to make sure you have a suitable gearing range to tackle the tough climbs.

Setup: Run tubeless if possible. You can use bikepacking style bags or a hybrid setup with small panniers. A lighter set-up allows of easier riding, especially in the hillier and more technical sections. You are also going to want to have a wide range of gear options for climbing the bigger and tougher hills.

Hotels: The route passes through several towns along the way so that you can find a nice place for the night if you want to chance to rest, charge, and shower.

Camping: The map shows all the main camping locations along the route including details of if they are first come first served vs reservable.

Wild Camping: There are plenty of great random camping locations along the route as well.  Be cautious of not random camping in Provincial and National Park sections.  Be aware that random camping near official campgrounds is also not allowed in certain areas.

Fresh water: There are plenty of river and creek crossings along the route to keep you hydrated.  Although many of these water sources appear to be clean and clear it is always advisable to filter or treat your water.

Restaurants/Cafes/Bars: The options for restaurants along the route are fairly limited and only the main resupply locations in Coleman/Blairmore, Fernie and Sparwood will have reliable restaurant options.

Average Physical Difficulty – 6

  • 1-2 – Relatively level riding
  • 3-4 – Regular rolling terrain with sustained climbing
  • 5-6 – Rugged terrain with frequent climbs, some of which may be steep and unrelenting.
  • 7-8 – Very rugged terrain with abundant climbing, some of which is very steep and unrideable.
  • 9-10 – Numerous very steep, climbs requiring bike-pushing and/or carrying.

Average Technical Difficulty – 2

  • 1-2 – Smooth riding surface with few obstacles (e.g., graded dirt roads, rail trails); suitable for novice mountain bikers
  • 3-4 – Track has occasional obstacles and steep sections (e.g., maintained forest roads, mellow singletrack); suitable for beginner mountain bikers.
  • 5-6 – Continuous sections of track may be rocky, loose, and steep; (e.g., 4×4 roads or singletrack in rugged/rocky terrain) suitable for intermediate mountain bikers.
  • 7-8 – Narrow trail with regular obstacles, sustained steep grades, suitable for intermediate to advanced mountain bikers.
  • 9-10 – Very challenging riding with frequent large obstacles, exposure, very steep grades; suitable for advanced mountain bikers.
This route was created by:

Jonathan Hayward.

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