Riding the Top 10 MTB Trails in the World, Part 3: Runners Up

If there’s anything we here on Singletracks.com are passionate about, it’s mountain bike trails. We ride trails, we map trails, we categorize trails, we talk about trails, we write about trails… yeah, we really love trails!

Recently, I spent some time reflecting on my experiences riding the “top 10 MTB trails in the world”: Part 1, Part 2. As you can tell from reading those posts, I personally thought some of the trails deserved to be on the list, namely Trail 401, Monarch Crest, the Colorado Trail, and 18 Road. But others? Not so much.

So, based on my personal experience (and my personal experience alone), here are a few trails I’ve ridden that I think would make excellent candidates for a top 10 list… at least, a “Top 10 Trails in the United States” list.

The Whole Enchilada, Moab, Utah

Sure, technically The Whole Enchilada isn’t one trail: it’s a series of trails strung together into one massive 29-mile shuttle route with 7,000 feet of descending. However, as I mentioned in Part 1, I think The Whole Enchilada should definitely replace Porcupine Rim on the top 10 list because, for one thing, the entire Porcupine Rim trail is included in the Whole Enchilada route. Add on a lot more quality singletrack and thousands more feet of descending, and The Whole Enchilada route is going to be in my top 3 trails of all time for a long, long time to come. For more information, be sure to read my ride report from this summer.

The Downieville Downhill, Downieville, California

17 miles and 5,000 feet of vertical drop, this is one classic shuttle that you can’t miss! For more information, be sure to read my destination feature from this summer.

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

One of the primary reasons Pisgah isn’t on the top 10 list is because it’s so hard to quantify. Is Pisgah a trail system? Is it a bunch of different trails in the same area? Is it a destination? And how do you organize it in the database?

We don’t have answers to all of those questions yet, but one thing I do know: Pisgah is one of the best places in the nation that I have ridden a mountain bike, hands down. With technical classics such as Black Mountain, Laurel Mountain, and others, there is probably more mountain biking in Pisgah National Forest than you can do in a month of hard riding!

Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman’s, Crested Butte, Colorado

If I had to choose just one trail from Crested Butte to be on the top 10 list, this would be it. While 401 does have truly epic views, the scenery along this loop isn’t too shabby either!

What puts this route over the top is the singletrack. The 401 route is only about 40-45% singletrack, but this loop, on the other hand, is close to 75% singletrack. The combination of trails makes for an extremely varied ride, too. Some sections of singletrack are wide-open and smooth, others are steep and technical, and the never-ending downhill switchbacks of Deadman’s are guaranteed to give you some serious arm pump!

Arizona Trail, Arizona

I stumbled onto a section of the Arizona trail on a ride in Flagstaff this summer and I thought I had died and gone to singletrack heaven. This trail is absolutely fantastic cross country singletrack! And it’s huge, too: the AZT runs for over 800 miles from Mexico to Utah. That’s almost 300 miles longer than the Colorado trail!

Pinhoti Trail, Georgia

Running over 100 miles from the upper reaches of North Georgia to the Alabama border, the Pinhoti trail has a vast variety of different types of bike-legal singletrack along its length ranging from crazy rocky to smooth and flowy. If any trail in Georgia has a shot at being on the top 10 list, this is it.

Your Turn: What other trails do you think should be on the top 10 list?

Related posts:

  1. Riding the Top 10 MTB Trails in the World, Part 1
  2. Riding the Top 10 MTB Trails in the World, Part 2
  3. The Most Technical Mountain Bike Trails in the World
  4. Riding the “World’s Greatest” Mountain Bike Trail
  5. Top 100 MTB Trails in the World

This entry was posted in MTB Trails and tagged , , , , , , by Greg Heil. Bookmark the permalink.

About Greg Heil

My name is Greg Heil, and I am the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com. I've been mountain biking seriously since 2005, and I love to travel and ride new trails. My travels have taken me across the United States multiple times. To date (November 2013), I have ridden hundreds of different trails in 18 different states, and am adding more singletrack to my trail resume every year! I enjoy all types of mountain biking, from ultra endurance cross country all the way up to chair lift-accessed downhill runs.

16 thoughts on “Riding the Top 10 MTB Trails in the World, Part 3: Runners Up

  1. Great picks. One common theme seems to be trail length: nothing under 30 miles or so (and many OVER 100 miles). I’m not sure if that’s cheating or if long trails are actually better than short trails. :)

    • Haha yeah, maybe it is kinda cheating :)

      Downieville IS only 17 miles… But it’s easily the shortest trail on this list, and you can connect it to hundreds of miles of other singletrack in the area….

  2. I agree completely that The Whole Enchilada should replace The Porcupine Rim as a top 10 trail. On its own, Porc is worthy, so that really speaks highly of the Enchilada!

    The Downieville Downhill is also definitely not second tier.

    Here’s 5 I’ve ridden not currently included in the top 10 that deserve consideration:
    Gooseberry Mesa, Hurricane, UT
    Wasatch Crest, Salt Lake City, UT
    Templeton/Baldwin, Sedona, AZ
    Phil’s World, Cortez, CO
    Hartman Rocks, Gunnison, CO

    And another 5 on my bucket list that I think, from what I’ve read/seen, might have a good chance:
    Seven Summits, Rossland, BC
    Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, South Lake Tahoe, CA
    Fisher/Williams Creek, Stanley, ID
    Curly Lake Highline, Whitehall, MT
    South Boundary Trail, Taos, NM

      • Beautiful country in Rossland…great skiing too.

        Had a couple boys from Rossland riding w/ us here in Salmon, ID last year.

        That aside, I have ridden in the west for 30 years and only 1 trail from your pt1,2,3 matches my top 10.

        There are more nuggets out there! Keep searching.

      • Monarch…401 is sweet too.

        Porcupine has changed alot since I first rode it…and not for the better. 18 Road too. Both still fun but the huge increase in tire traffic sure has changed the nature of the trails.

        There are so many great trails that are unheralded by the bike industry…or have not been submitted to the IMBA Epic program.

        I visited Phil’s World in October, the parking lot was packed and overflowing toward the gun range. Is it a great trail if it is overcrowded?

        It seems too that with the increase in Mtn Bike popularity, the definition of a great trail has changed. Smooth, fast, wide, “flowy” sure is fun…but I equate it to skiing the groomed runs at a resort. I would much rather ski somewhere else.

        So I will share my top ten verbally w/ those that ask, but I fear the consequences of too many tires in remote places.

    • Well this blog post, as I stated in the introduction, is based solely on my personal experiences. Unfortunately, I still have not gotten to ride in the Northeast yet… but it’s on my to-do list!

    • NE trails. Let’s see Rocks, Roots Slide on slick roots…repeat. Those are the smooth trails. I live in NE and even I know we don’t have the trail involvement/advocacy that other parts of the nation have. It’s OK. We generally don’t have the issues either. In NH we don’t have the hikers screaming these are my trails or other interest groups. Generally all trail users are welcome.

      • Yeah, I do get slightly envious when I see all these pictures of smooth flat trails that seem to decend for miles. Mean while we’re busting our asses on wet rocky root filled trails that only lead uphill :)

        It’s like our skiing…

        “If you can ride New England you can ride anywhere” right! ;)

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