--
SHARES
  

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:

20. Bishop’s Rock, Monte Vista, Colorado

2015-06-23103437

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!

19. Hogbacks, Canon City, Colorado

930-14-good

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!

18. Red Trail, Keystone, Colorado

2015-07-03134959-1

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.

17. Doctor Park Loop Trail, Crested Butte, Colorado

IMG_0143(1)-hdr

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.

16. Davis Meadow, Buena Vista, Colorado

2015-10-18145117-1

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.

15. Skatas, Gothenburg, Sweden

Photo: Leo Ranta / Hillside Cycling

Photo: Leo Ranta / Hillside Cycling

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.

14. CDT: MacDonald Pass, Helena, Montana

mcd-6

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!

13. Colorado Trail South of Twin Lakes, Colorado

2015-07-11093532-1

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!

12. Little Brown’s Creek (Mount Antero), Nathrop, Colorado

Photo: Ben F.

Photo: Ben F.

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!

11. Gunsight Pass Connector Trail, Crested Butte, Colorado

2015-08-02130412-3

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.

10. Slickrocks Trail, Gothenburg, Sweden

Photo: Leo Ranta / Hillside Cycling.

Photo: Leo Ranta / Hillside Cycling.

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!

9. Mt Helena Ridge, Helena, Montana

Photo: Bob Allen

Photo: Bob Allen

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.

8. The New Cottonwood, Salida, Colorado

906028_10153777931453447_7654690118287201493_o

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!

7. Sheep Creek, Fairplay, Colorado

Photo: Tom M.

Photo: Tom M.

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.

6. Mill Creek, Alta, Wyoming

Photo: Mitch Prissel

Photo: Mitch Prissel

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!

5. Sidewinder, Delta, Colorado

sidewinder-1-edit

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.

4. Middle Frisco Creek, Del Norte, Colorado

2015-06-23171913-2

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!

3. Wasatch Crest Trail, Park City, Utah

Photo: Luke F.

Photo: Luke F.

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!

2. Jackson Trail, Moab, Utah

IMG_1868

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!

1. Barr Trail / Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

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?

--
SHARES
  
# Comments

  • CFM

    Great, inspiring list, Greg! Makes me long for an extended trip out west to try them for myself.

    • Greg Heil

      DO IT!

    • mongwolf

      I concur with Greg … Do it !!!! The Western US is hard to beat, BUT until then, you have a ton of great riding right there in Missouri. I have ridden a little in Missouri now and have love it. I have a bunch of trails from there on my wish list. You could make a pretty good life riding in Missouri in the fall through the early spring, and then in the Western US late Spring through the fall.

    • CFM

      Good advice from you both! In fact I’m planning a trip to Colorado in late August already. I also hope to get to some area in the Southwest this spring. We’ll see . . .

      And yes, Mongwolf, we do have some great riding in Missouri and I enjoy it a lot. I’m glad you enjoy it also.

  • Bubblehead10MM

    my #1 new to me trail of the year would be Sidewinder, at levis mounds, wi. Only a couple mile spot, on the middle mound. Truly scary exposure for the Midwest, big pedal up semitechnical descent. #2 is going to be Huff n Puff at Dauset trails nature center, Jackson, ga. another spur. by itself a challenge, on top of miles of trail and road, it was daunting. windy, technical. Steep bits. very fun.

    • Greg Heil

      Agreed, Sidewinder is awesome! I haven’t ridden at the Dauset nature center… I’ll have to get over there next time I’m in GA!

  • mongwolf

    I didn’t get to do several big rides in CO that I wanted to do this year due to some work and personal demands. The year was a bit of a let down in that since, but I still got a bunch of riding in, mostly staying local. One surprisingly good ride was Bear Creek from Upper Jacks in COS. I don’t know if it was the trail or just the day. My middle son and I rode it in late November with partial snow cover; it was our first time riding Bear Creek. We just flew through it, fish tailing all the way down in the snow and scree and jumping off everything possible. What a fun moment. It was my last ride of the year in the US, so maybe that was it too. We just let it all hang out on one awesome DH.
    I also had a great moment earlier in the year coming off a mountain in Mongolia fairly near the capital. We were flying back down the mountain at the end of the day in late May. We came out the trees upon a herd of horse just ahead of us. They took off immediately in front of us and we ripped down the rest the mountain together — the horses in a full gallop and us at top speed on the bikes. The ebb and flow running with a herd like that was amazing and beautiful. It’s a moment I will never forget. I think we would have been in big trouble if the herdsman would have seen us. =)

    • Greg Heil

      While maybe you didn’t get to do all the rides you had planned, those sound like just 2 of many amazing experiences! What an incredible year!! 🙂

  • mongwolf

    I guess I’m going to have to do the Barr Trail the next time I’m in COS in the summer or fall. I’ve done the lower half by coming in from Elk Park (which is another EXCELLENT ride). I guess I have steered away from the Barr just because I knew I don’t have the technical skill to ride a lot of the upper portion. But now I am officially inspired. Thanks Greg.

    • Greg Heil

      Yeah I’ve heard that the Elk Park is supposedly a better option, but I thoroughly loved the upper Barr Trail section. The better your tech skills, the more you’ll get to ride and consequently get to enjoy it, but I think that regardless of your skill level it’s just a truly epic experience hiking and riding through that high alpine tundra, and descending all the way off the top of a legit 14er. As with everything, I say “do it!!” 🙂

    • mongwolf

      Yep, I’ve never minded hiking my bike if it meant getting to where I wanted to be. So the Barr Trail is officially on the bucket list. All the best to you and yours this holiday season.

    • Greg Heil

      You too Floyd! Happy New Year! 🙂

    • John Fisch

      Stay tuned for a blurb on Elk Park–one of my top 15 of ’25.

    • Greg Heil

      Oh trust me, I’ve been east: I’ve lived both on the east coast and in the mid west. But now, almost every time I leave the Rockies to ride, I start kicking myself because it’s just not that good 🙂

      That said, I am interested in hitting Vermont soon…

  • hproctor

    Looking at your list has me kicking myself (again) for traveling through Colorado last spring while most of the upper trails were still wet. Going to have to adjust my schedule. Maybe an Atlantic coast state trip then head west. Rode most the high profile trails in Oregon last summer. They all were good but Surveyor’s Ridge was one that really stood out. Timberline to Town combined with Pioneer Bridle trail had me smiling the entire 16 miles.

  • rajflyboy

    You might want to expand your riding to more than one state. ????

    I thought you were more traveled than this

  • Jim Cummings

    One thing that nearly all these trails have in common, Greg, is that they are difficult – requiring at least advanced riding skills. So here’s a top-of-the-head list of some really good intermediate trails that I rode this summer:
    Little Scraggy, Pine
    Aspen Alley, Breckenridge
    Mountain to Meadow, Big Sky
    Snake Charmer, Big Sky
    Tital Wave, Deer Valley Resort, Park City
    Croy Creek Trail System, Hailey, Idaho

    I’m surprised the Two Elk Trail didn’t make your list! It’s certainly in my all time top 20 rides…

    • mtengaio

      Mtn to Meadow and Snake Charmer at Big Sky are classics for sure!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.