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10_mtb_destinations

The ethos behind the Singletracks Trail Database, home to the largest collection of mountain bike trail maps in the world, is that the sum of our collective knowledge is much greater and more powerful than that of just one rider, or even a handful of riders. Since this user-generated trail database has been in existence for over 15 years, we’ve been able to harness the collective knowledge of you, the people.

See Also: The Top 10 Best Mountain Bike Destinations in the USA

In order to be as impartial as possible, we’ve long had an automatic algorithm that ranks the best trails in the world, based on the content and reviews that you’ve submitted. And after reading countless lists of the best destinations–lists that we’ve written along with those that have been published by other news outlets and organizations–we wondered if we could apply the same crowd-sourced ethos to destination rankings. After working for months on perfecting the algorithm, we’re excited to announce The Best Mountain Bike Destinations list!

For more detailed information on how this ranking system works and how things can change over time, be sure to check out Jeff’s explanation article. But for now, read on for the top 10 mountain bike destinations, as chosen by the people:

10. Bailey, Colorado

Buffalo Creek. Photo: Michael Paul.

Buffalo Creek. Photo: Michael Paul.

According to the database Bailey is home to 49 trails totaling 555 miles. Top trails include the earliest portions of the venerable Colorado Trail, currently ranked the #1 trail on Singletracks, and the exceedingly-popular go-to Front Range trail system, Buffalo Creek. Buffalo Creek long held the #1 trail spot on Singletracks, and while it’s fallen down the list somewhat, the quality of the riding in Bailey is unquestionably high.

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# Comments

  • Michael Paul

    There are lies, damn lies, and statistics–Mark Twain.

    Haha. That is a shockingly different list than I would have expected, and I would dispute it wholeheartedly except that I know Jeff and Greg work tirelessly to ensure the accuracy of lists like this.

    Where is Fruita/Grand Junction, for example. Previously almost always in the top 3, it is now absent from the top 20?

    Moab at #9? Clearly the legalization of recreatoinal marijuana has spread well beyond the confines of the 3 states it is allowed.

    Kalispell, Montana? I’m sure it’s a fine trail, but not only have I never heard of it, but I am pretty sure only like 150 people live in Montana and only 7 people have ever visited there. I’m not even really sure it is on a map, or if part of it belongs to Canada.

    Winter Park? Great place, but the resort is pretty brutal riding (for the average rider) and I would think a more well rounded resort would supercede Winter Park…though the surrounding trails near the base may have something to do with this.

    Cle Elum, WA? You just made that up.

    Breckenridge is perhaps the most surprising. Don’t get me wrong, the riding there is fantastic, but I have not met anyone in Colorado who drives there to ride except maybe once a year. They pick the other Colorado trails on this list. I will have to check it out.

    There is also this awesome place called Sedona I don’t think your readers have ever heard of…

    You should have published this list on April Fools Day–it seems to fit in there and would add to the mystery of its legitimacy, because I am still skeptical…:)

    • Greg Heil

      Well, I think this just means that it’s good that we do BOTH editorial lists AND data-driven lists. There are quite a few spots on the Top 50 that I haven’t ridden before or barely even heard of, so I think this can be a great tool to discover awesome destinations that nobody writes about, but that has tons of great trails. Kalispell/Whitefish/Bigfork is one of those areas. Heh, if you don’t want to go there because you’ve never heard of it before, that’s fine, but all of the people from the Northwestern US and Western Canada are already caching in on that great riding spot.

      Sometimes I think some destinations are only “great” because of the amount of coverage they get. If you just take a step back and look at them compared to other places, they start to pale in comparison. IMO, Fruita is one of those places.

      • Michael Paul

        Everyone has a different riding preference, but I think Fruita/GJ puts most of these places to shame except Moab and Crested Butte (cannot speak for places I am not familiar with, 3 on this list). 18 Road/Bookcliffs. Loma trails. The Tabaguache. The Ribbon. Turkey Flats. Rabbit Valley. I cannot imagine more trail variety from the buttery smooth Kessel Run to insane descents like Moore Fun or super techy spots like Lemon Squeezer. I wouldn’t go so far as saying that Breckenridge is a “joke” as one person put it (and there are great trails there), but it is a joke that it is the #1 trail. On Summit County folks may disagree with that…but if you like riding sub-alpine and zooming through aspen groves, Crested Butte and Molas Pass/Durango has Breck beat by miles.

