Love it or hate it, Strava is making its mark on mountain biking. Countless mountain bikers all around the world are using Strava to track rides, compete in virtual races, and share adventures with friends. So, we decided to take a look at some of the most popular mountain bike trail segments on Strava to see where all the action is taking place!
For those who aren’t familiar with Strava, segments are created by Strava users within trail systems for the purpose of virtual mountain bike racing. Once someone creates a segment, anyone else who happens to ride this same section of trail is entered into the virtual race, with an online leaderboard to show how everyone ranks. The segments listed below are among some of the most popular Strava mountain bike segments I was able to find.
#10: “Just the Spine” (Wasatch Crest Trail, Utah)
Not only is “Just the Spine” one of the most popular Strava segments I found, but it’s also the shortest one I’ve ever seen: 0.00 miles long. I’m not even sure how it’s possible to create such a short segment, but either way, a lot of people have passed through this section of the Wasatch Crest Trail–7,979 of them, to be exact.
This is a steep downhill segment, with a 22% negative grade, losing 70 feet in 0.00 miles, so apparently it’s like riding down a vertical wall. Someone rode this stretch in just 8 seconds, with the next closest person completing the segment in 12 seconds. Somehow a few people managed to take more than 20 minutes to complete this short stretch of trail, so clearly it is difficult.
#9: “Prime Cut Up – Top Half” (Prime Cut Trail, Colorado)
Prime Cut is part of the popular 18 Road trail system in Fruita, CO, and many riders climb this trail to access great descents like PBR and Kessel Run. This segment climbs a little under 200 feet in less than a mile at a 4% grade. Sepp Kuss and Ben Sonntag, both pro cyclists from Durango, CO, currently have the two fastest times on this section at 3:52 and 4:00 respectively. That’s about 13mph going uphill!
More than 8,100 mountain bikers have attempted this section of Prime Cut, which isn’t surprising given how popular Fruita has become among mountain bike tourists. Those 8,173 riders made 31,687 attempts on this segment, which works out to just under 4 attempts per person. As we’ll see for other trails, this is a fairly low number of attempts per rider compared to segments located near population centers.
#8: “Kokopelli Trail – first climb” (Kokopelli’s Trail, Colorado)
This is another Fruita-area climb, but on the other side of I-70 from 18 Road. Strava officially rates this 1-mile, 5% grade climb as a Category 4 climb, which tends to attract even road cyclists to make an attempt. Top times for this segment are under 5 minutes, 30 seconds with top riders crushing 11mph on average to get to the top.
Many riders choose to bikepack the entire Kokopelli’s Trail from Fruita to Moab, and this segment is basically the first stretch that everyone completes. Not only that, it’s also popular with day-trippers riding Horsethief Bench Trail, where this section of Kokopelli’s Trail is also known as Mary’s Trail.
#7: “CHOLLA” (Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, California)
I don’t like to brag, but only 740 mountain bikers have ridden the Cholla Trail in Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park faster than me. I averaged 4.9mph up this 13% grade, but the fastest guys nearly doubled that! With 8,470 riders who have completed this segment, there are some pretty famous names on the list like MTB-Hall-of-Famer, Brian Lopes (#2 overall).
Aliso and Wood Canyons is a popular riding spot among locals who have racked up an impressive 100,920 attempts on this segment alone. That works out to nearly 12 attempts per person, though I have to say I personally only attempted this section once. As a connector trail between the Wood Canyon and West Ridge Trails, many riders will complete this climb more than once in a single ride, which also helps explain the high number of attempts per rider.
#6: “Hit the Double Black!!” (Camp Tamarancho, California)
At first glance it might seem this segment is a ripping descent, but it turns out only the first half of this segment along the Serpentine Trail goes down. Riders descend about 80 feet in 0.2 miles, then climb back that much and more over the next 0.2 miles. So to land at the top of this leaderboard, riders need to be both fast descenders and strong climbers. The top rider posted an average speed of 22.9mph which appears a little suspect, considering the second place rider averaged 15.4mph. Oh well, no one ever claimed Strava leaderboards are completely accurate.
The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame recently relocated to Fairfax, and Camp Tamarancho, where the Serpentine Trail is located, is about as close as mountain bikers can get to riding Mount Tam, where the sport of mountain biking was born. Judging by the ratio of attempts to riders, it would seem many out-of-town riders have completed this segment as a part of their pilgrimage.
#5: “Pogonip” (Pogonip Open Space, California)
Strava got its start and is based in the Bay Area, so it’s no surprise to see so many stacked leaderboards in northern California. Pogonip Open Space probably isn’t very well known outside of California, but its proximity to Santa Cruz makes it popular with riders on both sides of the Santa Cruz Mountains. This half-mile segment climbs 11% along the U-Con Trail and has been attempted by 8,834 mountain bikers.
