Mountain biking is one of the most exhilarating outdoor activities out there. Not only does it get your adrenaline pumping, but it also comes with a lot of health benefits that you won’t get from simply doing 30 minutes of indoor cardio on the recumbent bike.
The only downside of becoming a mountain biking fanatic is that you can’t do this activity everywhere. Aside from a quality bike that can stand up to rough terrain, there’s something very important that you need… mountains. Or at the very least, some epic hills and valleys.
If you’re lucky enough to live in or near a mountain range, good for you. If not, you’ll just have to settle for taking trips to these popular mountain biking destinations and towns across America.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte is a mountain biking mecca. There are over 700 miles of legendary single-track trails, and some of them have been dubbed the best in the world. This is why riders come from all over the globe to get a taste of Butte’s mountain biking culture.
Quantity of trails isn’t the only thing that makes Crested Butte such an exciting destination, it’s also about variety. Some trails pass through colorful wildflower forests, other through rugged rocky backcountry. You’ll get to experience a little bit of everything when it comes to scenery.
At first glance, Harrisonburg doesn’t look like much, but this small VA town actually has a lot going for it. It’s located in Shenandoah Valley with around 500 miles of diverse trails weaving through the area. There are some great choices for both novice and advanced bikers, so all are welcome in Harrisonburg.
Most of the trails weave in and out of George Washington National Forest, but there are also some great options in Hillandale Park (especially for beginners). The town itself is extremely bike-friendly, so just take your bike directly to one of Harrisonburg’s breweries or restaurants.
Moab, Utah is quite possible the best mountain biking destination known to man. This is why you can find tour companies like 57hours offering a variety of different mountain biking packages to choose from – there are even some kid-friendly tours for the entire family.
So what makes Moab so great? Well, first off, the red-rock landscape makes for a truly breathtaking adventure. It’s highly recommended that you bring a camera, or even better, wear a GoPro strapped to your helmet.
Another great thing about Moab is that it’s home to a few famous trails (we’re talkin’ trails that bring people from all over the world). This includes Porcupine Rim, Whole Enchilada, and Slickrock. There are also a ton of lesser-known trails that won’t have as many crowds and are therefore just as good.
Park City, Utah
There are about 40 “ride centers” in the world, which are destinations that have been described as having something for every rider. Park City, Utah is not only one of them, but it’s the first one to receive a gold-level status.
There are around 400 miles of singletrack trails here, and they’re all linked in a way that makes them user-friendly and exciting. The town itself is another reason to visit, home to some really cool restaurants, bars, and a lively nightlife scene.
The trails in Bend are easily accessible and linked together in a very cohesive way. This Oregon town is located in the high desert region of the Cascade Mountains with trails and is home to trails that are rideable almost all year. There are around 300 miles of trails near town and more like 700 miles within a 1.5-hour drive.
In the past decade, the population of Bend has boomed, mainly attracting young (and active) professionals who like to spend their weekends exploring the trails on their bikes. Because of the influx of young professionals, the downtown scene is hip and trendy with cool foodie spots and plenty of craft beer to go around.
A report in Bike Magazine claimed that Bentonville trails are going up faster than you can ride them so that in itself should tell you something about this town. The trail network here is elaborate yet highly accessible, and the state of Arkansas has tied with Colorado as the #1 choice for most epic IMBA trails in the country.
The bike boom in Bentonville really shows in the downtown area. There are a lot of high-end bike shops, but best of all, these are flanked by good coffee shops, restaurants, food trucks, and local watering holes like the Bike Rack Brewing Company.
Sun Valley, Idaho
The Midwest doesn’t get a lot of recognition from mountain bikers since most people set their sights out West, but it should. Idaho’s Sun Valley remains under the radar, but the true mountain bikers claim this to be the place for some of the best downhill trails in the country.
Sun Valley has everything from smooth and fast trails to rough and rocky terrain. The general rule of thumb is that the farther you get outside of town, the more challenging the trails get. If you’re newer to the sport, it’s a good idea to stay within a 10-mile radius of the town.
One of the all-time favorites here is the Osberg Ridgeline Trail, which spans along a ridgeline that reaches 9000 feet. It was sadly pretty badly scorched in 2013’s Beaver Creek fire, but it’s made a full recovery.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Mexico is a place filled with history, art, culture, and most importantly, IMBA recognized mountain biking trails. Specifically in Santa Fe, there’s a unique desert valley trail system that has the sun shining down on them around 325 days per year.
If you’re starting from downtown, you’ll want to check out the La Tierra Trails, which start from the downtown area and make their way 17 miles through fast and flowy terrain.
These 8 towns are just a taste of what the continental US can offer to mountain bikers. Whether you’re interested in biking out West or closer to home in the Midwest, you’ll find something to satisfy your need for a mountain biking adventure.