There’s certainly no shortage of mountain biking trails across the United States, and narrowing it down to the 10 best is a daunting task. That’s why we got input from pro riders and locals alike to help create this round-up. We’re willing to bet that there will be at least a few you’re already familiar with, but probably some spots you’ve never heard of, too. So grab your Osprey pack (we recommend the Viper or Verve for a long ride), gas up the truck, grab the map and, in no particular order, we’ll dive right into some of the best mountain bike trails in the United States.
1. MILLS PEAK IN DOWNIEVILLE, CALIFORNIA
California is the birthplace of our beloved sport, and with a state that is so big, it’s nearly impossible to pick the single best trail. But if we had to pick just one, it would be Mills Peak in Downieville. The famous Downieville Classic downhill gets all the press, but Mills Peak is a hidden gem. How does dropping 3,000 feet over 8.5 miles of bermed turns and never-ending flow through fragrant pine forest sound? Mills Peak was built with bikes in mind. It’s the reason mountain bikers do what they do.
2. SOUTH BOUNDARY IN TAOS, NEW MEXICO
When you think about New Mexico, it’s likely that images of cacti and desert vistas spring to mind. Up in Taos however, the terrain is unexpectedly diverse and postcard beautiful. Lifelong local and pro endurance racer Macky Franklin has this recommendation: “South Boundary is a Taos epic. Classic high-alpine NM riding with tons of flow and a big day out on the bike. It passes through a variety of terrain from high-alpine meadows to aspen groves to rocky shale. You can do a bunch of different loops depending on whether or not you have a shuttle, how long you want to be out, how much you want to climb, etc. Really just an amazing piece of singletrack.”
3. MCKENZIE RIVER TRAIL IN BLUE RIVER, OREGON
While there is no shortage of great, must-ride trails in Oregon, pretty much everyone agrees that the crown jewel of the state is the McKenzie River Trail. A little over an hour outside of bike-crazy Bend in Blue River, you’ll want to plan time to stop for pictures on this one. Imagine a mostly downhill, 26-mile long trail through some of the lushest foliage on earth, in the shade of 300-year old trees, across lava fields, and past waterfalls dropping into shocking blue, crystal-clear lakes.
4. OSBERG RIDGELINE TRAIL IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO
Idaho’s Sun Valley is criminally underrated. Within a 20-mile radius of town, riders have access to over 400 miles of singletrack, two bike parks, lift-assisted madness on Bald Mountain, and 30 miles of paved bike paths. Just about every trail has stunning mountain views, and the whole area has a mellow, bike-town vibe. It’s pretty much heaven on earth for mountain bikers.
But don’t get bogged down by all the options: head straight to the Osberg Ridgeline trail. It’s a backcountry, 12-mile point-to-point adventure with flowy, fun riding along an exposed spine with jaw-dropping views the entire way. For a 3,000-foot descent into town, link it with Adams Gulch, and make sure to hit Forbidden Fruit, a one-mile loop that would stand alone on this list if it was longer.
5. BROKEN ARROW IN SEDONA, ARIZONA
Sedona, Arizona is known for vortexes and chakra readings, but it has exploded in the last decade to become a full-on biking destination. This stunningly beautiful desert playground proudly showcases over 230 miles of bright red singletrack, with views of towering crimson cliffs and majestic mesas that glow at sunset. Broken Arrow has to be the best way to soak it all in. It’s only 1.5 miles, so combine it with the Hog trails and Little Horse for a little bit of everything that the area has to offer—and a day out on the bike that is not soon forgotten.
“Broken arrow is one of the most scenic trails in Sedona! It is a fun mix of technical and flowy trail that connects to other fun trails. It also leads up to Chicken Point for an awesome panoramic view. From that point, you can blast back down Broken Arrow for a fun downhill or connect to a number of other great trails,” says Julie Cornelius, a mountain guide in Arizona.
6. WASATCH CREST IN PARK CITY, UTAH
Moab has long been the reigning king of mountain bike destinations, and absolutely no disrespect, but consider heading north to Park City. It’s America’s only International Mountain Bicycling Association gold-level ride center, with over 400 miles of interconnected singletrack crafted by professional, full-time trail builders. There are free shuttle buses, and the town has a free dirt jump area, two bike parks (one of them free), and bike-repair stations everywhere.
The ride to do? Wasatch Crest. Shuttle it from Guardsman Pass and get treated to 12 miles of mostly downhill awesomeness with 360-degree views almost the entire time. Multiple bail-out points or loop options allow for a choose-your-own-adventure type of day.
7. 401 IN CRESTED BUTTE, COLORADO
Colorado has so much riding that the web is full of ‘Top 10’ lists just for the state alone. But if you were forced to choose only one ride, it has to be Crested Butte’s 401. This ride is quintessential Colorado: the entire trail is between 9,000-11,000 feet, with sweeping views of snow-capped mountains, lush meadows of wildflowers in every color, and bucolic groves of quaking aspens. It drops 2,200 feet in nine miles, with just enough climbing to remind people that they’re at altitude.
8. THE KINGDOM TRAILS IN EAST BURKE, VERMONT
Compared to most of the other states on this list, Vermont isn’t that big. But, it’s home to 1,000 miles of trails ranging from buff ribbons of dirt to chunky rock gardens that test even the best technical riders. The Kingdom Trails have been called the best trail network in North America, and for good reason. The area is a spider web of 150+ miles of trails, and it’s all epically good. Be sure to hit Tap ‘n Die, a super fast and fun downhill.
9. TORRY RIDGE IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY, VIRGINIA
Torry Ridge in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains is a bit of a local secret, and certainly less famous than some of the other rides on this list. But make no mistake, it is not to be missed. It’s not for everyone, starting with an unrelenting, five-mile climb up to Torry Ridge. After that, it’s seven miles of serious descending along a scenic spine with a few difficult rock gardens thrown in there to keep the hardcore humble. Do it in the fall for the most dazzling display of foliage that Mother Nature has to offer.
Virginia-grown racer Dave Tevendale had this to say about it: “Torry Ridge is no doubt my favorite trail in Virginia. Top to bottom, it’s technical, strenuous, and dangerous; but it’s also 100% rideable. From Bald Mountain to Torry Furnace can be ridden by the elitist of the elite without putting a foot down, in under 45 minutes. That’s six of the most consistently arduous, rewarding miles of rocky ridgeline single track that you’ll ever ride. But it takes a lot of skill, a healthy dose of bravado, and all of the suspension you own.”
10. RIDGELINE TRAIL IN DUPONT STATE FOREST, NORTH CAROLINA
Corn Mill Shoals Trail connects many of the great rides in DuPont State Forest. Image via Brad Allen.
North Carolina needs to be on any serious mountain biker’s list. Locals brag that there are 1,000 miles of trails in the western part of the state alone. To get a taste of everything the area has to offer, point your bars towards DuPont State Forest. It offers nearly 100 miles of prime riding through lush forests, past cascading waterfalls and even East Coast slickrock. The network is a series of almost endless loops, and it’s all great. A highlight? The Ridgeline Trail, a fast and flowy 1.5-mile descent worth including in any visitor’s ride plans.
We know that favorite trails can be a highly debated subject, but hopefully this list gives you a couple new ideas. Agree or disagree, these trails are absolutely worth putting dirt under your tires and checking them out for yourself.