Whether it’s just you and the rocky dirt path or you’re rolling deep with a crew, taking on a mountain biking trail is like hopping on one of Mother Nature’s roller coasters. Burning your legs to ascend brutal inclines to earn the thrill of a white-knuckle singletrack descent while being surrounded by the beauty of Earth’s natural wonders is exhilarating, to say the least. You can find a ton of amazing mountain biking spots in America, but it can be overwhelming to settle on the best trails to tackle so we’ve decided to compile a list of the best our country has to offer.
At the end of the day, it’s all about what type of mountain bike trail you want to ride. Do you want a smooth path with stunning views, a challenging hellish climb that will test your strength or a little bit of both? In our search for the best mountain biking trails in the U.S., we considered a variety of trails to please several preferences. Every one of our dozen picks has something astonishing to offer, whether it be level-elevating obstacles, tranquil atmospheres, or purely fun paths. These trails will demand your stamina and agility as a fee for experiences you’ll never forget. And, just like a thrilling rollercoaster, you’ll want to come back to each trail again.
A Brief Disclaimer
Although these are the ideal mountain biking trails in the U.S., only try out the trails you feel comfortable with based on your skill level. Wear the proper protective gear, especially a rugged helmet, just in the off-chance you take a hard fall. For the more difficult trails presented, make sure you build up your stamina and train smart. These trails are much more fun when your health bar is full.
Bangtail Divide Trail
At an elevation of 3,045 feet, you’ll be surrounded by epic mountain scenery as you complete the 24-mile ride. The trail connects Stone, Olson, and Brackett Creek, allowing you to preview a few beautiful spots as you ride through. You’ll pass lodgepole pines, fir trees, spruce, and wide-open wildflower meadows. The trail is best biked south to north in order to take advantage of the intense switchback climb of Stone Creek and the smooth, speedy downhill of Grassy Mountain. Beware of the switchbacks popping out of nowhere to test your reflexes.
Finger Lakes Trail
Mt. Morris, New York
Named one of the best mountain bike trails by Bike Magazine, the Finger Lakes Trail in New York is an incredible 21.3-mile singletrack path. The trail offers creek crossings, drops, a breathtaking pine forest, and incredible views of the Genesee River Gorge. The trail can be a bit tricky even for bikers who have amazing balance so avoid taking a spill by staying on point maneuvering through the terrain. You can choose to complete the entire trail or only take on a part of it, as there are several access points along River Road where the trail and road meet.
Hermosa Creek Trail
The Hermosa Creek Trail is considered to be one of the most enjoyable mountain biking paths in Colorado. The trail starts as a singletrack for the first several miles before expanding as it curves south and spills into a steep canyon followed by a river, dropping toward the town of Hermosa. Enormous, magnificent mountains and high desert border the trail, giving you plenty to see on your journey. The trail drops around 1,500 feet with a couple of longer climbs to end the trail, however, the last few miles have a wider path and mostly descend, allowing you to fly down pretty quickly. The trail typically has large muddy puddles so plan to get dirty.
La Tierra Trails
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The La Tierra Trails in New Mexico offer you 17 miles of breezy, well-marked trails and also two jump parks. Tackle the Winsor Trails by starting off with a scenic climb along a creek and enjoy the steady drop of 3,400 feet over 10 miles. If you’re looking for more of a workout to test your conditioning, take on the Big Friggin’ loop, which is a 65-mile route that endurance bicyclists from the New Mexico Endurance Series tackle every year. Santa Fe offers an abundant number of trails and 320 days of sunshine to enjoy them.
McKenzie River Trail
Although Oregon is filled with fantastic trails, almost all cyclists agree that the king of the castle is the McKenzie River Trail. Located about an hour outside of Bend in Blue River you’ll find this epic two-wheeler pathway. The McKenzie River Trail is 26 miles of some of the greenest foliage on Earth with 300-year-old trees, breathtaking lava fields, and blue cascading waterfalls on the path. Choose between the upper end for technical challenges and the lower portion for a smoother ride. If you’re up for it, take on the whole trail. Take note that there are snowy patches in the upper parts of the trail through late spring.
