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The Monarch Crest trail no longer qualifies as Epic. photo: Greg Heil

The Monarch Crest trail no longer qualifies as Epic. Photo: Greg Heil

IMBA recently updated its list of Epic trails, adding new criteria for judging Epic trails both past and future, and we were surprised at some of the trails that are no longer on the official list. Trails that previously appeared on the Epic list but no longer qualify have been given the consolation prize of appearing on the new “Hall of Fame Epics Rides” list, which you can view here.

According to IMBA.com,

IMBA has returned the Epics to the original intent of the designation—demanding, singletrack adventures in a natural setting. The 2013 class of Epics celebrates true backcountry riding experiences that are technically and physically challenging, more than 80 percent singletrack and at least 20 miles in length. All of theses Epics feature offer amazing opportunities to interact with the natural world.

So which trails have been retired? Here are some of the most surprising to us:

Some of the retirements are obvious given the new criteria (for example, Ray’s Indoor Bike Park certainly has less than 20 miles of trails and it’s not a “natural experience”), but others–like Monarch Crest and FATS–are not so easy to understand.

Which Epic retirement is most surprising to you?

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# Comments

  • dgaddis

    I don’t get it, are they just simply making room for new trails? Do they want the list to only be so big? In what world is the Monarch Crest trail not considered an Epic???

    • maddslacker

      In IMBA’s world. BikeSnobNYC summed it up best when he defined IMBA as “a boutique company who make custom decals for Subarus.” 🙂

    • chukt

      ….and live in Boulder, Colo.

  • John Fisch

    +1 for the WTH response to de-epicing the mighty Monarch Crest?!?!?!?

    I appreciate and applaud the return to the true meaning of “epic.” It makes perfect sense to me.

    However, the Crest seems to be the very essence of that definition.

    There is one problem with such a definition though–that’s gonna’ narrow down candidates quite a bit. Most trails which meet all the criteria are within designated Wilderness areas and off limits to bikes.

    • mtbgreg1

      The Crest, and many of the others that were removed, seem to fit the description of “epic” well, so this is definitely a head scratcher.

  • Paul Nichols

    I’m not saying Oak Mountain in Alabama is as epic as some of the others removed from the list, but since it was named an epic, over 15 miles of single track in varying degree of difficulty has been added. It’s a much better trail than it was years back. You can ride 20 miles three or four times a week and have a completely different experience each time.

  • SilverHeiHei

    I don’t understand removing Brown County State Park, Gauley Headwaters and The Southern Traverse from the Epic list but keeping Bull Mountain. Brown County is one of the best rides east of the Mississippi, Gauley is true backcountry riding, and TST is ideal, all-day riding with challenges a-plenty!

  • TSAP

    Alligripis at Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania also has disappeared. WTF. Kingdom Trails comes off the list? Are you kidding me?

  • Jeff Barber

    Brown county and allegrippis are definitely surprising too. GA Pinhoti is gone but I guess that’s because the whole thing is not singletrack (tho there are at least a couple 20+ mile singletrack sections).

  • GTechRacer

    I don’t even follow IMBA epic’s trails anymore I think singletracks’ top 100 has a better ranking since it comes from a bunch of people’s review’s.

  • bikinhard

    I can’t believe that they took out copper harbor.
    You have to drive all the way to the top of the michigan upper peninsula to a small town. The trails never stop getting better as they have professional trail builders they make new trails all the time.
    Plus it is a silver level ride center. They just don’t hand those out.

  • bravesdave

    If not Monarch Crest, then what trail is epic? Maybe IMBA needs to take a consolation prize and place itself in its own hall of fame. LOL.

  • bonkedagain

    Ditto on Monarch Crest — I can remember nominating it years ago, now it’s gone. Weird…

    I have to agree with removing The Edge Loop from the list — how that trail ever got designated is beyond me…

    • Greg Heil

      As is Tsali which, ironically, isn’t on the Epics list OR the Hall of Fame list…

    • Jeff Barber

      Confirmed with IMBA that Monarch Crest is not part of the Epic list for now.

      Will be posting a follow up article within a few days but the main message I got from IMBA is that anyone can nominate a trail be moved from the HOF back to the Epic list. In some cases, IMBA simply didn’t have updated info about trail mileage so they axed trails they thought were too short.

      In other cases, Epic routes were redefined to fit the new criteria (example: the Rock Lake Epic in WI was re-mapped to include more surrounding trails to get it to 20 miles).

      One such trail that was successfully brought back from retirement based on an email update is Seven Summit Ridge in BC.

  • WakeSS

    So 6 epics that I had under my belt are now off the list. Oh well, more to the bucket list; Epics and HOFers
    I do have to agree with the other comments about monarch crest. And switchgrass? Yeah it doesn’t have 3000ft of elevation gain but it’s in the middle of Kansas! The road trip qualifies it as epic in my book!

  • WesternSLP

    Aside from the shocking removals (like The Crest), 2 of the 2014 EPIC inductees are inside a ski resort boundary! The Grand Targhee “loop” connects enough single track to fit the qualification, all within Grand Targhee resort, I guess ski patrol can save you when you get a flat. Very iffy ground IMBA — credibility…???

  • Jetnjeff29r

    I think that 80% single track rule hurts systems that have 20 miles or more of single track, but have a bunch of fire road or road to connect it.

    SST and Seneca Rocks for example., both are remote and I recommend a Spot

    You can be a ride center and not an Epic. I guess Santos in Florida would fit that.

    Oak Mountain has a little too high of a percentage of fire road, I guess., But the Climbing and single track are awesome, Can you say Boulder ridge? Not super remote though.

    You got gotta through Kansas a bone, the Switch Grass is remote and all SS. Very remote.

    Although my favorite Epic, I thought Copper harbor was a bit short, but it is being added to, but just in a Machine cut berny kinda way, which is fun too, just seems un-epicy! Remotish, but a destation.

    Alafia is a bit short, but remotish and has some techie stuff, added to Balm Boyette, it could be a Ride Center!

    While single track is an important metric, I think that over all length and climbing elevation should also factor in. Remoteness is important, but can be subjective.

    So I say take out the 20% rule! Something like at least 20 miles of single track or 1000 feet of climbing. Every mile over that 20 that is fireroad needs to be matched with that much more single track.

    I am really surprised that Douthat, is off. The combination of pure mileage and elevation and ruggedness, the true sense of EPIC

    I have ridden all of those that I have mentioned and more. You can see my articles at http://www.mtbepicrides.com/

    • fleetwood

      Of all the trails mentioned, I am most familiar with Douthat. I too am confused why it was removed as it seems to meet the new definition. I’d be curious to know what criteria it is lacking.

      I do support IMBA and feel the good they do far outweighs the bad (or perceived bad) that they do.

      Regardless of what labels they use, it won’t change the awesome riding you can experience in Douthat and the surrounding national forest. My guess is that is true for a lot of other trail systems.

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