Surprisingly, many of the most popular mountain bike segments on Strava seem to be climbs. To build this top 10 list, I looked for segments in popular riding areas, and chose the most popular one within a trail system. So, for example, within the Pogonip Open Space there are at least half a dozen segments, but I only chose the most popular one. This matters as we go down the list because on some of the top trails, multiple segments along the same trail would qualify for the top 10 list on their own.
#4: “3 guys w/ only 2 beers at the truck” (Amasa Back, Utah)
Finally, some downhill! This urgent-sounding Strava segment descends at an average 8% grade for just a tenth of a mile, with top riders completing the whole thing in less than 30 seconds. But don’t let that average grade fool you: at the mid-point of this segment, the trail drops at 25% or more! Local rider Tom Perkins currently holds the top spot on the leaderboard.
Officially, this section of trail is known as the Cliff Hanger Trail, and many mountain bikers complete this short section while riding Amasa Back, Captain Ahab, and/or Hymasa. The segment sees fewer than 2 attempts per rider, on average.
#3: “Slickrock Start” (Slickrock Trail, Utah)
Slickrock has historically been one of the more iconic rides in Moab, though hipster mountain bikers might tell you this trail isn’t cool anymore. Nevertheless, this section of the Slickrock Trail loop has been ridden by more than 9,900 mountain bikers.
Part of the fun for first-timers is to see how much grip they can get on this trail’s sandpaper-like, rock surface. So it’s no surprise that this segment features an insane climb with grades approaching 15% or more at the very end (trust me, it feels even steeper than the numbers let on). Regular YouTube mountain bike sensation Kyle Mears currently holds the record for the fastest time on this segment, averaging 15.1mph to the top.
This segment registers just 1.4 attempts per rider, which indicates that while everyone should ride Slickrock once, it’s probably not worth doing a second time.
#2: “Helipad to Braille” (Soquel Demonstration Forest, California)
Singletracks members have rated the trails in Soquel Demonstration Forest among the best in California, and with a prime Santa Cruz area location, these trails see a ton of riders each year. The “Helipad to Braille” segment mows through the 10,000 rider mark, landing at 10,764 riders who have completed 56,831 attempts.
This segment, along the Ridge Trail, only drops about 100 feet over nearly half a mile, but features rolling steep ups and downs along the way. Pro Cyclist John Michael Hauer holds the top spot on this leaderboard and if that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also has the fastest tip on the Pogonip segment across town.
In a recent survey, Singletracks members chose the Soquel Flow Trail as the best flow trail in the USA, though unfortunately that segment hasn’t seen nearly as many Strava riders (yet).
#1: “PORCUPINE DH – Fast mile along river” (Porcupine Rim, Utah)
Two familiar names–Kyle Mears and Nate Hills–hold the #1 and #4 spots, respectively, on this segment along the Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab, UT. They’re among the 11,813 mountain bikers who have posted times on Strava for this last, 0.9-mile leg along the Colorado River. Overall, this segment drops more than 400 feet, making it the longest sustained descent among the segments on our list. The top 5 fastest riders on this segment averaged about 17mph!
Like the Slickrock segment, the average number of attempts per rider is pretty low–just 1.5–which isn’t surprising given that Moab is a top MTB tourism destination. While most of us won’t be able to complete this segment in 3 minutes like the pros, even the most cautious riders won’t end up at the back of the pack where the slowest riders took over an hour to traverse less than a mile of trail.
Our top 10 list of popular Strava mountain bike segments was clearly dominated by some of the usual suspects, but it turns out there are popular segments outside of these areas as well.
Kingdom Trails (East Burke, VT): We didn’t have to go too far down the list to find this popular East Coast mountain bike segment. The Kingdom Trails are nationally recognized as offering mega trail mileage and a wide variety of terrain. This segment, ridden by nearly 7,000 mountain bikers, takes riders on a half-mile descent down the Kitchel Trail.
Whistler (BC, Canada): Everyone knows Whistler is a top mountain bike destination, and the “Heart of Darkness” segment on Strava proves it, with 6,502 riders competing for the fastest time on this steep descent along the Blue Velvet trail.
First Divide (Downieville, CA): Thousands of riders have ridden portions of the Downieville descent in California, though not quite enough to crack our top 10 list. This popular segment covers the lower portion of the First Divide trail.
Slim Shady (Sedona, AZ): As Sedona becomes more and more popular with mountain bikers, I suspect this segment along the Slim Shady trail will eventually rival even those trails currently in the top 10 overall.
Did we miss a mountain bike segment that should have made our top 10? Join the conversation here or light us up in the comments.