10 Best US Mountain Bike Towns with the Lowest Cost of Living

Riding above Butte, Montana. Photo: Bob Allen.

If you’ve ever gotten a wild hair after reading one of our best mountain bike destinations in the United States lists and thought to yourself, “I’m going to pick up and move to Park City!” (for instance), chances are, reality set in real quick when you started looking at the price of homes there. While Park City is the first Gold-Level IMBA Ride Center in the world, the cost of homes currently for sale is also gold-level: a median price of $1.48 million.

While we’ve published articles about the best cities for mountain biking, which theoretically would have both lower costs of living and better job prospects, theory doesn’t always play out the way you’d think it would. With rising costs of living here in Colorado becoming a daily topic of conversation, I decided to find the best mountain bike towns with the lowest cost of living in the United States.

I quickly learned this project wouldn’t be as easy as it first sounded.

The Process

To begin, we had to create a definition of what it means to be a “mountain bike town.” We settled on these criteria:

  • 100 or more miles of bike-legal singletrack within 25 miles of downtown.
  • At least one real bike shop,
  • The population must be relatively town-like–an admittedly nebulous term.

Next, drawing on a bevy of Singletracks travel articles and input from both our editorial team and over a thousand comments on social media, I compiled a list of some 155 towns in the United States that I thought might meet the requirements above.

Once I had my list, I pulled cost of living (COL) numbers for each and every town. The problem is, no one single number accurately defines cost of living, so I pulled at least two numbers for each town. I relied most heavily on the cost of living index listed on BestPlaces.com, which incorporates all sorts of factors related to cost of living into one number. For reference, the national average is 100. You’ll note that all of the selections on this list come in below the national average, which I think is pretty impressive.

The second number I pulled for each town is the median home value as listed on Zillow.com. Of course, median home value doesn’t present the entire picture, either, as the median list price and median sale price of homes could be higher or lower than the median valuation of existing homes. In the text description for each town, I will attempt to analyze as many related home price numbers as possible.

Finally, after collecting all the data, we still applied our editorial oversight to this list, in an attempt to present not only towns that just so happen to have a low cost of living and a lot of singletrack, but that are truly rad mountain bike towns. To balance this editorial selection process, I’ve also included 10 additional towns in an “honorable mentions” section at the end of this article. That section includes some towns that either barely missed the data requirements, were ruled out for some other reason, or are just slightly more expensive than the 10 towns that made the primary list.

If you want to move to a mountain bike town and you don’t want to bankrupt yourself in the process, here are the 10 best mountain bike towns in the United States with the lowest cost of living, ordered by median home price from low to high.

Top 10 Mountain Bike Towns in the US with the Lowest Cost of Living

1. Anniston, Alabama

  • COL Index: 81.8
  • Median Home Price: $96,600, according to Best Places
  • Population: 22,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 120
Coldwater Mountain. Rider: Aaron Chamberlain

The 35 miles of purpose-built singletrack at Coldwater Mountain–rideable from downtown Anniston–comprise the crown jewel of mountain biking in the Anniston area. According to Tom Nelson, President of the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA), the Coldwater Mountain trail system is designated a Bronze-Level IMBA Ride Center. But the club isn’t satisfied with just 35 miles of trail: “The McClellan Development Authority recently designated $600,000 towards the construction of additional mountain bike trails,” according to Tom.

Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Technically, 35 miles rideable from downtown doesn’t qualify Anniston for this list but according to Tom, there’s 120 miles of bike-legal singletrack within 25 miles of downtown Anniston, which includes Cheaha Mountain, Iron Legs, Henry Farm, Coleman Lake, and Kentucky ORV. And of course, the further out you push that radius, the more trails you can access.

Downtown Anniston in 2012. Photo: Rivers Langley, via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Alright, Anniston has the mountain biking chops, but perhaps the most impressive numbers are the cost of living stats. The COL index is just 81.80–the second lowest number on our list by just 0.40 points–but the home prices are even more impressive. While it’s more difficult to get median home price statistics for smaller towns, Best Places lists the median home price as $96,600. Compare that to the median price of homes currently listed for sale in Anniston, according to Zillow: $98,800, very close to the median home price. As we’ll see, this is definitely not the case for many towns on this list. Add one more number into the mix, and the picture looks even more attractive. According to Realtor.com, the actual median closing price is even lower–just $70,000. Consider yourself in on the secret of the affordable mountain biking gem that is Anniston, Alabama.

