Mountain biking is picking up across the country. Exploring trails that are perfect for riding through the fresh mountain air, getting some dirt on your spokes, and experiencing some of the best mountain biking in the country is an unforgettable experience. The following list is based on the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s ranking for EPICS rides. The designation denotes a true backcountry riding experience—one that is technically and physically challenging, more than 80 percent singletrack and at least 20 miles in length.
The MoCo Epic is back for 2017 for its eighth edition. Showcasing more than 75 miles across 11 different parks in Montgomery County, the possibilities for an epic adventure are infinite. This fast, flowing singletrack offers something for every rider with five unique Epic Ride Courses and three Youth Rides that feature twisty singletrack, plenty of rocks and roots to skip over, and scenic beauty.
Go on a 39-mile adventure along a route that rolls east-west along an Arkansas mountain ridge, following the course of the Ouachita River. You’ll pass through the thick hardwoods and dark pines of the Ouachita National Forest, opening to spectacular bluffs above the river. You’ll go between 1,000 and 1,600 feet in elevation. The terrain is 95 percent packed dirt and clay singletrack.
This is the local go-to trail for people who just want to get out of the house and get on a bike without having to drive for long time. The trail offers access to a ridgeline traverse with stellar views of multiple mountain ranges, fields of wildflowers and well-crafted singletrack sections guaranteed to satisfy, according to IMBA. You’ll be climbing north along the skyline through deep, dark, timbered sections.
The area boasts miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs and is rich with natural and historic features and has been developed to provide visitors with a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, according to MTB Project. Bikers face skinny singletrack, easy climbs, breathtaking views, and unspoiled backcountry. This epic 33-mile ride is rarely crowded.
The BCT is a long-distance singletrack that runs from the boundary of the Prescott National Forest, across Hwy 69 south to the Carefree Highway. The majority of riders skip the section north of Hwy 69 and start with the Big Bug segment heading south, according to MTB Project. The southern section is smooth with a gradual descent.
This is one of the newest landscapes in the lower 48 states, according to IMBA. The route is a unique riding area because vegetation is now returning after 30 years. The Ape Canyon Trail will take riders to the Plains via a relic old growth Noble Fir Forest with some imposing old trees shading the trail. It is a consistently steady climb, but not technically very difficult.
Few adventures can beat mountain biking in Colorado in general. The climb on this particular route is nice and steady as it follows the stream up. Tough trail takes you through some burned out sections of forest. The singletrack downhills on this trail are astonishing, especially Charlie’s Cutoff with more slickrock sections and some very think turns through some odd rock formations, according to Singletracks.
This Hall of Fame EPICS route is just two hours North of Boston, right outside the beautiful mountainous area of North Conway. The out-and-back ride, which can be between 25 and 40 mile long, parallels the boulder-strewn Swift River and includes tight singletrack, log bridges and plenty of rocks and roots.
The Lake Ouachita Vista Trail crosses forest lands that are usually known as hunting grounds in all seasons. Don’t wear clothing that could be mistaken for wildlife when you’re riding. Rider will meet a lot of hikers along the way. The trail will take you to many secluded and remote sections of the Ouachita Mountains. There will be some off the navigating and lots of downhills along the way.
The Grand Targhee Loop officially opened in the summer of 2014 and is a well-crafted, 100 percent singletrack trail beginning and ending at Grand Targhee Resort’s base area. Bikers go on a 27-mile loop that winds through alpine meadows covered in wildflowers, aspen forests and high mountainous terrain. You will witness jaw-dropping views of the regal Tetons, the equally imposing greater Yellowstone region, and Teton Valley below.
Curt Gowdy is located just 24 miles west of Cheyenne. It was developed due to the locals’ request for expanded recreational opportunities and trail development on state lands. The best time to ride a bike there is in the summer for the best and most consistent nice weather. The trails vary in elevation from about 6,700 to almost 8,000 feet.
This epic ride combines much of the best riding in Big Bend Ranch State Park into one loop. It consists of a variety of riding conditions with a mix of singletrack, creek beds, and 4x4 roads, which are pretty much two track trail, according to MTB Project. Bikers will ride along a combination of hard pack and rocky trails with many short steep climbs and dry creek crossings.
This is a 70+ mile trail system that runs through the heart of Pigeon River Country in Montmorency and Otsego Counties. It is designed to provide the more enthusiastic backpacker and mountain biker with about one week of high quality outdoor adventure, according to Up North Trail. View will range from gorgeous hill top panoramas to dark cedar swamps and pine plantations.
The trail system sits at the edge of the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. Riders can expect big plateaus, vertical rock formations, deep canyons, and vast rolling gaps. The Hurricane Cliffs Trail Network strings together a 21-mile loop, formed by four segments: the Hurricane Rim, JEM, Gould and Gould Rim trails, according to IMBA. It takes about 2.5 hours to ride.
Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and fishing are thriving in the remarkable region of the North Umpqua Trail in the Cascade Mountains. Biking conditions are good pretty much all year round. Snow may be expected at higher elevations in the winter, and floods can cover bridges and sections of trail. For easier rides, the entire trail, which is about 80 miles long, is divided into segments of no more than 16 miles each.
The full loop is currently impassable, according to IMBA, due to the 2007 Zaca Fire. Still, the Buckhorn ride has some of the best of classic Southern California riding opportunities. Bikers will be challenged by long climbs on fire roads and steep singletrack descents. The stunning vistas of the surrounding remoteness are serene.