Why’d They Pick THAT Place? Discussing the Best MTB Destinations

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In this episode Chris Schieffer, Jeff Barber, and Matt Miller talk about the 12 best mountain bike destinations in the United States that was recently shared on Singletracks. We’ll go over the criteria we consider when choosing our favorite mountain bike destinations and go through the list and share more about the best spots to visit.

  1. Moab, Utah
  2. Sedona, Arizona
  3. Bentonville, Arkansas
  4. Grand Valley, Colorado (Fruita / Grand Junction / Palisade)
  5. Crested Butte, Colorado and the Gunnison Valley
  6. Park City, Utah
  7. Pisgah, North Carolina (Brevard / Asheville / Old Fort)
  8. Lake Tahoe
  9. Copper Harbor, Michigan
  10. Kingdom Trails, Vermont
  11. Durango, Colorado
  12. Bellingham, Washington

Cover photo: Matt Miller

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Transcript

Jeff 0:00
Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Singletracks podcast. My name is Jeff and today Matt and Chris and I are going to be talking about our favorite mountain bike destinations, what really your favorite mountain bike destinations. We recently published a list of what we think are the best mountain bike destinations in the USA right now. And this is a list we’ve published over the years a number of times, and we’ve obviously updated it, a lot of things change. And so yeah, we’re excited to talk about this year’s list and sort of how we picked them. So let’s start off by asking a question, Chris, what was your first trip to a mountain bike destination? What was like the first time you’re, like, planned a trip specifically, just to go biking and how that go?

Chris 0:50
Well, Moab is a six hour drive from my house. So that was my first destination. It was right out of college, I bought my first what I would say real mountain bike, and someone said, Let’s go ride in Moab. The first trail I ever rode, there was slick rock, which, in hindsight wasn’t wise. Because I wasn’t very good at Mountain Biking at the time. But it was awesome to camp there. And of course, my love is absolutely stunning and beautiful. And it also happens to be at the top of this list, because everyone else thinks the same thing. Or at least similar. So that was my first trip. It was pretty, pretty magic.

Jeff 1:31
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, what bike were you writing? When you went out there? Do you remember?

Chris 1:35
I was writing a specialized Stumpjumper

Jeff 1:39
Nice. Was it full suspension? Or was that a hard one and a hard tail at one point?

Chris 1:44
Yeah, I had the full suspension version. And let’s see, it had to derailleurs I know that.

Jeff 1:52
To be clear front and the rear. To rear derailleur is so weird.

Chris 1:57
Yeah. I think I left it in the middle chain ring the entire time. I don’t think I really even shifted on slick rock, which was maybe why I found it so difficult, because I really didn’t know much about it about mountain biking in general. And the shop just set me up with you know, they’re like, You need clipless and you need all the things so I bought all the things and like went straight to Moab.

Jeff 2:24
Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, I think a lot of people have probably has a pretty similar experience with with Moab specifically. And yeah, just like that first trip away from home. Right and unfamiliar trails. We’ve got you Matt was your first mountain bike trip.

Matt 2:40
It was. Yeah, surprise, surprise. I live in outside of Denver, too. And it was no app stick a year and a half after I started mountain biking, maybe. And my friend brought it up. And so we stopped in. Maybe it’s fruit. That was my first destination. So we stopped doing fruit because it’s on the way in road 18 The team road trails and then the most of porcupine room the next day. I think we might have had one other ride plant but after porcupine rim, both of us still being pretty fresh riders are like now let’s just go home and recover.

Jeff 3:18
Yeah. Interesting. Well, that’s that’s funny, because my first trip I was gonna say Moab to I mean, that was that’s the first like, real destination trip. Although Leah and I had written in Bizkaia probably a few times before that. But back then, you know, this was like, early 2000s. Like, I don’t know if I would have called it a mountain bike destination. Like there wasn’t a whole lot of like infrastructure back then. And so yeah, it just felt kind of like a more of like a weekend, trail ride type of situation. But yeah, go into Moab that, for me was kind of the first trip that I ever took. And yeah, like Chris said, I rode slick rock. Pretty sure that was the first trail we rode. It was super hot. I remember we both planned our trip for August, which was pretty poor timing. But yeah. Yeah. Moab that’s, that’s crazy. That’s kind of our first trip. And you know it is like you guys mentioned it’s it’s the number one destination on our list. And so as I guess a lot of mountain bikers start at the top. They’ve heard of Moab like that’s when you got to hit first. Very pretty classic. So what do you guys think? What is it that makes somewhere a good mountain bike destination because by now we’ve all visited a number of cool spots and so started off with you Chris. Like what what do you look for when you’re planning a trip and what makes you want to go visit somewhere for mountain biking?

Chris 4:54
I would say first and foremost the scenery. Obviously Moab is super scenic no matter where you look, it’s beautiful. I would also second that with Sedona. Same thing, same feeling. It just feels natural. Even though Moab is very, I would say crowded at this point with lots of mountain bikers and jeepers and moto enthusiast. When you get out there, it feels like you’re kind of out there alone in the in the wild. So definitely that and then I personally prefer to camp when I’m mountain biking. So I look for places that have an abundance of camping so that again, I can feel like I’m out in the wild of sorts. And then I guess the last thing I look for is I’d love to not have cell phone service at all. But sparse cell phone service is a plus, I don’t really want to communicate with other people. I want to enjoy being in that moment when I’m in that moment. So that is a huge plus. And MATLAB certainly has some cell phone service, but not very good cell phone service when you’re really out there. So that’s helpful and like just turn that off and forget about it.

Jeff 6:07
Yeah, interesting. What about you, man? What do you think? What’s what’s like the primary draw for you?

Matt 6:13
I think back then it was, you know, is the fact that Moab had like these big shuttled, epic descent. So, I mean, I started climbing back then. Still not the best, but for me, it was like, the fact that you could go hop on a shuttle and get like 2530 miles of mostly downhill. That was a big draw for me for sure.

Jeff 6:37
Yeah, definitely a big difference from most people’s local trails, you know, like going somewhere, either with shuttles or with Lift service. Like, I think for a lot of people that I know, here in Atlanta, like, that’s, you know, if you’re gonna go somewhere, you want to go somewhere where you can try that you can try lift served or or shuttle service. Yeah, totally. And, Chris, I’m like, You, I mean, scenery is like a big draw for me going somewhere that’s different from where I’m used to writing scenes, you know, somewhere that’s really beautiful. And then, kind of, like I mentioned with pesca. I think for me, I also want to see that like infrastructure in place with like bike shops and tour operators, and, you know, cool restaurants or breweries or things like that. And, to me that, you know, just sort of sets the vibe, like, this is a mountain bike spot, like, these are my people. And, you know, I’m gonna make an effort to like, go to a place where I can sort of connect with that, which I think is fun.

Matt 7:38
Ya know, I’m sort of unique for being a destination within Utah that sort of has those establishments. Like, if you go to St. George, there’s not really a whole lot of breweries or bars you can pop into Yeah, after a ride. So ya know, I’m still sort of unique in having those. Yeah, that somewhat of a nightlife or like a small mountain town.

Jeff 7:59
Yeah. Yeah. I think another thing too, if we look at some of these destinations, feel like weather plays a role in it to like, people, for a lot of us, if we’re going to travel, it’s because we’re like trying to get away from whatever the weather is doing at home. So it’s cold, like, we want to go to Sedona or, you know, Moab or somewhere like that. And if it’s hot where we are, we want to go to these like Alpine destinations in the summer. So I feel like that that plays a role. All right, so let’s get to this list. We ended up with 12 destinations, this time, ones that we felt like we had to include. We started actually with a pretty big list, we asked for nominations from singletracks readers. I think by the time we sort of compiled it, we had had like 1200 nominations. And from that, we kind of narrowed that down to like 40 or so 40 places that had more than one or a few votes each and then so we went through those and sort of debated the merits. Some of them were real obvious, like Moab were like, yes, obviously, like, we don’t really need to debate that. But then other ones is kind of tougher. And so that is Matt’s idea for us to do this podcast, which I thought was great. So we can kind of explain our thinking and like what those discussions were like, behind putting this list together. So let’s start at the top Moab. We’ve already kind of talked about it, but is there anything else to say like, Chris, what else is there to say about Moab?

