The Top 10 Peaks You Can Summit Worldwide with Your Mountain Bike

Cerro Guagua Pichincha

Cerro Guagua Pichincha, one of the peaks of an active volcano outside of the Ecuadorean capital city of Quito, is probably the easiest 15,000-foot+ peak you can summit with a bike. To start, riders can drive a car to a parking lot at about 13,600 feet. During the dry season, climbers can get even higher.

The road up the mountain from the parking lot is very smooth, so climbing the 2,100 feet to the summit is hard on the legs but not on the rest of the body. At the red Ecuadorean Civil Defense hut, continue on the road to the left up to the summit. Even though riders can’t technically ride onto the summit, they can park their bikes and walk the last few vertical feet up the ledgy, exposed summit “pyramid.”

Now that the climbing is done, it’s time to check those brakes and start heading down. First, riders scream through the moonscape of the high slopes of the peak down to the Defense Hut. The speeds on the road coming down get can get so high that riders’ handlebars start to wobble. That said, crashing could be disastrous. After finishing, turn left at the Defense Hut to start the singletrack descent all the way into the city.

Over 14 miles on Valle de la Muerte, riders will enjoy 6,800 feet of descending and 2,500 feet of climbing, offering a sampling of Ecuador’s mountain ecosystems. Quickly leaving the high, barren slopes behind, they’ll dive into a lush valley known as the “Valley of Death” where primitive jumps and drops wait to be taken on. Next comes a peaceful ride through rolling farmland where views of the alpine metropolis below provide a deep contrast to the natural feeling of the rest of the trail. Lastly, riders will be dumped out onto a road after undulating through a forest. From there they can either drive away if they set up a shuttle or continue to descend through the city on the area’s downhill tracks.

The Details

  • Elevation:15,728′
  • Net elevation gain to summit: 2,113′
  • Distance: 17 miles
  • Nearest town: Quito, Ecuador
  • Nearest campground: For this journey, a cheap, or even a fancy hotel in Quito is probably not a bad idea.
  • Best post-ride restaurant: Las Corvinas de “Don Jimmy”

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