Ahh, there’s nothing like waking up at the trailhead in the morning! Camping at the mountain bike trail with friends is truly one of the greatest ways to spend a weekend, and this list should help you plan your next summer or fall adventure.

While many mountain bike trails may offer primitive backcountry camping nearby, the picks on this list won’t necessarily leave you roughing it. Most offer drinking water, fire pits, toilets, and in some cases, even showers. And don’t forget your lights–many of these trails allow night riding.

Buffalo Creek (Colorado)

The mountain bike trails in the Buffalo Creek area are some of the best in the US and lucky for you, there’s also a campground located just off the trail with running water, vault toilets, and grills for cooking. Ride a loop on the Green Mountain trail, stop for lunch, then head down the Colorado Trail to Shinglemill or Gashouse Gulch.

Tsali (North Carolina)

Fall colors at Tsali.

The campground loop at Tsali in western North Carolina is well maintained and there’s even a shower house with flush toilets and running water in summer. Since the trails alternate between horse and bike use, you’ll want to stay at least one night so you can ride all the trails!

Santos (Florida)

Santos in Florida is another spot with an excellent campground attached to even more excellent mountain bike trails. The campground features showers and flush toilets plus a general store within walking distance for picking up extra supplies. The local mountain bike club also puts on a big spring break fat tire festival in March each year complete with camping, demos, and food.

Warner and Oowah Lake Campgrounds (Utah)

Camping in Moab? Take our advice and drive past all the RV parks on the main drag and past the primitive campsites off Sand Flats Road to the cool, lush Warner Lake or Oowah Lake alpine campground. At the Warner Lake campground you’ll find less than 2 dozen campsites and also a small cabin that’s available for rent. The best part: when you wake up you’ll be close to the top of the Whole Enchilada and an even shorter pedal from the start of Hazard County. From there, it’s a mad rush as you drop down to Kokopelli’s, UPS, LPS, and finally Porcupine Rim. Just be sure to arrange a shuttle back up to your campsite. 🙂

Henry W. Coe State Park (California)

photo: Juan_Gear

Henry W. Coe State Park (known to locals as Henry Coe or just Coe) features at least 9 miles of official singletrack but many, many more miles of fireroads and trails to explore. In fact, it’s easy to get lost at Henry Coe, so be sure to bring a map, and plan on staying for at least a couple days. Henry Coe also happens to be a major proving ground for Specialized mountain bikes, as their HQ is just across highway 101 from the park. Each of the 19 park campsites features a picnic table and fire ring and there’s a central bath house with flush toilets and sinks.

Allegrippis (Pennsylvania)

Dirt Rag holds their annual DirtFest at Allegrippis and with good reason: 30 miles of undulating singletrack plus a campground right on the lake. Bring your bike, boat, and swimsuit to take advantage of everything Allegrippis has to offer!

Big Bend State Park (Texas)

photo: Singletrack member alskoj

Big Bend State Park is, like the state of Texas, massive, and while there may not be a lot of singletrack, there are dozens of miles of jeep and gravel roads to explore the rugged environment on your mountain bike. The Big Bend campground features drinking water (a big plus in the desert!) and sites are just $5-8 per night. This is adventure, Texas-style.

Pinckny State Recreation Area (Michigan)

Mountain bikers will know it as Potawatomi, but the Pinckny State Recreation area has more to offer than just singletrack (though that would have been more than enough). The 24-ish miles of trail includes tech challenges and sustained climbs, while the Pinckny campground features running water, electricity, and “modern restrooms.”

Switchgrass (Kansas)

I got a chance to camp and bike at Switchgrass last summer and was blown away at the quality of both the singletrack and the campground. The trails are officially world-class with a recent IMBA Epic designation, and the campground facilities include showers, flush toilets… and very few crowds during the week. Plus, you’re on a lake, which makes for a refreshing place to cool off after a hot ride!

Bent Creek (North Carolina)

Lake Powhatan. Photo: mtbgreg1.

Asheville, North Carolina’s flagship trail system, Bent Creek, surrounds the scenic Lake Powhatan Campground. But if you want to camp at this popular campground, you’re going to have to plan ahead–Lake Powhatan fills up regularly on weekends with beautiful weather. It’s easy to see why: complete with bathrooms, showers, potable water, and other amenities, this campground is the perfect place to stage several days of MTB adventure on the neighboring 30+ miles of perfect singletrack.

Honorable Mentions

There are so many great places to bike and camp that we couldn’t include them all here. If you’re still looking for something a bit closer to home, here are a few more options:

Tanasi’s Thunder Rock Campground (Tennessee)

Levis Mounds [primitive camping only at trailhead] (Wisconsin)

Montana de Oro State Park (California)

Pocahontas State Park (Virginia)

It’s no coincidence many of the trails on this list are also among the most popular in the US. Clearly, camping and mountain biking is a great combination!

Your Turn: Where’s your favorite place to camp and mountain bike?

# Comments

  • kevlars7d

    I’d recommend Douthat state park in Virginia. Around 40 miles of well built trails in the mountains and nice “car camping.”

    • jeff

      Great pick! Virginia State Parks seem to be good for camping + biking.

