At the age of 23 I am still pretty young but I’d like to think I’ve already learned some valuable lessons thanks to my unique life experiences. One of the lessons I’ve learned, but that I need to be reminded of often, is to live in the present and not take anything for granted.

This lesson can be applied in many different ways, some of them very serious, very deep ways. But when it comes to mountain biking, I would rephrase it this way: Don’t take any opportunity to ride a new trail or to travel for granted, saying “Oh, I’ll get around to riding it someday.” You never know where life will take you, and you may never get the chance to ride the trail that you passed on.

Having lived in six different cities in four different states within three years of graduating high school (I’ve been in the same place for the last two), I’ve moved around a good bit, and have left many trails in my wake that I wish I had ridden. Many times I thought I’d be returning to that same town in a few months, only to have God point my life in a totally different direction.

Without further ado, here are a few of the trails I never took the time to ride, but that I hope I will be able to visit some time in the future:

Gallatin Crest Trail, Bozeman, Montana

Photo from MontanaMountainBikeAlliance.com

I drove through Bozeman twice, and I meant to check out the riding there both times, especially on my second time through town… but I never did. Shortly after I left Montana, I learned about the amazing riding available on the Gallatin Crest Trail: the absolute best trails in the state of Montana! I also learned about how those trails had been wrongfully closed to mountain bikers.

Since I didn’t take the chance to ride in Bozeman when I could, I sadly will probably never get to experience the crowning jewel of Montana singletrack from the saddle of a mountain bike.

Trail 7, Bigfork, Montana

Thankfully, this trail and the rest of the trails on this list are still open, so if I ever journey back to Montana, I am going to seize the day and ride it! From what I’ve heard, Trail #7, despite the unexceptional name, is one of the best trails in the Flathead Valley. Based on swirling rumors and hazy guidebook descriptions, this trail runs about 20-30 miles along the high-alpine crest of the majestic Swan Range. I’m not sure how best to navigate this epic route, but if I ever get back to the area, I am definitely going to find out!

Vernal, Utah

Photo by david_darling.

This one wasn’t totally my fault: I had no idea there was as much as a drop of singletrack in Vernal when I drove through it on my way from Colorado to Montana. There were no trails listed for Vernal here on Singletracks at that time, and it was only after I read a feature magazine article about it a few months later that I realized what I had missed.

Apparently, despite having flown under the radar for so long, Vernal boasts true destination-worthy desert singletrack that is said to rival that of Fruita and Moab. I can tell you this: if I ever drive through Vernal again, I’ll be stopping!

Ashley Mountain, Whitefish, Montana

Just one of the many trails near where I lived in Montana, I never had the chance to ride this one either. It’s described in my cryptic locals’ guidebook as:

A sweet loop ride consisting of a gravel road climb, plenty of fine, undulating Montana singletrack, finished off with one of the finest singletrack descents known to man. Almost all of the descending on this ride is on Singletrack. Make sure your brakes are working! (About 17 miles total.)

If that doesn’t get your mouth watering, I don’t know what will!

Hartman Rocks, Gunnison, Colorado

Photo: mudhunny.

I’ve driven through Gunnison at least three times now, and I have yet to ride the trails at Hartman Rocks. The first time I was in Gunnison, I actually tried to ride Hartmans, but had to turn around after just a few hundered yards due to a mechanical. It took all day to get repaired at the shop, and by the time it was done I was just ready to be on my way up to Crested Butte.

Sadly, the most recent times I drove through in 2011 I knew what I was missing out on, but with mouthwatering alpine trails just up the road in Crested Butte, it’s hard to pause 30 miles south of the destination that you’ve literally driven across the country to reach.

Kenosha Pass, Colorado

Photo: Collin1983.

I spent a summer in 2008 living just 30-45 minutes down the road from this trail. I rode its sister trail, Kenosha Pass to Lost Creek Wilderness, at least two or three times. Why I never crossed the highway and rode on the other side, I don’t remember. After reading the tantalizing description of this trail posted on the blog by maddslacker, I have really been kicking myself. One of the best trails on the front range of Colorado, I lived so close, and I never rode it? What was I thinking?

Thankfully, it looks like this regret won’t be a regret for much longer. We have a trip in the works for this summer, and for part of the trip we will be spending time in this area of Colorado. I won’t let this opportunity pass me by again!

Success Story: Trail 401, Crested Butte, Colorado

Photo: mtbgreg1.

