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Discover the Best Mountain Biking Trails in the World

best mountain biking trails

All of the Best Mountain Biking Trails

I have been riding on some of the best mountain biking trails these past few years. I’ve taken my wheels through some really beautiful and inspiring locations. I’ve traveled a lot, and the fact is that there is and there always will be some hidden and spectacular trail to discover.

In need of some inspiration for your next ride? There are a lot of mountain bike routes to follow just below. Sometimes, all you need in life is a new challenge. And if you happen to be a traveler and a mountain bike freak like me, you’ll know there is a world of adventure out there.

The trails you can find can be extraordinary, and the feeling you get when you first saddle up get your gear and helmet on and head out on a brand new track is a striking mixture of excitement, freedom, and a little fear. But that’s why you did this, right? We’re going to take a look at the best places to mountain bike in the world.

downhill mountain bike trail

So, what really makes a good mountain bike trail?

Well, perhaps the biggest factor is the challenge involved. You may not want to scale a peak, but some decent climbs and descents are pretty mandatory. That’s a given.

Scenery counts too. If you’re able to hit a trail that literally gives you a brand new perspective and view, you’re doing it right. Many’s the time I found a new place that suddenly became ‘my favorite place in the world’.

It takes a little experimentation sometimes, and some resources, but if you travel enough, you’ll find your mountain cycling heaven somewhere on the planet. It’s also about having the rough and the smooth in one place.

If you can find a trail that has a smooth track section every now and then, it evens things out. A good trail has to have some relief because it feels fantastic (any ridge biker will tell you) to coast down a smooth descent after busting your gut for twenty minutes up the steepest incline known to man.

Finally, I’d be looking for that sense of being ‘in the moment’ or ‘flow’. If you’ve hit a great trail recently, you’ll know that feeling, even if you only momentarily experienced it. It’s beautiful. And it’s when you almost forget the outside world. It’s when you get that feeling that you know you’ve arrived.

dirt trail with bike marks

Best mountain bike trails in the US

Okay, it’s a big country. But it’s still surprising when you discover the sheer number of great trails. Obviously, at some point, this whole thing comes down to personal taste, but the US has so much to offer, anyone can find a favorite there.

So let’s explore. You’re in the Big Country here. This means you’ll have to be super aware of safety (there are some parts of the USA that have serious safety considerations attached) and your overall fitness. Go for these trails, by all means. But be careful.

Colorado Trail

This one is an absolute gem. One of the best MTB trails ever, it’s not for the faint-hearted or those with issues around respiration because it climbs. A lot. This is not among the best beginner mountain bike trails.

This is one of the best bike trails in Colorado, with tracks that have views that will permanently reside in your dreams. If you want to go the whole hog you can run the entire trail, which comes in at a healthy 535 miles.

That’s a lot of biking. But just in case you’re a little scared, bear in mind that there are some truly fantastic views to enjoy here. You won’t forget it. With a maximum elevation of 5499 feet (nosebleed territory), you’re also putting in the work.

Your muscles will hate you, but you’re going to see stunning stuff, and plenty of solitude if that’s what you like. Be aware that there are protected areas here. Signs will show you how to avoid them.

Tip: If you want a day’s worth of riding, try the trail that heads through Buffalo Creek.

Kingdom Trails

This is a great area in East Burke, Vermont. For some seasoned riders, there may be a feeling of ‘been there, done that’ with the relative ease of parts of it. But don’t let it fool you. It’s just an amazing place to ride.

Beginners with basic mountain bike skills will appreciate the downhill segments, which are almost supernaturally smooth. More veteran riders will love the fact that the trails are professional, in that they are maintained well and look great. There is a small charge to ride the trails, but if you’re after a fun ride or two, with some great-looking runs, then this is the place for you.

Tip: Try The Troll Stroll segment for a fun, adrenaline-charged rush.

Coldwater Mountain

This is a nice mix of beginner and intermediate trails. It works too because if you feel like a quick run, you can get that here, and something a little longer too. However, the real reason for this entry is that the creators of the trail are people like me. They’re obviously enthusiasts.

This is not always a given because anyone can make a trail. These guys are constantly adding to the trail, and how it is presented. And that’s cool. Take a look, it’s not the biggest trial by any means, but it’s a trail-riders trail.

Poison Spider Mesa Trail

This is in Utah, and it has quite possibly as a terrifying title as ever. And then you get there. And it’s scarier than you thought. At one point the trail climbs over 1,000 feet.

The heat can be a killer, as can the tricky moment you realize you’re in deep sand and have to really work your legs to get out. Not for everyone, but a real test for the tougher height riders among you. No prize if you finish, just the respect of everyone who knows you.

Best mountain bike trails in Europe

If you’re in Europe you’re not short of options in stack biking. The first one is a personal favorite, and it offers something for every rider.

