IMBA just announced their 2017 Epic trail selections today, and this year’s crop appears to be more geographically diverse–international, even–than in years past. In order to be considered an IMBA Epic, a trail or trail system must be at least 20 miles long, and 80% of the route must be singletrack.
Two New Zealand trails made the IMBA Epic list this year: Heaphy Track near Westport and the Old Ghost Road near Karamea. The trails are located within about 50 miles of each other as the crow flies, though traveling between the two is not easy.
Heaphy Track is only open to bikes from May through September, and most mountain bikers ride the 50-mile (80km) route as a multi-day trip. The trail is located within Kahurangi National Park.
The Old Ghost Road is one of the most popular and well-known routes in New Zealand, and like the nearby Heaphy Track, it’s generally ridden as a multi-day trip. Singletracks contributor Jim Cummings says, “The Old Ghost Road is an epic adventure ride that you’ll never forget. You need to be fit and skilled because it’s merciless.”
Finland’s Hossa National Park got a shout out from IMBA this year as well, with the Sininen Saavutus Trail chosen as a 2017 Epic. The Sininen Saavutus Trail is a loop that is about 31 miles long (50km,) featuring several technical sections and tough descents as the trail winds its way through the park.
Other Notable Picks
Johnson Pass, located in Chugach National Forest, is the first IMBA Epic in Alaska, and is part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail. The 24-mile route is an out-and-back, so most riders choose to shuttle it.
Tsali is back on the IMBA Epic list, after a mysterious disappearance back in 2014. That year, IMBA changed their requirements for Epics, and in the process, certain trails were “retired” to the Epic Hall of Fame. Curiously, Tsali was removed from the official Epic list but wasn’t placed in the Hall of Fame, so perhaps this year’s selection is simply to correct the mistake. Either way, the Tsali Recreation Area has been a classic mountain bike destination for decades, with flowy trails located just across Lake Fontana from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Ohio just got its first IMBA Epic trail, with Mohican State Park making this year’s list. A 24-mile main loop offers a little bit of everything, from rock gardens to flow sections, and surprisingly long climbs and descents along the way.
Rounding out the list, IMBA has chosen the Aspen Snowmass Mega Loop in Colorado, the Galena Grinder (aka, the Galena Lodge Trail System) in Idaho, and the South Boundary Loop in New Mexico as 2017 Epics.
For additional details, be sure to read IMBA’s full press release.