With monstrous mountains and numerous off-road trails to tackle, the West has always been one of the best places to hop on a bike. Whether you’re a mountain biker who enjoys the adrenaline rush that comes from flying through the brush or just someone who enjoys taking in the scenery on wheels, here are the best places to go.
Bend is one of the premier outdoor meccas in the country thanks to endless spans of open land available for sports enthusiasts. It’s home to 300 miles of easily accessed trails, much of which is singletrack perfect for mountain bikers who want to get lost for days. Whoops Trail is a true gem nestled inside the Phil’s Trail network just outside of town and you’re only 90 minutes away from Oregon’s most famous riding path, the McKenzie River Trail.
It’s difficult to find an area more beautiful to ride in. Bend is surrounded by plentiful alpine meadows, waterfalls, boulders and lakes, that also contain many technical tracks. It’s a mountain biker’s heaven and a good deal of riders choose to call it home.
Cross-country trails, perfect year-round weather, and two-hour loops leaving downtown in all directions makes Durango one of the best mountain biking areas in the U.S. It’s given birth to some of the most elite cyclists in the sport’s history and its 26-mile Hermosa Creek Trail is widely considered one of, if not the best, trails in the country.
Locals are meticulous when it comes to cleaning and preserving the trails surrounding the town and work hard to establish new paths to tackle on a regular basis. Established riders are also hard at work here creating a growing youth cycling culture and have created some of the best development programs in the country in order to spread the love for mountain biking. It’s a great place for mountain bikers to raise a family of junior riders.
The Downieville Downhill, a 17-mile downhill ride with a 5,000-foot vertical drop made up of 85 percent singletrack, is on every mountain biker’s bucket list. The area around this once bustling gold mining town contains 500 miles of fierce terrain that ranges from beginner-friendly paths to rugged, rocky inclines that throw even the most experienced cyclists off their wheels. The infamous Third Divide has seen speeds of up to 40 mph and is one of the fastest trails in the world.
The setting amongst the beautiful Sierra Nevadas certainly doesn’t hurt this place’s appeal, either. It’s surrounded by picturesque lakes, mountain vistas and epic waterfalls, all of which you’ll see on many of the trails.
Park City, Utah
Park City was the first place to ever attain gold-level status through the International Mountain Bicycling Association and continues to prove why it’s considered the cream of the crop when it comes to great singletrack trails. Stunning vistas combined with over 450 trails looping around the surrounding hills and valleys come together to create one of the foremost biking cultures in the country.
Enthusiasts here are committed to keeping the city bike-friendly by ensuring $1 million in funds go to maintaining the existing trails while adding more each year. Aside from the great loops around town, there are also endless arrays of activities for outdoors enthusiasts including rock climbing and skiing. The Spiro Trail is a must-try for anyone who enjoys putting foot to pedal.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley is somewhat of a hidden gem; it’s one of the best mountain biking destinations in the country but still not as widely known as the spots above so it hasn’t reached the level of saturation that puts some riders off. The climbing switchbacks are all rideable while the Sawtooth and White Cloud mountains provide some pretty epic views as you navigate the 400 miles of singletrack around the area. Cycling down Bald Mountain is one of the most beautiful and challenging rides around.
The towns of Hailey and Ketchum are great landing points for mountain bikers with numerous bike shops and even closed loop tracks for the kids. The weather here can be a little fickle, with snow and mud a problem in the winter and spring, but most of the year you can find some pretty great days to tackle the trails.