Osberg Ridgeline Trail
Sun Valley, Idaho
Enter Sun Valley, Idaho and you’ll get a bike town vibe and feel right at home. There are over 400 miles of singletracks, two bike parks, as well as 30 miles of paved bike trails. Yes, there are plenty of phenomenal trails in the area, but if you could only choose one to conquer the Osberg Ridgeline Trail should be the winner. The trail is a backcountry 12-mile ride along an exposed spine with phenomenal views the entire way through. You can also link the trail to Adams Gulch for a 3,000-foot descent into town. Although the Osberg Ridgeline is perched right above Sun Valley, the trail feels isolated and peaceful.
State Forest, North Carolina
In DuPont State Forest, there are about 100 miles of grizzly mountain bike trails offered to any adventurers willing to tame them. Follow the Ridgeline Trail and whip past East Coast Slickrock, peaceful waterfalls, and a fresh forest. The trail is a six-mile loop with a satisfying downhill for a grand finale where you’ll feel like you’re flying. Also, this quick singletrack trail has a few massive berms to play around on. If you’re a film fan, you might recognize the area since The Hunger Games was filmed at Dupont State Forest.
Tahoe Rim Trail
The Tahoe Rim Trail has plenty in store for bikers, including difficult climbs, dizzying heights, and speedy descents. On the other hand, you’ll be treated visually to the awe-inspiring scenery of an evergreen forest, wildflower meadows, and ridges. You’ll be able to ride on a majority of the Tahoe Rim Trail, however, you’re prohibited from riding the Desolation, Granite Chief, and Mount Rose Wilderness areas. This singletrack trail overlaps with about 50 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.
Although this trail is only 10 miles total round trip, it’s unforgettable with its blocky, red slick rock and waterslide-like entry. This is a very challenging ride, as some parts are so narrow they’re only as wide as your handlebars. However, it’s an exhilarating path that will give you stories to tell your grandkids. The descent is the most taxing part of this mountain bike trail with its waist-high step-downs and roll-offs. It feels like one little mistake could send you tumbling down for eons. Having said that, it’s one of the most rewarding rides on this list. We recommend you only give this one a shot if you’re supremely confident in your skill level.
The Kingdom Trails
East Burke, Vermont
Vermont may be small, but it’s packing 1,000 miles of trails, including smooth sailing pathways and chunky trails providing a challenge for even the most technical riders. It’s referred to by many as the best trail network in North America. Head to the Kingdom Trails center and the expert staff will map out a trail based on your bike riding level. All the trails are well marked with easy-to-follow signs, even for beginners. Hop on your bike and try out a pathway, including the lightning-fast Tap ‘n Die trail to test your reflexes and skills under the pressure of speed.
The Whole Enchilada
With a name like The Whole Enchilada, you expect a lot, and this trail gives you a hearty serving that won’t disappoint. The Whole Enchilada in Utah connects four classic Moab trails: Burro Pass, Hazard Country, Kokopelli, and Porcupine. The path starts at 11,150 feet and drops to 8,000 feet. You’ll be whizzing through an evergreen forest, Warner Lake, and oak-covered slopes so an action-camera is highly recommended to capture all the wonderful eye candy. The trail is almost all downhill, however, there are stream crossings, rock drops, and slick roots to watch out for. You can take a shuttle service or ride it as a 62-mile loop if you’re insane
Sitting just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park, you’ll get insane views while taking on this trail. Starting at 8,300 feet, this is another high altitude ride that heads downward to 2,000 feet as you spin along. Surprisingly, this trail isn’t as difficult as it sounds with a name like Thunder Mountain. It has easygoing hills you’ll be able to glide through save for the occasional rough switchbacks. What this trail has going for it is a beautiful Martian landscape vibe with enthralling topography. There are many swooping hills and valleys for plenty of chances to test your photography skills.
Powered Pedals: 8 Best Electric Mountain Bikes
After checking out the absolute best mountain bike trails in America, it’s time to think about advanced two-wheel rides. Check out our selections of the 8 best electric mountain bikes to conquer peaks.