The Pros Weigh In: “What’s Your Favorite Trail?” Part 1

We spend a lot of time talking about trails here on Singletracks… and I think that’s pretty understandable, since we are home to the largest mountain bike trail map database in the world. However, sometimes it’s good to go outside our bubble of, admittedly, quite knowledgeable writers, and get input on trails from some guys …

We spend a lot of time talking about trails here on Singletracks… and I think that’s pretty understandable, since we are home to the largest mountain bike trail map database in the world. However, sometimes it’s good to go outside our bubble of, admittedly, quite knowledgeable writers, and get input on trails from some guys and gals who have really been around the block… er, more like around the world.

A number of pros and all-around famous mountain bikers chimed in and shared their favorite trails with us. Since we had a hard time figuring out just how to organize a list that boasts so many illustrious folks, these trail choices are organized alphabetically by last name of the writer.

Joe Breeze

One of the godfathers of mountain biking (along with Gary Fisher and Otis Guy, also on this list), and the founder of Breezer Bikes.

One of my favorite trails is Captain Jacks above Colorado Springs off Cheyenne Canyon, a crazy ball-roll downhill single track. I first did it in 1985 with Otis Guy and friends from Marin when we were in town for World Championship road races. I last rode Jacks a couple of years ago with my son and cousin (who lives there). Still great fun. Speaking of great memories, Repack certainly offers me that. Repack is nearby in Fairfax, but today mountain biking’s first race course can only offer memories, speed limited to 15mph.

Tony Ellsworth

Founder of the eponymous bike brand, Tony Ellsworth has ridden bikes all around the world.

Favorites? That’s like picking your favorite swimsuit model!

  • Waipio Valley North shore of Hawaii
  • San Dankyou, outside Hiroshima, Japan
  • The Swiss Alps—any trail
  • The Umpqua River Trail with Cog Wild
  • The Red Wood Forest—but any ancient forest, anywhere in the world. I would say is my favorite in any trail I’ve done, ancient and pristine is my favorite.
White Rim Trail, Moab, Utah. Photo: tedwaltman.

These three for big scenery:

John Fisch:

Out of the 250,000 registered users on Singletracks, John Fisch (aka skibum) has ridden the most trails–406 trail systems, and counting.

Photo: skibum.

Big Snowy Loop: This one has an epic climb (2,500 verts) through a dense pine forest, awesome ridge top riding with million-mile views, and an equally epic descent with steeps, rocks, and opportunities for air. While on top, you can visit a year-round ice cave. This one is also truly in the middle of nowhere–which means you’ll have it all to yourself, unlike any of the marquee rides.

Gary Fisher

One of the godfathers of mountain biking, the founder of Gary Fisher bicycles, and currently a very active advocate for mountain biking and bikes in general.

Eric Foltz

A brand ambassador for Strava, Eric Foltz travels far and wide for his photography job, and has literally ridden his mountain bike across the United States.

Photo: Eric Foltz.

The Hahn/Buena Vista Trail is one that really stands out for me. It is an absolutely beautiful singletrack trail in the desert mountains above Palm Springs. It is remote and the four-mile, 2400ft climb to the top keeps the traffic low. I have yet to see another rider in all the times I’ve ridden it. Perfection.

Otis Guy

The only person to race the original Repack, the first Mountain Bike National Championships, and the first Mountain Bike World Championships, this mountain biking godfather also started Otis Guy Cycles and still runs this handmade bicycle company.

Wow, [describing my favorite trail] in 2-3 sentences [will be a tough one]. Some of my most favorite trails are ones that are closed on Mt. Tam and in Pt. Reyes National Seashore. These were done before people knew of mountain bikes, so there was no regulation and very little trail maintenance and spotty signage. Which meant very narrow, fun trails. We started riding our one speeds in 1973.

For Mt. Tam it would be the Kent Trail which goes from Potereo Meadows and drops to Alpine lake. This was found in the one speed days (on 1941 and 1937 Schwinns) and had these big stairs that also made a corner. Joe Breeze and I hit these without knowing about them with me leading and somehow cleaned them. The rest of the trail had some incredible rock sections, old water pipe parts in the middle of the trail, very tough switchbacks. It had it all. We went back there the next 3 days to ride that trail.

For Pt. Reyes it would be [the] Woodward Valley trail. An incredibly rhythmic trail with great ups and downs, with a beautiful view of the ocean thrown in.

Captain Jack's. Photo: luv2mtb

The last one is a travel trail that Joe Breeze, myself, and others stumbled on when we went out to the 1986 Road World Championships (to watch). The race was near Colorado Springs, and we looked at maps and were able to work our way up to this motorcycle trail called Captain Jack’s Trail. Absolutely incredible, banked turns, jumps to catch air on (on our non-suspension bikes, Joe was riding one of his bikes, a few others were riding my frames ). We saw some motorcycle riders stopped near part of the trail while we were going down the trail, so Joe and I did our best slide drifts and airs when we went by them to show that mountain bikers had some skill. (Not sure if we did impress them that much.) Decades later I was talking to Doug Bradbury of Manitou fame and when we talked about some of our favorite trails, I brought up Captain Jack’s. He said that was the trail that inspired him to create the Manitou front suspension fork.

Gene Hamilton

A three-time UCI Word Masters Championship medalist, Gene Hamilton also founded and currently operates BetterRide Mountain Bike School.

My first response is: the trail I’m riding! As anything else is just an exercise in futility (wishing your were somewhere else) and anytime I am riding I am having fun!

Naming my actual favorite trail would get in trouble with some of my riding buddies, as once a trail becomes famous it starts getting dumbed down pretty quickly (see “The Whole Enchilada,” Burro Pass used to be so much better, and even the singletrack has been mellowed out a bit).

Trail: Bush Doctor. Photo courtesy of Gene Hamilton.
Bush Doctor Sign. Photo courtesy of Gene Hamilton.

With all that in mind my favorite trail/s is taking the Flank Trail to High Society, Bush Doctor and Cheap Thrills (makes three loops) in Whistler, B.C. These trails are beautiful (rain forest trails, moss, ferns, water falls), physically demanding, and challenging as heck (and because they are in B.C. they won’t get dumbed down) and a short ride from town!”

Danny Hart

Pro downhill racer, hailing from the UK, sponsored by Giant, and the 2011 UCI Men’s Downhill World Champion.

Trail: Mont Sainte-Anne. Photo: mudhunny.

Greg Heil

Editor in Chief for, Greg has ridden hundreds of mountain bike trails from coast to coast in the USA.

Photo: kellyrides.

The Whole Enchilada Trail/Route is probably the single most epic ride I’ve ever done. Despite only being 27 miles long, this route drops over 7,000 vertical feet and passes through almost every climate zone imaginable. Topping out above treeline, the trail descends through a high-alpine pine forest, into a massive aspen grove, down into scrub oaks and scrub brush, into a high-desert environment along UPS/LPS, into a low-desert environment completely devoid of vegetation, and ends at the Colorado River in the bottom of the canyon. There may not be a more varied half-day mountain bike route the entire world over!

Check out my write up about The Whole Enchilada here.

Jeff Kerkove

An accomplished ultra-endurance mountain biker with numerous wins in all sorts of XC and endurance events, he races for Team Topeak/Ergon.

Peaks Trail. Photo: Joe Morales.

While most of us haven’t traveled as far and wide as the folks on this list, that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a favorite! What’s your favorite trail?

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!