Chris 9:33
Personally, I just I just love how chunky and rocky it is. We don’t have a ton of huge rocks that are really grippy like that. So that’s a huge draw for me and for a challenge. Yeah. And then as Matt mentioned, you can you can go into town if you want to and there’s always a an abundance of people watching there just because there are so many different types of activities to do. So I Like watching the jeeps go by if you’re ever there in jeep week, there’s super cool things just you know, sitting around town. So, those big rides to, like Matt mentioned, you can go out there for a weekend and do somewhere upwards of 60 miles. And you know, that’s just three trails. So, yeah, it’s pretty awesome. You get really tired you you earn that beer at the end of the ride. And I think that’s, that’s pretty appealing.

Jeff 10:27
Yeah, yeah. What about you, Matt? Anything else?

Matt 10:31
I think, you know, this might be why like Moab still stays and at the top of the list for a lot of people but they’ve gotten more well rounded as a mountain bike destination, I believe, and that they’re more beginner trails to where before, I mean, even slickrock was sort of like the beginner trail a while ago and it’s still a really tough trail. Yeah, it’s it has gotten better I think with like Klondike bluffs and Navajo rocks.

Chris 10:58
The Kalonzo loops. Yeah,

Matt 11:01
yep. Those there’s like an alternate porcupine rim now. Was it like Falcon flow or something like that? Yeah, totally. But yeah, I think it’s rounding out more so and basically what I’m getting at is that like, I think for a good destination, you have to have trails that offer something for everybody, you know, not just advanced and experienced riders, but a lot of people like to mountain bike these days. And so is it inclusive, I guess is the best way to describe it. And then yeah, scenery. Scenery definitely helps the infrastructure. Like you mentioned, Jeff, I think, you know, if you’re making money as a destination for mountain bikers, if you got in a town like you want to feel like you’re welcome, and people want you there. So yeah, do you go into a coffee shop and are there like, little kitschy wheels hanging up and stuff like that? Things that are like, oh, yeah, these are my people. Yeah,

Jeff 11:57
for sure.

Chris 11:59
Oh, you know, I would also add one other thing. There are babysitters in Moab. I know that sounds weird. But speaking of having those beginner trails, you know, we would go out and ride the Kilonzo trails or the Klondike trails with younger kids. But then we would also want to ride you know, maybe one longer trail Mac seven or the whole enchilada, something like would take many hours. So the availability of intown babysitters. I know, I know that sounds silly, but that’s a huge plus, if you can find a destination that also has some services like that, so that you’re able to do adult things, and also kid things. That’s a huge draw for me as well. Yeah,

Jeff 12:42
that’s, that’s cool. That’s good pro tip.

Matt 12:45
Kind of has it all.

Jeff 12:46
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I remember going to Moab for the first time. And I mean, I’m pretty sure the whole enchilada wasn’t a thing back then. I mean, that was maybe 17 years ago, first time that I was there. So yeah, like, to your point, Matt, that, like, Moab continues to grow the trail offerings and sort of diversified the rides that you can do there. I mean, if you do the whole enchilada, it’s, it’s pretty amazing. Because you start, like, you know, way up in the high alpine and there’s trees and greenery. And then, you know, by the end of the ride, you’re you’re back at porcupine rim and like in the desert and on the rocks. And, yeah, it’s just amazing. You can ride all of that kind of in one area. And then the other thing that I think is cool about Moab, you know, it started with our bike, having that demo event there, but I think a lot of people like to go to Moab and like rent a bike, you know, like a nicer bike than what they normally ride or like, you know, maybe they’re a trail rider and they’re like, I want to try an enduro bike and because so many people go there and those shops like you know, see so many rentals, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find like pretty new bikes, different bikes that you maybe don’t have access to back at home and for me that’s a big draw for destinations is like being able to demo bikes and and try new things and new riding styles and Moab is definitely a great place for that.

Matt 14:20
Yeah, definitely.

Chris 14:22
Yeah, if you want to hit all the climates, started at Whole Enchilada. Half the time it’s snowing, I think at the top, just a little bit that at the bottom. It’s 95

Jeff 14:32
Right now incredible. All right, number two on our list was Sedona. So, Matt, tell us a little bit about Sedona I’ve never been so give me give me kind of the lowdown.

Matt 14:44
Yeah, it’s I want to say the way it’s set up is, in a way very different than than Moab where I don’t think Sedona is known for like its big, epic trail routes but a lot have smaller networks and stuff that you can basically ride from town. Well, nearly as much slick rock, and tech and that kind of riding that you would see in Moab, but it’s definitely has definitely has a different flavor. So yeah, I would say smaller networks really close to town, and much more of a town than Moab.

Jeff 15:24
Oh, cool. Chris, you’ve been there a number of times, haven’t you? What? What’s your take on Sedona?

Chris 15:29
Yeah, I actually started going there. When the festivals started, go, being there, I guess the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival, which is probably my favorite festival of the year. I think that’s an early March now, other than that one COVID year. But I just I don’t know if it’s the vortices and other sounds really crazy, but it just feels good there. It feels good. Wherever you look, it’s beautiful. It’s stunning. The trails are super fun. I had someone describe the trails as cross country trails, which is not how I would describe most of us trails, though. I mean, there’s just, you know, the cactus rocks, all sorts of terrain, you can go like Matt said, two separate little trail networks ride some loops. And I just think it’s the scenery for me there. And they do have an abundance of restaurants and hotels, and there’s never a shortage. Even during the festival, you can find a hotel pretty easily for pretty affordable prices, which is awesome. And you can go out and have a nice meal afterwards. And then, of course, they have other things like art and Crystal shops and all the things that people might be into to feel really good about whatever they’re doing. So I just think Sedona is maybe one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. And so for me that was is the key. And I mean, the trails are hard, in my opinion. Most of them are pretty. Yeah, pretty decently tiring at the end of the day, but and it’s one of those destinations you can go when it’s cold here. So right you know more desert even in the winter. One year the festival had 100 year snowstorm right before it and it snowed 18 inches, but that rarely happens. So the trails are typically really rideable most of the year as well, which makes that a huge plus.

Jeff 17:25
Yeah, that’s cool. Well, yeah, I mean, I know Sedona before mountain bikers kind of adopted it as a top destination. Yeah, had that reputation for that, like mysticism and spiritual kind of stuff. Is there like a good interaction with mountain bikers? And like the folks who are there to do that stuff? Like does it feel welcoming as a mountain biker when you’re there?

Chris 17:49
Yeah, I think over the years, that’s changed into more welcoming attitude, because I think mountain bikers have brought a lot of, you know, revenue into that area. And certainly, they’ve brought a lot of crowds. So the only the only issue I ever have there is is parking at some of the, at some of the trails now or as they used to be fairly empty. There’s an abundance of, of vans for ones from mountain bikers and hikers. But everybody’s super friendly. I’ve never had a bad interaction on a trail with a hiker runner, or horses or anything like that. So I would say overall, the the town’s really embraced mountain biking even more so in the last five years. And it feels pretty welcoming to me. I don’t know if anyone else has had a different experience, but I’ve never had a terrible experience in Sedona.

Jeff 18:42
Yeah, Yeah, same. Yeah. Well, hopefully, hopefully, the mountain bikers are bringing that good energy and, and, you know, it’s a good harmonious relationship. Because, yeah, there’s a lot of hiking and people that are there for different reasons. And in a place that’s traditionally been sort of a tourism destination, but yeah, it’s cool to see all the bike trails. And it sounds like they’re developing in sort of the greater Sedona area, they continue to develop more trails. You know, I’ve talked to Kevin from the Verde Valley cycling coalition, and, I mean, they’ve got on the books, they’ve got dozens and dozens of miles of new trail projects. And so it seems pretty likely that Sedona is going to stay up there as one of those top destinations and and hopefully, you know, the the few issues that you mentioned, like parking and you know, potentially crowded trails. Hopefully some of that will be eliminated in the future so it’ll still be top draw for folks.

