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Over the last decade or so, mountain biking has gone from a fringe hobby to a full-blown industry. Trail building across the US (and the world) has exploded, the number of riders has grown exponentially, and, of course, the bike technology continues to improve.
So it’s only natural that mountain biking towns have become a thing, too.
In fact, there’s a good chance that wherever you are in the lower 48 states, you’re only a short drive away from some awesome singletrack (unless, maybe, you’re in Oklahoma… sorry Oklahoma).
But what are the best mountain biking towns? In this post, I share my top 15 contenders that not only have great singletrack, but have other merits going for them as well. Keep in mind that this is a subjective list. If you have a nomination for your favorite mountain biking town, let me know in the comments!
Criteria for selecting the best mountain biking towns
Before I get into which towns make the list, let’s set some criteria:
- Must be under 50,000 people, but preferably a lot less. And it can’t just be a suburban town of a city, it must have its own town-like feel. (So this excludes anything near Denver…).
- At least 100 miles of good singletrack. No moto tracks or moo-to trails.
- A supportive mountain biking community and culture.
- Have a variety of terrain and landscapes. No one likes to ride that same stuff day in and day out.
- Have at least 1 bike shop that primarily caters to cyclists. No ‘we’re an outdoor gear store that can maybe fix your bike’.
The top mountain biking towns in the US
1. East Burke, Vermont
- Population: 86 (2022 Census)
- Miles of trail: 150+ miles
- Noteworthy attractions: Mike’s Tiki Bar, food trucks, free camping (with showers!), The Hub Trailside, Burke Mountain Bike Park
I’m from Vermont, so I may be a bit biased, but East Burke – home to the Kingdom Trails – definitely deserves a spot on the list of best mountain biking towns in the US.
With over 150 miles of trail, a dedicated trail crew, a lift-served bike park, a bike shuttle service, a Tiki Bar (seriously), and stunning views, East Burke is one of my favorite riding destinations. There’s a little bit of everything here from cross-country terrain, purpose-built flow trails, rugged DH tracks, and even a fun skill-building zone.
And the community scene? Just visit on a weekend during the summer and you’ll see why this little town tops the list.
2. Village of Oak Creek, Arizona
- Population: 6,350 (2020 census)
- Miles of Trail: 300+ miles within the Sedona area
- Noteworthy attractions: Bell Rock (and vortex), Hiline Trail, Crescent Moon Picnic Site
The Sedona area is hands-down one of my favorite places to ride. The views, technical singletrack, and red slickrock riding all make it a top mountain biking destination. In fact, if I ever decided to settle down in one place (hah), the Sedona area is very high on my list.
While the town of Sedona can get quite crazy with tourists, the smaller Village of Oak Creek just a short drive south is a little bit quieter and home to many of the best mountain biking trails and networks, including Hiline.
3. Moab, Utah
- Population: 5,317 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: A lot (TrailForks says 1,130 miles but some of that is dirt road)
- Notable attractions: Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse State Park, Moab Garage (for food!), The Whole Enchilada
I have a love/hate relationship with Moab. I think I’d like it better if there wasn’t so much hype around it. The riding there is good and it is kinda the birthplace of modern-day mountain biking, but personally, I think it’s a bit overrated and definitely too crowded.
But with that being said, Moab is an iconic mountain biking town, so it does deserve a place on this list. There are literally hundreds of miles of singletrack to explore, much of it on Moab’s iconic red slickrock, and the views are epic. Plus, you might even see trailside dinosaur tracks!
4. Prescott, Arizona
- Population: 46,833 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 500+ miles
- Notable attractions: Watson Lake, Whiskey Row in downtown, Thumb Butte
The mountain biking in Prescott, Arizona is an unexpected goldmine. Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise because Arizona is full of awesome singletrack, but I think most mountain bikers visiting Arizona stick to the corridor between Flagstaff and Tucson. However, Prescott should definitely be given more attention.
While it’s the largest town on this list, Prescott still has a small, slow-paced vibe and fun downtown area. And the riding? Awesome. There’s a lot of cross-country terrain, but also some very challenging boulder slickrock trails and a few rowdier DH lines.
I’ve only visited Prescott once and rode for a few days, but I’ll definitely be back to explore more of the trails.
5. Truckee, California
- Population: 17,168 (2021 census)
- Miles of Trail: 800+ miles (and a whole lot more around Lake Tahoe)
- Notable attractions: North Star Bike Park, Little Truckee Ice Creamery (best ice cream I’ve had)
Some people may argue that South Lake Tahoe deserves to be on this list more than Truckee, California, but hear me out. Truckee has better access to hundreds more miles of trail than South Lake and the tourist scene in Truckee is (slightly) more manageable.
