In a perfect world, we could all hop on our bikes and teleport to any number of mountain biking meccas:
Just snap your fingers and BAM! You’re sitting at the top of the lift at Whistler in British Columbia or nestled in the Swiss Alps somewhere around Saint-Luc.
Unfortunately, those destinations are a little out of reach for anyone living stateside to hit on a weekend trip.
So, whether you’re living in the states currently or just visiting, we’ve put together some of the best mountain biking in the U.S., and it may be closer than you think.
Below we’ve broken down our favorite spots on both coasts. So whether you’re in Atlanta for work or Colorado for pleasure, there’s sure to be a trail system within striking distance on the list that follows.
If downhill pursuits, coastal views, or vast expanses of the desert are your idea of a good time, the west will deliver the mountain biking trip of your dreams.
There’s a shocking amount of diversity in both terrain and scenery state by state, so consider a few of the following (or all of them) for your next epic west coast tour.
#1: Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho is one of those mountain biking destinations you could spend a month in and still not hit every trail.
All the action is centered around the small town of Ketchum, with paved pathways connecting multiple trail systems in every direction.
Head west and check out the miles upon miles of trails circling Bald Mountain. Go north and ride around Adam’s Gulch. If you’re really feeling brave, you might even loop in the Oregon Gulch Loop for a true all-day sufferfest.
We’re merely scratching the surface here, but you get the idea: The town is quite literally surrounded by great trails.
A word to the wise: Wet season in the Rocky Mountains can be unpredictable, so trail openings and closures change year to year.
Generally speaking, everything should be smooth sailing no later than June 1st, but we recommend checking the Blaine County Recreation website before heading out to avoid any surprises.
#2: Crested Butte, Colorado
Mountain biking has its roots in the western United States. There’s really no debate about that.
Where you will find considerable debate, however, is precisely where in the U.S. mountain biking first started.
Some folks say Marin County, California… Others say Crested Butte, Colorado.
Nowadays we can all agree that Crested Butte has since become the better destination (Marin County has all but outlawed mountain bikes altogether), and is now home to nearly 800 miles of the best mountain biking trails the country has to offer.
Between trails like Lupine, Trail 401, and Dyke Trail, Crested Butte might just be the closest thing to the Swiss Alps you’ll find in the states.
With its sweeping alpine views, singletrack descents between walls of colorful flowers, and expansive mountain valleys, the entire county is a giant three-season playground for bikers of every discipline.
#3: Park City, Utah
Few locations are as synonymous with the sport of mountain biking as Park City, Utah.
One of the coolest features of Park City is the fact that you can literally ride straight out of the downtown area onto the city’s network of over 450 miles of public trails.
No loading up bikes and gear, running shuttles, or riding chair lifts required. Just suit up and pedal off.
Of course, if chair lifts and shuttles are your bag, you’ll find some of the best lift-assisted downhill riding in the world in Park City as well.
Popular resorts include the venerable Deer Valley (home to 70+ miles of private trails) as well as Canyon Village, which maintains some of the smoothest flow trails you’ll ever see.
#4: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
While the beautiful Teton Mountain range may be most famous for its winter sports, Jackson Hole, Wyoming has been working overtime developing its infamous slopes for two-wheeled use in the summer months.
Jackson Hole Bike Park is probably the single largest attraction in the area, which features lift-assisted trails of every description from smooth rolling beginner tracks to expert-level freeride trails.
If you’d prefer to stick to public trails, there are multiple access points to the Snow King Mountain trail system directly connected to the south side of town.
You’ll also find numerous local bike shops around Jackson Hole that double as bike rental locations.
If you’ve never flown with a bicycle before, let us be the first to tell you: It’s both tedious and a little nerve-wracking (we’ve all watched how baggage handlers like to shot-put luggage up onto the plane), and rarely worth the effort or expense for short trips.
Being able to explore new trails while also trying out a premium new bike is always a win-win.
#5: Bend, Oregon
There was already a lot to love in Bend, Oregon before it became home to some of the best mountain biking in the U.S.
