The Nation’s Newest Great Mountain Biking Trails

These systems are worthy of your attention. Get your wheels spinning.

Sep 3, 2015
Outside Magazine
The Nation’s Newest Great Mountain Biking Trails

On the list as a silver-level ride center: Cuyuna, Minnesota, home to more than 25 miles of trails and 15 lakes.    Photo: Courtesy of IMBA

Your mountain biking bucket list just got a little longer. Last month, the International Mountain Bicycling Association released the newest additions to the Model Trails program, its ranking of the top mountain biking hot spots. For more than a decade, IMBA has recognized the best trails and trails systems in the world—from quad-burning climbs to backcountry singletrack—but for 2015, they actually sent their trail building crew to test every single route, meaning this class is stacked.

“These are basically areas that we want to hold-up as example for what mountain biking looks like when it’s done right,” says Mark Eller, the communications director at IMBA.
The 2015 list includes Epics—trails that are upwards of 85 percent single-track, at least 20-miles long and mostly backcountry—and Ride Centers—continuous areas that feature a high-volume of quality mountain biking in a close proximity.
In the Epics category, expect everything from a multi-day overland route through the Highlands of Iceland to a rowdy downhill ride in Arkansas’ Ouachita Mountains. The Ride Centers are similarly varied, with classic destinations like Park City, Utah, with more than 450 miles of trail accessible from town, as well as up-and-comers like Rotorua, New Zealand, the newest addition to the Crankworx circuit.

Eller said he’s especially excited about some of the less-well known destinations, like Cuyuna, Minnesota, where more than 25-miles of single-track winds through a landscape scarred by 70 years of iron ore mining.
“The community wanted to reinvent themselves as a hub for sustainable recreation and went after the Ride Center status pretty purposefully,” he says. “Now, they’ve established themselves as some of the best riding in the Midwest.”
Information on the Model Trails is available at

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