Last Updated on April 9, 2024

If you love mountain biking as much as I do, you’ll appreciate the adrenaline rush and sheer thrill that this outdoor sport gives you. With this in mind, here are some of the best mountain biking trails USA, Canada, and worldwide worth considering, to test your ability and courage!

Best mountain biking USA

Table of Contents

12 Best Mountain Biking Trails USA & Canada

1. The White Rim Trail, Utah, USA

Trail Highlights

The White Rim Trail is a 100-mile loop that winds out and along the Colorado and Green rivers inside Canyonlands National Park.

With stunning views of mesas, buttes, and spires that stretch as far as the eye can see, the trail offers you a fantastic biking experience.

  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Key Features: Panoramic views of the park’s rugged interior. It has an isolated feel, with the nearest assistance hours away.
  • White Rim Trail site

2. The Monarch Crest Trail, Colorado, USA

Trail Highlights

This high-alpine trail, one of Colorado’s epic classic rides, mixes ridgeline with high-speed forest riding and offers over 6,000 feet of vertical descent. Be prepared for everything from pine-forested singletrack to rocky, steep descents.

  • Difficulty Level: Advanced
  • Key Features: Epic panoramic views of the Sawatch and San Juan mountain ranges. Frequent elevation changes, starting above 11,000 feet.
  • (If the chance to take a day off, it’s also a great place for cross-country skiing)

3. Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Canada

Trail Highlights

Covering 2,774 miles from Banff, Alberta Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, the Great Divide is arguably the world’s most famous mountain bike trail. It’s not a single track, but a route along the Continental Divide.

  • Difficulty Level: Advanced
  • Key Features: Changing ecosystems that range from Arctic Tundra to desert. Rideable terrain for an estimated 90% of the route.

4. Red Bull Rampage, Utah, USA

Trail Highlights

Known for being one of the most challenging events in mountain biking, Red Bull Rampage features some of the sport’s biggest drops, narrow ridges, and cliff faces riders launch off to the amazement of their peers and spectators below.

  • Difficulty Level: Extreme
  • Key Features: Nearly vertical descents. Trail lines carved into rugged mountains, made entirely of dirt.

5. The Great Trail, Canada

Trail Highlights

Meandering through all ten Canadian provinces and reaching three oceans, the Great Trail offers you the chance to cycle in rural, remote, and urban settings.

  • Difficulty Level: Varies
  • Key Features: Stunning landscapes and expect to cycle through some interesting local communities and to meet some interesting people along the way.
  • Some sections offer an easy, leisurely ride for beginners.

6. Whistler Bike Park, British Columbia, Canada

Trail Highlights

Whistler Bike Park is the ultimate playground for adrenaline junkies. With 70+ trails spanning over 80km, you can choose from beginner-friendly green runs to advanced double black diamond trails with expert features.

  • Difficulty Level: Varies from beginner to extreme
  • Key Features: Trails designed and maintained by professional trail builders. A wide range of difficulty levels, making it suitable for all skill levels. Beautiful scenery and views of the Canadian mountains.

7. Sedona Mountain Bike Trails, Arizona, United States

Trail Highlights

Sedona is known for its stunning red rock formations and offers a vast network of mountain bike trails, with technical descents and breathtaking views.

  • Difficulty Level: A wide range of difficulty levels, making it suitable for all skill levels.
  • Key Features: Trails surrounded by stunning desert landscapes. Easy access to trails from the town of Sedona. Overall, mountain biking in Sedona offers a unique and beautiful experience and is one of my favourites.

8. Moab Brand Trails, Utah, United States

Trail Highlights

Located in the heart of red rock country, Moab Brand Trails is a popular destination for mountain bikers of all levels. The network of trails includes technical terrain, stunning views, and adrenaline-pumping descents.

  • Difficulty Level Varies from beginner to advanced
  • Key Features: Unique red rock formations and scenic vistas. This is your chance to experience one of the most iconic biking trails aka the famous Slickrock Trail. Easy access from the town of Moab, with plenty of bike shops and rental options available.

9. Flume Trail, Nevada, United States

Trail Highlights

The Flume Trail provides an unforgettable mountain biking experience with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and its surrounding wilderness. It’s recognized for its historical significance, tracing routes once used for logging and water transportation.