I passed through Crested Butte, Colorado during a trip from Colorado to Montana in 2008. Along the way I was riding every great mountain bike trail I could find, and I had spent the past three days riding some truly world-class trails: Monarch Crest, Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman’s, and Snodgrass. But after having just spent 2-3 weeks off of the bike due to a concussion and then jumping back on and riding about 60 miles in less than three days, I decided to hit the road and head towards Wyoming to give my legs a break. In doing so, I had to make the tough choice to pass on Trail 401, then ranked as the second best trail in the nation.

I had always regretted that decision, but this past summer I was able to make it right. We took a trip to the Crested Butte area and Trail 401 was at the top of the list of trails I wanted to ride. After three years of waiting, I was finally able to return to the area and ride the trail that I had been dreaming about for so long!

My return to Trail 401 truly felt like a success story, and it’s a story I want to repeat with as many of the trails listed above as I possibly can.

What about you? What trails do you regret not riding?

# Comments

  • trek7k

    My list of regrets:

    1. Porcupine Rim. I skipped out on this trail at the tail end of my Durango to Moab ride in 2010 but in hindsight, I needed to ride this trail. Still, given the circumstances at the time, I probably would make the same call again (and be mad at myself again). Weird.

    2. Kingdom Trails (Vermont). Mudhunny and I went on an MTB road trip to the northeast several years ago and we spent a few days in Vermont but never considered riding the Kingdom trails. I think this was a case of poor research/planning beforehand.

    3. McKenzie River Trail. We spent a week in Oregon last summer and I fully intended to ride McKenzie River but the long drive from Portland ultimately dissuaded me. Still, I DID ride Sandy Ridge which was unexpected and much closer. I WILL ride the McKenzie River trail eventually.

    4. Phil’s World (Colorado). Been wanting to ride this one for a long time and although I never really had a good opportunity to ride it, I WAS nearby in 2010. Fortunately I plan to hit Phil’s World this summer while spending a week in Durango.

    One success story I’ll mention also has to do with my trip to Durango in 2010. After riding for a week straight, I had a stopover in Durango before my flight home (no car) and I was curious about the Telegraph trails in town. Despite being sore and tired (and needing to pack my bike for the flight), I rode from my hotel to the trails and did a short loop and really enjoyed it. There are still miles of trails I didn’t get to explore there but that’s part of the reason I’m heading back this summer! I also did a couple similar, quick runs through Red Rocks Canyon in COS and the Salida Mountain trails last summer and was glad I did.

  • mtbgreg1

    That’s a list of some pretty big regrets, but I’m glad you’ll be able to fix some of them soon! Re: Porcupine Rim, it’s interesting how conflicted we can get sometimes. I’ve been there too…. Do I push myself harder, knowing I will regret not riding the trail if I don’t, or do I take the easy route, knowing I will be hurting if I don’t?


    Greg, do you have any other info on Trail 7? I’ll be in the Glacier area for a week or so before I do the Dakota 5-0 this year and figure it might be a good trail to hit on the way to Spearfish. I’ll also have to check out Ashley Mountain, as it sounds quite spectacular. I need to order the guide the guys in town put together so I can get some stuff figured out between the time I’ll be spending in the park and the time I’ll be spending exploring the remaining area.

  • RoadWarrior

    23! you’re just graduated from training wheels. Think of all the trails you can look forward to riding. Vernal was an unexpected gem in the middle of almost nowhere.

  • Jared13

    I don’t have anywhere as an extensive list as Greg, mainly because I’ve only been riding for the past year and haven’t moved. However, I will be moving once I graduate and I’m kicking myself for not riding more local trails. I kept going to the same one over and over again (the closest and possibly the most technical in the state) but I should have taken a weekend or three to hit some of the other trails around Iowa.

    With the awesome spring we’re having, I’m taking steps to correct this. I’ve hit one other local trail three times and I have plans this weekend to hit a few more.

    “Thankfully”, we’re only moving about 3 hours away so I’ll be able to hit a few other trails around the state before we leave for Montana sometime in the next year.

    I have a huge list of trails to ride in the Midwest (Cuyana Lakes, epics w/in 12 hours driving,etc). If I get half of them knocked out before we leave, I’ll be very happy.

  • maddslacker

    @mtbgreg, What dates are you coming out, and where are we riding?!?

    My regret was not making the “Singletracks Group Ride” last summer. I will not make that mistake again!

  • luvtwokayak

    Greg, as someone who just turned 50 last week, I can say that my biggest regret is not having taken up the sport sooner. I’ve missed out on a lot of trails and a lot of memories. Take some advice from an old coot: Grab hold of every opportunity that comes your way and squeeze until you make it holler. We’re not guaranteed second chances.

