The West gets all the love. From the Rocky Mountains to the Cascades and the Sierras, and finally the crashing surf on the California Coast, it seems that all mountain bikers can talk about is “Colorado this,” or “California that.”
What about the East? Shouldn’t the East get some affection too?
Once you’ve ridden some of the epic western destinations on our Top 10 Best Mountain Bike Destinations in the USA list, it’s hard to argue that most eastern destinations can compete with the grandeur of the Rockies. However, we’ve never said that the East doesn’t have good mountain biking! After all, Singletracks HQ is based in Georgia… and the riding there is not shabby!
In fact, the entire Singletracks staff has developed a special love and affinity for the mountain biking found in the ancient mountains known as the Appalachians. While maybe you won’t find the same thousand-mile views you’ll find out west, what you will discover are absolutely massive trees, never-ending forests, roots and rocks a’plenty, and a mountain bike culture that’s unique in its own right.
We wanted to highlight the excellent riding found in the eastern United States, and after consulting with our team of writers, member surveys that we’ve conducted in the past, and the data and reviews in our massive mountain bike trail database, we’ve arrived at the 10 best mountain bike destinations east of the Rockies! These aren’t in any particular order, but you can rest assured that you won’t be left wanting at any of these destinations:
Brevard, North Carolina
The only destination east of the Rockies to make our overall The Top 10 Best Mountain Bike Destinations in the USA list, of course Brevard will make an appearance here as well!
Brevard is home to hundreds of miles of the most technical backcountry singletrack anywhere, gorgeous Appalachian Mountain views, and more mountain biking infrastructure (including bike shops, rentals, guiding, races–you name it) than you can even take advantage of.
Must-ride trails include Dupont State Forest, Laurel Mountain, and Black Mountain. But the thing is, once you venture deep into the heart of Pisgah National Forest–where most of the best mountain biking is found–you’ll realize that all of these trails, which are generally referred to as self-contained rides, are really incredibly interconnected, creating a trail system of massive breadth and a mind-blowing array of ride combinations.
The only limit is whether or not you’re up to Pisgah’s brutality.
After the ride, you’ll discover delicious eats with a Southern flair, as well as world-class beer, with bigger breweries like Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium having moved into the area, in addition to the numerous local operations.
East Burke, Vermont
Mountain biking in East Burke, Vermont can be summed up in two short words: “Kingdom Trails.” This one massive trail network is home to over 100 miles of the most popular trails in the state of Vermont. There are berms and flow a-plenty to be found here, but there are some more challenging sections as well. Despite being so far north, the fun doesn’t stop in the winter: Kingdom Trails grooms many miles of fat bike singletrack during the cold, snowy months.
Kingdom Trails has been consistently rated highly by Singletracks members over the course of many years, which over time has given it the distinguished honor of being the #8 highest-ranked mountain bike trail system in our database of tens of thousands of trails!
This trail system also abuts the Q Burke downhill mountain bike park, which provides lift access on the weekends.
For post-ride drinks, head to nearby Lyndonville and check out Trout River Brewing.
Slaty Fork, West Virginia
The area around Slaty Fork, West Virginia is home to hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails. Many of them are gnarly, technical, backcountry routes, like the Red Run Trail. You can find some easier routes, though, including the Bear Pen Loop.
While the backcountry riding is off the chain, the region is anchored by the Snowshoe Bike Park–one of the largest and most highly-acclaimed downhill MTB parks in the East, with “nearly 40 trails and 1,500 vertical feet of descent,” according to Snowshoe. The park is so expansive that it’s served by two different high speed quad lifts, which help keep you off the chair and on your bike.
Bentonville claims over 100 miles of singletrack within 30 miles of the city’s center–and they keep adding more every year! These trails are high-caliber, with massive berms, flow lines, and plenty of jumps… yet you can still find bouldery, technical rock gardens on other trails. Thanks to the hard work by the local IMBA chapter, IMBA has chosen Bentonville for their biennial World Summit, which will be held there this fall (2016).
After the ride, be sure to check out Ozark Brewing in nearby Rogers, Arkansas, which is home to highly-acclaimed beers, like their double IPA.