  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Key Features: Breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Historical significance, with paths used in the 19th century for logging and transporting water. Challenging sections that require a good level of bike handling skills and decent fitness levels.
  • Accessible from Incline Village, offering rental options and guiding services for visitors.

10. Park City Mountain, Utah, USA

Trail Highlights

Park City Mountain offers over 400 miles of trails for mountain biking, making it one of the largest trail networks in North America. The trails range from family-friendly paths to challenging downhill courses.

  • Difficulty Level: Beginner to advanced
  • Key Features: Stunning scenery and views of the Wasatch Mountains. Various trails for all levels, including beginner-friendly flow trails and technical singletrack. Bike rentals and lessons are available for those looking to try mountain biking or improve their skills.

11. Downieville, California, USA

Trail Highlights

Known as the “Mountain Biking Capital of California,” Downieville offers many world-class trails through the breathtaking Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s a popular destination for both cross-country and downhill mountain biking.

  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Key Features: Miles of epic singletrack, including the famous Downieville Downhill trail with over 5,000 feet of descent. Charming small-town atmosphere and historic mining sites to explore after a day of riding. Bike shops and rentals are available for any necessary gear or repairs.

Rest of the World: 23 Best Mountain Biking Trails – Our Favourites

1. Rude Rock, South Island, New Zealand

Trail Highlights

Rude Rock is an exhilarating trail just outside Queenstown with incredible views across the surrounding landscape, including the Remarkables mountain range.

In terms of technical ability and fitness, the trail is commonly rated one of the country’s best.

  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Key Features: Several fast descents with high berms. Exposure to steep drop-offs.
Mountain biking trail in Iceland

2. The Baja Divide, Mexico

Trail Highlights

The Baja Divide is a 2700-mile off-pavement bike-packing route that takes riders from San Diego across the border into Mexico, down the length of the Baja California peninsula, and finally into San Jose Del Cabo.

It’s known for its rolling desert islands and vibrant local cultures.

  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to Advanced
  • Key Features: Varying trails including dirt roads, jeep tracks, and traditional single track. The chance to immerse yourself in Baja’s varied landscapes and abundant wildlife.

3. La Ruta de los Conquistadores, Costa Rica

Trail Highlights

La Ruta de los Conquistadores, also known as “The Route of the Conquerors,” is a multi-day mountain bike race that takes riders through rugged terrain and dense rainforests in Costa Rica.

This challenging course includes steep climbs, technical descents, and river crossings.

  • Difficulty Level: Extreme
  • Key Features: A physically and mentally demanding course traversing through diverse landscapes. Asa rider you must navigate across challenging terrain, including mud, rocks, and rivers. The route follows the same path that Spanish conquistadors took in the 16th century to cross Costa Rica.

3. The Red Centre, Australia – Larapinta Trail

Trail Highlights

Riding the Larapinta Trail in Australia’s Red Centre is a monumental voyage through human and natural history.

The route takes you from the summit of Mount Sonder to the heights of Alice Springs, with the vivid landscapes of the outback visible as you ride.

  • Levels: Intermediate to advanced levels with technical sections
  • Key Features: With a distance of 220 kilometres, expect a blend of desert and rocky terrains and breathtaking landscapes including Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Ochre Pits, and Glen Helen Gorge.

4. Isle of Skye, Scotland – The Skye Trail

Trail Highlights

The Skye Trail is a rugged, 128km route taking in some of the most remote and unique landscapes in Britain.

The ride includes the famous Cullin Ridge, the bleak windswept Trotternish Ridge, and the haunting Quiraing.

  • Level: Expert level with challenging technical aspects
  • Key Features: Passes through the stark Black Cuillin mountains and the fairy tale pools of the Fairy Pools. The ride will offer you stunning views of the Scottish countryside.

5. St. Lucia, South Africa – iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Trail Highlights

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides a unique cycling safari. Traverse through swamps to lake lands, woodlands to coastal dunes, and get up close with the famed African wildlife.

  • Level: Beginner to intermediate level with flat trails ideal for families
  • Key Features: Possible wildlife sightings including zebras, hippos, and crocodiles along the way.

6. Arrowtown, New Zealand – The Queenstown Cycle Trail

Trail Highlights

The Queenstown Cycle Trail is an easier trail that nonetheless offers stunning scenery of the Wakatipu Basin, and passes through Arrowtown, the Kawarau Gorge, and the lush valleys of the Franklin area.

