Go With the Flow: Flow Country Trails

IMBA recently partnered with Hans Rey and trail designer Diddie Schneider to certify Flow Country Trails around the world and so far five trails have made the cut. We first wrote about the concept during the 2010 IMBA World Summit where Hans Rey spoke about his vision for mountain bike trails that anyone, from beginners to experts, could ride and enjoy. Here is the low down on the first five Flow Country Trails along with three additional recommendations for the list.

Mottolino Bike Park (Livigno, Italy)

photo: mottolino.com.

The trails at Mottolino were the first official Flow Country (FC) Trails in the world and we got a sneak peak at video of the trails at the 2010 IMBA World Summit. As the first official FC trail, Mottolino showcases the best features of this type of trail: smooth tread, bermed and banked turns, and miles of flow. Mottolino offers lift service for those who don’t believe in earning their berms. 🙂

MTB Zone Bike Park (Bischofsmais, Germany)

photo: bikepark.net.

MTB Zone Bike Park in Germany also offers lift service for riders and they even have bike rentals on site. One of the highlights is the dual slalom course that allows riders to race side-by-side through the smooth, sculpted turns.

Punchline (Hailey, Idaho)

Part of the Croy trail system, Punchline is a 1.3 mile semi-circular loop that’s designed to be ridden clockwise (most FC trails have a single direction of travel). Punchline features rocks, berms, step-ups, and jumps that are meant for advanced riders but should be roll-able for less skilled mountain bikers. Although it’s a short loop, riders will climb (and descend!) a couple hundred feet.

Rush Trail (Draper, UT)

Just south of Salt Lake City, the Rush Trail is currently 2.2 miles of Flow Country bliss. And while the trail descends about 400 feet along its length, it’s not a DH trail per se; it’s solidly FC. You’ll find the Rush trail in the vicinity of the Corner Canyon Trail.

Sandy Ridge (Sandy, OR)

I got a chance to ride the Sandy Ridge trail this summer and it was a blast! First off, there’s nothing sandy about this trail – it’s totally what you’d expect from western Oregon (ferns, thick canopy, and mossy). Everything is totally roll-able but if you’ve got the skills you can really air out the jumps and rail the berms. The main downhill run is currently about 4 miles long while the climb up the paved road should be tolerable even on a long travel bike.

Other FC-Worthy Trails

Looking at the list so far, Europe and the western US have a lock on FC trails but there are plenty of other trails where you can get your flow on.

Forks Area Trail System [FATS] (South Carolina)

FATS is well known for its 30-ish miles of smooth, flowy trails near the Savannah River along the GA/SC border but somehow it hasn’t nabbed an FC badge yet. Still, it’s an IMBA Epic and even though you won’t find a lot of sustained downhill riding on most loops, FATS is a fun trail for riders of all abilities.

Allegrippis Trails (Raystown Lake, PA)

photo: WVPedler.

Another East Coast pick, the Allegrippis trails are purpose-built for mountain biking with lots of dips and smooth tread for miles and miles. Dirt Rag holds their annual Dirtfest here and many riders report this is one of the best trails they’ve ridden. Like FATS, there aren’t sustained descents (or climbs) which may be holding up an official FC designation.

Copper Harbor (UP Michigan)

photo: ukraine.

The trails at Copper Harbor have already made the Singletracks photo of the day at least once and with good reason. An IMBA Epic, the Copper Harbor trails feature miles of flowy singletrack and elaborate wood bridges snaking through the forest. As you can see, not all berms are made of dirt!

An article in the Wall Street Journal about flow trails this summer also mentioned the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, though it’s not clear which trail or section they meant (Flume trail perhaps?).

Flow trails are popping up everywhere as more and more purpose-built mountain bike trails are sited and constructed thanks to local volunteers and groups like IMBA. What is your nomination for the next official Flow Country Trail?