I just got my first MTB and live in Minnesota. I’d like to make a January weekend trip to Missouri to try the new bike on some trails. Looking for recommendations on trails for beginners. I assume the trails in southern MO are snow-free and open.
For a nice backcountry experience, try out the Berryman Trail. It is a 25 mile loop with a couple of portals you can use to shorten the ride if becomes too demanding. Great ride with extended downhills and none of the climbs are very steep. I really love Berryman. I recommend starting (and camping) at the Berryman Campground on the south end of the loop. Last I saw he north end campground (Brazil Creek) is pretty torn up and not nearly as attractive imo. Also if the 25 miles is too long for you as a beginner, you can easily divide into two rides in two days — the east half and the west half.
Since you mentioned southern Missouri I would recommend Wolf Creek in Poplar Bluff or Two Rivers near Springfield as Mongwolf suggested. Both are beginner friendly and have adequate mileage. White River Valley near Branson is another good one.
I wouldn’t rule out Northwest Missouri in the Kansas City Area just due to snow possibilities, which as you can see in the “Five to Ride” article has a lot of great riding. I grew up in that part of the state and while snow is a possibility, most likely it will be OK. Average temps are probably in the high 30’s or 40’s but could be warmer and even in the 60’s if your lucky. Classic Midwest weather and wild temperature swings abound. I would pay more attention to just how recent any significant snow fall/rain has been and whether the trails will be dry.
P.S. Another thought is that if you’re already going the distance to southern Missouri…why not go a little farther and venture to Northwest Arkansas in Bentonville area?? Better weather, MUCH more trails for any level (the Back 40 would be a great place for a beginner to break in a new bike/or Slaughter Pen trails) trails tend to dry quickly and downtown Bentonville is a great quaint place to hang for a few days with great restaurants, local brews, coffee shops, a world class museum and plenty of mountain bike community culture. It’s the mountain bike capital of the Midwest in my opinion.