Matt 19:45
Yeah, I think it helps to they’ve got like some of those, you know, I don’t know if you call them like novel features, but you know, things like the white line trail. Yeah. Or hangover, Highline. Like those things that are like very Instagram War for mountain bikers. You know, you see him on social media and like, it’s sort of attraction itself. You’re like, Okay, I want to go out there and like, see what this is about? Yeah. Maybe look at it or say I’m gonna write it and then get there and decide against it because, you know, it’s terrifying. Right?

Chris 20:19
Yeah. Disclaimer, don’t ride the white line unless you are a professional mountain. It is terrifying.

Jeff 20:29
Yeah, that’s a good point that a lot of these do have that sort of iconic trail and whether people ride it or not. It it does tend to draw people who want to see it for themselves and potentially write it for themselves. But yeah, I won’t be writing that white line trail anytime soon. Yeah, no. Okay, so the next one on our list. Number three, I believe was Bentonville, Arkansas. And honestly, this one surprised me even a few years ago, maybe it wasn’t that long ago, a couple years ago, Bentonville crowned itself, the mountain bike capital of the world. I rolled my eyes at that. I will be honest, boy, a lot of people did. Yeah. But you know, Matt, and I have reported on Bentonville and shared a lot of the work that’s been going on there. Neither of us have been. But yeah, I mean, it’s pretty clear that there’s a huge investment that’s been made, and a lot of unique trails there and places to ride and businesses popping up to cater to mountain bikers. And everybody I’ve talked to who’s been has had a pretty great experience. And Chris, you’re the of the three of us. You’re the only one who’s been so tell us about Ben bill. What’s what’s so great about the writing there,

Chris 21:45
the resident experts. Yeah, I had the I guess I had the pleasure of going down there when they first started really adding a significant amount of trails. I was working for him, but at the time, and they were working with the Walton foundation and a lot of trail builders down there, building new trails. And since then, it’s grown tremendously since the first time I’ve been there. But just generally speaking, it’s really nice to be able to ride out of town, which is similar to to Sedona in that you can ride from the center of Bentonville, and you can get on relatively short trails. So you can make a lot of loops, you can ride a lot of different trails. And now they have you know, this whole Greenway that connects all of the little trail networks, they’ve been building in nearby cities, even so you’ve got Rogers and Fayetteville and Bella Vista. And I think that holistically we, we say Bentonville or people say Bentonville, but what they mean is that whole northwest Arkansas area, because there’s a lot of trails, a lot of different type of trails, and a lot of you know, it’s all purpose built, which makes it extremely fun for mountain bikers, and there’s not really ever hikers or runners, I never see other people out there. So it feels like it’s just for mountain biking, though it is not specifically for mountain biking. And of course the community and has really rallied it with growing that space specifically for mountain biking because they see the the benefits to having a lot of trails in their town, and they’re trying to recreate that and other places in the Midwest, especially where they just didn’t have a lot of natural hiking trails or just natural trails. So it’s really fun. The community embraces it fully everywhere you go. Most things are mountain bike themed, if not all things are mountain bike themed. But yeah, I mean, it’s just fun. If I were if I were to go again, I would love to have an E bike. If I’m being honest, just because the trails if you connect them from town to town or in that Greenway space, you’re riding a fair amount of you know, kind of boring trail or sidewalk or something like that. But you can just pop in at any moment just pop into one side and find a trail to ride the parallels the Greenway and and you can just, you can get lost pretty easily. Yeah. But then you’re always there, you’re always somewhere you can always pop out into a town and figure out where you are. So it is pretty fun. And obviously the you know, they’ve been growing those trails for some number of years, and they’re always adding more so every time you go, there’s something new you could ride.

Jeff 24:31
Yeah, I mean, I think for me that what sounds appealing is being able to ride to a lot of the trails from where you’re staying. And for a lot of these destinations that might mean like camping. Some of them have good spots where you camp right at the trail and you can just wake up in the morning and jump on your bike. For me if I have a choice between sleeping on the ground or sleeping in a bed in a hotel. I’m going to choose the hotel so yeah, that’s That’s pretty awesome that those trails are so accessible from town sounds like a big draw. Yeah. Any thoughts from you, Matt, about Bentonville? And how the scene has kind of developed there over the years?

Matt 25:12
Yeah, I’m really excited to check it out. At some point, I’ve had a handful of friends that all reside in Colorado and have gotten out there at some point in the past year or two. And everyone, or every one of them that’s come back is had nothing but good things to say. Yeah, I think like Chris said, it’s, everything’s designed for mountain bikers. In so you get out there, and it feels like the trails are made for you, because they are. And I’ve also heard that, as, you know, a new mountain bike destination, I guess this is like, we’ve come to expect different things from the diversity and trails there. But the trails are, from what I’ve heard a lot more progressive. So it’s easier for a beginner to go out there and really enjoy the trails. And it easier for a beginner and an advanced rider to go out there and enjoy them together. Because there’s so many features and, and different things that you can ride all in the same in the same ride.

Jeff 26:06
Yeah, that’s cool. Yeah. Well, I mean, one of the criticisms that I’ve heard, I think at least one person commented that they thought the trails were sort of all very similar. They’re like, they felt like there wasn’t a big variety of the types of trails, which I mean, it seems seems like that could be a valid argument, except for the fact that, like, you’re saying a lot of those trails, they are progressive. And so it’s really up to the rider to kind of decide, what kind of ride do you want to do? And yeah, I mean, if you’re out there just riding the same way and doing the same thing every day, then that’s pretty boring. But if you’re like, Okay, today, I’m gonna go hit, you know, all the jumps on this trail, or, you know, I just want to do like a cross country ride and just kind of, you know, more flowy like, you can do all those things. But really, it’s not the trail that’s going to do it for you. It’s it’s kind of, I think, sounds like it’s the rider needs to consciously make that that decision.

Chris 27:06
Yeah, I would say with all the different trail building organizations that have collided in Bentonville, so to speak, if you look for them, if you find them, there are tons of different trails that like rock solid built, or gravity logic actually came down and built some trails in Bella Vista, I believe. And, you know, that’s those are bigger jump lines, that if you didn’t go seek them out, you wouldn’t necessarily end up there. So I think to Matt’s point, for sure, a lot of the trails from the center of town, I would say are, you know, feel similar. And they’re beginner friendly, for most of them. But then as you branch out, or as you get kind of further away from the center, there are certainly features that you can find that will challenge yourself, if you go and want to just ride cross country, you could also do that. So I don’t think they’re entirely similar, though it does feel similar in the sense that you’re kind of always in the woods, which, that’s one thing I would say, while it is different than here. It’s not necessarily super scenic, or how I think of super scenic, I would love to see huge mountains or lakes or the desert or you know, something, and, and you’re always just kind of in the woods here. So there’s not really a lot to look at. So it does feel similar wherever you are in that sense. Yeah. Okay, that makes sense.

Matt 28:30
One of the things that stands out to me about Bentonville too, is if you look at the list that we have, and I’m kind of counting and making generalizations, but probably eight of the 12 are older destinations, and they’ll have very natural type of terrain to where there’s at least from what I’ve seen in Bend Ville, there’s a lot of flow trails, jump trails, things like that. Yeah, I think when we get down and talk a bit about Vermont, that will probably stand out there too. And maybe copper harbor as well. But a lot of these other destinations. Yeah, very natural kind of old school raw and great trails, but a different field than what you might see in Bentonville.

Jeff 29:09
Yeah, interesting. Right. Yeah. They they sort of make up for that lack of the natural terrain with with stuff that is purpose built, and that’s made for people to enjoy. And obviously people do so. Yeah, good distinction. So number four, we’ve got the Grand Valley, Colorado, and for those aren’t, who aren’t familiar with the Grande Valley that’s also known, I believe, is the western slope. And we’re talking about fruta Grand Junction. Even palisade. So, Matt, you’ve been there? Probably the most recently although Chris, you’re always traveling. So you’ve you’ve probably were there some time there too. But I’m gonna let Matt started off and talk to us a little bit about the Grand Valley.

