Bicycle Trails: Where Are The Best Trails For Mountain Biking?

Mountain biking is a great sport if you know the best trails. Start with these recommendations across the U.S. and around the world.

Although mountain biking started in Marin County, California, it has since become a popular sport worldwide. Mountain biking combines exercise, adventure, fresh air, and great mountain views.

Where are the best places for mountain biking? Start with any area that has mountains, especially those with ski trails.

In the western U.S., Arizona and California offer the most mountain biking trails. However, every western state can provide a wealth of biking opportunities.

Utah's Red Canyon State Park is generally ranked as the top mountain biking destination in America. Magnificent landscapes and a romantic history--Butch Cassidy and his gang hid out here--make it a great choice for mountain bikers with intermediate to expert skills.

Between Colorado and Utah, Kokopelli Trail covers 140 miles and includes the La Sal Mountains' 12,700-foot peaks. It's generally a single-track trail and one of America's most popular for hardy bikers. The trail ends amid the magnificent red rocks of Moab, Utah. You'll take many memorable photos if you choose the Kokopelli Trail.

In California, enthusiasts rave about Angeles National Forest in Arcadia, but you should be an expert biker to enjoy the best trails in that park.

By contrast, the Lake Tahoe Basin area--in both California and Nevada--offers dramatic views and great trails for beginners, intermediates, and experts. Many of these trails are single-track, and they range from rough terrain at steep angles to easy, wide, well-groomed trails across fairly flat landscapes.

Other parts of the U.S. offer excellent trails, too.

For great views, it's hard to beat the many trails in Alaska's Chugach National Forest. The park offers over 200 miles of mountain biking trails, and it's an easy drive from downtown Anchorage, Alaska.

Especially in the off-season, Maine's famous Acadia National Park offers a wide variety of Carriage Road trails. This park is among the 20 most-visited National Parks; it's quietest in the spring and late autumn. Although many of the trails are open to hikers and horses as well, the rugged landscape, stunning views and fresh sea air make this a favorite destination. Cadillac Mountain provides the only steep mountain climb in the park, but from its peak you'll see the first sunrise in America each day. There are challenging trails throughout Acadia National Park's 35,000 acres, for beginners through experts.

In New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest, mountain bikers can use any trail outside the Appalachian Trail or the designated Wilderness Areas. Most intermediate bikers favor the 25-mile Cherry Mountain Loop, with a spectacular waterfall view, as well as an optional sidetrack to the 3554-foot summit of Mount Martha.

In the South, choose Sumter National Forest for access to mountains in Georgia and the Carolinas. This National Forest covers over 360,000 acres of varied terrain that will appeal to every mountain biker. If you like a temperate climate and an unusually wide array of wildlife, these trails should be a top choice.

Or, for a seven-hour out-and-back ride through 27 miles of wetlands, pine forests, and Revolutionary War history, choose South Carolina's "Swamp Fox Trail" in Francis Marion National Forest. Don't let the elevation maps fool you; this trail is mostly straightforward, but parts of it are moderately difficult and tiring. The landscape is worth it; bring a camera.

If that's not challenging enough, go for a strenuous ride along the wildly varied Wambaw Cycle Trail, also in the Francis Marion National Forest. The Trail is nearly 40 miles long, and a favorite among experienced cyclists. Just be sure the gear down before you hit the infamous sand pits.

Every one of America's 50 states offers great destinations for mountain bikers, no matter what your skill level or interest.

But, international mountain bikers will find challenging and beautiful trails worldwide.

Australia's mountains and Europe's Alps have obvious appeal for bikers. Go further afield for more exotic trails.

The dry season may be the only safe time to take a ride down the "World's Most Dangerous Road" in Coroico, Bolivia. You'll descend nearly 12,000 feet from snowy plains to a steamy jungle. Several mountain bike services offer tours--and equipment--if you choose this South American destination.

Iceland claims that, as a 20 million year old island, it is the youngest country in the world. Because most of Iceland's roads are dirt, not paved, it's an ideal country to tour by bicycle. However, this is for expert bikers only; the roads can be very rough and extremely isolated. If you're looking for unusual landscapes, fabulous fjords and broad plains, pack your tent and your bike, and head to Iceland.

Japan's Tengen-dai Plateau in Yamagata, part of the Tohoku region, boasts spectacular mountain bike trails amid hot springs, waterfalls, and alpine meadows. It's less than three hours by rail from Tokyo, and a popular destination for all levels of mountain bikers.

Or, for an almost-untouched beauty, Mongolia has recently opened for tourism including mountain biking. From the Gobi Desert to the Khangai Mountains and the steppes of Asia, Mongolia offers extraordinary opportunities for expert mountain bikers. Local tour companies even provide quality bikes.

No matter what your skill level or your goals as a mountain biker, there are great destinations in every state in the U.S. and every country in the world.

© High Speed Ventures 2010