While there are a number of different mountain bike trails near Nashville, Indiana, whenever someone talks about Nashville as a mountain bike destination (or the whole state of Indiana, for that matter…), they’re referring to Brown County Park, home to over 30 miles of excellent singletrack. This section of Indiana might surprise you, with quite a bit of elevation change thanks to the never-ending up-down-up-down of the hills. In fact, one of the GPS tracks submitted to Singletracks for Brown County–totalling 31.3 miles in length–racks up 4,466+ feet of climbing!
Brown County is loved and revered by seemingly every mountain biker who’s ever ridden there. With an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars after 71 reviews, that’s an impressive feat!
Just down the road from Brown County you’ll find Big Woods Brewing Co, conveniently located for your post-ride enjoyment.
Marquette is home to hundreds of miles of singletrack during the summer, and even when the forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula get buried in snow, there’s still over 50 miles of groomed singletrack to be ridden on fat bikes!
Located on the shores of Lake Superior, Marquette is both a deep northwoods and coastal town, providing a singular vibe and atmosphere to explore both on and off the bike.
Most of the singletrack around Marquette is found in the expansive Noquemanon Trails Network, or NTN for short. NTN is split into two separate sections: South (the largest) and North. Other trails range far and wide. During the winter, the Marquette Snow Bike Route is a unique groomed route through the network.
After you finish riding in Marquette, be sure to check out one of the four local breweries.
Bonus: if you’re really feeling like a big trip, head about 3 hours north to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula for a great day of riding at the Copper Harbor Trail System. Copper Harbor isn’t close to anything, so you might as well include it in your Marquette trip!
Gilmer county, where Ellijay is located, is the self-proclaimed mountain biking capital of Georgia. And once you go there and experience the superb singletrack winding through the rugged Appalachian Mountains, you won’t argue with their claim!
Most of the best riding is found on or near the Pinhoti Trail, which begins just north of Ellijay and runs west and south into Alabama. Within Georgia the whole trail is bike legal, and is home to some smooth, flowy one-track, and plenty of burly rock gardens! Also be sure to add in the iconic Bear Creek Trail for some epic ride combinations.
Looking for a place to stay? Look no further than Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway! Choose from a cabin or camping, and an optional meal plan. If you want to save the legs, grab a shuttle to the top, and finish the day with some skills practice using the on-property trails.
Ocala mountain biking consists of just one trail system: Santos. But with over 85 miles of singletrack trails in this network, along with a set of burly jump lines, freeride cliff drops (yes, in Florida!), wooden stunts, and a beginner skills park, you only need one trail system. Santos is a true one-stop mountain bike shop!
Ray Petro, builder and founder of the famous Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park, has been building stunts and features at Santos in recent years, meaning that this trail system is now home to some of the best wooden features in the nation!
According to Singletracks writer Michael Paul, “Santos bike shop is my personal favorite, and they really know their stuff, but the closest place to get post-ride libations is Greenway, which also employs very friendly, knowledgeable staff.”
State College, Pennsylvania
Looking for a true Northeastern mountain bike destination, complete with rugged, rocky trails, endless Appalachian mountains, and deep forests? State College, Pennsylvania is your answer.
Rothrock State Forest is the closest trail system to State College, since it literally borders the town, and is also the most significant network in the area, with over 100 miles of trails to ride. Must-ride trails in this systgem include Tussey Ridge and Coopers Gap.
According to Singletracks writer Helena Kotala,
“About an hour south of State College is the Allegrippis Trail System, which is the complete opposite of Rothrock–fast, flowy, great for all abilities. Seasoned riders can have as much fun there as beginners and vice versa. There are about 35 miles of trails there, plus the [brand-new] skills park.”
There are at least four breweries in State College for post-ride drinks, and be sure to check out Rothrock Outfitters for all of your bike shop needs.
Duluth, Minnesota is in the midst of a mountain biking renaissance, with new trails being built left and right, and the Duluth Traverse coming closer to reality every day. When complete, the Duluth Traverse will be an all-singletrack ride across the ridge above the 26-mile-wide town of Duluth, and will wind a circuitous 100+ miles.
After the ride, be sure to check out one (or more) of the 10 local breweries, which make up the Duluth Beer Trail.
Your Turn: What’s your favorite eastern mountain bike destination? Sound off in the comments section below!