Matt 29:58
Yeah, for Denver area riders especially it’s kind of like a spring pilgrimage. Because those are often like the first trails that drive up by February or March. And so it’s kind of just like, hey, go to the desert, get some miles in and start breaking your legs in. But yeah, I feel like fruit for a long time has been sort of like the flagship out of out of those three towns and you know, because of Horsethief or the Kokopelli. trails out there 18 road. I mean, honestly, those two networks, like take up the bulk of what Florida is known for. Then if you go to beyond, you know, go to Grand Junction, and I mean, you can spend a whole day at lunch leaves easily and, and just wear yourself out. And for a while palisade really all I had was the Rim Trail, which is maybe nine miles and there’s some really great views and some techie writing. But now they’ve added the plunge. I think they’re seeing a lot more visitors. So yeah, Florida, is the most Far West Grand Junction is in the middle. And then palisade is the most Far East, and they’re still what, maybe 45 minutes apart. So a lot of trails within that corridor.

Jeff 31:09
Yeah. Chris, what do you think? Do most people like do you know a lot of people who go out just to ride the Grand Valley, or do people tend to like sort of tack that on to a Moab trip and hippo,

Chris 31:22
as Matt mentioned, it sort of depends on the time of year, I would say and the amount of time you have and what you intend to do if if you have younger kids, kids, children, or or beginner riders fruta at the 18 roads, trailheads are is an amazing place to stay. There’s a lot of camping a lot more, they’ve recently invested a lot in building those parking lots and infrastructures for camping there. And the trails are nice, easy loops, they do have shuttles as an option. And I believe the shuttle is like a hay wagon, which is the best. Or the last time I was on the shuttle, it was a giant hay wagon, just some people that like to shuttle, it’s free. So that’s really nice. But you know, a lot of people say they’re going to go to my lab, and then they just stay there because there are a lot of trails in that area. And as Matt mentioned, the Kokopelli loops are pretty significant and miles and there’s no shortage of technical things on those trails. So I would say it depends on how long you have. If I were going out for a week, I would stop in both. And sometimes I just bypass the Grand Valley and go straight to Moab. It just totally depends if the weather’s you know how the weather is. Is it raining? Is it colder? Sometimes it can be chilly in the spring, of course. So that’s a tricky question, Jeff.

Jeff 32:44
Yeah, and so Matt, you mentioned one of the newest trails or routes that a lot of people are talking about this year is the palisade plunge. And that one is, is kind of tricky, because given the name, it sounds like it’s this like descent where you can just get shuttled to the top and just like, you know, like go with the brakes and close down. But that’s not the case. Right. And you got to ride it pretty early on. What did you think about the plunge? Is that something that’s like worth traveling to do? Or is that like, just a nice thing to add on to like one day of your trip? Or what’s kind of your your feeling about the plunge?

Matt 33:24
Yeah, it’s kind of an interesting moment for it right now, because it’s starting to get a lot of press and not necessarily for the right reasons. And that people have, yeah, well, somebody passed away a month or two ago, people have had to be evacuated from the trail. It’s just a lot more than I think a lot of people expect when they got to write it, because Everson sort of advertised it, as you know, the plunge and I think people maybe would have equated it to Colorado’s version of porcupine rim, or the whole enchilada, but it’s not an I. It’s funny. Two nights ago, I reread because there’s another piece on Colorado public radio that came out two days ago about it, and about how people around the area and organizations are changing their approach to how they market uh, and so I went and reread my piece that I wrote after writing it last fall. And when I talked to Scott widens from COP MOBA. And yeah, it’s not a big, you know, epic descent to kind of like recap what he said it’s, it’s 2000 ish feet of climbing and seven ish, 1000 feet of descending, but it’s over 30 something miles and so the average grade is really only around three or 4%. And so it’s not like this rash of you know, hauling ass downhill for extended hours. And I mean, it is technically downhill, but it’s not that downhill. So, you’re still pedaling a lot. I remember just thinking, hey, we’re earning our turns the whole way down. And even though we got shuffled up here, and it was with a group of all really advanced writers, like people in the industry, and by journalists who do spend a lot of time with their computers, but also still write a lot, and everyone was wept afterwards, you know, it’s, it’s a hard ride for sure. So, yeah, it’s kind of playing out in real time now. And hopefully people are consuming that information being safe when they go out and write it.

Jeff 35:23
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, for me, one of the most well known sort of shuttled dissents like that, in Colorado is the monarch Crest Trail. And I’ve done that one several times. How does it compare to that? Because I feel like monarchists, you do climb a good bit, mostly at the beginning? Yeah. Is it similar to that in terms of like effort and sort of the like pedaling to descending ratio? Or is it is it even more intense than that? No, I mean, the

Matt 35:51
plunge feels like just more of an all day backcountry ride with Some so called the sense mixed in here and there, but you’re still pedaling a lot throughout most of that. It’s probably been five or six years since I’ve done the crest. But you do have some really big dissents on the crest that you know, and those are big mountains. It’s like big mountain riding and big mountain dissents. So now you do feel like you’re getting a lot more descending on the crest, I would say.

Jeff 36:13
Okay, interesting. Yeah, that sounds like a cool one for sure to check out. But yeah, I feel like having the right expectations going in is key. I mean, that’s, that’s true with anything, right? Like, you’re going to enjoy it more. If you know what you’re getting into. And you’re not having expectations, that is just going to be like easy. And just, yeah, lots of descending the whole way down. So good to know. All right. So next on our list, another Colorado destination. We’ve got Crested Butte. And this one we kind of were like hedging and saying, Well, let’s include Gunnison. And then I think I brought up like Salida, is that a destination? And we were like, well, not by itself, but maybe it’s kind of in that zone, but not really. So Chris, tell us a little bit about Crested Butte is that somewhere you go fairly often, living in Colorado,

Chris 37:11
I go to it every few years, but I wouldn’t say fairly often. And, and I guess that’s kind of what makes it a destination, it’s not extremely easy to get to, in that it’s at least four or five hour drive, depending on how fast you drive, or how many tickets you get in between. But the drive is beautiful. I’ll give it that. But you do have to go over, you know, many mountain passes and windy roads. So I don’t go there as as often as you might think. But I think that’s what makes it so cool is that it’s difficult to get to for you can’t really fly into Crested Butte either you would have to fly into neighboring airport, that’s probably a few hours away and drive there. What makes it really awesome is that, you know, it’s in the mountains. And in theory, I guess it was the birthplace of mountain biking though everyone will argue that so you know. Yeah, and the rides are long, and they’re in the mountains, high alpine there. I mean, the scenery is gorgeous. The town is super cute, and they do have all those little amenities that you’re looking for. And of course, they’ve embraced mountain biking, as well as skiing. Like a lot of the towns that are on this list. It’s a mountain bike ski town as well. So it’s pretty easy to transition between those sports and make it really focus on in the summer on one and winter on the other. But I mean, I can’t You can’t beat the scenery on some of those. Those trails out there. It’s hard to Yeah, hard to state how beautiful those are. And of course, like with Gunnison so close, there’s a little bit bigger of a town nearby. There’s the blue. Was it the blue resin? What’s that reservoir called Matt? It’s really, really cold. Mesa. There’s like the freezing cold lake. So if you really want to do a polar plunge, even in the summer, you can jump into that. At the end of a ride. You can pop over there. So yeah, I really like Crested Butte. It’s so cute.

Jeff 39:13
Yeah, yeah. And given sort of its location. I mean, like you said, it’s, it’s not easy to get to it’s basically at the end of the road. I mean, the road just kind of ends there and you’re surrounded by mountains, and it’s definitely like a summer destination. I mean, the the riding season is pretty limited, right? I mean, like, late June, maybe to August, September. I don’t know. It depends

Chris 39:39
on the snowpack. Sometimes in you know, just like monarch crest. Sometimes the writing starts a lot later because the snowpack is so large and it’s really muddy still or it’s still packed with snow. So it is variable. So if you plan a trip there be safe flight in the two months that you know All

Jeff 40:00
right. Right. And I think that’s kind of why we were thinking to include Gunnison and sort of the surrounding area, because some of the some of the trails outside of Crested Butte do tend to be writable for more of the year. And so there are more of those options. What do you think about Chris a beaut? Matt?