Glentress

This beauty of a trail is in Scotland. It’s set in the gorgeous Scottish Highlands and has thousands of rider who flock to it every year, even in the infamous Scottish rain. If you’re up for a challenge, try and conquer the seven ‘Stanes’.

These are beautiful stone sculptures spread through the Glentress trail. Alternatively, take one of the many coaster trails, that reward you with amazing views and easy riding. This is for sure one of the best mountain bike trails in the UK.

Haute Route

This one you’ll find in France. It has been a favorite for many years and has some of the very best views in Europe. It runs for a total of 180 kilometers so if you’re not able to commit plenty of time for it, it’s probably not for you.

Located in Chamonix, the trail has a reputation for testing the mettle of even veteran riders, so it is well worth visiting and getting a feel for one of the smaller segments.

Tip: It’s best in fine weather. In fact, it makes a huge difference if it’s sunny, to be honest.

Col De Balme

This is also in Chamonix and it’s a real treasure, not entirely discovered by everyone just yet. This is the track that allows you to get a full and beautiful view of Mont Blanc.

It’s not a big ride by any means, with just 16 km to explore. But don’t let that put you off. Enjoy the views and the excellent cafe that sits on the pass. It’s a beautiful run.

And if you ever get the chance to be in Chamonix (one of the best mountain bike towns in the world), Col De Balme is an excellent companion to the bigger, tougher, Haute Route.

Tip: Heading back down the track on the single route needs some pretty advanced skills, so you need to be aware of this.

Peisey And Les Arcs

This is one of those tracks you can really get stuck into. Like much of Europe’s tracks, you need a fine day to really enjoy it and get the most out of it. The elevator goes up to a respectable 1,695 kilometers. So it’s a thrill.

Those who like organized facilities will enjoy the very well-appointed lift system, which allows you to take in the sights and see a few villages. It’s a glorious (and often challenging) 129 kilometers in total. Worth a go, and it can reward you with some fantastic views.

Tip: Spend some time getting to know the place and you’ll find some World Cup trails.

Lake Garda and The Three Lakes Tour

Celebrity-spotting should be put to one side here, and you need to focus on the amazing views instead. You get a lovely mixture of the Mediterranean and Alpine scenery, so it’s worth persevering and getting through the full tour.

This is one of the best European rides for family and children so it’s worth making a stop here if you’re all out for adventure. It’s a little strenuous in places, so absolute novices may falter here and there.

But don’t worry, because there are plenty of stop points. And the lakes are a treat.

Malaga

Found on the south coast of Spain, Malaga is an incredibly beautiful part of the world. Even in the winter, you’re looking at a real ‘trail’ experience, with plenty of rocky tracks to get around.

The one defining a feature of tracks in this area is clear as soon as you arrive. This isn’t a place for those afraid of heights. Some steep tracks and plenty of sheer drops are what Malaga is all about. It’s all perfectly safe if you know what you’re doing.

This is why Malaga and its tracks are often preferred by more senior and experienced riders.

Tip: If you want a quieter ride, try Malaga in the winter.

forest mtb

Best trails in the world

This is where I branch out a little and get to the real top destinations. Places you have to visit no matter what. If you consider yourself a cycling devotee, this is your list.

It’s worldwide, and this means I’m focusing on regions in countries, in the main. Take a look, you might find the venue for the biggest adventure of your life. Or at least a great holiday.

California, USA

This is probably the one place every avid rider needs to go before they hang up their helmet. It’s an absolute paradise. Spend a few weeks here and you’ll get to the core of what it feels like to be a complete rider.

The best thing about California is its diversity. You’ll find hidden trails that are dead quiet, trails that take a lot of cycle traffic, and places in between.

And the best area? To be honest, most riders talk about Santa Cruz. It’s an area steeped in culture and magnificent views, and it also has redwood forests, which are atmospheric and sometimes deadly silent as you whizz through them. A real treat.

A key feature of most redwood forest trails is their size. This extends to the trails themselves, which are often wide and easy-going for most riders. It all adds up to a quiet, enjoyable excursion.

That’s not to say it isn’t challenging. There are numerous difficult courses to sink your teeth into, not to mention the wildlife. Did I mention the mountain lions?

The best moment happens when you scale a hillside, get to the top and then, there before you, is the San Francisco Bay Area. Magical.

Then, the Alps. Yep, the Alps had to be mentioned. There are tons of great trails in the Alps, and if you’re thinking of heading over there, just be ready to spend a while there.

Let’s take a look at the best trails in this area. There’s a few. But what I’ll do is focus on those I have really enjoyed the most.

Crans-Montana, Switzerland

Try and resist the urge to sing that song from The Sound of Music. Crans-Montana is definitely the right place to do so though. There are massive heights here, and this needs bearing in mind if the very last thing you want to do is look down into a huge drop.

There are plenty of drops, and while they’re not immediately dangerous, I can see how some people would find them uncomfortable. There are some excellent man-made trails here too, so there’s ample opportunity to have some real, high-quality fun.

