Photo: Tal Roberts – Visit Sun Valley
One of the most beautiful things about the sport of mountain biking is the dedication of clusters of mountain bikers spread around the planet who are constantly building newer and better mountain bike trails for travel-thirsty riders to explore and enjoy. Over the years we’ve drawn on our massive mountain bike trail database, the expertise of our widespread editorial team, survey data from our millions of readers (you), and rumors that our staff has collected from all corners of the nation, in order to assemble lists of the Top 10 Mountain Bike Destinations in North America and the Top 10 Mountain Bike Cities in North America. In the intervening three years since we published those first top 10 lists, the landscape of mountain biking in the United States has changed. Many top-level destinations have continued to build new and better trails, expanding their trail networks even more. Some destinations that didn’t make the cut before have built out astronomical amounts of new singletrack, subsequently building their national profile. And still other destinations have built very few or absolutely no new trails, and have fallen by the wayside as a result.
This latest list of the best mountain bike destinations factors in the changes that have swept the nation in the past three years. Also, you’ll note that we’ve narrowed the focus of this list to just the USA. So without further ado, here are the current top 10 best mountain bike destinations in the USA:
Slickrock trail. Photo: Erik Proano
While Moab is one of the oldest mountain bike destinations on the planet, they refuse to rest on their laurels with the decades-old trails that originally put them on the map. Instead, Moab continues to build more and more bike-legal singletrack, at a rate of about 30 miles per year. And the new trails, quite honestly, are way better than the original classics!
While Moab’s growth in recent years has been incredible, the same iconic factors from 30 years ago are the primary ones that make it memorable today: world-famous slickrock riding, incredible desert views, a great town with excellent bike shops and shuttles, and miles upon miles of trails! It’s no wonder that we awarded Moab the distinctive honor of Mountain Bike Capital of the United States!
Must-ride trails in Moab include The Whole Enchilada, Captain Ahab, and the iconic Slickrock.
Trail 401. Photo: Magua X
Crested Butte is famous as one of the two birthplaces of the sport of mountain biking, but if you compare the current mountain bike trail access in Crested Butte, Colorado to that of Marin County, California… well, there just isn’t a comparison. Crested Butte boasts hundreds of miles of the most picturesque high-alpine trails anywhere, all surrounding a quaint western mountain town with great food and beer.
While Crested Butte hasn’t expanded their trail system as much as other destinations on this list over the past three years, their trail network continues to grow, and regardless of how slow the growth may be, the town currently claims to have over 750 miles of trails. It’d take decades for most destinations to even come close to that number!
Must-ride trails include Trail 401, Doctor Park, and Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman’s.
Location: Flume Trail, Nevada From: “Off the Beaten Path” Rider: Anthony Cupaiuolo (and Emmie) Photographer: David Braun
Lake Tahoe is an expansive region that includes the towns of South Lake Tahoe, CA; Incline Village, NV; and Tahoe City, CA; which dot the shores of the largest alpine lake in North America, and one of the clearest lakes in the world. This entire region is renowned for its mountain biking and is stitched together into a cohesive destination by the Tahoe Rim Trail.
While Tahoe has long been known as a mountain bike destination, ongoing trail developments, primarily around South Lake Tahoe, have really pushed the region over the top into a truly world-class riding destination. There’s more trail riding than you can shake a stick at, and even if downhilling is your thang, Northstar Resort has you covered.
The restaurants and bike shops in Tahoe never seem to end, and you can find at least six breweries in the region.
Must-ride trails include the Tahoe Rim Trail, Flume Trail, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Wasatch Crest Trail. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Luke F.
One of Park City’s many claims to fame is being the first-ever IMBA Gold-Level Ride Center. While other gold-level ride centers have joined the ranks over the years, Park City will always be the first. This gold-level status is thanks in part to an absolutely massive network of trails that’s all accessible from downtown. Most of these trails are classic trail riding or enduro mountain biking territory, but you can get a lift bump in several different places with a ticket. If it’s true downhill that you desire, the Canyons and Deer Valley resorts have gotcha covered!
On top of the epic network that has existed for quite sometime, Park City continues to expand its network both around town, and with private resorts like Deer Valley also working diligently to build more and more singletrack.
Must-ride trails include the Wasatch Crest Trail, Mid-Mountain Trail, and Park City Mountain Resort / Old Town Area.
Cache Creek to Game Creek Trail. Photo: justin70
The Wydaho region encompasses Jackson, Wyoming; Jackson Hole Resort, Wyoming; Victor, Idaho; Driggs, Idaho; and Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming. Jackson Hole and the surrounding Teton mountains have long been known as a hotbed for some of the best downhill skiing–especially in the backcountry–in the nation, if not the world. The mountains are massive and steep, and the snow is deep.
Historically, summer tourism in the region has revolved around Jackson’s proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, but in just the last handful of years mountain biking has blown up on the Wydaho scene. While there were always decent big-mountain rides to be had, trail development has taken off closer to the town of Jackson. Historically-illegal trails on Teton Pass were adopted into the trail system, and new trails were built. Jackson Hole has also improved its bike park. But most notably, Grand Targhee Resort has developed an incredible array of downhill mountain bike trails, cross country trails, winter fat biking trails–basically, any sort of two-wheeled singletrack route you can imagine. Add all of this epic singletrack to the incredible views of the Tetons, the abundance of majestic wildlife, and the already-existing restaurant and lodging infrastructure, and not including Wydaho on this list in 2016 would be a massive oversight.
Must-ride trails include Grand Targhee Resort, Mill Creek, Cache Creek to Game Creek, and the Teton Pass Downhill Trails.
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