Matt 40:19
Yeah, similar. I mean, it was there two years ago, last, and I mean, every time you’re there, it’s on any trail, you just look around, and you’re kind of in awe. And of course, like the town’s super awesome, and there’s all distilleries, and amazing restaurants, beautiful camping, amazing trails, and definitely like some of the hardest riding that I think is around the states, because I remember the last last show we did there, it was like, okay, cool. This is only 2000 feet of climbing. But you start at like 9500 feet, you’re gonna to level five. And so it’s only 2000. But you’re at. I mean, for me, it’s like twice the elevation that I’m used to starting at. And so everything just takes longer. They’re older trails, too, so they’re steeper and tougher to get to the top of, but in my experience, always worth it. Yeah,

Chris 41:11
yeah, I would say they have a true single track there as well. Which is fun to see. Because usually it’s a little bit wider than an actual single track, but a lot of these trails are very truly single track.

Jeff 41:24
Yeah, yeah. So absolutely, super beautiful out there. And right, because a lot of the trails are so remote, they don’t get a lot of traffic and the limited season two, I mean, a lot of those trails are, are just not being used for much of the year. And I would say still to this day, when people ask me like, oh, what’s your favorite trail? I usually say trail 401 incrusted is my favorite and not because it’s like amazing, single track or technical anything or you know, it’s it’s pretty, it’s pretty plain. I mean, even it’s like fire road climb up, you’re on a road gravel road and but it’s totally because of the scenery and just taking all that in. It’s kind of unbelievable, that you’re able to ride somewhere like that. So yeah, definitely stands out for me. And it’s one I would recommend to anybody who’s interested in the scenery as much as they are like the trail itself, for sure. Okay, so next up, we got another mountain town, this one a little more developed than Crested Butte got Park City, Utah. So Park City for those who don’t know, it’s not too far away from Salt Lake City. So you’ve got access to a big airport, big city. So a lot of people from Salt Lake go up and ride in Park City during the summers. And there are a number of resorts there too that are running their lifts you know, either some have like, like parky type stuff set up. Others are more natural single track where you can take the lift up and ride some of the higher Alpine trails in the summer. Matt, what do you think about Park City? What stands out and makes it like a special mountain bike destination for you?

Matt 43:13
Well, it’s isn’t it a in the gold? Yes. The

Jeff 43:17
first one

Matt 43:18
is the first one. Yeah, so it carries some weight to it for sure. I actually went there for the first time last year, and I only rode Deer Valley. But it was definitely one of the best bike parks I’ve been to. In a while. Some awesome downhill trails and yeah, a bunch of good stuff on that mountain. And then yeah, great town as well. But my experience has been pretty limited the Aside from riding the bike park and going out into town a little bit. Did some gravel there when I was there, too. And that seemed pretty excellent. But yeah, yeah, not much. Aside from that.

Jeff 43:52
Yeah. What about you, Chris? Have you been out to Park City?

Chris 43:55
I have only been there once for riding. I’ve been there many times for skiing. But so I liked the trail. I don’t remember what it was even called at this point. We were like popping through. So I can’t I don’t have too much to say about the trails. Obviously the scenery near Salt Lake City is beautiful park city is beautiful. And I would say it’s probably very, a very convenient destination for that whole valley. So that part of Utah, but I don’t have a lot of insight into what it’s really like because I haven’t written enough out there.

Jeff 44:30
Yeah, I’ve been out a couple of times. And what’s cool is the I mean, obviously the resort areas and like all the ski mountains around there have trails just like go in every direction and there’s some cool stuff you can do like up higher on the ridges. That’s pretty well known like mid mountain trail, but then they also have a good bit of trail like in town, like lower down stuff even like close sort of the highway where there’s starting to be like more residential development, like outs just outside of the park city, city limits. And so yeah, I feel like there’s a lot of variety no matter where you stay, like, if you’re staying in the town of Park City, or if you’re staying at, like, you know, somewhere outside, you’re still gonna have good access to trails. And they’re starting to do more of the like progressive trails away from the resorts, where, you know, these are like public sort of bike parks where you’ll see neighborhood kids messing around. And, you know, it’s, it’s fun to take families to those places. And yeah, it’s just a great again, like one of those spots, where there’s a ton of infrastructure, like if you want to rent a bike, you need to fix your bike, you want someone to like, show you around, there’s all of that stuff there. In addition to just how to great restaurants and, and beer and you know, everything, everything you could want. There. It’s definitely set up for for mountain bike tourism, which is great. Okay, number seven, we’re getting back to the East Coast. And we maybe I put his gua at number seven. And for those who don’t know, pika is the name of the national forest that’s located in the western part of North Carolina. And generally, when people are talking about that area, they’re going to be staying or basing their trip out of town called Brevard, or Asheville, which most people have heard of. And now there’s another area that’s starting to be developed around old fort which is sort of the eastern most part of the basically the Pisco area or what people refer to as Pisco. So, yeah, I don’t think neither of you guys have been to Pisco have you know, negative.

Chris 47:00
It’s to east.

Jeff 47:02
It is, is definitely it’s definitely east.

Chris 47:06
It’s certainly a destination from here. Right. Yeah.

Jeff 47:09
Yeah. It is interesting that that I don’t think you get a lot of tourists mountain bike tourists from the West that come out to Bizkaia. Most of the folks that I’ve run into out there are from the East Coast, people, eastern Canada as well. But yeah, it tends to be one of those spots, that it’s very different. It’s very different from the writing out west in terms of how difficult it is, there isn’t a lot of like really beginner friendly or even stuff that’s friendly to folks who are like casual riders, you know, may not be like super biking shape. To be riding these trails, a lot of them. They are just super remote and technically challenging. There’s no like lip service or there’s very little opportunity to even shuttle. A lot of the folks there are kind of opposed to that idea of shuttling trails. A lot of people feel like you need to earn your turns and some of the trails I had noticed people had these stickers made up with a picture of a badminton shuttlecock and it’s got like an X through it. And so they don’t want you to shuttling certain trails that are technically shuttle a bowl. But yeah, I guess people figure that ruins the vibe on some of them. But yeah, fortunately, the folks up there have started to recognize that those trails are challenging. And for core riders, that’s great. That’s why we go there. Some of the best riding on the East Coast, most scenic, again, like Bentonville, you’re in the trees the whole time, very rarely where you get to pop out and have a view. But when you do have those views, they’re amazing. Again, some of the best on the east coast, but the folks in the area, some of the local bike clubs and like the tourism groups there are recognizing the need for these more accessible trails. And so you’re starting to see projects like the one in Old Fort developing where there’s going to be more beginner intermediate level trails. An old fort, by the way is where kids bow is they relocated there. And so there’s kind of like a, like a hub that’s developing where the kids bow factory is and there’s like breweries and stuff happening there. That will all be sort of rideable right from the downtown area of old fort. And then also there’s always been the option to ride DuPont state forest which technically is not in Pisco it’s not in the Pisco National Forest, but it is a really great writing spot with some pretty unique topography. It’s got a lot of like it supposed granite. And so I’ve heard people call it like the Moab of the East. It’s really nothing like Moab. But just the fact that that you’re riding on exposed rocks. And so it tends to be less technical riding there, there’s some really good flow trails there that people will go to ride. And so yeah, there’s certainly to be more of those options for people, families and people who are just starting out with biking they can really enjoy. So yeah, and the infrastructure continues to grow there as well. Hopefully, hopefully, you guys can come out and visit sometime.

Chris 50:40
I would love to I get invited all the time. Yeah,

Matt 50:45
to it. It’s got to be like the premiere destination or mountain bike area on, I guess, maybe not the entirety of the East Coast, but at least like the southeast or. Yeah, the east to lower East.

