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10. Bella Vista, Arkansas

  • COL Index: 87.20
  • Median Home Price: $166,200
  • Population: 28,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: ~125

Back 40 Trail. Rider: Steven Deckert. Photo: Nathan Wentz.

Finally, we reach Arkansas. When I polled our readers on social media to see what they thought the most affordable mountain bike towns are, Bentonville, Arkansas was one of the top responses. Unfortunately, Bentonville doesn’t quite make this list with a median home price of $193,100 and a COL index of 90.80. But cut almost $30,000 off Bentonville home prices and you have Bella Vista, which is literally within riding distance of Bentonville via greenway trail.

Photo: Dylan Shaddox

Still, $166,200 is a good bit steeper than some of the other towns on this list but as a southern town, Bella Vista’s COL Index of 87.20 still ranks lower than some western mountain towns with lower home prices. Many variables can impact how expensive a town is to live in, and depending on your life situation, one variable could be more important to you than another. To help you compare one place to another, I recommend Best Places’ cost of living comparison tool.

Like most towns on this list–and in the nation at large–housing is increasing in price in Bella Vista, with the median list price currently at $173,000. However, that rate of increase is much lower than other towns that we’ve covered already. Bella Vista is a sleeper town, and it looks to stay that way for the time being.

Rider: Nathan Wentz. Photo: Greg Heil.

Do we need to tell you yet again how good the mountain biking is in Bella Vista? Probably not, but let’s recap.

The Back 40 Loop beginning at Blowing Springs is the marquee Bella Vista ride. “The Back 40 Loop trail is just over 21 miles, and provides riders with variations of Arkansas singletrack, including rock outcroppings, man-made bridges, stream crossings, beds of pine needles, and long stretches beneath expansive bluff overhangs,” said Cassi Lapp, Communications Manager for the City of Bella Vista. “This trail also provides access to the Back 40’s eight main connector trails, each offering a different aspect of trail design including flow, hand-cut rock sections, berms, flat-out-fun downhill, and more.”

In addition, you can easily pedal down the paved greenway to access the network of trails around Slaughter Pen, which has everything from a massive jump park to flow trails to technical, old-school singletrack.

Conclusion

Numerous factors influence where we choose to live. While access to great singletrack and a relatively affordable cost of living rank highly for many mountain bikers, other factors like climate, culture, amenities, proximity to family, and many, many more also play a role in this determination. I hope this list is diverse enough that if you’re planning to move to a mountain bike town in the US, you can now find an affordable place to call home!

Still don’t feel like you’ve found the perfect spot? Check out these 10 honorable mentions, which are all worthy mountain bike towns.

Honorable Mentions

Terlingua/Lajitas, Texas

  • COL Index: 84.30
  • Median Home Price: $76,200, according to Best Places
  • Population: 58
  • Miles of Singletrack: 135

Kansas City, Kansas

  • COL Index: 80.90
  • Median Home Price: $86,800
  • Population: 152,000; 2,159,000 metro area
  • Miles of Singletrack: 130+

Del Norte, Colorado

  • COL Index: 96.10
  • Median Home Price: $125,300
  • Population: 1,600
  • Miles of Singletrack: ~100

Slatyfork, West Virginia

  • COL Index: 88.70
  • Median List Price of Homes for Sale: $133,450 
  • Population: 80
  • Miles of Singletrack: 150+

Ocala, Florida

  • COL Index: 88.20
  • Median List Price of Homes for Sale: $133,200 
  • Population: 59,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 85+

Cable, Wisconsin

  • COL Index: 94.60
  • Median Home Price: $136,000, according to Best Places
  • Population: 825
  • Miles of Singletrack: 150+

Sturgis, South Dakota

  • COL Index: 93.90
  • Median Home Price: $136,300, according to Best Places
  • Population: 6,800
  • Miles of Singletrack: ~200

Salmon, Idaho

  • COL Index: 95.30
  • Median Home Price: $140,125 according to Best Places
  • Population: 3,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 330+

Duluth, Minnesota

  • COL Index: 90.40
  • Median Home Price: $152,800
  • Population: 86,000; 279,000 metro area
  • Miles of Singletrack: 80+, and growing

Marquette, Michigan

  • COL Index: 93.60
  • Median Home Price: $159,900
  • Population: 21,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 100+
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# Comments

  • rajflyboy

    Great write up

    Also look at crime maps for some of the areas you picked. There could be a reason why housing costs are low.

