Good skiers make good mountain bikers. And, of course, vice-versa. So, it’s no wonder that North America’s best ski towns morph into the best mountain biking towns each summer.
Mountain biking isn’t only good for your legs and core, but also for your heart and lungs, which will help you on those top-to-bottom burners when ski season rolls around again. Mountain biking is also great for your balance, coordination and reaction time. Aside from the exercise, it’s a fun way to explore the mountains in the summer. Need some inspiration? Here is a listing of some of the best singletrack in the USA.
Now, before you hop the bike, here’s a fun fact so you can bet on a beer after the dust clears: The birthplace of mountain biking and the bike itself is generally conceded to be Mt. Timalpais in Marin County, CA. Need a shorthand version of mountain biking for texting? Most riders use “mtb.”
1. Rim Trail
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
The Tahoe Rim Trail passes through two states (California and Nevada), six counties, one state park, three National Forests and three wilderness areas with riding itineraries that span lake and waterfall rides to wildflower and peak rides. Of the 165 miles of singletrack that encircle the largest alpine lake in North America, more than 80 miles are open to mountain bikes. The views are vast, the terrain varied and it’s one of those rides that can be enjoyed by bikers of all abilities. Many local bike shops provide shuttles for the point-to-point rides within the Rim Trail.
2. Phil’s Trail
Mt. Bachelor, Oregon
Phil’s Trail, a network of intersecting trails, offers hundreds of miles of singletrack, only minutes from downtown Bend. Phil’s is all about flow—the descents don’t require constant breaking and the gradual climbs allow for fun cornering, even while going uphill. The opportunities for exploration are endless, as trails span out west toward Mt. Bachelor. From the trailhead, the first five miles or so are gradual and suitable for beginners. Beyond that, things get more interesting. The maze of trails can be challenging to navigate, but most of the intersections are marked with numbers and names that are on most local mountain bike maps.
3. Fisher Creek
Sun Valley, Idaho
The Ketchum-Hailey-Sun Valley area boasts more than 400 miles of singletrack, much of it some of the smoothest, buffest riding in the country. The area’s most famous mountain bike ride is the Fisher Creek loop, which rips one of the world’s great cross-country descents, Williams Creek. This 18-mile trail has no shortage of spectacular views, but the singletrack that winds through the burn area (from a 2005 fire) is some of the most unique. Try to time it with wildflower season.
While most mountain bikers come to this area to bike at the popular Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, no trip to the Eastern Sierra would be complete without riding Lower Rock Creek Trail. The upper section of the trail is moderately difficult, while the lower section requires advanced skills. As the canyon walls get deeper, the rock gardens get more frequent as the trail descends nearly 2,000 feet (and climbs only 50 feet). There’s even a stream crossing at the end to cool off in. If you shuttle, arrange to be picked up at the bottom near Paradise Lodge. Or, you can ride the 8-mile, 2,000-foot climb on the rarely used Old Hwy 395.
5. Flying Dog
Park City, Utah
Flying Dog is a scenic, fairly non-technical IMBA-designated Epic Ride. It’s perfect for groups with intermediate mountain bikers, as well as experts, who can enjoy cruising down the fast, buffed out dirt and over bridges that cross ponds and streams. The shortest route is a 10-mile ride with a 1,500 vertical feet elevation change, so be prepared. Options include a 10-mile easier ride, a 16-mile moderate ride and a 23-mile ride with 3,000 feet of climbing.
Hermosa Creek is considered by many to be one of Durango’s, and even one of Colorado’s, top rides. The 20-mile straight shot begins from a meadow at the top of Durango Mountain Resort and follows Hermosa Creek down 3,000 feet (with some climbs mixed in) to the small town of Hermosa. It’s almost always ridden as a shuttle, though hardcore locals and pros have been known to ride it from town as a 50-mile loop.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Coming to Crested Butte with a mountain bike and not riding 401 is like skiing Squaw Valley and not riding KT-22. For decades, 401 has lured riders who come with visions of downhill switchbacks through head-high wildflowers. The middle-chain dirt road warm-up deposits riders into the alpine, where the rolling terrain gives way to a ridge with spectacular views. Finish up with the unmatched natural banked slalom to town (through the wildflowers, if you’re lucky).
Whistler, British Columbia
The most famous run in the Whistler Bike Park, A-Line means 1,200 vertical feet of berms and tables. It’s fast, wide and smooth with jumps from beginning to end that will get your heart racing like no other mountain bike trail in North America. Obviously, it’s not for beginners, but there are plenty of easier trails in the park suitable for everyone from first-day riders to intermediates working on their drops. New riders should head to B-Line, which is wide, smooth and has no mandatory gap jumps or drop-offs. The fun Crank It Up is also the unofficial testing grounds for A-Line. Once you get comfortable with this trail, you can literally crank it up by moving to A-Line.
Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia
In the mountains of West Virginia, Snowshoe offers some of the East’s best lift-served trails. The resort even hosts a popular downhill race series. A favorite of East Coast riders, Powerline trail twists through the deciduous on firm, bermy singletrack, crossing roots and a handful of jumps. It’s got enough going on to entertain even the seasoned pro. The Snowshoe Bike Park offers plenty of lessons to get the whole gang up to speed.
10. Kimmer’s Trail
The Stowe Mountain Bike Club (SMBC) opened Kimmer’s as a flowing 8-mile trail with berms, bridges and rollers. It was built for all skill levels to enjoy, while bonus features up the ante for advanced riders. It’s best ridden as an out and back or as a link between the Trapps Trails and the town of Stowe. Join the SMBC for one of their weekly rides to learn more about the network of trails around Stowe.
Moab has been dubbed by many as the Mountain Bike Capital of the U.S. You’ll be riding from an alpine pass above treeline. And then it’s the canyon of sandstone that makes up the base of the Colorado River. There’s single track and even some paved trail to give your insides a break. It’s been dubbed The Whole Enchilada and it is famous because everything Moab has to offer will explode your senses in this one ride. While you’re at it in Moab, Captain Ahab and Slickrock are no slouches.
Idaho and Wyoming
So where in the world of mountain biking is “Wydaho?” Yes, you guessed right. It includes resorts in Wyoming like Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee and Victor and Driggs, Idaho. OK, let’s be more specific: “Wydaho” isocated between Curt Gowdy and Sun Valley and straddles the Teton mountain range. It essentially combines the best of the mountain biking terrain in both states. “Must ride” trails are at Grand Targhee Resort, Mill, Cache and Game Creeks and the Teton Pass downhill trails
13. Cockscomb Loop
Oh, yeah, the Sedona “vibe.” The Aerie Trail combined with the Cockscomb Loop is a favorite of Sedona, AZ mountain bikers because it’s a 6.1 mile intermediate experiences with a good terrain combo of hills, descents and lots to look at. The scenery is the thing in this town known for the spiritual wellnesses of the five vortexes and those rock formations are unlike anywhere on the planet. Other trails to try are Hiline, Hangover and the Hogs.