Jeff 51:01
Right. Yeah, it’s hard to it’s hard to think of somewhere that is better known and probably better visited. And I think it benefits from being sort of Yeah, like you said, more southern on the east coast. So the weather is better, you know, you can you can ride there pretty much year round. There may be an occasional, like snowstorm, or ice or something, but for the most part, you can ride there year round, it’s usually wet.

Chris 51:29
That sounds scary.

Jeff 51:33
The trails are, you know, they’re always open to I mean, it’s not one of these places where you’re going to be damaging the trails, I mean, certain ones for sure. Like the more machine cuts stuff, but the older, you know, more remote trails, like a lot of them, people ride them in the rain and they hold up just fine to that kind of stuff. So yeah, I think I think Pisco is is one of those that will continue to get more pot filler as sort of the variety of trail experiences opens up. Okay, number eight on our lists, we’re jumping back to the other coast, sort of Lake Tahoe. So Lake Tahoe, straddles California and Nevada. Chris, have you ridden at Lake Tahoe?

Chris 52:18
I have never even been to Lake Tahoe. You want

Jeff 52:22
to go? Does it sound like an appealing mountain bike destination? Yeah, there

Chris 52:26
was a race. There was more of a cross country oriented reason I forgot what it was called. But I thought Matt did it. But I think he did the one in Canada. Is that correct? Matt? What was that? You’re training for it a couple of years ago?

Matt 52:39
Yeah. Did BC bike race?

Chris 52:42
Yeah, it wasn’t that but there was a race around the lake at one point that I did want to go to but it was impossible to get into seemingly kind of like the Leadville 100, you had to qualify Some Other Race or you had to win the lottery. And I never won the lottery. So I just gave up. Never was. But yeah, I would love to go. It sounds beautiful. I mean, it’s obviously Lake Tahoe is very scenic. And that whole area is is pretty beautiful. So I’d love to see it. But I haven’t so I can’t really comment.

Jeff 53:14
Yeah, yeah, huge tourism area has been forever since before mountain bikes since way before mountain bikes. And so again, this is one of those that we’ve kind of CO opted, and bikers have realized over the years, it’s a great place to ride. You’ve got the Tahoe Rim Trail, which a lot of that is open to mountain bikes. Some of it is not so you know, unfortunately, you can’t do like a, you know, Tahoe Rim Trail. I always thought that would be awesome to do like a circumnavigation. bikepacking sort of trip because yeah, it’s just so beautiful. Looking out from those mountains out over the lake. And then so Yeah, Matt, you and I went out there a few years ago as part of Interbike that one time that it was in Reno, and we got to write it in North Star What do you think about the writing there at Northstar?

Matt 54:06
I really liked it. Yeah, I remember being very I think this is typical from what I hear a lot in that region, but yeah, dry dusty. But yeah, Charles are awesome to get flow, get techie trails, wouldn’t features things like that. Yeah, I really enjoyed right there.

Jeff 54:26
Yeah. Yeah, the bike park is really well run. Obviously lift serviced in the summer so you can leave your climbing legs at home if you want to. But then yeah, there are still great trails that you can access even from north star so you can like ride the lift up and then just like head out. I know I’ve done a ride where you you start at the top of Northstar and then you descend down the other side of the mountain and end up at the lake, which is pretty awesome. And yeah, there’s like great gravel roads out there to ride and single track. And then for the folks that live up there, they’ve developed a few of these, like progressive skills, parks, public parks that are, you know, open to anybody who’s visiting or who are local there to learn how to jump and ride skinnies and rocks and stuff. And I’ve found that at least our kids, like, they’re not always into going on trail rides, necessarily, but they will spend, you know, a few hours at a skills Park, just messing around. And so I think to me, that’s one of the like, underrated things that we don’t always think about when we’re looking at like a place to go ride our bikes. But, you know, these these little tiny skills, parks can actually be a huge draw, especially for families. And so it’s cool to see that they have that option there.

Matt 55:54
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I remember being very scenic. I mean, Lake Tahoe was feels like the ocean sometimes. So yeah, huge. Yeah. Yeah, super pretty area. For sure.

Jeff 56:09
Yeah. And a huge draw. Obviously, for folks in California. Probably outside of like Sedona. Sedona is maybe for Southern California folks, not not too bad to get out there. And then for more northern California, I think Lake Tahoe is a big draw. For sure. Okay, number nine, copper harbor. So this is a new one on the list since we last updated this in 2016. People were writing in copper harbor in 2016 is not that new, but it is one of those places has been I would almost call it like a slow burn with like people kind of realizing like, Huh, okay, like, it’s pretty far away. But I’ve heard a lot of good things. So, Chris, we’re just talking, you actually just got back from copper Harbor. And this was what your seventh trip is. Oh, my, what’s so good about copper harbor because neither Matt or I have been there?

Chris 57:13
Well, back to the first things I mentioned about what I’m looking for in a destination, there is no cell phone service. For the very, very, very top of Michigan, the up it’s literally across from Canada on Lake Superior. And it’s very scenic in a in a super different way than out here in Colorado, where I’m based. So you’ve got lakes pure. to Matt’s point about Lake Tahoe, it feels like it’s the ocean that you’re looking at, like you’re waving a Canada somewhere over there. But you could see no land on the other side. But the trails there, they’ve just done such a great job at making a really nice accessible trail network right from the small small center of town. And they’re just fun, and you pop out all the time to see the lake and to see there are mountains up there as well. But the trails are fun. They’re, you know, I would say mostly truly single track or very close to that. And there’s not a ton of though they are purpose built in a sense. There’s not a ton of it doesn’t feel that way. To me, it feels very natural. There’s a lot of little rocks and roots, and they do certainly have some trestles of sorts, like bridges and, and things like that. But it feels really natural. There’s a lot of different skill levels that you can ride there. And the reason I go there actually is to coach a women’s weekend every every year. So most of the women are coming from the Midwest, and this is maybe some of the most technical trail riding that they see in that area. So it’s it’s a really cool little, little nothing town it never feels crowded even at the peak of summer and they’re riding season there is also very short because they have very heavy winters and a really late spring. So people come there specifically to ride mountain bikes or go on the lake. So you don’t see a ton of people walk actually see no people walking the trails ever. It’s only bikers. And even during, you know, one of these mountain bike weekends, it never feels crowded. And they do have a shuttle service for those who want to just downhill but I just think it’s super fun little network. And they’re adding more every time I go up there. The owner of rock solid, I believe, lives up there for a lot of the year. And so he’s been building a section called East bluff and those are definitely different than the original trails that were there. There’s a lot more jumps a lot more rock features, of course and drops and, and things like that. So it’s expanding every time I go up there too. So they’ve been doing a really good job at that.

Jeff 59:59
Cool Yeah, yeah, copper harbors stands out to me on this list as like a true destination. I mean, if we’re trying to decide like, oh, is this a destination or not? I mean, the full time population that lives up there is like a few 100 people, I think, right? Yeah. And yet they they say there’s hundreds of 1000s of people who visit every year. Yeah. And so like that ratio to me, is like, that’s pretty incredible. Like, it’s obvious that people are going there with a purpose. And like you said, a big part of that purpose is for mountain biking. I mean, yeah. Who knows? Who knows how much of that would exist without biking? Yeah. And yeah, Matt, you’ve, you’ve talked to some folks, you’ve done a couple of stories about the trails up there, and the access and the trail builders. Like what’s, what’s your sense of, of the community of riders? And the folks that are there? Like, is that part of what makes it a destination?

Matt 1:01:00
I think so. Yeah. I mean, I think copper harbor was like one of those places that, you know, maybe 10, probably something like 1015 years ago, were mountain bike destinations, were still like, kind of a new concept. And Aaron Rodgers, who runs rock solid, him and well, he worked at Ember for a while too, but just having that influence. And I think knowing the potential of like, what trails could do, started shaping a lot of stuff that knew would Captivate mountain bikers interests? And that’s obviously played out pretty well for him. So yeah, I mean, I think is really just one of those. One of those places and destinations that early on had a really good idea of mountain bike specific trails.