2. Butte, Montana

  • COL Index: 90.0
  • Median Home Price: $125,400
  • Population: 34,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 300 +/-
Crystal and Warren Smith ride Maud S trail with views of Butte, Montana. Photo: Bob Allen

You probably noticed immediately that the COL index for Butte is quite a bit higher than it is for Anniston. and also some others on this list for that matter. Yet, the COL in Butte is 10 points below the national average and the median home price is just $125,400. This is an incredibly low number for a town in the Rocky Mountains. Compare to the nearby towns of Bozeman (over $300,000) and Missoula ($254,400) and with home prices literally half that, on the surface Butte seems like a diamond in the rough. While the market in Butte is on the rise, with the median list price at $149,450, the real estate market isn’t inflating nearly as rapidly as Bozeman or Missoula where the median list prices are $435,000 and $320,000, respectively.

Photo: Butte Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page

So what’s the catch? Are the trails shoddy?

Not in the least.

According to Bob Allen, Mountain Bike Hall of Famer and founding board member of the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance, Butte has around 300 miles of mountain-bike-legal singletrack in the immediate area. The singletrack opportunities are incredibly diverse, too. “There are trails and a bike park of sorts on the west side of the Montana Tech Campus,” said Bob. “The trails climb up to ‘The Butte’, the high point with a giant lighted ‘M’ above town.”

Photo: Bob Allen

In addition to the singletrack that’s easily accessible from town, backcountry trails extend into the mountains all around the area. “The CDT in both directions from Homestake Pass on Interstate 90 are worthy out-and-backs, or part of a larger point-to-point or loops,” said Bob. If you want to shuttle up to the CDT and ride all the way back into town, Linked Adventures is the company to contact for shuttles. If you want to get even more adventurous, of course there’s always bikepacking, but Linked Adventures also does supported multi-day rides on the Continental Divide Trail.

A new bike shop called Derailed Bikes will be opening this spring in Butte, and Headframe Distillery sells local libations. The mountain bike future looks bright for this historic mining town.

3. Pocatello, Idaho

  • COL Index: 88.5
  • Median Home Price: $127,800
  • Population: 55,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 200+
City Creek Trails. Photo: Jim Cummings

“It’s the most under-rated bike destination in the world,” said Ty Nelson, Owner/Operator of East Fork Bikes in Pocatello. While I can’t verify that it’s the most underrated, I can tell you that Pocatello is one of the most affordable towns with legit mountain biking in the nation–which is why it made this list.

Exactly how many miles of mountain bike trails are there in Pocatello? Even Ty can’t say with certainty. “I’d say 200 to 500 miles. That’s a tricky question because everything is connected, so you can ride a 10-mile loop or a 75-mile loop, or a different 10-mile loop every day for a month.”

Ty recommends the City Creek Trail as the go-to ride. It’s the closest to town and the best-marked, so it’s impossible to get lost. More adventurous mountain bikers will enjoy the East Fork-Crestline ride. “The Crestline Trail offers high-altitude scenery from ledgy mountainside singletrack, descending the east side of Scout Mountain,” says Chris Daniels.

Eastern Pocatello. Photo: Michlaovic, via Wikimedia Creative Commons

While again, being a mountain town in the Rockies cranks up the COL index a few points higher than some other places on this list, a median home price of $127,800 with access to hundreds of miles of trails is impressive. Similar to Butte, the market in Pocatello isn’t inflating all that quickly–the median price of homes listed for sale is still just $149,900.

One factor that could be keeping the cost of living in towns like Pocatello and Butte affordable is that neither of these towns is a true ski resort town. The closest ski resort to Butte is the relatively-small Discovery Ski Area located 46 miles away. Pebble Creek Ski Area is even smaller and is located about 20 miles from Pocatello.

4. Knoxville, Tennessee

  • COL Index: 81.4
  • Median Home Price: $136,000
  • Population: 186,000; 869,000 metro area
  • Miles of Singletrack: 200+

Knoxville, TN has been on our radar as an up-and-coming mountain bike town ever since they won $100,000 in the Bell Built Grant back in 2015. The result of that grant was the Devil’s Racetrack, a technical, professionally-built downhill trail filled with massive features.

But with over 200 miles of singletrack within 25 miles of downtown, there’s so, so much more to be ridden! Charlie Morgan, Knoxville local and freelance writer for Singletracks.com, recommends checking out “Barn Burner at Baker’s Creek (Devil’s Racetrack for experts), South Loop, Ross Marble, Flow at Mead’s Quarry, and Lost Chromosome at Fork of The River WMA.”