        All jokes aside, I am really surprised that any trail in WA made the top 20. Leavenworth would be the best choice for a destination I would think. The few times I’ve been to WA I’ve seen a few mountain bikers, but good luck getting beta on trails, or finding a bike shop that rents a decent bike…and the season is really short. It doesn’t seem like much of a destination to me. That being said, the landscape is WA is amazing and the trails I’ve sampled were great, but really spread out.

        And how did Chicopee Woods get the “must ride” nod in Dahlonega. How about Bull/Jake?

        I do agree with reviews above that this article should have specifically mentioned these are the top 10 in the US. There are a lot of complaints here about user-generated review rankings; we should run a graphic showing the breakdown on the types of riders who use and review the singletrack database.

      • Greg Heil

        Re: “And how did Chicopee Woods get the “must ride” nod in Dahlonega. How about Bull/Jake?”

        Did you not read Jeff’s detailed explanation article yet? http://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-trails/how-singletracks-ranks-the-best-mountain-bike-destinations/ Chicopee was auto-magically chosen because it’s within 25 miles of Dahlonega and apparently ranks higher in the database than Bull Mountain.

        Also, this list in no way claims that Breckenridge”is the #1 trail,” but rather that it’s the #1 destination, which is comprised of a multitude of trails. Instead of analyzing what individual trails are the best, this list is looking at the sum of an area’s parts, and not just the single best trail.

    • Greg Heil

      Also, I should add that I know of people from as far away as the Front Range who ride Breckenridge almost every other week during the summer. And plenty of people from down my way that drive up there to ride. Just sayin’

    • Jeff Barber

      I’m just as surprised at this list as you are. Fruita and Sedona would probably make my own top 10 list but the #s don’t lie: these places either don’t have as much trail mileage as destinations ranked higher or they just don’t have as many standout trails that rate highly on their own.

      Also, keep in mind this is a list of towns, not trails or resorts. So some of the best trails might not necessarily start right in town but as long as they’re within the 25 mile radius, they count toward the town’s rating.

    • Dave Rossi

      Oh how I wish it was true that most people didn’t come to Breckenridge to ride! It’s become one of the biggest mtb destinations, to my chagrin, in the state, and that’s because as a selfish prick I’d prefer to not have to deal with anyone on my hometown trails.

      Firecracker 50, Breck Epic, Breck 100… need I say more?

      Stay at Buffalo Creek. It’s not a destination by any stretch, IMO (I’ve already ranted about this) but if it keeps people from coming to more extensive, hundreds-of-miles-long trails in the mtns, I’m down with it!

  • Aaron Couch

    Trust me! Jackson is WAAAYYYY better than Teton Valley. Don’t come over here, not worth it.

  • Jared13

    I have to admit: I love the user-generated listings. Both for the listing and for the comments. It makes for some great conversations, provided everyone keeps their cool.

    Of course, there are some surprises, but that probably reflects how prevalent Singletracks is in the area and not the actual quantity/quality of trails, or maybe we’re just confused by trail vs city.

    I agree with the Kalispell, MT listing because it includes Whitefish. I haven’t ridden there yet (thanks broken bones!) but it’s definitely on my MUST RIDE list. Granted, at six it might be a bit high, but the miles, low population, and lift-service rides are probably helping it.

    Kind of like the East Coasters I’m a surprised at the lack of trails in a geographical area, only two in the top 50 are from the Midwest and both are in Arkansas. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see the Twin Cities or Copper Harbor, MI listed, but maybe they don’t have the miles or the number of riders to qualify? I know the Twin Cities have some GREAT trails all in the metropolis area.

    Would it be possible to get a list of “the top 10 trails that no one knows about”? (Same scoring criteria just make it less 25 riders)

    • Greg Heil

      Hi Jared, thanks for chiming in! We actually have an article planned on a similar topic, so stay tuned 🙂 I don’t think it will be as hard-and-fast tied to the data as this one, but it should make for a good read.

  • k2rider

    I can’t argue with the list for the mere fact that I haven’t been to many of the places on the list but I can say that I personally like everyplace I’ve been in Oregon, the Gooseberry/St George area and Sedona better than the places I *have* been on the list….Park City and yes, even Moab.