  • skibum

    Definitely keep working on minimizing those regrets. As you get older, life will intrude more and more–more responsibility at work, in the community, kids, etc. I didn’t get my first bike until age 35, so I was already in that pretty well tied down category–fortunately I have a very supportive and understanding (non-riding) spouse. Also, in the 12 years since I got the bike, I’ve lived in 6 places (some great–Montana, Colorado,Wyoming; some not so great, Ohio, North Dakota, Virginia), and returned to one (Colorado) to settle down. Fortunately, between the places I’ve lived and the places I’ve traveled, I’ve been able to ride a huge number and variety of trails. Having said that, my regret list is very long and I hope to rectify some of that.

    One such regret is shared with your list: Gallatin Crest. What makes that regret so dreadful is the loss of that trail (and many other stellar MTB routes in MT) to MTBs. Most of my other regrets are still within the realm of legal possibility.

    Here’s my top 10 regrets.
    1. The aforementioned Gallatin Crest
    2. Nicholia/Deadman Creeks, MT, now also closed to bikes
    3. Tahepia Lake, MT, now also closed to bikes
    4. Zen Trail, UT. Should have tacked this one on to my week there–don’t know if/when I’ll ever get back to St George.
    5. Dark Hollow, UT. Another regret from the same trip. However, it’s not a total regret as we used that day to hike Angel’s Canyon in Zion NP. Spectacular doesn’t even begin to describe it–but still I always regret the trail not ridden . . .
    6. Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, CA. Should have added this one to my Downieville/Tahoe vacation. Doubt I’ll ever get out there again.
    7. Hangover/Damifino, AZ. In three trips to Sedona, I never hit this one. It really wasn’t a route on my first two trips and on the third, my riding buddy wasn’t really up to it. Shoulda’ done it anyway.
    8. Lake Minnewanka, Alberta. Scenery to die for, but it was closed when I was there due to heavy grizzly bear activity. Should have checked before I left the area to see if it was reopened.
    9. Nipple Peak Loop, Co. This was possible as a long day trip when I lived in Cheyenne, Wy, but I never made the time/effort to do it. 20+ miles of gorgeous, remote, pristine singletrack. Even though I live in CO now, it’s actually further away and not doable as a day trip. May get to it on a weekend after I hit all the closer rides still on my bucket list (i.e. Kenosha, 401).
    10. Mid Mountain Loop, UT. I used to travel frequently between Cheyenne, WY and Ogden, UT and I could always swing by some cool trail along the way. For some reason I never got around to this one and I now no longer have a need to travel that route.

    BTW Greg and Jeff,
    Phil’s World, Hartman Rocks and the Porcupine Rim are all they’re reputed to be–and then some! Definitely don’t pass up those opportunities if they araise again!

  • mtbgreg1

    @Phranquy, I don’t. Maybe try looking up some local shops (may have to check Whitefish and Kalispell) for some information.

    @RoadWarrior, I’m very fortunate to have started this great sport at a a rather young age (16). I wish I had started even earlier, but still, I’ll take it!

    @Jared13, where in the Midwest do you live? If you’re in the MN/WI area and haven’t ridden Levis Mounds, that is a MUST RIDE. Where are you moving in Montana?

    @maddslacker, probably be in Colorado in mid June, but won’t be there for long. The plan is to spend 3 weeks in California riding trails 😀

    @lovetwokayak, thanks for the advice, I’ll take it to heart!

    @skibum, along with your impressive list of trails ridden comes an impressive list of trails NOT ridden. I’m hoping to ride Porcupine Rim this summer. Mid Mountain Loop, is that in Park City?

  • skibum

    Affirmative on the Park City locale.
    Where are you riding in CA?

  • mtbgreg1

    The plan is mostly in the Bay Area and LA Area. From what we hear, there are a lot of trails out there that aren’t in our database, and we want to fix that. However, I’ll definitely be hitting some of the a-list trails! Definitely planning on hitting the Demonstration Forest (as well as some other great trails in the Bay Area), and hoping to hit Downieville Downhill and Big Bear area. On the way out there, planning on hitting Kenosha Pass, 18 Road Trails in Fruita, Slickrock and Porcupine Rim (or The Whole Enchilada?) in Moab, maybe Park City, and possibly one or two trails further east as well.

    Still in the planning stages, but I’ll be blogging the way through the entire trip here on Singletracks!

    Question: On The Whole Enchilada route, do you ride basically all of the legitimate trail on Porcupine Rim, or do you miss out on a lot of it?