New trails at Windrock. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Wells, CTTP Executive Director | Anderson County Tourism Council

The Windrock Bike Park is also located within 25 miles of Knoxville and boasts super steep, burly DH runs built and managed by none other than pro downhiller Neko Mulally.

Yeah, maybe you never considered Knoxville a mountain bike town before… but it’s time to change your perspective! Defining Knoxville as a “town” is a bit tricky, and with a population of 186,000 (869,000 in the greater metro area), this is the highest-populated “town” on our list. But if you’re attracted to the accessibility of big city amenities like retail, restaurants, and a reasonably-sized airport, Knoxville could be the best choice on our list. That, and you can’t argue with the cost of living numbers.

Henley Street Bridge in Knoxville, TN. Photo: Tanner White via Flickr Creative Commons

The COL index is 81.40–the lowest number on our list. The median home price of $136,000 isn’t the absolute lowest on this list, but for a relatively large city it’s pretty impressive. That said, the market is pretty hot in Knoxville right now, and Zillow notes that the median price of homes listed for sale is $209,900. Knoxville is clearly on the rise.

5. Chattanooga, Tennessee

  • COL Index: 87.5
  • Median Home Price: $142,000
  • Population: 178,000; 548,000 metroa area
  • Miles of Singletrack: 100+

Two Tennessee towns on one list? While I considered nixing Chattanooga in favor of a town from a different state, it’s tough to argue with over 100 miles of high-quality singletrack and a median home price of just $142,000. When you consider Chattanooga’s hip downtown and the easy access to amenities afforded by its population size, it’s a no-brainer.

Raccoon Mountain is the marquee ride in the Chattanooga area, boasting 24 miles of trail with some very technical descents. Ride around the manmade reservoir on top of the mountain, or bomb down a long, flowy descent to the base–or do both! While Raccoon Mountain is the #1 trail system everyone talks about, Five Points just outside of town is fun, Enterprise South offers great beginner trails, and Stringer’s Ridge offers sweet singletrack that can be ridden from downtown.

Photo: Imilious via Wikimedia Creative Commons

While the median home price lands Chattanooga at #5 on our list, it’s worth noting that the cost of living index is lower across the board for towns in the Southeast like this one. While the median prices of homes for sale in Chattanooga is $199,900, Zillow currently rates the real estate market here as “cool.”

6. Roanoke, Virginia

  • COL Index: 87.1
  • Median Home Price: $144,900
  • Population: 100,000; 312,000 metro area
  • Miles of Singletrack: ~200

With the Blue Ridge Mountains rising up sharply to the west of town, not only is there some 200 miles of bike-legal singletrack near Roanoke, but those miles offer true mountain biking. “North Mountain Trail is a must-do for any serious mountain biker,” says Dan Lucas, Lead MTB Guide and Shop Manager for Roanoke Mountain Adventures. “It’s got a little bit of everything you would want in a backcountry trail: lung-busting climbs, skin-peeling descents, chunky tech rock gardens that will test the best trials riders, and classic East Coast rooty fun.”

View of Roanoke from the top of Mill Mountain. Photo: CraigCreekRider

While North Mountain (aka Dragon’s Back) is one of the best backcountry rides in the area, Mill Mountain is one of the most accessible, with some 8 miles of singletrack located right in the town of Roanoke. But the largest and most popular trail system in the area is Carvin’s Cove, located just outside of town, but still on city land. Carvin’s contains some 30 miles of singletrack ranging from flat, beginner-friendly trails to steep, black diamond plunges.

Riding North Mountain / Dragon’s Back. Rider: CraigCreekRider. Photo: Greg Heil

Roanoke offers great food, beer, plenty of bike shop options, and with a median home price of $144,900, the COL is very attractive. House prices are on the rise in Roanoke, but not as quickly as some others on this list: the median price of houses listed for sale is currently $169,900. If you’re looking to relocate, the time could be perfect to move to Roanoke.

7. Oakridge, Oregon

  • COL Index: 89.4
  • Median Home Price: $145,000
  • Population: 3,250
  • Miles of Singletrack: 300
Alpine Trail. Photo: Chris Daniels

The first certifiable mountain bike destination to make our list of affordable towns, Oakridge has graced numerous lists and roundups that we’ve published over the years. That acclaim is thanks to some 300 miles of some of the best singletrack… well, anywhere. “The Alpine Trail is by far the most ridden trail in the area with races on it for the last 20+ years, and shuttle service for nearly 15 years,” said Benjamin Beamer of the Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewards (GOATS). “It includes the Alpine trail, but [there are] also options to ride Tire Mountain to Cloverpatch to the Cloverpatch tie that will someday connect without roads.”

