For years Park City, Utah was notable as the only gold-level IMBA Ride Center. Of course, there are a plethora of incredible destinations that haven’t chosen to apply as ride centers, so take the designation with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, beginning in 2015 there are no less than 6 gold-level Ride Centers! While this doesn’t diminish Park City’s great network, the Utah hotspot now has to share its top-tier status with five other locations.
Without further ado, here are IMBA’s 2015 Ride Center additions. Locations marked with an asterisk had to reapply this year to maintain their Ride Center status.
Located adjacent to a significant mountain range, few major metropolitan areas have mountain biking access that can rival Boise. With singletrack running from town up high into the mountains, to accessible town trails and a well-developed bike park, Boise’s mountain bike offering is quite diverse.
Duluth has been making news over the past couple of years due to their rapid development of a cohesive mountain bike trail system. With downhilling now available at Spirit Mountain and a 100 mile point-to-point route–the Duluth Traverse–well underway, there’s a trail for every flavor of mountain biker here.
Two New Zealand destinations have rocketed onto the list with gold-level status. According to IMBA, “The range of trail types [in Nelson] is amazing, from gentle, family-oriented trail riding to full-on downhill runs, backcountry adventures, and everything in between.”
Oakridge was one of the first IMBA Ride Centers, but this year it’s moved up a spot from silver to gold. While IMBA didn’t share any information in their article about what caused Oakridge to move up a ranking, with the excellent local club, Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewards (GOATS), continuing to build great singletrack, it was only a matter of time. Oakridge was excellent when I rode it back in 2013–it must be even better now!
Park City, Utah is the original gold-level Ride Center, and with the current reevaluation it’s still maintaining top honors… despite having to now share its ranking with five other destinations. But nothing can tarnish the shine in Park City’s gold: this epic destination won’t fade anytime soon, as our live-updated destination ranking algorithm currently ranks Park City 4th in the world.
Rotorua is likely best-known as the home of the massive Whaka Forest Network, which by itself is home to over 100km of trails. That doesn’t even include the rest of the trails in the region, making Rotorua an easy choice for this list.
Another of the original ride centers, Cuyuna has moved up a slot from bronze to silver. This northern Minnesota trail system has become synonymous with the finest in Midwestern mountain biking. One of our intrepid reporters, John Fisch, is currently traveling through the Northwoods, exploring trails on his mountain bike… hopefully he brings us the latest dirt on Cuyuna!
“Helena” is on the tongues of mountain bikers all across the western United States, with ongoing trail development, free shuttles (yes, free) to the top of the best trails, and an upcoming three-day shuttle and beer extravaganza dubbed “Shuttle Fest.” Stay tuned for more deets on the best Helena trails and the free Trail Rider shuttle, as I’ll be hitting the road for Shuttle Fest next week.
McCall has been on the radar of most riders in Idaho for years, and word was just starting to leak out beyond state borders. But now the secret is officially out: McCall has the goods, jumping onto the list with a silver-level ranking.
As a single trail system with a nearby campground, Brown County State Park was one of a handful of locations that prompted us to write a list rounding up the 10 Best US Destinations for a Weekend Mountain Bike Getaway. And after ranking each destination based on its quality and the number of metropolitan areas within striking distance, Brown County muscled into the #1 slot on our weekend list.
Hot Springs joins two other Arkansas towns on IMBA’s Ride Centers list, making one thing quite clear: if you’ve only ever driven through Arkansas on your way to trails elsewhere, it’s about time you stopped short in Arkansas and spent a week (or more) exploring the riding there.
According to IMBA, Reading is home to over 125 miles of great trails, “all of which can be accessed via the Schuylkill River Greenway Rail Trail.” While that’s not a ton in the grand scheme of things, the connectivity is indeed commendable.
Richmond has been building trails for years, both in the urban city center and outside of town, but in the last two years they’ve doubled down by raising over $325,000 solely for trail development. This expansion on their already excellent trail network has scored them a bronze-level spot on IMBA’s list.
The Twin Cities region is home to a wide array of parks and mountain biking opportunities. But when the snow covers the ground–as it does for about half the year in the frigid continental interior–there are still 50 miles of groomed singletrack ready for you to shred on your fat-tired bike.
Your Turn: Are you surprised by any of the choices on this list, or by the destinations that aren’t listed? Please share your reactions in the comments below.