  • Level: Suitable for beginners with a generally flat terrain
  • Key Features: This can be cycled as a loop or in sections, giving riders plenty of choice. Attractions along the way include the historic mining town, old bridges, and the Kawarau suspension bridge

7. Sicily, Italy – The Parco delle Madonie

Trail Highlights: Set in a beautiful, off-the-beaten trail, the Parco della Madonie connects steep mountain climbs with the relaxing sea views of the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Level: Intermediate level, offering challenges without being too daunting
  • Key Features: Scenic trail with varied landscapes including pine forests, high meadows, and rugged coastlines. Cultural highlights such as the medieval town of Castelbuono and the UNESCO-protected Roman Halaesa archaeological site

8. Voss, Norway – The Myrkdalen Valley Trails

Trail Highlights

The Myrkdalen Valley Trails herald the crisp air of the majestic Norwegian mountainscape.

This is where the North Sea meets the heavens in an expanse that leaves newcomers silent with awe.

  • Level: Intermediate to advanced levels with some steep inclines and technical singletrack sections
  • Key Features: Expect various trail types from fast flowy terrain to rooty sections. The perfect mix of natural beauty and good challenging biking trails.

9. Cogne, Italy – The Gran Paradiso

Trail Highlights

Gran Paradiso has a combination of singletrack, mule paths, and paved roads, with a backdrop of Alpine meadows in full bloom.

  • Level: Intermediate level with long panoramic descents
  • Key Features: The presence of Alpine animals like ibex and chamois. A network of paths suited for different types of mountain bikers

10. Glenlivet Mountain Bike Trails, Cairngorms, Scotland

Trail Highlights

The Glenlivet Mountain Bike Trails, known for their breathtaking beauty, offer eight colour-coded trails that cater to all levels of riders.

  • Level: For the more experienced, the ‘Black’ route provides the thrill of the Devil’s Staircase and the intriguing ruins of the remains of the abandoned farmhouse Haunted City
  • Key Features: A top-rated trail system with a variety of terrains from challenging downhill tracks to scenic family routes. The ‘Blue’ route, ideal for beginners, offers a pleasant ride through pine forest and has a 16-mile loop.

11. Andalusia, Spain – The Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara, and Alhama Natural Park Trails

Trail Highlights

The Andalusian Trails are known for their extremely varied terrain – a rollercoaster ride of granite and sandstone trails.

  • Level: Intermediate to advanced routes with challenging climbs and descents
  • Key Features: The remnants of Moorish history add to the mystique of the mountain terrain. Beautiful scenic views of the Mediterranean and stunning archaeological sites

12. Cape Breton Highlands, Canada – The Cabot Trail

Trail Highlights

The Cabot Trail is a spectacular road cycling route and offers several trail options sidebar.

  • Level: Beginners to advanced cyclists can take on the designated cycling routes where challenging ascents are met with rewarding descents.
  • Key Features: The 29-kilometre route around Chéticamp Island offers a mix of flat and rolling hills with picturesque coastal views. The 112-kilometer loop around the Trail offers dramatic seacoast vistas, the plateau of hilly terrain, and a substantial coastal climb on both sides of the Cape Breton Highlands.

13. Otago, New Zealand – Otago Central Rail Trail

Trail Highlights

The Otago Central Rail Trail follows the old railway line, enabling smooth cycling through the storybook landscapes of the Otago countryside.

  • Trail: Suitable for all levels with a predominantly flat trail
  • Key Features: A historical adventure, allowing you to experience the old railway tunnels and viaducts. Cycling through the heart of gold mining towns and vast landscapes where ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was filmed.

14. Queenstown, New Zealand – The Skyline Gondola Trail

Trail Highlights

The Skyline Gondola Trail in Queenstown offers swift access to a network of downhill tracks for all skill levels.

  • Level: Multiple trails catering to beginners, intermediates, and advanced riders
  • Key Features: Easy access via the Skyline Gondola, ending with a heli-bike opportunity for the truly extreme. Unique downhills with names like “Hammy’s” and “Vertigo” for you if you like to push the limits.

15. Wanaka, New Zealand – The Deans Bank Mountain Bike Trails

Trail Highlights

The Deans Bank Trails are just a stone’s throw from Wanaka and are a collection of hand-crafted single-track loops within Albert Town Recreation Reserve.