Plus, North Star Bike Park is right there and there has actually been a lot of new trail work happening in Truckee over the past few years. Sure, Mr. Toads Wild Ride and the Corral trails of South Lake Tahoe are fun, but they don’t compare to amount of trails or (slightly) quieter mountain biking scenes up north.
For any riding around Tahoe, though, be prepared to earn your reward!
6. Bella Vista, Arkansas
- Population: 30,808 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 97 miles, but many more down in Bentonville
- Notable attractions: Crystal Bridges Museum, Coler Mountain Bike Preserve, Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, Blowing Springs Park
I was going to add Bentonville, Arkansas to this list, but I was surprised to learn that the town’s population is now over 50,000! That definitely wasn’t the case 10 years ago, but I guess the secret is out about Bentonville’s awesome mountain biking.
Anyway, I actually prefer the quieter community of Bella Vista just north of Bentonville. Bella Vista is where the Back 40 and Blowing Springs trail networks are and it’s a really nice, quiet area with more hills and bodies of water.
Of course, if you want to head to the Slaughter Pen trails or Coler Preserve near Bentonville, those are just a short drive away. And if you’re looking for some rowdier riding, Lake Leatherwood DH Bike Park is an hour’s drive east.
7. Durango, Colorado
- Population: 19,223 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 600+ miles
- Notable attractions: Purgatory Bike Park, San Juan Skyway, Mesa Verde National Park
Funny story: I once moved to Durango for a day. I packed up all my stuff, even put a deposit on an apartment, drove 15 hours there and then the next day drove 15 hours back to California.
I had initially picked Durango, Colorado as a place I wanted to live and while I still think it’s a pretty great town, my life was a bit of a mess and I really didn’t feel like starting all the way over in a new place where I didn’t know anyone.
But anyway, Durango is a cool mountain biking town with lots of great singletrack, a lift-served bike park at Purgatory Resort, and tons more riding in the surrounding area.
I need to go back (for more than a day) to really explore the mountain biking scene, but from what I know and what I’ve heard, Durango definitely deserves a place on this list!
8. Brevard, North Carolina
- Population: 7,755 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 400+ miles
- Notable attractions: Kanuga Bike Park, Pisgah Stage Race, Connestee Falls
When most people hear about mountain biking in North Carolina, they think of Asheville. But it’s actually Brevard, North Carolina where most of the action is.
Brevard is located about 45 minutes south of Asheville in between Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Recreational Forest, both of which are crisscrossed with trails. Perhaps you’ve heard of Pisgah since its known for hosting some pretty brutal mountain bike races.
In addition to these rocky and raw networks, there’s also the pedal-accessed Kanuga Bike Park with new-school features like jumps and flow trails.
I haven’t ridden Brevard yet, but this summer (2023) I’ll be spending two months in North Carolina, so I’m excited to check it out!
9. Fruita, Colorado
- Population: 13,508 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 200+ miles
- Notable attractions: Hot Tomato Pizza, Kokopelli Trail that goes all the way to Moab
Like Moab, Fruita was kind of at the forefront of mountain biking in the United States. The trail network 18 Road and later, the Kokopelli Loops, were the cross-country equivalent to their red rock neighbor of Moab (although you can definitely find some chunk in Fruita as well).
I’ve only passed through Fruita, I haven’t ridden there yet. But because of its history and extensive trail network, it has definitely earned its place on this list! I’m hoping to get to Fruita this year in my new van.
10. Helena, Montana
- Population: 33,120 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 800+ miles
- Notable attractions: Continental Divide Trail, Gates of the Mountains Wilderness, free community trail shuttle
Helena is the capital ‘city’ of Montana yet it still has a small-town vibe. It’s surrounded by tons of outdoor recreation from Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and, of course, awesome mountain biking.
In fact, IMBA has dubbed Helena as a silver-level ride center, although I’m not really sure what goes into that criteria…
At the forefront of Helena’s mountain biking scene is a free community trail shuttle that allows riders to access various trailheads around the town. (There may be a rumor that this shuttle service has been suspended. If you have additional info, leave a comment at the bottom. Thanks!)
From alpine cross-country terrain to some options for rowdier descents, Helena is a bit under the radar when it comes to awesome mountain biking towns.
11. Oakridge, Oregon
- Population: 2,340 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 500+ miles (some of that is dirt road)
- Notable attractions: Cog Wild Shuttles, 3 Legged Crane
I’ve only ridden in Oakridge, Oregon once, and truthfully, I wasn’t fully sold. Oakridge has gained a ton of recognition over the past few years for being an up-and-coming mountain bike destination and while the trails were fun, I wasn’t blown away.
