Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
Closest Singletrack: Pandapas Pond / Poverty Creek, 2.7mi
If you look at the main trailhead for Pandapas Pond on the map, it might seem a long way away from Virginia Tech (VT). But if you dive into a detailed trail map, you’ll spot a route with the unimaginative moniker “Gateway Trail” that climbs up and over the mountain ridge from the Blacksburg side to access Pandapas Pond proper. And that singletrack trail is only a 2.7-mile pedal from campus. While Pandapas is really the only trail system accessible directly from campus, with over 34 miles of trail in this network, it’s a pretty excellent resource to have right out your back door!
The trail access really starts looking good when you broaden your gaze to incorporate the surrounding mountains, and the excellent trail systems like Carvin’s Cove near Roanoke.
While VT isn’t the most dominant among schools in collegiate cycling, they generally put together a respectable team, and VT jerseys are a common sight on the local trails. In 2016 they took 13th place overall in Division I, though their road team scored much higher than the mountain bike team.
Virginia Tech is the highest-ranked school academically on our list, at #74 in the nation according to U.S. News. With about 31,000 students (as of 2015), it’s also one of the largest institutions on this list. Thanks to its size and status, you can choose from one of 70 undergraduate degrees, or add Virginia Tech on as your second (or third) school with 160 master’s and doctoral programs. An accomplished Engineering school and a college dedicated to Natural Resources and Environment could both be particularly appealing to mountain bikers. For more information, check out the full catalog. (Source 1, Source 2)
Even More Choices
With so many universities spread all across the nation, there’s no end of options for high quality schools that also offer top-notch mountain biking. While the 10 colleges and universities mentioned above are definitely 10 of the best, here’s a short list of runners-up that are definitely worth looking into.
Adams State University, Alamosa, Colorado
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
Closest Singletrack: Rocky Knob Park, 3.4mi
Barnett Bicycle Institute, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Closest Singletrack: Red Rock Canyon Open Space via Red Rock Rim Trail, 0.5mi
Brevard College, North Carolina
Colorado School of Mines, Golden
Michigan Technical University, Houghton, Michigan
Closest Singletrack: Michigan Tech Trails, 0mi
Southern Utah University, Cedar City
United Bicycle Institute, Ashland, Oregon
Closest Singletrack: Grizzly Peak Trail and connected trail system, 2.3mi
University of Arizona, Tucson
Closest Singletrack: Tucson Mountain Park, 6.7mi
University of Colorado, Boulder
Closest Singletrack: Stringer’s Ridge, 2.3mi
University of Vermont, Burlington
Western State Colorado University, Gunnison
Closest Singletrack: Signal Peak Trail System, 0mi
Your Turn: Know of any other great mountain biking colleges that we haven’t discussed yet? Tell us about them in the comments section below!