It’s a gem of a small town built around the Deschutes River that’s home to fantastic skiing, copious mountain views, and a startling number of independent breweries for such a remote place.
So it’s really no surprise that the mountain biking boom hit Bend particularly hard, and we’re sure glad it did.
Nowadays Mount Bachelor ski resort transforms into a full-on downhill bike park during the warm months, singletrack trails spill out of the downtown area into the Cascade Mountains to the west, and multiple bike shops are ready and waiting to get you tuned up for all the riding you can handle.
#6: Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah has long been a mecca for offroaders of every discipline from dual-sport motorcycles to rock crawling Wranglers. It’s only natural that mountain biking has also found a warm reception among the picturesque red rocks of Grant County.
So warm, in fact, that Moab’s infamous “Slickrock Trail” has become the most famous bike trail in the world. This is a must-do if you’ll be riding in the area, as it’s unlike any other riding on the planet.
Rather than a groomed path, you trace a dotted white line of paint across 11 miles of the most scenic cliffside riding in the west. Contrary to the name, the “slick” rocks of Moab actually grip insanely well, and you’ll find yourself smashing climbs you never through possible.
Or, for bragging rights, go ahead and put “The Whole Enchilada” on your MTB bucket list.
If you’re not familiar with this run, it starts in the high alpine forest, then drops 7,000+ feet over the next 34 miles, sampling just about every type of terrain that makes Moab (and Utah in general) a great place to ride from loose, rocky dirt to that classic southwest slickrock.
If we’re being truly objective here, there’s really no contest for which coast packs the best mountain biking in the U.S.: The west wins, period.
That doesn’t mean you should sleep on the east though.
Although the trails tend to be a bit more mellow out east, there’s no shortage of great mountains to ride or bike parks to explore. From the Appalachians to the Adirondacks, here are our favorite stops east of the Mississippi.
#7: Ellijay, Georgia
In the last 10 years or so, Georgia’s Cohutta Wilderness has become a favorite destination for all sorts of offroaders, from lifted 4x4s to gravel bikes and everything in between.
The Blue Ridge mountains are as peaceful as they are beautiful, and riding through them (especially in the Fall months) is nothing short of magical. If there’s one place in particular mountain bike riders can’t miss in these mountains, it’s gonna be Mulberry Gap in Ellijay, Georgia.
Mulberry Gap is essentially a resort built around the local trails, and they provide shuttles, food, beer, and lodging for anyone looking to make a vacation out of their stay.
The “essential” loop here is Bear Creek, Pinhoti 1, and Pinhoti 2 trails (also called “Bearhoti”), which is a 21-mile mix of single and double track trails with plenty of elevation change and a good mix of fast-flowing, fun terrain with a few technical sections thrown in the mix.
#8: Brevard, North Carolina
Pound for pound, we’d put our money on Brevard, North Carolina as the best mountain biking on offer out east.
There are literally hundreds of miles of singletrack waiting to be discovered out here featuring everything from expert-level climbs to fast and technical descents. If there’s an east coast destination that’ll give the best in the west a run for their money, this is the one.
While most of Brevard’s trails reside in Pisgah National Forest, don’t forget to hit the Dupont State Forest trail while you’re in the area as well.
The riding in Dupont is so diverse it’ll surprise even the most seasoned west coast veterans. You’ll even find the south’s version of a “slickrock” trail out here if you know where to look!**
** We highly recommend starting your search at Cedar Rock Trail.
#9: Slaty Fork, West Virginia
If you’re an east coast skier, you already know Slaty Fork is home to the best skiing in the south, Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
What you may not know, however, is that Snowshoe has recently taken a hint from some west coast destinations and developed its winter slopes for summer shreds.
With 40+ trails now on the property, you could easily spend a weekend in Showshoe without seeing the whole park, but if you want to extend your stay in Slaty Fork, Snowshoe actually isn’t the only game in town.
That’s because the surrounding area is also home to a couple hundred miles of classic east coast singletrack. We recommend checking out the nearby Tean Creek Trail system, which is home to a 45 mile IMBA EPIC rated route called Gauley Headwaters that’ll put even the toughest riders to the test.