Mountain bike destinations have come a long way from being merely composed of dirt roads. They have now become full-blown athletic centers: with more robust amenities, an increasingly wide range of geographic and regional locations, and more sophisticated trail systems. Here are the top five mountain bike destinations in the United States based on consistency, evolvement over the years, and overall reputation.
Nestled in the central Oregon high desert, Bend provides around 300 miles of easily accessible linked trails. The biking experience is further enhanced by the small-town feel and a tree-filled west side. And singletrack keeps getting added to maintain Bend’s position as one of the top destinations; most notable is the recent inaugural opening of the Mount Bachelor downhill mountain bike park, which is already overflowing with trails. It also helps that Bend is home to almost two dozen craft breweries, thus offering to quench the thirst of many a mountain biker. Indeed, the town offers the most breweries per capita in the United States.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Only two places in the United States can claim to be the origin of mountain biking. And Crested Butte is one of them. It remains one of the most captivating high-alpine trails in the country, with a location famous for its high altitude and welcoming cuisine. Bikers can enjoy over 750 miles of trails in this quaint area of Colorado.
Part of Harrisonburg’s charm is its location. Blessed with the scenic Shenandoah Valley, this independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia serves as a college town; James Madison University is located here. However, it is no slouch; about 500 miles of trail travel around the city and through the George Washington National Forest. And thanks to regular maintenance by locals and its accommodation of both novices and hard-core bikers, the IMBA designates this area as a Bronze-Level Ride Center.
Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah’s claim to fame is its special designation by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), which chooses locations as “ride centers” based on what new treats they offer: from rookie-friendly singletrack to veteran-thrilling backcountry. Park City was the first bike destination ever to be considered a Gold-Level Ride Center by the IMBA. And it has its massive trail network—which can all be accessed from downtown and includes about 400 miles of singletrack—to thank for its envied status.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The capital of New Mexico has its status as an IMBA-rated Silver-Level Ride Center, as well as a long period of sunshine per year (320 days), to recommend it. Also worthy of consideration is its cuisine culture, which just might be superior to any other bike town in existence.
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