What are the best under-the-radar mountain biking destinations in the U.S.?
What are the best American mountain biking destinations that don’t begin with “M” and end in “oab?”
If I had a dime for every time I saw the phrase “mountain-bike Mecca” in front of Moab in a magazine, I’d have enough money to buy the town. It’s not that the riding in Moab doesn’t live up to the hype, but there are other worthy spots around the country that deserve some attention. Start with these:
Hundreds of miles of slickrock trails? Check. The Colorado River nearby? Absolutely. Paint the rocks just a little redder and squint a little when you’re in Fruita, and you’d think you’re in you-know-where. The town interrupts the Book Cliffs Range on Colorado’s Western Slope, outside of Grand Junction. Singletrack trails like Chutes and Ladders, and Zippity Doo Da within the 18 Road Trails system are American classics. You can also catch the 142-mile Kokopelli Trail, which terminates at That Utah Mountain Biking Town that Shall Remain Nameless.
Bike shop: Over the Edge Sports
The brilliant red sandstone buttes of the Sonoran Desert, New Age vortexes, coffee houses, and about 200 miles of miles of singletrack and jeep roads—Sedona’s got practically everything a self-respecting mountain biker could want. The roller-coastering Bell Rock Loops are where most out-of-towners get their bike legs, before fanning out into the more remote stretches of dry wilderness.
Bike shop: Absolute Bikes
Fat tire elitists will fart in the general direction of any Midwestern mountain biking destination, but that just means they’re missing out on epic areas like the 300 miles of thigh-busting ups, and stomach-tossing downs maintained by the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association, or CAMBA, among a million acres of forest in northern Wisconsin. The short-but-steep Mount Telemark is an absolute must-do.
Bike shop: New Moon Ski and Bike
Pisgah National Forest
Losing yourself in the hundreds of miles of mountain biking trails in the vast, million-acre Pisgah, which surrounds Asheville, North Carolina, is the fun part. Finding your way back to the car before dark is the challenge. There are three separate areas in the Pisgah, all of them world-class. Located 15 minutes from downtown, Bent Creek is the most popular, and gets crowded on weekends. Davidson Creek, also popular, is steep, rocky, and fringed by waterfalls. Mills River, about a half-hour to the southwest is bigger, tougher, more technical and quieter. The legendary Tsali Recreation area, located on the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is also nearby.
Bike shop: Youngblood Bicycles