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best beginner mountain bike trails

New mountain bikers have to start somewhere. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve moved on to more difficult trails but the thing is, you probably have friends or even kids you would love to take riding for the first time. The trick is choosing a trail that’s fun and as frustration-free as possible for that maiden voyage!

We’ve selected some of the highest-rated, beginner-friendly singletrack trails on Singletracks to help both newbies and friends of newbies get started. Is the most popular beginner trail in your state too far away? No problem! Just search Singletracks for trails in your state, then filter by “beginner” trails to see all the easy trails in your state on a map. And if you’re curious about how our members determine which trails are truly beginner-friendly, read this.

Bonus: We include two Canadian provinces at the end of the list.

Alabama: Sylaward

sylaward-1

Sylaward is located off the beaten path toward the far southwestern edge of the Talledega Nataional Forest, offering up 15 miles of buff, flowy singletrack. Beginner riders will love the gradual climbs and serene lakeside scenery along the way.

Alaska: Kepler-bradley Lakes State Park

photo: AK_Dan

photo: AK_Dan

New riders might want to start on the XC-style doubletrack trails at Kepler-Bradley Lakes, but many of the singletrack options in this large trail network are beginner-friendly too.

Arizona: Sweetwater Preserve

photo: smorris

photo: smorris

As if the accessible Tucson location and 8 miles of beginner-grade trails isn’t enough, Sweetwater Preserve allows riders to get up close (but not too close) to Saguaro cacti. Note: there are several rock garden sections newbies may want to walk but overall, this is a fairly smooth ride.

Arkansas: Springhill Park

photo: JoshuaTriggs

photo: JoshuaTriggs

Finding a good beginner trail in Arkansas isn’t as easy as you might imagine, with many of the state’s most epic rides characterized by shifting rocks and ledgy climbs. But Springhill Park in Fort Smith gets high marks from riders for its smooth, fast singletrack practically devoid of technical obstacles.

California: Fort Ord

fort_ord2-1

We honestly had a difficult time choosing a popular beginner’s mountain bike trail in California, perhaps due to “difficulty inflation” where readers classify rides as more advanced than they really are.  So we’re going out on a limb here and saying Fort Ord, home to the mega-popular Sea Otter Classic, is a great place for beginners to get started. Sure, the climbs can be grueling, but there’s little in the way of technical difficulty, at least on the official singletrack trails.

Colorado: Dawson’s Butte & Ridgeline Open Space Trail

photo: BMCPete

Dawson’s Butte photo: BMCPete

Colorado has a lot to offer advanced riders, with thousands of miles of some of the most epic singletrack in the US spread throughout the state. To work up to some of the best-known routes, many riders get their start on popular Front Range beginner trails like Dawson’s Butte and Ridgeline Open Space, both in Castle Rock (about halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs). Singletracks members have actually identified nearly 200 beginner trails in Colorado, so there are plenty of other great spots to choose from!

Connecticut: Gay City State Park

photo: Rider51

photo: Rider51

Beginner riders will want to start with the inner White Trail, but overall new riders will find Gay City State Park to be a good intro to mountain biking. Some riders report the trails are not always well marked, so try to go with a friend!

Delaware: No Recommendation

It’s hard to believe there are no beginner-friendly trails in Delaware, so if you know of any, add or review them on Singletracks today!

Florida: Spruce Creek Preserve

photo: smokinoak

photo: smokinoak

If you’ve never ridden in Florida, you might assume all the trails are beginner-friendly. But you would be wrong. For a truly beginner-friendly trail, Spruce Creek seems to be a solid choice, with 7-10 miles of newbie-approved–and fun–trails.

Georgia: Paynes Creek

paynes_creek-1

Paynes Creek is located just inside the Georgia border with South Carolina, along the shores of Lake Hartwell. This multi-loop system is smooth, fast, and flowy, with minimal climbing. Bring the whole family to camp at the trails and enjoy the singletrack!

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# Comments

  • Chris Daniels

    I spent a couple years in RI and while I didn’t get out as much riding, Lincoln Woods seemed to be pretty beginner-friendly.

  • hproctor

    I wasn’t consulted on this article??? You must not have read my bio ;-).
    For one who came to the scene after retirement, I will heavily reference this article as I travel. I scrolled to the Oregon listing first and was pleased to see Timonthy Lake listed. Very true if you live in the Mt. Hood/Portland area. I’m sure the folks around Bend could point to The Deschutes River Trail or several loops you can put together from the Phil’s TH.
    I always smile at the beginner rating for Sweetwater Preserve trail in Arizona. Plenty of rocks and a bit of climbing that might discourage a beginner. Honeybee Canyon loop near Tucson is an almost flat XC ride.
    I think beginner riders in Delaware travel across the Maryland state line and ride near Fair Hill.

  • John Fisch

    Sweetwater in Arizona, Dawson’s Butte in Colorado, Dead Horse in Utah are all outstanding choices. Sweetwater and Dead Horse are particularly special because they are wonderfully scenic, can be fun for any level of rider but still easy enough to be more inspiring than intimidating for the novice rider.

  • Dave325

    Rhode Island has some nice easy single track in the northwest corner. Pulaski state park. Check it out.

    • Jeff Barber

      Dave, I checked the Pulaski SP website and it doesn’t mention biking. I do see they have about 10 miles of XC ski trails which seem like they would be great for biking if that’s allowed!

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