Jeff 1:01:49
Yeah. And the folks who are there, I mean, they’re really advocating for for more trails and for access for trails, and making sure that that that resource is available, and not just for them. I mean, I always imagine it’s tough to live in a place like that, to be like a, an advocate or volunteer, that’s like helping build and maintain trails, I would feel like man, putting all this work in, and then all these people from out of town come in, and they get to enjoy it. And you know, what, you know, what’s the benefit to me? And it seems like they are totally okay with that. They’re totally just like, we’re gonna build a great place for people to ride. And we know that, that most of these people are, are just here, you know, for a few days or a week or whatever. And they’re not going to be able to give back. But like, we want to provide this and we want to make sure that it’s here for them. And that’s to me, that’s, that’s super cool.

Chris 1:02:48
Yeah, it’s not an easy place to get to. So you really have to want to get there. The closest airport only has one, maybe two flights in and out every day. It’s pretty expensive to fly in, especially if you’re having a bike with you. Yeah. And it’s pretty far for even people in Michigan to drive to because Michigan’s really long. And I don’t know that the it’s a huge economic. I mean, obviously, there’s, you know, you get money from tourism, but there’s actually only one real hotel there and with one restaurant in it, and there’s a few little breweries and food trucks here and there. Most of people camp up there. So I don’t know how much revenue is actually coming in from the tourism or not, but clearly enough that they can stay afloat. But the wintertime there’s like 300 inches of snow up there. I think. So it’s, it’s really, really remote in the winter, because it’s so frigid. Which makes it really tolerable in the summer. So even at the high, you know, it’s 75 Wow, which is lovely with a light breeze.

Jeff 1:03:52
Man, that sounds really good. Right about now in August in Georgia. Right. Okay, number 10. We’re back from the middle of the country. Now we’re going back to the East Coast. And number 10. We have Kingdom trails, Vermont, and this one, I think maybe is a new one from our 2016 list as well. And it also happens to be the only one on this list that none of the three of us have actually visited. Matt, you and I we have written in Vermont but not Kingdom trails. And you’ve covered Kingdom trails and spoken with the folks who who helped run the kingdom Trails Association there. What do you think makes that area’s so good for writing and make it such a destination for people?

Matt 1:04:42
Yeah. I mean, as far as I know, it’s just it’s an entire network that it’s again, like heavily devoted to mountain biking. I mean, yeah, from what I understand, like I haven’t written I’ve written in several other places in Vermont, but not Kingdom trails, but does seem like there’s a lot of flow trails, which is You know, stand up flow trails will usually help that destination grow.

Jeff 1:05:03
Yeah. Which is rare too, though. I feel like that’s kind of the draw for that region is there aren’t a lot of flow trails or the traditionally there haven’t been this like a lot of Rocky, technical, like just pedal II stuff. Whereas Kingdom trails for a while it stood out because yeah, you could just go there and ride fast.

Matt 1:05:23
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I mean, I think that helps it stand out, even though Yeah, like you mentioned, there’s quite a bit of flow trails throughout Vermont now. But yeah, they’ve definitely had their hiccups with growth, as copper harbor has, but it seems like Kingdom trails, even though you know, there’s that most popular nucleus of trails has still been closed off. It seems like they’ve rebounded from it pretty well. And people are, at least returning there. Now that the borders have opened back up, and I was a few hours west in New York this summer. And people I spoke with out there still kind of hold it in high regard and want to go and travel there and said that they’re still seeing a lot of visitors that kingdom trails.

Jeff 1:06:13
Yeah. And Kingdom Trails is one where, yeah, it has changed over the years. Like, it’s hard to start to say, is it more popular or less popular? Is it on an upswing or a downswing? I mean, you used to have the Nimba fests there every year. And that’s since moved on. I believe. Now, it’s in Maine, which is probably a little harder for people to get to up in Carrabassett. Valley. But, yeah, I mean, despite losing that, there’s still still a huge demand for the trails there. And I think a lot of people are coming from Canada, to write there, at least when the borders open. And just looking at the map of trails. I mean, it’s it’s pretty incredible, like the network of trails there. And you could easily spend a week without writing everything in the kingdom Trails Network. And also, I think a lot of us maybe don’t realize or we forget, there’s like a lift, ski lift area. They’re like kind of in the middle that Burke mountain. Oh, yeah. So there is some kind of I mean, it’s not not huge dissents. But there is that option for people who want to do that style of writing. And so yeah, again, it’s it’s like, East Coast, there really isn’t much else. I mean, there’s Pisco and there’s Kingdom trails. And because there are so many people who who live on the east coast, those place places by default, they get a ton of visits, and they really do when you show up, you know you’re in a mountain bike town, that’s for sure. And I think that’s what what makes Kingdom trails special in that regard. Okay, so traditionally, we’ve limited this list to 10. It’s like a top 10 list. But this time, we had a harder time, we were like, well, we can’t just limit it to 10 because there’s other ones that that we really thought deserved a spot here. And at number 11. We included Durango, Colorado, which is a new one for the list. And also I’m counting this right it’s the third one in Colorado, but it’s in sort of like a different zone from a lot of the other ones right. Have Have you been to Durango Matt to ride

Matt 1:08:33
I have not know that. I have not even been to that section of the state. I’m planning on going not to Durango but down in that area by Silverton in a month, month and a half, something like that. So it’ll be actually my first John. Because it’s like six hours from here. And it’s just like a winding winding excursion you get there from the Denver Metro area.

Jeff 1:08:58
Yeah. Yeah. And then Chris, I don’t have you written there yet.

Chris 1:09:03
Yes, I’ve written a little bit in Durango. I’m actually actively trying to move there.

Jeff 1:09:10
Because the trails are so good or just because as a cool town,

Chris 1:09:15
both so the trails are, there’s a lot there’s a lot of trails in that area, not just Durango but you know, kind of the surrounding mountains because it’s surrounded by mountains which is amazing. What I think stands out to me about the trails there is there are a lot of really long and difficult rides there that are what I would consider you know, mountain or high alpine rides and, and they’re, you know, they’re not easy so you can spend a whole day on one trail you can actually ride from Telluride to Durango and if you’ve never been in that area, it’s absolutely stunningly gorgeous. So that I like and also it’s, it feels sort of high desert at the same time so itself of West Colorado, which is, I think it’s about two and a half hours from Moab. So that’s another big draw. If you were to come to, you can fly into Durango, it’s probably a little cheaper than flying into Moab. And you could ride you know, the whole, the whole kind of Four Corners area, if you will, with Arizona and Utah being very close and New Mexico as well. So I haven’t written a lot of trails there. But the ones that I have have been challenging and beautiful. And the weather is usually pretty nice. Even in the summer, there’s a river there. And it is really quite remote. Even for people in Colorado. It’s a town of something about around 20,000, which seems really big, but when you get there, it’s about the only town around. So that makes it pretty special. And they’re definitely very friendly to mountain bikers. They also have purgatory there, which has turned their ski resort into a bike park in the summer. And they have a ton of really have a ton of Devo programs there for the people that do live there. So they’re really, really focused on mountain biking from an early age and, and it shows when you see other riders on the trails, they’re there. Most of them are pretty advanced riders. And there are definitely some, some easier trails that you can start on. So there’s a progression for people, especially for the younger crowd.

Jeff 1:11:26
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s such a strong mountain bike community there.

Matt 1:11:31
Yeah, if you’re a high school athlete who wants to go to a college and continue mountain biking, then Fort Lewis is kind of the place to do it too. Right. Like so. So many pros getting pumped out of that school? Yeah.

Chris 1:11:45
It’s just a lot of options.