    • CraigCreekRider

      I would also add in Douthat State Park. Lots of riding from the campsite in the state park and adjacent George Washington National Forest. They also just added a RV friendly campground (Whispering Pines) for those that don’t rough it too much. They have nice cabins too but they are almost impossible to get in warm weather.

    • jeff

      I just assumed everyone lived in tents in Idaho. 🙂

  • delphinide

    Tsali is one of my favorites to camp n’ ride. Here are some others: Mistletoe State Park–with close access to FATS, Alafia State Park—with riding access to Alafia/Boyette, Oak Mountain State Park–Oak Mtn trails, and the plethora of places to camp/bike along the Ouchita trail with access to the Womble. Great article!

    • RJen

      Agree with Tsali, NC and Alafia, FL, but FATS is easily accessible from Modoc or Petersburg campgrounds. The Bartrum trail runs right by Petersburg. If you plan to ride Womble, a great campsite is Tompkins Bend (showers & food) which is right on the LOViT which offers over 40 miles of great riding.

  • Korvyn

    Devils den state park in arkansas is awesome. 9 miles of track everything from primative sites to multiroom cabins.

    Also practically accross the street from The Womble is 27 Fishings village with campsites store restuarant and Lake ouachita.

  • skibum

    There’s lots of great camping in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

    The Timon Campground
    sits between the excellent Rimrock
    and Little Spearfish
    trails with excellent opportunities to extend your adventure far beyond. What makes this such a great experience is you will usually have those fantastic trails all to yourself!

    • maddslacker

      I just got back from a family vacation in the Black Hills but I brought my bike and managed to fit in one ride. I rode Victoria’s Secret which is hands down one of the best trails I have ever ridden …. and yes I had it all to myself! I can’t wait to get back and explore more of the trails.

  • nanook

    James M. Robb State Park in Fruita, CO. Not very far off the interstate, but good facilities (bathrooms, showers, and laundry), a very short bike ride away from downtown (bike shops and restaurants), and… IT’S FRUITA!

    • stillfat

      James Robb good if you’re in a real hurry and want quick access to downtown Fruita, but kind of pricey and you’re tucked behind fast food places. Might as well drive a couple more miles and breathe some fresh desert air if you’re out that way.

  • stillfat

    If you’re like me, you like “primitive” car camping on a bike trip and don’t want to pay. Plus, you tend to make a little bit of noise (maybe a late night jam session??) so you don’t want to be parked next to the Grizwalds or tucked in between a bunch of RVs. Best destination rides where this is not only possible, but pretty much the norm and you’re surrounded by trail: Gooseberry Mesa (camp 50 yards from a 500 foot cliff on one side, trail network connection 100 yards on other side). Hartman Rocks (camp in the middle of dozens of trail intersections – for free – in the middle of sage and funky rock formations). Crested Butte (you might have to drive five minutes to the trailhead, but easy car camping right outside of town – a few cows your only neighbors). Curt Gowdy (a bit more structured and you’ll pay a couple bucks, but mellow car camping and easy access to all trails). Fruita (18 road – getting too crowded, but go in the off-season and it’s great). Moab (Sand Flats Road 20 years ago) Buffalo Creek (still doable on FS road toward Green Mountain Campground where you can take a cruiser on the Colorado Trail after dinner, but too many rednecks shooting guns, etc.) Breckenridge (keep driving uphill until you see snow on the ground in July and you probably won’t have to pay). Telluride or Aspen: (ask a local – tough sledding for freeriders). New England (you tell me – never could find the great camping/biking mix).

  • MarcS

    I think that’s the first bike with rim brakes I’ve ever seen on singletracks.com.(besides the one’s I’ve sent in). Is it an old picture? And the picture from Texas is awesome!

  • RoadWarrior

    At this very moment am parked at the Grama campground, Wilson SP. Going to ride Switchgrass at first light. Should be down to around 70 deg. by then, near 100 deg. by afternoon.

  • roguehoe

    Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area on the TN/KY border just north of Knoxville…IMBA epic in a unit of the NPS. Well maintained campground..showers. Seven different mtn bike trails.

  • topjimmy

    How is it that Mulberry Gap didn’t make this list? Great place in North Georgia to ride and camp. Also they cook breakfast and dinner for you.

  • propus

    Dinosaur Valley State Park (Glen Rose, TX)
    Good Rocky (limestone) trails. More than the map shows.
    Car camping, flush toilets, showers, covered tables, gift shop with ice cream bars :-p
    After riding walk in the Paluxy river in the footprints of dinosaurs.
    Solavaca bike ranch is 4 miles down the road. More great riding.

  • landocommando

    Where the F*CK is Crested Butte? Some of the best mountain biking in the US, and arguably the best in Colorado? Park, AND camp at the 403 trailhead. It’s literally THE BEST, all-time, car-camping spot in CB. After a solid crank and an epic drop, get your girlfriend and her drinkin’ buddy to shuttle you and your friends to the 401 trail head. Bomb the 401. Trust me. You won’t be disappointed. Then, have your saucy GF drop you at the Upper Loop trailhead. Bomb into town and have a few man-drinks at Montanya Distillers. Done. G’night

  • cavedweller

    Holly Bay Campground in the Daniel Boone National Forest in London Ky. The Sheltowee Trace runs right through it so you have access to over 300 miles of singletrack.

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