Pilot Rock, Pisgah National Forest. Photo: Derek Diluzio

The Southeastern USA is a hotbed for mountain biking. With lush, tree-covered mountains, rolling hills, and a temperate climate that baits riders to pedal 12 months out of the year, trails are a natural part of the landscape. In many places, ancient singletrack dating back to the continent’s earliest inhabitants blends with modern trail building techniques based on the desires of modern mountain bikers.

The mountain biking disciplines being practiced in the Southeast only continues to grow more diverse. Downhill mountain bike parks are springing up in unsuspecting locations, without even the consideration of a snow sports component. Bikepacking routes are being pioneered across the region, with long-distance trails that rival the best in the West.

Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best mountain bike trails in the Southeast, grouped by trail type: all-around trail systems, lift-served bike parks, epic backcountry routes, big city trails, and best destinations.

5 of the Best All-Around Trail Systems in the Southeast

Dupont State Forest, Brevard, North Carolina

Photo: Linda Shin

With over 80 miles of diverse singletrack available in Dupont State Forest, this network is truly an all-encompassing trail system. The various trails contain steep slickrock, flowy singletrack in the trees, scenic waterfalls, jumps, rocky technical sections, steep climbs, and rhododendron tunnels. While the Ridgeline flow trail is incredibly popular, the slickrock balds in the center of the forest are some of the most iconic trails on the East Coast.

Carvin’s Cove, Roanoke, Virginia

Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Dan Lucas.

Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Dan Lucas.

Carvin’s Cove is considered by many to be the premiere trail system in Roanoke, if not all of Virginia. With singletrack ranging from flat to steep and from gnarly to flowy, almost every rider comes away from these trails with a grin on their face. Personally, I recommend the long, fast descents off the top of the mountain.

Coldwater Mountain Anniston, Alabama

Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Still a work in progress, the trail system at Coldwater Mountain is ever-expanding, and it already offers some of the greatest trail diversity in the Southeast. With everything from mellow cross-country trails to backcountry-style singletrack, flow/jump trails, and a black diamond downhill track, this expansive system has something to please everyone. While this network is currently home to 35 miles of singletrack, eventually the goal is to pack some 60+ miles of trail onto the mountain, turning Coldwater into a destination in its own right.

Santos, Ocala, Florida

Photo: Kristen Bonkoski

Home to an annual spring break Fat Tire Festival, Santos not only pulls in mountain bikers from across the state of Florida, it also attracts riders from all across the United States who are looking to escape the winter cold with delectable, dry singletrack. Santos is home to over 80 miles of trail, and there are even some extremely technical features in the Vortex area to challenge the best riders, including wooden bridges and rollers, dirt jumps, and massive drops.

See Also
By Kristen Bonkoski

Five Points, Trenton, Georgia

Rider: dozzerboy. Photo: GoldenGoose

Rider: dozzerboy. Photo: GoldenGoose

Five Points is, by all objective measures, one of the best trail networks in the state of Georgia. The network boasts plenty of mileage (over 20); entertaining, well-built singletrack filled with challenges and flow a-plenty; and scenic rolling hills that combine to make an act that’s almost impossible to follow. Key trails to hit include Tailings and Hogsback, which “are expert due to the narrowness and angle of the track” according to Singletracks reviewer nvrenf.

# Comments

  • mongwolf

    Great write up Greg. Somehow I have missed the Southern Highlands Traverse. That sounds amazing. And then reading Jeff’s article about it I learn there that the Eastern Divide Route is being developed. 5000 miles of riding. Very very cool.

  • John Fisch

    “… and a temperate climate that baits riders to pedal 12 months out of the year”


    The southeast is infamous for heat and humidity and I won’t set foot or knobby there for at least 8 months out of the year! Just say the word “Alabama” and I start to sweat.

    After such a claim, what else can I not trust here?

    That said, thank for such a complete and diverse overview of the region. I do look forward to adding many of those trails to my resume.

    One add I would give is just a little north of your Virginia entries. The trails at Elizabeth Furnace and Kennedy Peak in Virginia are excellent. Kennedy is an outstanding intermediate loop which is still undiscovered and you’re likely to have it all to yourself, even on a weekend. The furnace is a rocky challenge course, sometimes demanding trials level skills.

    • williedillon

      The only time of the year I don’t really ride here is in the winter, but that’s no longer really the case as I bought winter cycling gear. The heat doesn’t bother me much, though.

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