Biking is one of the healthiest and most thrilling activities and hobbies you can choose. If you are the type of person that wants to feel a taste of adrenaline on the tip of their tongue, mountain biking is an experience you have to try (more than once). If you have some bucket-list rides you want to conquer or if you just long to feel your blood pumping while amazing scenery unfolds in front of you, downhill mountain biking means taking things up a notch.
Outdoor recreation, unique challenges, amazing landscapes, danger and fun, new trail developments, and crossing the U.S.A. – what else do you want more? Today, we will present you with ten must-try downhill mountain bike trails in America for the ride of your life!
1. MOAB, Utah
Moab is unique on the planet and one of the oldest, most famous, and still growing mountain bike trails in the world. Moab is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced mountain biker, however. You will drop over 8,000 feet, get some heart-pumping slickrock riding, pass through some down high-speed dirt roads, and meet many obstacles in the sunbaked desert you will conquer. Make sure you get the right bike and especially the right wheels for this initiation journey, as Moab will not be merciful with your gear.
If you want to experience Moab in a life-changing way, you should not miss the iconic The Whole Enchilada trail, Captain Ahab, and the legendary Slickrock. After all, Moab is the National Capital of Mountain Biking in America and for all the good reasons.
2. East Burke, Vermont
Some may prefer Vermont for skiing, but mountain bikers know this is a veritable corner of paradise for the ones loving a hard-core adventure. East Burke is one of the best mountain bikes destinations in both New England and the entire country. In recent years, bikers who come here also have the chance of mountain biking on ski trails, and if this is not downhill adrenaline, we do not know what is.
East Burke trails push your limits, but offer you postcard landscapes, more than a hundred miles of multi-use trails, plenty of over 2,000-vertical-foot downhill trails, and an experience of a lifetime. The terrain comes with both soft and sweet areas and plenty of natural undulations and challenging bumps, so you need performing gear. Make sure your bike can handle the slopes, and you receive full protection from your helmet and gloves.
3. Mills Peak, California
California is probably the best place in the country to indulge in your mountain bike frenzy, but if we had to pick just one trail, it would be the Mills Peak in Downieville. The Downieville Classic is the most famous downhill trail, getting all the press and all the visitors, but if you are in for something new and mind-blowing, we recommend Mills Peak.
Imagine dropping 3,000 feet over 8.5 miles in a seemingly never-ending flow through a pine forest that smell of Heaven, and you will know what we mean. It is a very bumpy ride as well, so we will emphasize again on the necessity of high-quality protection gear and highly performing bikes.
4. The McKenzie River Trail, Oregon
Oregon has its fair share of amazing and exhilarating downhill mountain bike trails, but the McKenzie River Trail takes the gold medal for being both challenging and spectacular. There isn’t a downside to this trail. On the contrary, you can praise it for being an excellent choice for the intermediate-level young mountain biker who wants to gain experience.
The trail is mostly downhill and leads you on a 26 miles journey through lush old forests, across lava fields, brushing with breathtaking waterfalls and passing by sky-blue lakes. You can consider this more of a spiritual journey, but pay attention to the trail, as the landscape can “steal” you in a moment.
5. Winter Park, Colorado
Colorado is already a mountain bike world-class destination, with the Crested Butte epic ride taking all the press, but Winter Park needs to make it to your bucket list as well. Perfect for all levels riders, Winter Park offers over 40 miles of blood-rushing adventure on gravity-fed dirt trails that make the crown jewel of the Rockies.
While novices come here to learn, have fun, and master their skill, pros come for competitions. Moreover, in mid-summer, the Colorado Freeride Festival, the largest freeride mountain bike festival in the country, attracts impressive crowds of bikers and sports fans each year.
6. The Osberg Ridgeline, Idaho
Sun Valley in Idaho is one of the world’s best ski resorts. When it comes to mountain biking, however, it is unacceptably underrated, and things need to change. If you want to learn what you are made of as a mountain biker, Sun Valley is the place to test your skills and learn a few things about yourself as a person.
The area offers you more than 400 miles of singletrack, a veritable Mountain of Madness in the shape of the Bald Mountain (featuring one of the highest summits of the Smoky Mountains of Idaho), and the Osberg Ridgeline trail.
You can take this trail as a fun, flowy ride, or as a backcountry 3,000-foot descent, the choice is yours. No matter how you want to ride it, you should know you would enjoy shocking mountain landscapes. Do not skip the Forbidden Fruit loop – a jaw-dropping, adrenaline pumping loop that deserves an article of its own.
7. Flume Trail, Nevada
We usually associate Nevada with deserts and casinos, but the Lake Tahoe side of the state is something to experience at least once in a lifetime. The mountain bike trails of Lake Tahoe in both Nevada and California make your “alpine lake vacation” an experience you will not soon forget. Flume Trail is suitable for beginners as well, allows night riding, and makes you feel like reaching an entirely new world.
8. Harrisonburg, Virginia
Harrisonburg is a small college town in Virginia, which gained national attention when it became one of the hottest mountain bike centers in the state. An example of community spirit, cooperation, and love for all things bike related, the Harrisonburg trail received a “bronze-level ride” nomination from the IMBA. The locals help with the trail maintenance, and many events require trail-work days.
The journey here takes you for about 500 miles of adventure and entertainment around the George Washington National Forest. Beginners have their paths for learning and making friends, while the experienced downhill mountain bikers up their ante on the Southern Traverse or Spruce Knob epics.
9. Brevard, North Carolina
One of America’s best-kept secrets when it comes to mountain biking Brevard is a dream came true for all mountain bikers looking for novelty and challenge. Cradled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city of Brevard is small, charming, and welcoming. For adrenaline junkies, however, the nearby Pisgah National Forest and its mountain biking trails is the ultimate destination.
You can check out the Pilot Rock and Laurel Mountain Trail, and DuPont State Recreational Forest, the Bike Farm and the famous Pisgah Stage Race, a five-day endurance mountain bike race that will push your limits and make your heart sing through rocky, rooted terrain and jaw-dropping landscapes.
10. Sedona, Arizona
Arizona’s landscapes and views may make somebody feel they reached the end of the world. However, these same views make the mountain biker realize he arrived in Sedona, home for a few short, but full of character trails. What Sedona lacks in quantity, it makes up for the challenge. The red rock scenery is both thrilling to see and to ride, while the almost-mystic, surreal vortexes will offer you the experience of a lifetime.
The Hangover trail is a beast, and we recommend it only to mountain bikers who know what they are doing. Some of the cliff sides have the width of a handlebar, so be careful out there. You can also try the Hiline and the Hogs trails, but the Hangover, with a length of 3.7 miles and a “skull and crossbones” level of difficulty is the monster to defeat if you are strong and confident.
Which is your favorite downhill mountain bike trail in the country? Which ones have you tried so far, and which one will you conquer next?