Larison Rock Trail. Photo: Chris Daniels

According to Benjamin, other stand-out trails in the area include Dead Mountain, Middle Fork, Heckletooth, and Waldo Lake… but there’s so much more available!

While the COL index for Oakridge is a few points higher than others on this list, likely due to being an isolated mountain town in Oregon, the median home price is still a very attractive $145,000. But that’s changing quickly: according to Zillow, “home values have gone up 9.8% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 4.3% within the next year.”

Winter in downtown Oakridge. Photo: Chris Phan, via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Is Oakridge the perfect town for you? Perhaps, but you’ll need to be prepared to live in a small community of just over 3,000 people that’s about three hours from the closest major airport (Portland). Small town mountain living isn’t for everyone, but at least in Oakridge it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

8. Canon City, Colorado

  • COL Index: 93.6
  • Median Home Price: ~$150,000
  • Population: 17,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: ~140
Riding the Hogbacks Trail above the town of Canon City. Rider: Marcel Slootheer. Photo: Greg Heil

Colorado. It seems that we can barely get a paragraph out without mentioning Colorado in some way. With world-class mountain biking and some of the biggest mountains in the continental United States, it’s no wonder that so many mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts want to move here. Denver often cracks lists of the fastest-growing cities, placing #23 in 2017.

The problem? Colorado is expensive, pretty much everywhere in the state. While real estate prices haven’t reached California levels yet, trying to find a Colorado town to include on this list seemed like a fool’s errand.

But then, there’s Canon City.

Photo: Chris Litherland via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Best Places lists Canon City’s median home value at $145,000, but they routinely post lower numbers than Zillow (which is why it’s rounded up to $150,000 in the bulleted list above). According to Trulia, the median sales price of homes in Canon City is $162,500–not bad compared to the median home value. However, while Zillow doesn’t list very many numbers for Canon city, they do show a median value of $224,854 for homes that are currently listed for sale. While that stings compared to most of the other choices on this list, compare that number to the median list prices for nearby Colorado Springs and Salida: $315,000 and $449,450, respectively.

Canon City may be one of the only semi-affordable towns left in Colorado, but what’s the riding like? In a word: excellent.

Oil Well Flats. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

Canon City has been building trails rapidly over the past few years and at last count, they now boast 139 miles of singletrack within 25 miles of downtown–and they aren’t done yet. New trail systems that have put Canon City on the map include Oil Well Flats, the South Canon Trails which are rideable from downtown, and the Royal Gorge Trails, where the trail mileage is set to expand rapidly in the near future.

While the trails around Canon City are set in a desert landscape, the town is still within easy day-ride distance of the high mountain singletrack that Colorado is famous for.

9. Ogden, Utah

  • COL Index: 86.8
  • Median Home Price: $154,300
  • Population: 87,000; 547,000 metro area
  • Miles of Singletrack: 200+

Ogden, Utah is another town that often hits the lists of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. In 2017, it took spot #13, but other nearby towns like Salt Lake City and Provo ranked even higher. The difference between Ogden and most of the fastest-growing cities in the nation is that with a median home price of $154,300, Ogden remains relatively affordable. And of course, it has rad singletrack.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail above Ogden. Photo: dgw2jr

“Ogden is definitely a phenomenal mountain biking town!” said Nate Foulger of The Bike Shoppe. “There are literally hundreds of miles of rideable singletrack trails near Ogden city. The Bonneville Shoreline trail winds in and out of canyons along the East Bench for over 50 miles from Kaysville through Ogden and Willard, finally ending in Perry. The Skyline Trail has multiple trailheads and climbs to the ridgeline of the mountains connecting Lewis to Ben Lomond to Willard Peak. This amazing trail offers over 30 miles of high elevation singletrack and breathtaking views. Snowbasin is another gem. The mountainside is covered with fast-rolling, shaded singletrack that weaves you through forests of scrub oak, aspen, and pine. These trails also offer plenty of elevation gain leading up to Mount Ogden, the Ogden Overlook, and the Sardine loop. Slightly farther away, but still within Ogden’s reach are the new trails being built at Powder Mountain.”

“Ogden is one of Utah’s best-kept secrets. I couldn’t live anywhere else,” he concludes. #sorrynotsorry we’re letting the secret out, Nate. Ogden is a gem that’s well-deserving of being on this list.

