Five2Ride: Mountain Bike Trails in Washington

five2ride_washington

Washington state is chock full of amazing mountain bike trails, though unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re a local) Washington’s northern neighbor British Columbia seems to get all the mountain bike tourism love. But travelers would be wise to consider all the excellent mountain biking opportunities Washington has to offer, including two IMBA Epics (Skookum Flats and the Smith Creek Epic) and some of the best dirt on the planet.

Much of the riding in Washington can be found in the Cascades and points west where dense, lush forests await singletrack adventurers. This part of the state is generally blessed with a coastal temperate climate which means riding happens year round at many trails, even if it’s raining. There is also excellent riding to be found in the eastern part of the state, with a notable cluster of trails in the Colville National Forest along the Idaho border.

Beyond the “epics,” here are five trails you need to check out in Washington.

Galbraith Mountain, Bellingham

Photo: Eric Brown / WMBC
Photo: Jason Matkowski

Galbraith Mountain is located in Bellingham, roughly 90 miles north of Seattle and only about 20 miles from the Canadian border. The trail system features about 50 miles of trails that have been maintained by the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition for more than 30 years. The best part: the trail system is accessible from downtown–no car required! Ranked among the top 20 trails worldwide by Singletracks members.

“Amazing trail system 5 minutes from downtown Bellingham. I believe there are over 50 miles of singletrack on Galbraith. The climb is not too strenuous, and there are (ride-arounds) for all the big features. Great place to ride!” -gromdog37

Duthie Hill, Issaquah

Photo: Dennis Crane
Photo: Dennis Crane

The Evergreen Bike Alliance opened the Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park back in 2010 and it’s quickly become one of the most popular places to ride in the state. Located in Issaquah, a Seattle exurb, the park has something for riders of all abilities including progressive jump lines, XC trails, and tons of skills features.

“Drenched in awesome sauce! The most fun I’ve ever had mountain biking. Beautiful park and magnificent trails. Always busy. Parking lot is on the north side (is) small (~30 cars). Busy most days to very busy on weekends. Trails for all experience levels.” -JeeBs

Buck Mountain, Winthrop

Photo: Ken Barker
Photo: Ken Barker

If you’re looking for a scenic backcountry ride in Washington, look no further than Buck Mountain. This 10-mile route takes riders along challenging singletrack high above the Methow Valley below. A fire road climb at the beginning is rewarded with incredible vistas and excellent riding to complete the loop.

Wow, such a fun trail. A short (~4 mile) ride up a fire road and then you get on the singletrack for miles of ridgeline, mostly in the sun, with some tree cover in places. Excellent panoramic views along the way. This trail is what I call a Giggler, because the vast majority of the ride I was giggling at how much fun I was having. – ryanfred

Tiger Mountain, Issaquah

Photo: Kelly Nowels
Photo: Kelly Nowels

Tiger Mountain State Forest offers a network of trails with a backcountry feel less than 30 miles from downtown Seattle. Bring your climbing legs–some of the ascents can be steep, but well-worth the effort. Riders shouldn’t miss the Preston Railroad trail, the highlight of the Tiger Mountain trail system. This is another excellent Issaquah area trail maintained by the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

“I LOVE this ride!! Preston RR gets advanced rating due to all the rocks and roots, especially when they’re wet, which is most the time. Preston RR has new section, which (is) smooth and flowing. NW Timber is intermediate except for one short section. Overall, great two hour ride!!!” -Mtn_Biker_C

Ape Canyon/Plains of Abraham, Cougar

Photo: aabiking
Photo: aabiking

Riders rave about the variety and quality of mountain bike trails in the Ape Canyon/Plains of Abraham area outside Cougar, WA. Here you’ll find backcountry riding: everything from forested climbs to volcanic formations and–on good days–incredible views of Mount St. Helens.

“Where else in the World can you ride through the blast zone of a dormant volcano and see life slowly crawling back in a high alpine ecosystem? Truly a unique experience and a wonderful, rideable, and fun trail too.” -blp99x

Your turn: What is your favorite place to ride in Washington? Which part of the state has the best riding?

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