Did You Know?The roots of modifying a bicycle for off-road use dates back to the late nineteenth century.
The U.S. has a large number of popular and challenging mountain bike trails. Many of these are old trails that were formed as paths for people on foot and on horseback, but some have been formed specifically for pedaling, not walking.
Mountain biking vacations are common among those passionate about their bikes, and it is precisely for these enthusiastic and adventurous practitioners that we have this list. Here are the top American mountain biking destinations.
All these destinations have accommodation options either right in the city or nearby, but the major cities close to the destinations may have better accommodation across a wider price range. Budget options such as Couchsurfing and Airbnb are much more likely to be available in the larger cities than the biking destinations themselves. Most of these destinations get full on weekends, so either plan your vacations during the week, or at least start early.
Nearest Cities: Grand Junction, CO: 113 mi; Salt Lake City, UT: 234 mi
Moab may be a cliched first entry on this list, but it is not the top choice of most mountain bikers and biking magazines without a sound reason. It is situated at the heart of Utah's backcountry, with a crisscrossing mesh of 4X4 and mountain biking trails lying around it. Most trails around Moab, such as the Amasa Back Trail and the Rockstacker Trail, are not for the fainthearted and the inexperienced, and should only be attempted by proficient practitioners. What has made Moab a virtual bicycling Mecca is the excellent infrastructure provided for bikers and a host of affordable accommodation options.
Nearest Cities: Phoenix, AZ: 116 mi; Flagstaff, AZ: 30 mi
Sedona, which rose to fame as a hotbed of spirituality, was always a place of stunning geology, incredible rock structures, and amazing nature trails―all of which combines to make it one of the most popular mountain biking destinations in America. It is a very versatile biking hub, with the relatively easy Bell Rock Path and Big Park Loop complemented by the thrilling Hangover and Highline trails.
Nearest Cities: Grand Junction, CO: 13 mi
Situated in the golden region around the American Rockies, Fruita is one of the very best mountain biking spots in the whole country. Its 18 road trails, such as the Zippity Doo Dah and the Kessel Run, are perfect for amateurs or intermediate riders, and the Kokopelli Trails around it are ideal for experts.
Nearest Cities: Albuquerque, NM: 62 mi
One of the more culturally enriching cities in the U.S., Santa Fe is also home to several fantastic mountain bike trails. It contains local trails that form an easy, low-intensity network, while trails such as Dale Ball and Windsor are a bit more aligned for the more adventurous crowd's needs. The trails in Galisteo Preserve are an inviting proposition, as is the desert riding on La Tierra Torture Race Course. If all-out exhaustion is your aim, head straight for the Atalaya Mountain. If you are feeling a bit below the weather, Santa Fe always has something for you to do. More information on the city's biking trails and other activities can be found on the city's official tourism page.
Nearest Cities: Salt Lake City, UT: 32 mi
Park City is, thus far, the only city named as a Gold Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. This certification not only commends its trails, but also includes the bicycle-friendly and touristy infrastructure. Tours such as Mid-Mountain and the Wasatch Crest, among the best in America, are quite close. The city also has wide cycle tracks on the city roads, and bicycle parks for recreational cycling. It is also home to three ski resorts. More information about Park City's trails can be found at Mountaintrails.
Nearest Cities: Carson City, NV: 28 mi
One of the premier vacation destinations in the U.S., Lake Tahoe is home to several avenues of recreation, mountain biking being one of the nascent but popular ones. The region around South Lake Tahoe, especially, is home to several excellent trails. These consist of beginner-level trails, such as the Coral Loops and Angora Lakes, as well as difficult, advanced trails such as the Armstrong Pass. Advanced trails in this region are known to be extremely difficult, but rewarding when persevered with.
Nearest Cities (from Morgan Hill): San Jose, CA: 22 mi; San Francisco, CA: 70 mi
This is one of the most physically demanding, yet at the same time enriching biking courses in the U.S. Starting in valleys, you climb up severely tough inclines such as the Anza and Jackson trails, to be greeted by rolling hills at the top. And while cranking out each pedal on the incline, just remember this to keep the smile on your face intact―you are going to come back down equally awesome downhill routes, such as the Dexter trail. Just make sure to pack a lot of fluids on this trip; you will definitely need those.
These are some of the best mountain biking destinations in America. In a country filled with such awesome routes, it is surprising why more people don't take up this physically and psychologically enriching hobby. If you are a hardcore bicyclist, you may already have been to these destinations, though these hotspots never get 'stale'. If you are a noob, this is your checklist to accomplish! Get pedaling!