  • Level: Intermediate level with plenty of swooping berms, jumps, and rollers
  • Key Features: Offers some of the best views in Wanaka with the backdrop of the Southern Alps. An optional detour to the higher trails opens up views of the stunning Clutha River.

16. Pamplona, Spain – The Bardenas Reales

Trail Highlights

The Bardenas Reales route is perfect for nature lovers with its stark, semi-desert landscape resembling the American southwest.

  • Level: Intermediate to advanced levels with challenging sand and clay trails
  • Key Features: A surreal landscape featuring the ‘Badlands,’ oddly shaped rock formations carved by wind.

17. The Lairig Ghru Pass, Cairngorms, Scotland

Trail Highlights

The Lairig Ghru Pass, one of the highest bike-able passes in the UK, takes you through the heart of the Cairngorms National Park.

  • Level: Advanced level with steep ascents and challenging descents
  • Key Features: Offers a true wilderness experience with remote mountain terrain. Potential sightings of wildlife including eagles and wildcats.

18. Troodos mountain range, Cyprus – The Venetian Bridges Trail

Trail Highlights

The Venetian Bridges Trail showcases the trodden paths of old cobbled trails through ancient forests and riverbeds.

  • Level: Intermediate level with mostly gradual inclines and declines
  • Key Features: A historical and cultural excursion with 17th-century bridges and churches along the way. Lush vegetation, the sound of flowing rivers, and the scent of wild herbs enrich the biking experience.

19. Himalayas, Bhutan – The Mystical Ridgelines of Bhutan

Trail Highlights

Climbing from Punakha to Bumthang, you will be treated to breathtaking views of the Himalayas and the lush valleys below.

  • Level: Expert level with high-altitude challenges
  • Key Features: A rare chance to explore the mystical lands of Bhutan. Encounter ancient dzongs, farmlands, and remote villages as you ride through unspoiled terrain.

20. Tuscany, Italy – The Elba Ring Trail

Trail Highlights

The Elba Ring Trail offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and nature, highlighted by the golden beaches of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

  • Level: Intermediate level with technical rocky paths and several climbs
  • Key Features: Explore the pristine beauty of the Mediterranean island of Elba. Includes the famous Monte Perone descent, where Napoleon Bonaparte once stood in exile.

21. New Taipei City, Taiwan – The Elephant Mountain Loop

Trail Highlights

The Elephant Mountain Loop takes you on a rollercoaster ride of terraced tea plantations, serene ridgeline views, and urban jungle thrills.

  • Level: Intermediate level with both road and off-road trail riding
  • Key Features: Stunning views of Taipei 101 and the metropolitan city below. A taste of Taiwanese culture with traditional tea houses and local cuisine.

22. Valais, Switzerland – The Gornergrat to Zermatt Singletrack

Trail Highlights

The Gornergrat to Zermatt singletrack is a thrilling ride with the mesmerizing backdrop of the Matterhorn.

  • Level: Intermediate to advanced levels with technical trail features
  • Key Features: Magnificent scenery of Alpine pastures, glacial lakes, and the iconic Matterhorn. En route experience the charming alpine villages and gastronomic delights of the region.

23. Cairngorms, Scotland – The Glenfeshie Trails

Trail Highlights

The remote Glenfeshie Trails in the Cairngorms National Park offer a taste of Scottish mountain biking at its most enchanting.

  • Level: Intermediate level with a mix of terrain and a fair number of river crossings
  • Key Features: Remarkable diversity with open moorland, ancient Caledonian forests, and wide vistas of the high plateau. A network of paths provides tremendous scope depending on the length and difficulty of your chosen route.

Essential Gear Checklist for Mountain Biking

If you’re preparing for a day of mountain biking, this detailed checklist of the essentials will ensure you’re prepared.

What to Include in Your Backpack

The core of your mountain biking operation is the backpack, where you stash vital supplies. Here’s what your backpack should always have:

1. Hydration Pack

Staying hydrated is essential when mountain biking. Opt for a hydration pack with at least 1.5-3 litres of water. Brands like CamelBak and Osprey have robust, mountain-ready options for every size of thirst.