Jeff 1:11:47
For sure. Right. There’s riding great riding in town. There’s the telegraph trail system, which is accessible from town. And I think it’s, it’s like bullets right up to the Fort Lewis campus. And so yeah, a lot of the mountain bike athletes that are there will train on those trails. And then obviously, you have the higher up. Trails, like the Colorado trail kind of goes through that zone. I mean, yeah, probably 45 minute or hour drive outside of town. But yeah, I’ve been there a few times for writing and done kind of a little bit of everything, which is great, which is kind of why I think it’s a perfect mountain bike destination because you can ride really good trails in town like the overland mountain. I think it’s not called over in mountain but yeah, name for Ned over and he’s got like a park there. That’s got a lot of riding. And then I did a bike packing trip several years ago that sort of left out of Durango and heads West. And so there’s just great riding there. The Colorado trail ends pretty close to Durango. And so you see a lot of bike packers there for that. What else? Yeah, yeah, it’s just a great, great place that I think like you said, Chris, it’s it’s a town where a number of people live, but these are people who are like, really into mountain biking. I mean, that Devo program is one of the biggest. I believe Christopher Blevins is from that program, a product of that one of the top US riders and so yeah, just super cool vibe there and a great place to visit for those who are are looking for a trip to ride somewhere new. Okay, so last on our list number 12 is Bellingham Washington, and this is one that Yeah, I think I wrote in in our article about the list, I wrote that we’re gonna get a lot of shit from people in Bellingham, not because they don’t think that they’re a great destination, but because they don’t want anybody to know about it. And that’s kind of been the vibe traditionally, I think things are changing. I mean, the secret is out. A lot of the bike industry is based in Bellingham, a lot of the US bike industry is based there, you’ve got brands, like transition and evil, and Kona, and lots of other ones that you may not have realized are in Bellingham, but there’s also a lot of mountain bike journalists who are there. Gero recently moved, they’re now working at evil but yeah, just a great writing scene. For sure. A lot of it’s centered around a trail network called culbreth Mountain. And that is a really large riding area that I believe is owned by like a timber company. And for years they’ve leased that land or allowed mountain bikers to ride out there. And so yeah, they’ve just developed some really fun trails to ride along. had a variety there too. They’ve got like jump lines and, you know, steep slabby stuff like you want to find in the northwest. Derek Alberth. And then outside of that there’s other trail systems like Chuck and nuts and some other ones that you can get into that, like a really lomi type, single track and steep stuff, and it’s always super green and wet. And to me that that makes us stand out from a lot of these other Western destinations for sure, most of those are going to be drier and, you know, not as jungly like Bellingham is just super, super unique. Yeah, anything to add to that, Matt?

Matt 1:15:44
Yeah, I know, you’d kind of like chewed on the fact of whether it was a quote unquote, destination or not, because it’s, you know, still somewhat of a city, you know, people reside there. And not just like, the, the one percenters and the restaurant waitstaff and people like that that, you know, are typically found in destination towns, but yeah, it’s an industrial city. And, yeah, people going out to like, kind of have that typical mountain bike destination experience.

Jeff 1:16:19
Yeah. Yeah, it’s, you know, I’ve only been once only visited once. And yeah, stayed at like a Sheraton Hotel, right off the interstate. And, you know, obviously, you’re gonna have to drive to the trails, you know, if you’re staying at a place like that. So yeah, I mean, it’s not a traditional destination yet. But I could see it springing up with folks in the industry who are like, hey, I want to do my own thing. Like, I’m gonna open up a hostel for bikers or, you know, set up a campground, like out in the woods. Like, I think once. Once that starts happening, I think it could, it can really take off as a destination. And, you know, I don’t know, I can’t speak for the folks that have relocated there, the mountain bikers recently, but I get the sense that it’s like, as, as a US citizen, that’s like, as close as you can get to like living in Whistler that you can get without leaving the country. And so, you know, I think people have said, it’s like a three hour drive two and a half, three hour drive from Bellingham to Whistler. And so that makes it a convenient place to live. If you’re a mountain biker who enjoys riding, you know, some of the best trails and so, yeah, I think we’re seeing that I mean, it’s almost like a fruta and Moab situation where, like, maybe people had started like, Oh, I’m going up to Whistler, stop off in Bellingham, and do a few rides on the way and it’s kind of developed over time, and in seems to be becoming a destination in its own right. Any thoughts? Chris? Have you written up in the Pacific Northwest? Or?

Chris 1:17:59
I have not, I would love to go there that’s on my list of places to go. I’ve I’ve had many friends move there in the last few years. And honestly, I wasn’t even sure what the term loan meant for a while there. But I I think that’s the draw for me. I want to see what this loan is. Because all we hear is, you know, dusty, dry hot trails and i i rarely ride on wet trails, even copper Harvard’s I would say at the best is moist unless it’s actively raining. So I’m curious to see what that train is like. And I’ve never been to Whistler, unfortunately. But if I were going to go to Bellingham, then I think that the other draw would be to be able to drive to Whistler from there as well.

Jeff 1:18:48
Right? Yeah. Yeah, I think the thing about love, I mean, think mountain bikers, there’s like this thing about it, because we see it in the videos. And it’s like, you see the stuff like flying in the air, the brown pow, but for me, it’s like, you just feel like you can push yourself a little harder because you’re like, if I fall on that it’s not gonna hurt. It’s kind of like, you know, which wood chip pile or the like airbag, you know, practice session and better traction. Yeah, you got good traction, right? You can really lean into the turns more and like, Yeah, I think that’s that’s it and there aren’t a lot of places where you can do that. I think somebody was talking to somebody in Santa Cruz. They were saying how they had a bit of loam there and that you know, yeah, it’s one of the few other places where you’re really going to find that kind of writing outside of like, BC so yeah, for the US I think that that qualifies it Scott to write that’s that makes it

Chris 1:19:51
what is this lol my want to see it? Yes,

Jeff 1:19:53
we want to experience it without leaving us. So

Matt 1:19:58
it kind of seems to like The, you know, because now has this reputation for having these, like sick trails. And that impetus, from my perspective seems to have come from the local riding populace itself rather than it being driven by tourists, for sure. But in turn, when you know, now that reputation is out that there’s these Northwest kind of PCs, trails like that makes it more attractive. And it’s, you know, those are the kind of trails like, Hey, you can go ride stuff that maybe you’d find in Whistler, but you don’t have to break out your passport or anything like that. So yeah, maybe it’s misconstrued, but to me, it kind of seems like that’s now the attraction for it. For sure.

Jeff 1:20:47
Yeah. And, yeah, I think some of these destinations, that’s kind of the script, or the pattern that they followed is, some local folks started building trails, and people heard about them. And then, you know, once somebody realized this is good for the economy, or this is bringing people into our town, then they are able to invest in those trails. And it’s kind of a thing that builds on a self. So we’ll be cool to check this list in a few years and see like who’s kind of moved up and, and who’s moving down, because for the most part, even these top destinations like Moab, they continue to evolve and invest in trails and create new trails and rework the ones that are kind of, you know, not as popular as they used to be. And so yeah, if they’re not doing that, they’re they’re going to be left behind in this sort of market for mountain bike tourists.

Matt 1:21:43
Yeah. And to see what other destinations pop up in five years time. You know, like, the last time Bentonville didn’t pop up and oddly enough, like copper harbor didn’t at that time, or Bellingham. But yeah, now that the concept of Mumbai, tourism is really well known. And there’s constantly like, new towns building their future on this idea. Yeah, what other cities are we gonna see?

Jeff 1:22:14
Yeah, for sure. And hopefully, we’ll get to preview some of that. Some of the coverage we’re working on is exploring these under the radar destinations in the up and coming places. And like I said, we had this list of 40 different destinations, and one of the commenters on single tracks said, can you just share that list? Can I just see the 40? Like, you know, no commentaries necessary. I just, I just want to know what those are. And so I think, yeah, over the next year, at least, we’re going to be kind of exploring some of those and visiting some ourselves and, you know, talking to the people there and yeah, trying to figure out what what is the next destination? Well, if you want to see more from our list, read a bit more about each of these destinations. Find out more about where you can ride and where you can stay and eat and all that stuff. Be sure to check single tracks, where we’ve got a ton of coverage for these destinations and some of those upcoming destinations as well. So we’ve got this week to talk to you next week.

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