2. Butte, Montana

  • COL Index: 90.0
  • Median Home Price: $125,400
  • Population: 34,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 300 +/-

Crystal and Warren Smith ride Maud S trail with views of Butte, Montana. Photo: Bob Allen

You probably noticed immediately that the COL index for Butte is quite a bit higher than it is for Anniston. and also some others on this list for that matter. Yet, the COL in Butte is 10 points below the national average and the median home price is just $125,400. This is an incredibly low number for a town in the Rocky Mountains. Compare to the nearby towns of Bozeman (over $300,000) and Missoula ($254,400) and with home prices literally half that, on the surface Butte seems like a diamond in the rough. While the market in Butte is on the rise, with the median list price at $149,450, the real estate market isn’t inflating nearly as rapidly as Bozeman or Missoula where the median list prices are $435,000 and $320,000, respectively.

Photo: Butte Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page

So what’s the catch? Are the trails shoddy?

Not in the least.

According to Bob Allen, Mountain Bike Hall of Famer and founding board member of the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance, Butte has around 300 miles of mountain-bike-legal singletrack in the immediate area. The singletrack opportunities are incredibly diverse, too. “There are trails and a bike park of sorts on the west side of the Montana Tech Campus,” said Bob. “The trails climb up to ‘The Butte’, the high point with a giant lighted ‘M’ above town.”

Photo: Bob Allen

In addition to the singletrack that’s easily accessible from town, backcountry trails extend into the mountains all around the area. “The CDT in both directions from Homestake Pass on Interstate 90 are worthy out-and-backs, or part of a larger point-to-point or loops,” said Bob. If you want to shuttle up to the CDT and ride all the way back into town, Linked Adventures is the company to contact for shuttles. If you want to get even more adventurous, of course there’s always bikepacking, but Linked Adventures also does supported multi-day rides on the Continental Divide Trail.

A new bike shop called Derailed Bikes will be opening this spring in Butte, and Headframe Distillery sells local libations. The mountain bike future looks bright for this historic mining town.

# 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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