2. Multi-tool and Repair Kit

An unexpected mechanical issue can quickly turn a run into a trek. Ensure your pack has a multi-tool with Allen keys, a chain breaker, tyre levers, and a mini pump. I also recommend carrying a spare tube and a patch kit for those just-in-case scenarios.

3. First Aid Kit

A compact, durable first aid kit could save the day if you or a fellow rider takes an unplanned departure from your bike. Include items to handle minor cuts, scrapes, and burns, and don’t forget the hand sanitiser.

4. Energy Snacks

Between the burn of the climbs and the aftershock of a bone-shaking downhill, energy is everything. Pack quick, non-perishable snacks like energy bars, gels, and a mix of nuts to maintain your pace.

Protective Armor, Because Armor is Cool

Whilst there might be an element of danger when it comes to mountain biking, especially on more extreme trails, safety is still very much taken seriously by most riders. With this in mind, you might want to use the following:

1. Helmet

A good mountain biking helmet should fit snugly, provide ample ventilation, and defend not just the crown, but the back and sides of your head too.

2. Goggles

Also invest in a decent set of goggles. They protect your eyes from branches, dust, and any miscalculated pebble rooster tail your buddy kicks up.

3. Gloves

Padded gloves offer grip and protection. On cold rides, opt for windproof gloves to maintain flexibility for your fingers.

4. Elbow and Knee Pads

When the trail takes a turn for the worse, riding with elbow and knee protection can mean the difference between dusting yourself off and nursing bruises for weeks.

5. Body Armor

For more extreme trails, consider full body armour. This may save you from some very uncomfortable encounters with rocks, roots, and gravity itself.

The Right Clothing Keeps the Ride Just Right

The right clothing can really make all the difference in performance and comfort. Choose your clothing according to the weather conditions, but always keep these basics in mind.

1. Moisture-Wicking Base Layers

Even on a cold day, you’re going to work up a sweat. Moisture-wicking base layers can work best for keeping you dry, whilst also regulating your temperature and preventing chafing.

2. Durable Shorts

Specifically made for mountain biking, durable and quick-drying shorts are designed to withstand abrasions and the occasional slide down the trail.

3. Jersey

A good mountain biking jersey is breathable, with a fit that won’t billow and catch on passing branches.

4. Jacket

In uncertain weather, a lightweight, packable jacket can be a lifeline—look for ones that are wind and water-resistant.

Communication and Lights

Whether it’s letting your riding buddies know about a change of plans, or seeing the trail when the sun hides its face, communication and visibility gear is not to be overlooked.

1. Communication Device

For areas with spotty reception, a communication device like a two-way radio or a personal locator beacon (PLB) can be a lifesaver.

2. Lights

Ensure you have a high-quality set of front and rear lights.

Always carry spare batteries or a charging pack to ensure they’re ready when needed.

Extras

What extras might also be useful, is a question I am often asked. I recommend:

1. Chain Lube

Keep that drivetrain singing with a small bottle of chain lube, especially if you know you’ll be tackling a muddy or dusty route.

2. Tape and Zip Ties

Duct tape is the handyman’s fabric of the world, and there is little it can’t temporarily sort.

Combine it with zip ties for quick solutions for temporary issues.

3. Waterproof Matches or a Lighter

Both for safety and mechanical efficacy, staying warm and dry is essential, especially if you become lost on an isolated route.

Shelter and Sustenance

Depending on the length of your adventure, you might also wish to include the following:

1. Emergency Blanket

Compact and lightweight, an emergency blanket can keep you warm in more dire circumstances.

2. Long-Burning Food

For full-day excursions, an emergency pack of calorie-dense, long-burning food, like military rations or a vacuum-sealed energy gel, can save your day.

3. Tool to Collect Water

A portable, lightweight water filter or a purification tablet kit can make sure that if you’re lost and away for longer than expected, hydration isn’t the problem.

More Adventures

If you enjoyed this post on the best mountain biking trails USA, make sure also to read about our experiences:

FAQs

Which US State has the best mountain biking trails?

Colorado is arguably the best US state for mountain biking, with over 8000 km of trails and with trails for all level mountain bikers from beginner, intermediate, to expert.

What is the most difficult mountain bike trail in Sedona?

The Hiline trail is arguably the toughest mountain bike path in Sedona, with its sharply inclined rocky surfaces and intricate technical obstacles. This is a route for more experienced MTB riders.