    I understand that this list represents the opinions of riders who take the time to post on Singletracks and you can’t argue with that. Unfortunately, when certain areas are “off the beaten path” they won’t get the same amount of visitors which in turn means people won’t be posting their opinions of said areas. I would guess that Colorado benefits from megatropolis of Denver where many of the areas in the Top 10 are a day trip away.

    Interestingly but maybe not surprising, a quick look at the “Best of” at MTB Project dot come shows that Moab would easily be the #1 destination on their site while it appears that Crested Butte would be #2, Oregon, Fruita/GJ and St G/Gooseberry would battle for numbers 3 through 5.

  • mongwolf

    I’m going to stay out of the debate of specific rankings. I think if you just look at the top 30 it is a pretty good listing. Maybe Whistler should be in the top 30 of course, but it’s close at 33. Is it important how the trail systems are specifically rated within that. Personally, I don’t think so.

    And this kind of presentation should be kept at a light level of criticism. Though Jeff obviously puts some good thought into the algorithms, it not like this is rigorous scientific experiment following the design criteria for an experiment and random sampling. We’re not doing hypothesis testing and presenting data at a scientific meeting. This “sampling” is of the population of Singletrack.com users, not all mtbers. It is a descriptive attempt to represent the “expressed” views of Singletrack users. It’s no more than that. Maybe the title of the article may overplay the nature of the exercise a little, and thus, readers get a little too hyped. I don’t know. All in all, I like these attempts to inform us in a fun way of the great biking opportunities that exist.

  • mongwolf

    Greg, it looks like you are styling with Salida, CB, Breck, and Buff Creek all within about 1.5 hours of you. Not bad at all.

  • mongwolf

    I think it is interesting how the western US dominates the listing, and I agree with that. The Midwest and the East both have some really good riding, and I really enjoy going back and riding those kinds of trails. But the reality is there is so much more opportunity to ride in the West. Just the far greater amount of public lands in the West in large part leads to this.

    • mongwolf

      Plus there are far less bugs and humidity in the West. GA made a nice showing in the top 50 listing. I hope to get down there in the winter some day and do some riding.

  • mongwolf

    I just started reading Jeff’s article. Wow, when you consider that Breck includes Leadville due to adjacency issues, then I understand why Breck is ranked so high. Just the amount of the CT alone in that region would make that area a destination.

    • John Fisch

      This begs a new question with regard to adjacency. Breck is within 25 miles of Leadville in a straight line — but there’s this really big mountain range in between. To drive from one trailhead to another may take well over an hour. So the proximity on a map makes sense aggregating them but the actual accessibility is far less than other proximate destinations which are well over 25 miles apart. For instance, I can get from Sedona to Flagstaff in less time than I can get from Breck to Leadville. Combining Sedona and Flagstaff into one venue would really up mileage and diversity.

      • Greg Heil

        Thank you, John: this is an actual, real debate that we had when choosing the radius, and one of the *possible* flaws with this list. Thanks for staying on-point with a legitimate question about how the algorithm is run, and not just “my favorite trail didn’t make the cut.” 🙂

        So what qualifies as a “town”? How far out do you have to draw the circle? How far is too far, and how close is too close? We toyed with distances ranging from 5 miles to 30+, but in the end we landed on 25. Personally, I almost wanted to advocate for drawing the circle wider: assuming you’re traveling from out of state, you could easily base out a place like Breckenridge and ride trails over an hour away by car. On the flip side, perhaps it’d be nice to ride to all of the trails, like you can essentially do in Park City?

        There were a lot of variables to play with, and in the end an automated algorithm will never be able to factor in variables like mountain ranges, driving times, bike path accessibility to singletrack, and other intangibles like bike shops, shuttle services, awesome beer, etc. While I do think that these data-driven lists are insightful and I think that they allow the masses to have their voices heard, I don’t plan to stop doing in-depth destination editorial coverage anytime soon!

  • RobertD

    Also, Big South Fork in Jamestown, TN. Very remote riding in some places and beautiful.

  • Dave Albrecht

    What about destinations other than North America? It seems to be that your stats only take the US into account!!

    • Greg Heil

      Hi Dave, we log trails and statistics from all over the world, but apparently no international destinations have had enough trails or reviews added to crack this list. If you know of any trails that we don’t have listed, I encourage you to add them! And if there are trails that you’ve ridden but haven’t reviewed, reviewing those trails is the main way to get your opinion and voice heard!

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