However, I’m willing to give it another shot and I included Oakridge on this list because it is a super popular destination and it has a great story behind it. Just a few years ago, Oakridge was a dying timber town and mountain biking has revitalized it and brought in a new source of income for the residents.
So what about the riding? From what I remember there was a lot of narrow sidehill with abrupt and tight switchbacks. This was a few years ago before I had started Two Wheeled Wanderer, so I need to go back and revisit the trails. I’m sure there has been a lot of trail building and development!
12. Marquette, Michigan
- Population: 20,394 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 200+ miles
- Notable attractions: Marquette Mountain Bike Park, Presque Isle Park
The upper peninsula of Michigan has become a hot spot for mountain biking over the past few years. Perhaps you have heard of Copper Harbor, which is situated way far north on the peninsula and known for some pretty epic trails.
But the town of Marquette, Michigan, which is located south of Copper Harbor on the shores of Lake Superior, also has an extensive trail network. With trails for all levels of rider and all styles, including a lift-served bike park, Marquette is a town that has fully embraced mountain biking.
13. Hood River, Oregon
- Population: 8,341 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 92 miles (I made an exception because it’s so close to 100 miles!)
- Notable attractions: Post Canyon, Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood
Hood River is perhaps best known for its windsurfing and kiteboarding culture, but Post Canyon is where all the mountain bikers hang out. I haven’t (yet) ridden in Post Canyon, but I have friends who live in Hood River and they’ve been trying to get me out there for years. I just need to go!
Hood River is a cool town, too. I used to visit pretty frequently when I worked on National Geographic ships. We did a trip up the Columbia River and Hood River was one of our stops.
14. Mammoth Lakes, California
- Population: 7,271 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 500+ miles
- Notable attractions: Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, hot springs
I may be a bit biased because I lived in the Eastern Sierra for a few years, but I think Mammoth Lakes has some of the best mountain biking in the state. Mammoth Mountain Bike Park itself has over 80 miles of trail that can be accessed by lifts and there are dozens more miles outside the park.
Plus, the views around town are stunning and there are a handful of hot springs to soak in post-ride. What could possibly be better?
15. Hurricane, Utah
- Population: 21,808 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 400+ miles
- Notable attractions: Zion National Park, Red Bull Rampage site
Hurricane (pronounced “hurr-i-cun”), Utah is one of my favorite places to mountain bike. It has the slickrock riding and views of Moab, but way less trail and town traffic (although it definitely has gotten more popular in the last few years).
Gooseberry Mesa is Hurricane’s claim to fame, but there are hundreds more miles of awesome singletrack in the surrounding area including nearby La Verkin (home to my favorite network: Guacamole) and St. George (which I’ve only ridden a few times).
As an added bonus, most of the land around Hurricane is BLM land, so there are lots of great dispersed camping sites that are literally trailside.
And if you need a rest day, Zion National Park is just a short drive away!
16. Park City, Utah
- Population: 8,457 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 400+ miles
- Notable attractions: Deer Valley Bike Park, Sundance Film Festival, Wasatch Crest
Deer Valley is considered the Gold Standard for bike parks for many mountain bikers. It’s been high on my list of places to visit, but I honestly haven’t spent a lot of time mountain biking around Park City. It’s on my list!
Park City is one of the wealthiest towns in the United States, so I’ll just be visiting…
17. Crested Butte, Colorado
- Population: 1,681 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 804 miles
- Notable attractions: Crested Butte Bike Park, 401 Trail, epic scenery!
I rode in Crested Butte several years ago and the one thing that stuck out to me was the incredible scenery. It is so beautiful! The mountain biking is pretty rad, too, especially if you’re from Colorado and you enjoy ‘Colorado-style riding’ (aka you have a Yeti bike and you think pedaling uphill is more fun than going downhill).
All joking aside, Crested Butte definitely deserves a place on this list because it’s home to a bike park, hundreds of miles of trail (including Dr. Park which is a blast), and a really cute downtown with great restaurants, bars, and shops.
- Population: 6,949 (2021 census)
- Miles of trail: 300 miles
- Notable attractions: Snowmass Bike Park, Maroon Bells
Apparently, Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley is a Gold Level IMBA Epic Ride Center, which I did not know before writing this post. This means the area has a huge amount of trial and the riding is (mostly) awesome.
I haven’t ridden here, yet, but I really want to do the Aspen Snowmass Mega Loop as an overnight bikepacking trip.
Looking for some more two-wheeled inspiration? Check out these related biking blog posts:
Alright, I know there are going to be some arguments for other contenders. Which towns should I have added to this list? What is your favorite mountain biking town? Leave a comment below!