In the age of COVID-19, social distancing took center stage. For those who didn’t want to spend the duration of the pandemic cooped up in their homes, outdoor activities became a godsend. Among the pastimes many Americans took up to occupy their time and stay active, was mountain biking.
Often considered an extreme sport, taking up mountain biking can be quite the undertaking for those who aren’t used to its rigors. This sport not only tests your stamina and agility, but also your reflexes, especially on wild and narrow trails. Knowing your own skill level is extremely important when it comes to keeping yourself safe. Always remember to wear protective gear and never attempt to navigate trails that you suspect are beyond your abilities.
For experienced mountain bikers, the United States is their oyster. The country is filled with spectacular trails, many of which lie just minutes from big cities. Others lie far from urban centers and take riders through a wide array of environments, from deserts to dense forests to cliffsides. These are just three of the top mountain bike trails in the United States.
Broken Arrow – Sedona, Arizona
Known for its majestic red rock formations and its purported spiritual properties, there are many reasons to visit Sedona, Arizona. The area is home to several incredible trails that take full advantage of the landscape, including The Hangover and Munds Wagon, but if you’re looking for a short ride, check out Broken Arrow. This fantastic downhill trail in the Desert Southwest clocks in at only 1.5 miles long, but still manages to be among the area’s most scenic rides. If you’re looking to experience more of the region’s beautiful mesas and scrubby plant life, you can combine your Broken Arrow experience with other local trails for a grand total of over 230 miles of pristine desert mountain biking!
McKenzie River Trail – Eugene, Oregon
Winding roughly 26 miles through the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest is McKenzie River Trail in Oregon. Almost universally recognized as one of the top biking experiences in the United States, this beautiful trail snakes around waterfalls and hot springs, through lava fields, and past stunning, turquoise lakes and mossy, 300-year-old trees. This exciting trail has some tight turns, but also offers a more tame riding experience in its lower section. The upper section of the trail is more challenging technically, and can also be home to icy and snowy patches even through late spring.
Thunder Mountain – Panguitch, Utah
With its reddish, almost alien-looking rock formations hugging the trail, Thunder Mountain in Panguitch, Utah is a must for bikers who crave unique and picturesque scenery. This downhill trail in the Bryce Canyon area has a name that sounds intimidating, but it’s actually much easier to manage than most might expect. Its sweeping hills are fairly navigable, and the stunning high-altitude hills and valleys make for some of the most gorgeous scenery in the west.
While these are generally recognized as some of the best mountain bike trails in the western United States, we’ve barely scratched the surface. From Colorado to California to New Mexico to Montana, the western United States is rife with some of the best mountain biking trails in the world. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve ridden down any of the trails we highlighted. Also, please let us know of your favorite trails that we didn’t mention!