  • maddslacker

    It’s my understanding that the Whole Enchilada includes the traditional Porcupine Rim (Upper and Lower)

  • mtbgreg1

    OK, that’s what I thought I had heard. May have to make it The Whole Enchilada instead of just part of the enchilada 😉

  • abegold

    I wanna ride:
    1. North Umpqua Trail, OR. I’ve ridden McKenzie River, all say this is better.
    2. Paradise Royale, CA.
    3. South Boundary Trail, NM
    3. Guacamole, UT. I love Gooseberry, this is nearby. Zen rocks!
    4. Hangover and Highline, Sedona, AZ
    5. Engineer Mountain Trail, CO need to explore more of Durango
    6. Mid Mountain Trail, Park City, UT Will I ever go there in summer?
    7. High Altitude Race Course, Cloudcroft, NM Smacked my knee the day before, there.
    8. Penatente Trail, La Garita, CO Didn’t spot the singletrack till leaving.
    9. Forest of Nisene Marks, CA Where is that darn trailhead!
    10.Abrams/Worlds Greatest, Eagle CO

    • abegold

      I have now ridden Penitente. Sweet trails thru hills at 8800′ in aspens. Check out this little known gem.

    • mtbgreg1

      Is this Penitente Canyon? The rock climbing hot spot?

    • abegold

      YES! It is at the rock climbing area. Trails start before the rock canyon the climbers use on north side of road at about 8800′. Many rounded odd shaped high traction rocks littered the trails to play on. Some were hikers only but there is near 30 miles of riding so had no complaint. Climb up and down A, the other route isn’t special the tame way it ended on simple doubletrack.

    • skibum

      In La Garita? Must be. I love Penetente as as well. Not a lot of miles, but what’s there is totally sweet. Plenty of techy goodies along the way. I make sure to swing by whenever I pass through the valley.

  • Jared13

    I live in the middle of Iowa right now (Ames) but I’ll be moving to NE Iowa in May. Levis Mounds is already on the list! 😀
    And Great Falls, MT.

  • mtbgreg1

    Right on man! Great Falls… never got to visit there when I lived in MT, but I hear there’s some decent riding in the area.

  • skibum

    If you get up to the Bay area but don’t hit the Downieville Downhill, that’ll just end up being another entry on your regret list. I definitely recommend it!

    Sometimes the first leg of The Whole Enchilada, Burro Pass, isn’t open by mid-June. But it’s been a weak year for snow so you may be in luck. Ditto Kenosha.

    You’re gonna dig Levis Mound. Great ride!

    As for Great Falls, the city itself isn’t much and it sits on a very windy prairie; it lacks immediate naturaly beauty of a Bozeman or a Whitefish, but it is surrounded by mountain ranges. To the west is the Rocky Mountain Front, which is nothing short of magnificent, but you run out of riding options when you hit the Bob Marshall Wilderness. To the South is the Little Belt Mountains which are full of singletrack, doubletrack and jeep roads, much of them hardly explored by MTBs. To the East is the Highwood Mountains with fantastic biking all to yourself (except during hunting season). A little further east is the Judith Mountains, also completely and unfairly ignored and the Big Snowy Mountains with the absolutely A+++ Big Snowy Loop. Helena, with all their great rides, is only an hour and a half away and the great Bozeman and Missoula rides are a decent day trip at 3hrs drive time each way. As for Great Falls itself, you’ve got the River’s Edge and the North Shore trails–you’ll learn to ride in the wind or you won’t ride. I lived in Great Falls 1994 – 1998 and 2006 – 2008. Hit me up if you’re looking for any more info.

  • GimmeAraise

    amasa back!

    I always say im going to ride it but never do!! this is the year!

    Hartmans opened yesterday! road it today! man i love this valley!

  • Jared13

    Awesome! Thanks for the info Skibum!

    Once we get closer to moving, I’ll shoot you a PM. I don’t want to fill my head with all the great rides I’m missing while we’re waiting. We want to move out there now but, unfortunately, it’s not in the cards.

  • stillfat

    Been to the UP flyfishing a few times, but never had the bike – so, Copper Harbor, for sure.

    Blew out a sidewall at the bottom of Big Boulder in Downieville and missed the Second Divide.

    Lived in Phoenix for six months and broke my arm (needing surgery) at South Mtn. Park, so missed many great desert rides there.

    Spent way too much time in Appalachia running rivers and neglected most of the good stuff in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

    I’ve been to Moab six or seven times but have yet to hit Amasa Back.

    Been through Gunnison a half dozen times and missed Hartman Rocks every time.

    Have toured the Pac NW several times without a bike. Lots of missed opportunities for the McKenzie River Trail

  • Jared13

    You should look into renting the next time you hit the UP for flyfishing so you can hit Copper Harbor without having to bring the bike 😀

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