    Anniston, AL has a high crime rate compared to the state of Alabama crime rate.

    Alabama is a great spot and 365 day a year riding weather. This is someplace I would want to live. I would just have to find a safe neighborhood on the east side of Birmingham.

    • mongwolf

      Are July and August rideable in AL? =)

  • Amsterdam60

    To truely be a great mountain bike town to pack up and move to, Greg should have included factors such as, how often one can ride based on weather patterns and seasons as well as the tolerance to ride as often as possible, again due to weather conditions, being temperature and humidity levels and very important the concentration of nuisances during riding such as bugs and how well maintained the trails are, if they are at all. As far as the trails in an area, the type, style and ratings and evaluation of the trails should have been done, not just the estimated mileage of trails, which is all Greg used to determine his list. At this point, I could reduce Greg’s list down to just a few. Greg also failed to include any level of consideration of other factors such as any amenities these towns offer outside of mt biking including any level of a jobs base or availibility of supplies and just as important, hang out establishments such as breweries, access to education sources, entertainment and ratio of men to women. I myself know of much better places, including the town I live in and find Greg’s report mediocre at best. One needs to combine all their own criteria and research to this type of consideration and not use a report like this. Zillow isn’t even an accurate tool to use for overall evaluation of area home prices and there are numerous other tools and resources and criteria to use for home buying consideration such as to start with, what sort of home does one get for the median price range found from zillow and what is the surrounding neighborhood like, what are the taxes like in the town or area, crime rate statistics, etc, etc. Greg’s report is a very weak pathetic approach to generalize this process and the real objective appears to be to just push out another article to keep the next issue of singletracks going! Lastly, I highly doubt that the mileage of singletrack trails actually exists in the areas of Greg’s report and if he bothered to confirm any of information in his report by riding the trails there, looking at real estate there, or being there long enough to really assess the cost of living index! This entire report can and probably was written from a desk, not a mt bike, simply by accessing information from other web sites!

    • Jeff Barber

      Fair enough. There are certainly a lot of factors to consider. This is a pretty lengthy analysis though, and clearly we had to cut it off somewhere.

      FYI, Greg and our staff have visited and ridden in most, if not all of these locations. Still, no analysis is perfect so we’d love to see what else you’re able to come up with!

      Also, be sure to catch our podcast on April 2 where Greg and I go into even more detail on this list, and share information we weren’t able to include in the final article.

  • TobyThomas

    Cool article. I love to see all of the great places to ride. I have ridden in 27 of the 50 states and found something great and unique about each one. While I did check out the MTB scene prior to moving, I recently moved to Florida from Ohio and was seriously surprised at the great trails down here. Ocala is a cool area because of Santos but if you are coming to the Ocala area and plan to ride, be sure to look around the other areas within an hour south of Ocala……great trails. And don’t forget to use your SingleTracks app for other places in Florida. While mostly flat, you will be pleasantly surprised (said the guy from Ohio) at the challenges that Floridians have managed to create.

  • padudle

    There are a number of towns in New Mexico that are good options, though maybe not as cheap. This includes Albuquerque.

  • Neil McLeod

    I think one of the criteria should be months of good riding weather. If you’re there for the mountain biking it might suck if if 4 months of the year were too cold to be fun or it rains half the time. Full disclosure: I live in AZ and I’m used to good riding weather easily 300 days a year.

  • SallyCat

    I just moved to Brownsville (West Windsor) VT. I’m literally 500 feet from the Ascutney Trails, and within two hours of HIghland Mountain and Killington bike parks, the Kingdom Trails network, and countless other great trail systems. I bought a place for under 100k, and the state has a massive labor shortage, and expanded ACA health coverage which makes it great for someone who wants to freelance, work part time, or uproot and look for a f/t job. . Now, the riding season is shorter than the southeast of course. Many people seem to have road or gravel bikes for the mud season and many also ski in the winter, so depending upon what you like to do, this can be a great place.

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