Flowy singletrack devoid of challenging trail features is all well and good for what it is–such trails can often serve up incredible rides with long mileage and gorgeous views! But many long-time mountain bikers will eventually find themselves wanting more–more challenge, more thrill, and maybe even a taste of danger. Thankfully, singletrack trails across the nation abound with challenging features, whether it’s rocks, roots, drop offs, wooden bridges, jumps, narrow trail tread, cliffside exposure–you name it, you’ll find it on the trails on this list.
The roundup below features the highest-rated single or double black diamond rated mountain bike trail in each US state, based on the ratings that Singletracks members have assigned to trails in our trail database over the last 18 years. Note that these trails won’t necessarily be the MOST difficult trail in each state, but rather one of the most difficult trails with the highest rating. Theoretically, these selections should present a great mix of challenge coupled with excellent scenery and excitement!
Is the most popular black diamond trail in your state too far away? No problem! Just search Singletracks for trails in your state, then filter by “Advanced” or “Expert” trails to see all the challenging trails in your state on a map. And if you’re curious about how Singletracks readers determine which trails are rated black diamond, read this.
Looking for beginner-friendly trails instead? Then check out this list. Looking for intermediate trails state-by-state? Our overall state-by-state infographic features mostly intermediate-difficulty trails.
Alabama: Blevins Gap Preserve
Blevins Gap Preserve earns a double black diamond rating, although that distinction seems dubious. However, according to Singletracks reviewer ZackRockhopper, “currently, only about 5 miles of this system are really worth riding because of the technical difficulties associated with the rest of it, unless you leave one vehicle at the lower end of the Sugar Tree Trail and take another vehicle to the top and ride down the trail.” Shuttle runs in Huntsville? Possibly!
Alaska: Alyeska Ski Resort
The first lift-served downhill trail in Alaska is a shoo-in for the top-rated technical trail in the state.
At this point, Hangover should need no introduction. Hangover has become a household name for most riders in the US as one of the most technical and exposed trails anywhere. Check out the article linked below for more information, and also be sure to watch Nate Hills’ videos, here and here.
A long time IMBA epic, the Womble brings difficulty on all fronts: technical challenge, long distance, and lots of elevation gain. Displaying in grand relief the most challenging features of Arkansas’s
Ozark Ouachita Mountains, the Womble is not for the faint of heart.
California: Downieville Downhill
It seems like the Downieville Downhill makes just about every single list we write, so why not this one as well? The Downieville Downhill offers 16 miles of singletrack that’s almost all descending–about 5,500 feet of elevation loss–and there are many other trails you can choose from in the system. Believe the hype: this trail is the real deal.
Colorado: Doctor Park
One of the most renowned downhills in the state of Colorado, Doctor Park delivers highly-entertaining singletrack, great views up high, plus challenging rocks and high speed sections down low. While Doctor Park gets the nod for high ratings, there are many other single and double black diamond trails to be had in Colorado–some of which are much more technical than Doctor Park. Honorable mentions include Dakota Ridge and the entire Lunch Loops Trail System, especially Free Lunch.
Connecticut: Trumbull / Pequonnock River Valley State Park
The Trumbull network offers at least 15 miles of mountain biking and the largest rock features in the state. According to Singletracks member GreenGiant, “Trumbull is a freerider’s paradise with a number of drops ranging from 2-20 feet, including the picnic tables and lovers leap. You will also find one of Connecticut’s tallest rollers, the Green Monster, which is 30′ high, as well as many other rollers strewn throughout the park.”
The Singletracks database doesn’t list a single Delaware trail ranked as a black diamond, but I didn’t want to write the state of Delaware off so lightly, so I posted in the Facebook group for the Delaware Trail Spinners to get their input. What followed was a contentious debate–not about what the best black diamond trail in the state was, but whether or not Delaware even has a black diamond trail.
The first comment asking, “What classifies a trail as a black diamond trail?” was very telling, and at least a half-dozen people stated that there were no black diamond trails in the entire state. “Zero black diamond trails in Delaware. 0,” said Brian O’Connell.
Some commenters think that some short trail sections could qualify as black diamond, with the skills trail at the White Clay Creek Trail System coming up several times in the discussion. But if it’s true gnar you seek in Delaware, it appears you need to travel to another state.
Florida: Markham Park
With 149 reviews here on Singletracks, Markham Park still earns a 4.61 average out of 5 stars. Renowned as a technical oasis in an otherwise flat state, Markham’s technical features include rocks that were excavated to create nearby lakes, elevated wooden bridges, and steep roll-ins.
Also be sure to check out the gravity section at Santos in Florida.
Georgia: Quehl Holler
The Quehl Holler trail in the Blankets Creek Trail System is a legit jump line with small and large hits, big berms, and a massive wall ride at the end–certifiably difficult and definitely black diamond. If it’s rocks that you seek, check out the Pinhoti Trail: Snake Creek section, or the Mountaintown Creek section of the Pinhoti.