The mountain bike destination. They say it provides something for everyone, hundreds of miles of trail mostly accessible right from town, great food, a variety of lodging, and nothing but favorable fat-tired vibes. In 2015, the Singletracks team traveled coast-to-coast and abroad to bring you some oldie-but-goodies, the up-and-coming, and perhaps some destinations you’ve never heard of or considered.
Here, we rounded up our 2015 in-depth reports of legit mountain bike destinations in an effort to connect you to resources, including information on road trips, package tours, shuttles, outfitters, bike shops, tourism bureaus, bike parks, food, lodging, and of course, some incredible trails.
In a time where mountain bikers are both fighting for access and loosing ground to which they’ve laid claim for years, the story of how Sedona has become what it is and where it’s going is about as heartening as an enslaved, troublesome orca freed by its 12-year-old keeper from the confines of a money hungry, evil mastermind. Unlike Willy however, Sedonian trails, where mountain biking is equally as important as hiking, are here to stay! In a series of six articles, we took you from the history of Sedona’s bandit trails to the heights of the Hangover and Hiline, detailing everything you need to know about bike shopping, bedding, beer, and riding to get the most out of your next must-do destination.
“For about a hundred yards the trail consisted of a cascade of steep rock rolls and ledge drops, located on the side of this rounded, low angle rock cliff… the combination of features and glaring exposure promised that if you wadded it up and crashed up top, you would rag doll down the rock face… stopping at the bottom of the cliff in a broken, bloody heap. Whoever looked at this and thought, ‘I can build a trail there,’ was an absolute singletrack mastermind.” -Greg Heil
- When Bandit Trails Go Legit: The Hangover Trail, Sedona’s Crowning Jewel
- Beginnings Interview: Matt McFee, Owner and Founder of Hermosa Tours
- Eating Good Food, Drinking Beer, and Living High on the Hog in Sedona
- An Arizona Highlight: Riding the Hiline Trail
- Sedona Day 1: Riding the Upper Dry Creek Trail System
- Sedona, Arizona: Not Just Another Moab
Bordered by the Big Hole Mountains to the West, the Gros Ventre Wilderness to the East, and the Tetons betwixt, is a destination that combines the best of both Wyoming and Idaho riding, affectionately known as Wydaho. Earn your turns on Mill Creek, Phillips Ridge, and Game Creek; let the lift do the work at Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort bike parks; or try your hand on one of the several downhill trails from the Teton Pass where hitchiking for a boost has been legalized. Whatever you shred, just don’t forget your bear bell!
While the timing of my trip kept me from breaching the borders of “The Ghee” (Grand Targhee Resort), Greg followed up with a late summer visit to the bike park and made quick work of both older and brand new downhill lines featuring drops, rocks, and tabletops in all manner of shape and variety.
“There’s no question that the existing trail network here at Grand Targhee is superb. But unlike some destinations and resorts I’ve visited, they aren’t content to rest on their laurels… If you visit the ‘Ghee’ one year and then come back the next, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have new trail to ride. If that’s not a fresh mountain biking experience, I don’t know what is!” -Greg Heil
- Grand Targhee Resort Offers Singletrack Nirvana – And It’s Getting Better Every Day!
- Beyond Targhee: More Classic Wydaho Mountain Biking
Eager mountain bikers flock from all over the world to ride New Zealand trail, but for Euan Wilson, guiding giddy bikers on South Island singletrack is just another day at the office. Skirt the Port Hills ridge before taking a dip in the South Pacific, behold Colorado-like peaks to African-like plains from the St. James trail before taking a soak in the Hanmer hot springs, and dive deep into a two-day rainforest ride where your luggage awaits you at a mountain top hut. And that’s only in the first four of the 12-day guided adventure!
WARNING: if you go on to read this article, you will be purchasing plane tickets by day’s end!
This year John fled the Rockies destined for some Northwoods touring and although he did hit Marquette and the beloved Copper Harbor, John brought to light a handful of lesser-known, one-of-a-kind trails that, taken together, made for a solid Upper Midwest getaway. Between the Movil Maze trail (Bemidji, MN), Maple Hill (Hibbing, MN), and Winman Trail (Manitowash, WI), John discovered fast and flowy trail, pumptracks, jump lines, hucks, and a firm desire to return that he attributes to recent local diversity, some dedicated rider/builders, and a little love from IMBA’s Trail Care Crew. The Northwoods aren’t just for fishing and XC skiing anymore!
“While the common scenario is for Midwesterners to head for the Rockies or the desert Southwest, I, as a Coloradoan, had an equally satisfying time reversing the usual path and enjoying the variety my Midwestern brethren had laid out.” -John Fisch
- Finding the Spirit of Mountain Biking in the Upper Midwest
- The “Other Trail,” Appedix 3: South Marquette, Michigan
What destination recap would be complete without no less than five in-depth destination reports from Colorado? And with a few of the Singletracks’ Editorial Team members residing in the Centennial state (including our esteemed editor-in-chief), we’re pretty well versed in Rocky Mountain riding.
First off, while several of his suggested locations are week-worthy destinations alone, if you’re looking to tear through Colorado in search of stellar must-do-riding, Michael’s whirlwind road trip details a week-long route extending from your arrival in Denver all the way to Grand Junction.