Zermatt, Switzerland

You can’t get any more exciting than The Matterhorn for a ride. While you’re not (unless you’re so inclined, but I still see problems) going to ride down the Matterhorn, it’s there in the backdrop all the time.

From incredible views of mountain peaks to the kind of gorgeous woodland that inspires fairytales, Zermatt has everything you need for an unforgettable time. The Rothorn to Tasch route is an absolute corker and has a wonderfully invigorating downhill sweep that will make your hair stand on end.

Like most, rides, it’s perfectly safe. But unlike most rides, it feels dangerous.

Tip: This place is expensive, just warning you. Make a point to either save up or scout around for one of the many cheaper hotels in the area. It’s been known to cost 80 Euros for a day’s riding pass.

Dupont State Forest

Tucked away in the vast world of North Carolina is this set of trails. You’re able to ride through 80 km worth of trails, and the best thing is it has single and double track options, so there’s plenty of life in it.

One of the best parts of the trails is the waterfalls. Chances are they may be the first waterfalls you’ve ever seen. Think about it.

And when you round a bend to see a beautiful flow of water crashing down, with nothing else in your ears but the sound of it, it’s magical.

It’s a huge area to ride in, and it’s always good to bring a friend or two to keep things moving. If one of you knows the area, even better. Otherwise, get a map or GPS option. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the place.

Tip: While it’s great fun, just be aware that there are plenty of steep descents here that are really suited to the experienced riders.

Copper Harbor Trail

This one is in Michigan, and it has a couple of unique features that make it one of the best-known trails in this region. One thing you’ll notice as soon as you hit the trail is the presence of wood.

It’s wood that has been made to make the trail better. It’s quite unique actually.

You’ll find plenty of paths crafted from wood, all neat and kept well, and a pleasant way to ride your two-wheeler while admiring the views. It’s well known in the local area for the wood element.

But what makes it even more special is the atmosphere. With a lively bar and restaurant vibe running throughout the area, you can have a great experience socially as well as physically.

Tip: One of the best mountain bike trails in Michigan, the Copper Harbor is best enjoyed with friends. Get a group together and prepare to relax in a particularly low key part of the world.

Crested Butte

This baby is in Colorado, and it has some amazing things going for it. Hit it at its glorious Spring best (if you’re riding on this track in the summer, I hope you’ve brought plenty of liquids) and you’ll have an almost transcendental revelation.

This is what biking was made for. A twisty feast, this one really shows you the goods when you reach the highest point, and suddenly find yourself in a breathtakingly beautiful meadow.

This is the spot where you relax for a few minutes to recover your breath. Don’t spend too long there. The descent is phenomenal.

It may be a little too fast for the novices among you, but it’s worth it just for the sheer thrill of making a powered descent in arguably one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Tip: It is absolutely vital to bring refreshments if you find yourself here in the summer. It’s an oven, and with steep climbs, you’re going to want to stay safe.

Take it from me, Spring and Autumn make more sense.

Palo Duro Canyon

I make no excuses for this one. It’s a devilish ride that can trip up even the more experienced riders. But those are tucked away in relatively smaller areas.

Overall, it’s fun and easy-going. The best of the best mountain bike trails in Texas, this one makes my list because it simply has the most stunning views I’ve ever experienced.

Being lucky enough to travel the world over is enough in itself, but stumbling across a place with this many beautiful views is a true bonus.

It’s a long way from anywhere, so make the most of it and pack for some camping. A bunch of friends and a few days spent here makes for some amazing memories. I can vouch for that.

The climbs can be rough if you’re not used to that kind of thing. The Comanche ride is incredibly good fun, with plenty of flats to make it easier. You’ll need to catch your breath a number of times during your travels here. Make the most of it.

Tip: Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to stop and walk for sections. You won’t be judged.

Whistler

If you know your trails, you’ll have expected me to discuss Whistler. It’s like Asgard, or Nirvana for the most committed riders. For me, it’s the same. I keep coming back to it and it does have the best trails in the world. I can’t deny that.

But picking the best of Whistler is a major headache. The selection is incredible, and if you get there, take a couple of weeks. Seriously.
There’s Dirt Merchant, which is fast and great fun.

The Top of the World run is (literally) hard to get access to because everyone wants to do it. And Joyride is for all those riders who like the riskier side of the sport. But they aren’t the best.

A Line is. A Line rocks, simply because it’s everything you ever wanted out of a track. It’s equal parts fun and chill, and it’s the best because the fun parts are simply out of this world.

Frenetic and frankly quite dangerous at times, A Line is quite possibly the complete biking experience in the world. If you ever get a chance to get out there before you hang up your gear, you simply must.

Tip: do the A Line, then you’ll have plenty of stories to tell your grandchildren.

 

Additional Info: Please bear in mind that riding on all of these trails does require that you respect all necessary safety measures and that you have all the right and proper equipment. Be safe at all times.

 

 

 

Sources: MBR, Discover Los Angeles, National Geographic, The Guardian