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In Search of the Next Moab

Go ride a bike in one of these five up-and-coming singletrack meccas

New mountain biking destinations such as Gooseberry Mesa, near Hurricane, Utah are popping up across the country. (Megan Michelson)

Go ride a bike in one of these five up-and-coming singletrack meccas

You’ve been there, ridden that. Moab, Crested Butte, Fruita, and Sun Valley all deliver stellar mountain biking, but you want to experience someplace new. Here are five hot spots around the United States that are priming themselves to be the next great place for mountain bikers, with new purpose-built singletrack, at-your-service bike shops, and strong communities of trail advocates.

Bentonville, Arkansas

The International Mountain Bicycling Association held its world summit in Bentonville in 2016. Why? Because this northwest Arkansas town is rapidly becoming a mountain biker’s haven. Catch a trailhead from the main town square to reach more than 100 miles of high-quality singletrack twisting through town, about three-quarters of which were built in the past ten years. Warm up on trails like Slaughter Pen, which starts at an art museum, join a Tuesday-night group ride with Phat Tire Bike Shop, or head to the neighboring town of Rogers for a bike park where you can ride through an old railroad car.

Graeagle, California

The Sierra foothills town of Downieville is well known for its legendary downhill mountain bike scene, but the neighboring town of Graeagle (pronounced gray-eagle) is steadily becoming a go-to spot for cross-country riding. There’s the Mills Peak Trail, a 3,100-foot descent (ride or catch a shuttle to the top) that links to over 100 miles of singletrack in the Lakes Basin trail system. A new Mills Peak bypass trail that will avoid fire roads is slated to be completed this summer. Stop into Howling Dogs Bike Shop for spare tubes, bike rentals, and trail beta.

Sedona, Arizona

The mountain biking in Sedona has been good for years and relatively under the radar until now. Word is out about Sedona’s more than 230 miles of varied and well-built singletrack, including redrock trails like Chuckwagon, a rolling loop through junipers, and the steep, exposed slickrock of the Hangover Trail. Look for new technical trails in the Hogs area and a new in-town bike park, open to the public, which will soon add a dirt jump park and a skills zone. Go in winter or spring to avoid the summer heat.

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Mountain bikers go to Cheyenne for one reason: Curt Gowdy State Park, located between the towns of Cheyenne and Laramie. After exploring this 37-mile trail network, first built for mountain bikers in 2006, you can camp on the shores of a reservoir and take a hot shower on-site. Rock on Wheels is the go-to bike shop in Cheyenne.

St. George, Utah

You could spend days riding through this southern Utah gem’s 200 miles of trails and still leave most of it undiscovered. Expect everything from highly technical slickrock (see Zen Trail) to buff, rolling dirt (see JEM Trail). Camp at a rustic site on Gooseberry Mesa, outside the little town of Hurricane, and you’ll have miles of legendary slickrock right from your tent. On a down day from riding, you can go for a hike in nearby Zion National Park.

Filed To: Mountain Biking / Biking / Travel / Arkansas / Utah / Moab / Arizona / Crested Butte / California / Sedona
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.


(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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