Back in April I shared with you my goal of riding at least one new trail per week, every week–and I invited you to join me in my challenge, dubbed #1trailaweek. Many of you participated by using the #1trailaweek hashtag on Instagram, sharing beautiful mountain biking adventures from around the world!
I’m happy to report that I personally stuck to my challenge, missing maybe one week all year, due to illness. Many weeks, I was fortunate enough to ride tons of new trails–not just one single, solitary newbie.
I feel truly blessed with all of the new places that I got to explore and pedal in 2015, and while each new turn in the trail was special, some trails are most definitely more noteworthy than others. Here are the 20 best new trails that I explored in 2015 that I hadn’t ridden before, ranked by quality:
More a slickrock playground than an actual trail, this choose-your-own adventure zone offers an infinite number of line opportunities and the ability to explore and challenge yourself as much as you desire. For the intrepid technical explorer, Bishop’s Rock is a must!
I tackled Hogbacks early on in the challenge when Salida was still covered in snow, and I instantly fell in love with this techy, exposed trail in nearby Cañon City. Rumor has it that Hogbacks has since been expanded… I guess I need to go back for some more exploration!
This smooth, flowing singletrack climbs up the mountainside to a junction with the Colorado Trail, traversing gorgeous alpine meadows with views of the surrounding mountains.
While I had ridden Doctor Park before, this couple mile spur connecting to the top of the trail was truly delightful! While not challenging in the least, the singletrack is narrow and the views are to die for.
Davis Meadow is probably the most off-the-beaten-path trail I rode this year that was still signed as a trail. Way out in the middle of nowhere in the Fourmile Travel Management area, located right up next to the border of the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness, this beautiful singletrack gets little traffic but offers entertaining riding, historic cabins, and beautiful views of both cliff sides and mountain peaks.
Of course a couple of trails from my epic week-long trip to Sweden made this list! The Skatas area is the heart of mountain biking in the Gothenburg region and is home to wonderfully technical climbs and descents, crystal-clear lakes, and singletrack of all sorts.
While not a long ride mileage-wise, and despite getting a shuttle to the top, MacDonald Pass packs a punch! Rock gardens filled with big boulders both up and down dominate the traverse along the CDT, and then the descent continues to keep you on your toes with sudden, flat switchbacks. This ride is so worth the challenge, though!
One of the best sections of the Colorado Trail that I’ve ridden to date, this flowy singletrack winds through a grove of massive aspen trees that are who-knows how old. While I’ve heard that this is a great fall ride, I didn’t get over here when the aspens were peaking–but it was still excellent mid-summer!
Summiting Mount Antero on my mountain bike was my most memorable ride of the year, but in an objective sense, the singletrack descent of the ride–the Little Brown’s Creek Trail–was fantastic, but it still only scores #12 on the list. But considering all the new trail that I rode this year, that’s an achievement!
This singletrack was band-spanking-new when I rode it, and one of the loamiest trails I’ve ever set tire to! Swooping through the aspens, this new masterpiece is an epic addition to Crested Butte’s already superb singletrack inventory.
The Slickrocks trail was my favorite trail that I rode in Sweden, with rolling slickrock balds protruding from the trees, one after another. While it’s hard to choose favorites, Slickrocks checks all the right boxes!
I rode Mount Helena Ridge two or three times during my visit to Helena, taking a different descent off the ridge every time. But the ridge-top singletrack is still some of the best, in my book, with great flow, beautiful views, and some gnar to keep things interesting.
The Cottonwood trail in Salida, Colorado has long been a local classic, but now the entire route is legalized, and portions of it have been rerouted. By “rerouted,” what I really mean is that Salida Mountain Trails has successfully replaced all of the nasty 4×4 road that you used to have to ride to complete the loop with delectable singletrack! Some of the new sections are swoopy and flowy, and others are chunky and narrow–but they’re all superb!
I had been saving Sheep Creek for a fall session, and we hit the aspen peak perfectly with brilliant-gold groves as far as the eye could see! We had a great time shredding the sweet singletrack, but we spent a lot of time gawking at the colors, too.
Mill Creek is a fast, flowing, speedy, zippy, rocket ship of a descent down the backside of Grand Targhee. Did you get the impression that you can fly down this trail yet? Because you can. I’m so glad I had the chance to ride this trail while visiting Wydaho!
Sidewinder is yet another trail that had been on my to-do list for years. I finally had the chance to ride this 20+ mile point-to-point route, and I was delighted to discover technical, entertaining singletrack coupled with the unique feeling of covering a lot of ground without having to return to where you started.
Thanks to my poor fitness in the spring, I hike-a-biked up most of the 6-mile climb to this point. But then turning around and bombing back down was absolutely sublime! Loamy dirt, great corners, chunky challenge, and beautiful views all combined to make this one of the best alpine trails that I rode all year!
Ok I may be a broken record, but I had first hoped to ride the Wasatch Crest about three years ago, but wasn’t able to make it happen. Finally I’ve checked this epic route off the list, but I just want to keep checking it over and over and over again. Park City, we shall meet again!
I don’t know whose brainchild the Jackson Trail initially was, but that person is a genius. This extremely exposed, technical benchcut descent along the canyon wall high above the Colorado River is hair-raising and demands complete control, but it is so, so worth the risk!
12 miles and 8,000 vertical feet of descending, beginning at over 14,000 feet and ending at about 6,000 feet. Enough said. But did I mention that there is NO climbing along the way? That officially makes this the longest uninterrupted downhill I’ve ever ridden, and perhaps that I may ever ride. But add in the fact that the singletrack is challenging but rideable, fast, and so entertaining that the descent will be over before you know it, and the Barr Trail is a no-brainer for the #1 spot on my 2015 list.
But that’s not all…
The #1trailaweek challenge doesn’t have an expiration date, and it never gets old. To keep tabs on my #1trailaweek exploration into 2016 and beyond, be sure to follow my personal Instagram account as well as the Singletracks Instagram.
Your Turn: How about you? What were the best trails that you rode in 2015?