Salida, CO is as authentic as any mountain town minus the cookie-cutter resort riffraff. While most bikers may know Salida as the exit point for the famed Monarch Crest trail, few take the time to explore all the area has to offer. What Salida lacks in amenities found in places like Moab and Whistler, it makes up for with the 500+ miles of trail within 25 miles of town–something the more popular destinations do not have.
Greg took us along for his 4-day tour riding some of the finest singletrack in Crested Butte during the EWS and, and while we’d all wished for better circumstances, what better way to celebrate the life of a mountain biker than doing what he did best? Greg dished on some oldie-but-goodies, some new-to-him, and even some fresh cut singletrack on the Gunsight Pass Connector–one of the flowiest, loamiest trails he’s ever ridden!
With more mountain bike destinations in Colorado than you can shake a 15mm thru-axle at, it’s still heart-warming to see more on the rise. Eagle and Del Norte popped up on our radar in 2015 as two Colorado locations with a newfound passion for the maintenance and enhancement of already-exisitng trail and development of more. Read more on how Eagle could be the next Fruita and about Del Norte’s trail without a trail MTB playground.
- Is Eagle, CO the Next Fruita?
- Del Norte, Colorado: Mountain Bike Destination On the rise
- 5 Must-Ride Trails in Del Norte, Colorado
- Bishop Rock is a Bona Fide MTB Playground
Michael Ackerman’s, “A Mini-Guide to Fat Biking Durango, Colorado,” looks about as mini as fat bikes are skinny. While it would behoove anyone seeking winter riding in Durango to delve into the deets on the suggested trails, Michael drops no less than 25 names of trails, roads, loops, connectors, and routes featuring everything from mellow meadow to technical drops and fast singletrack descents. Hell, he had me so convinced, I almost thought about buying a fat bike… almost.
Road Trip From Pennsylvania to Colorado
I personally prefer the road trip shredfest over hubbing it for a week in one place, so I was stoked to read about Helena’s game plan traveling from Central Pennsylvania to Colorado. While her initial plans might have proved to be more ambitious than her El Mariachi fat tire set up, she brought us fantastic insight on what to expect, how to prepare, be flexible, and make the most of available resources while road trippin.’ Helena’s trip ended with a weekend in Salida, CO, where you can read about our Singletracks editorial team meet up ride.
- East Coast Girl Went West: A Mountain Bike Road Trip from Pennsylvania to Colorado
- East Coast Girl Went West, Part 1: The Journey to Colorado
- East Coast Girl Went West, Part 2: Riding in Boulder
- East Coast Girl Went West, Part 3: The Salida Singletracks Meetup
With 28 different access points, you can pick up the South Hills Trail System from the end of nearly any street in Helena, MT. Although you’re never a stone’s throw away from town, the 75-mile network never felt further from civilization. Descending MacDonald Pass proved to be more raw and challenging than your typical shuttle, especially when earning your turns through a series of steep, highly-technical climbs and descents before accessing the goods. Second only to actually riding Helena-area trails, but perhaps the most enticing reason to make Montana’s capitol city your next MTB trip, is the Trail Rider – a bike-hauling bus running five days a week for free. With multiple drop-offs, it eliminates the painstaking planning and guess work of locating trailheads and parking from the equation, giving you more time to ride.
- 75 Miles of Singletrack Connected to Town: Helena, Montana’s South Hills Trail System
- Ride Report: MacDonald Pass, Helena, Montana
- Helena, Montana Shuttles Riders to the Best Trails, 5 Days a Week, For Free
Navigating Greg’s 8-part series on Gothenburg’s expansive network of singletrack is a bit like actually riding it–a maze of options, surprises, and miles (in this case, pages) of both technical and flowy goodness–but with better signage. Never mind the rich history, strong mountain bike culture, and the “everyman’s-right” ethos, Gothenburg-area trails provide diversity and accessibility that would rival any top-shelf riding destination as you tour from the shadows of a castle on oceanside slickrock to the vastness of the Swedish interior. So, have a seat, grab some Swiss rolls, and enjoy your own fika while you soak up some biking abroad adventure. And cheers to Leo Ranta for returning our Chief Editor in one piece!
“Mountain biking in Gothenburg isn’t easy and it isn’t forgiving. But if you can brave the technical trails and the lack of signs, you’ll find a vast web of natural singletrack that offers challenge, history, and scenic views that all combine to create an unforgettable mountain biking experience.” -Greg Heil
- Read the opening article, including, all links to Greg’s Gothenburg series here
With so many trails and so little time, take a look at some smaller destinations, weekend getaways, and top destinations chosen by our Singletracks readership.
- 8 Must-Visit Mountain Bike Getaway Resorts
- The 10 Best US Destinations for a Weekend Mountain Bike Getaway
- The Top 10 Mountain Bike Destinations, As Chosen by the People
- The 10 Best MTB Shuttle Routes in the Western US
- 48 Hours and Your Mom’s Camera: A Mt. Bachelor Review
- Lying low in Flagstaff
- Riding SoCal Trail Nobility with Xen MTB
- Theodore Wirth Park Trip Report: February Mountain Biking in Minneapolis