Photo: Rick Bolin via Flickr Creative Commons

For a city in the Rocky Mountains, a COL index of 86.80 is pretty unheard of. Most of the other Rocky Mountain towns on this list post a much higher cost of living. Even nearby towns like Salt Lake can’t compete with Ogden’s low prices. While the housing prices are on the rise, they aren’t changing too rapidly just yet: the median list price in Ogden is $189,900.

10. Bella Vista, Arkansas

  • COL Index: 87.20
  • Median Home Price: $166,200
  • Population: 28,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: ~125
Back 40 Trail. Rider: Steven Deckert. Photo: Nathan Wentz.

Finally, we reach Arkansas. When I polled our readers on social media to see what they thought the most affordable mountain bike towns are, Bentonville, Arkansas was one of the top responses. Unfortunately, Bentonville doesn’t quite make this list with a median home price of $193,100 and a COL index of 90.80. But cut almost $30,000 off Bentonville home prices and you have Bella Vista, which is literally within riding distance of Bentonville via greenway trail.

Photo: Dylan Shaddox

Still, $166,200 is a good bit steeper than some of the other towns on this list but as a southern town, Bella Vista’s COL Index of 87.20 still ranks lower than some western mountain towns with lower home prices. Many variables can impact how expensive a town is to live in, and depending on your life situation, one variable could be more important to you than another. To help you compare one place to another, I recommend Best Places’ cost of living comparison tool.

Like most towns on this list–and in the nation at large–housing is increasing in price in Bella Vista, with the median list price currently at $173,000. However, that rate of increase is much lower than other towns that we’ve covered already. Bella Vista is a sleeper town, and it looks to stay that way for the time being.

Rider: Nathan Wentz. Photo: Greg Heil.

Do we need to tell you yet again how good the mountain biking is in Bella Vista? Probably not, but let’s recap.

The Back 40 Loop beginning at Blowing Springs is the marquee Bella Vista ride. “The Back 40 Loop trail is just over 21 miles, and provides riders with variations of Arkansas singletrack, including rock outcroppings, man-made bridges, stream crossings, beds of pine needles, and long stretches beneath expansive bluff overhangs,” said Cassi Lapp, Communications Manager for the City of Bella Vista. “This trail also provides access to the Back 40’s eight main connector trails, each offering a different aspect of trail design including flow, hand-cut rock sections, berms, flat-out-fun downhill, and more.”

In addition, you can easily pedal down the paved greenway to access the network of trails around Slaughter Pen, which has everything from a massive jump park to flow trails to technical, old-school singletrack.

Conclusion

Numerous factors influence where we choose to live. While access to great singletrack and a relatively affordable cost of living rank highly for many mountain bikers, other factors like climate, culture, amenities, proximity to family, and many, many more also play a role in this determination. I hope this list is diverse enough that if you’re planning to move to a mountain bike town in the US, you can now find an affordable place to call home!

Still don’t feel like you’ve found the perfect spot? Check out these 10 honorable mentions, which are all worthy mountain bike towns.

Honorable Mentions

Terlingua/Lajitas, Texas

  • COL Index: 84.30
  • Median Home Price: $76,200, according to Best Places
  • Population: 58
  • Miles of Singletrack: 135

Kansas City, Kansas

  • COL Index: 80.90
  • Median Home Price: $86,800
  • Population: 152,000; 2,159,000 metro area
  • Miles of Singletrack: 130+

Del Norte, Colorado

  • COL Index: 96.10
  • Median Home Price: $125,300
  • Population: 1,600
  • Miles of Singletrack: ~100

Slatyfork, West Virginia

  • COL Index: 88.70
  • Median List Price of Homes for Sale: $133,450 
  • Population: 80
  • Miles of Singletrack: 150+

Ocala, Florida

  • COL Index: 88.20
  • Median List Price of Homes for Sale: $133,200 
  • Population: 59,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 85+

Cable, Wisconsin

  • COL Index: 94.60
  • Median Home Price: $136,000, according to Best Places
  • Population: 825
  • Miles of Singletrack: 150+

Sturgis, South Dakota

  • COL Index: 93.90
  • Median Home Price: $136,300, according to Best Places
  • Population: 6,800
  • Miles of Singletrack: ~200

Salmon, Idaho

  • COL Index: 95.30
  • Median Home Price: $140,125 according to Best Places
  • Population: 3,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 330+

Duluth, Minnesota

  • COL Index: 90.40
  • Median Home Price: $152,800
  • Population: 86,000; 279,000 metro area
  • Miles of Singletrack: 80+, and growing

Marquette, Michigan

  • COL Index: 93.60
  • Median Home Price: $159,900
  • Population: 21,000
  • Miles of Singletrack: 100+

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