THE BEST PLACES TO RIDE IN NORTH AMERICA – MBA EDITORS, READERS AND TOP PROS REVEAL THEIR FAVORITES

Some of the best riding areas in the U.S. and Canada

We polled our staff and friends in the bike industry to find out some of their favorite places to ride in the U.S. and Canada. We can only scratch the surface of the topic in this piece, as we could easily think of dozens of other areas that we like to ride as well, but these are some of the top picks of the people who’ve ridden in a lot of places all around the U.S. and Canada.

 

Dave Sullivan and Jaime Greenfield take on one of the epic trails in the Chilcotins.
Photo by Jennifer King

 

THE CHILCOTINS, BRITISH COLUMBIA

One of my favorite places to ride on earth besides Fernie, British Columbia, is the Chilcotins, just north of Pemberton. It’s epic in every sense of the word. Mountain pass after mountain pass, you can spend days in the backcountry, self-guided or with Tyax Adventures! They offer self-guided or guided float-plane drops and backcountry wall tents with hot showers and delicious food. This photo was coming over Deer Pass.”
Jennifer King
Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada

 

The Hawes Trail, Mesa, Arizona.
Photo by Moe Lauchert/Pivot Cycles

 

MESA, ARIZONA

“My current favorite local riding is the newer Hawes Trail in Mesa, Arizona,” says Chris Cocalis, the founder and CEO of Pivot Cycles. “Alpe d’Huez to Red Mountain Rush is awesome. Red Mountain Rush is the longest, continuous descent in the Phoenix area. If your legs are up for it, it’s also worth looping in Big Sister and then making the trek back over to Alpe d’Huez for one last climb to finish your ride down High Ridge.”

 

Richie Schley drops down one of the trails in Orange County, California.
Photo by Ale de Lullo

 

THE OC COASTAL TRAILS, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

“Laguna Beach, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano—the OC Coastal Trails—this area is one of the best places I have ridden in America,” says Richie Schley, who moved to Laguna Beach, California, from Whistler, British Columbia, 11 years ago.

“First of all, it’s summer all year in this part of the country. Most times of the year in Orange County you can ride in shorts and not much more than a windbreaker. The coastal views, incredible sunsets and spectacular light make for a sensory overload. Believe it or not, there is a lot of diversity in the riding with just a short drive from one place to another.

Laguna Beach is legendary for its steep, technical terrain, with some of the most challenging trails in the country. Sandy chutes, steep rock faces, linked moves and tight turns make a lot of the trails not for the faint of heart.

San Clemente’s trail network has exploded with jumps, flow trails and endless fun features to entertain yourself, no matter what level you ride at. The community of youthful dirt jumpers, famous motocross riders and BMX pros that build on the trails at the Dog Park area have given it the feel of a professionally built bike park.

San Juan Capistrano has another flavor of riding altogether, which hosts endless, winding singletrack with steep sections, well-shaped berms and intermediate jumps. There are plenty of traverse trails and others that run from the top of the hill to the bottom for a more challenging adventure. The beauty of these three riding areas is that they are no more than a 25-minute drive between spots,” says Richie.

 

Geoff Kabush and Laura Slaven on Dark Crystal, Whistler, British Columbia.
Photo by Sterling Lorence/@eyeroam

 

DARK CRYSTAL, BRITISH COLUMBIA

“When I am in Whistler, one of my favorite rides is Dark Crystal,” says photographer Sterling Lorence. “It combines so many elements that I enjoy: long climb to access it; views on the way up; a long, uninterrupted descent; and then access into one of the most pristine, old-growth forests remaining. The trail was professionally built and maintained, and therefore is a modern line with flow and challenge and takes you through a jaw-dropping landscape of moss, huge trees, rock faces and stoking challenges. It is a solid half-day ride but very worth trying.”

 

 

SEDONA, ARIZONA

Bryson Martin, the CEO of DVO Suspension, and Jeff Lenosky of Reeb Cycles, both picked Sedona, Arizona, as their favorite mountain biking area in the U.S., citing the exceptional quality of the trails and the spectacular beauty of the area, which combine to make it a premier mountain biking destination in the U.S. for all but the hottest months of summer.

“The thing I love most about Sedona is how grippy all the rock is, and it really allows you to get creative with your line choices, and also there are so many features to ride up and over, which plays well to my technical riding abilities. Aside from the riding. It’s just a really beautiful place to be as well,” says Jeff Lenosky.

 

Kate Courtney in Marin County, California.
Photo courtesy: Scott/SRAM

 

MARIN COUNTY, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

“My favorite place to ride in North America is in Marin County, California, where I grew up. Returning to the same trails again and again is one of the best and easiest ways to appreciate your progress year over year in the sport. I still have just as much fun riding on [Mount] Tam with my dad as I did when I was a kid. Now, I just go a little faster.” – Kate Courtney

 

“R-Dog” Ryan Howard riding in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Photo by Dan Severson

 

SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA

“I love to ride in the Santa Cruz mountains, not only because of the superb trails, which I call the ‘Velvet Trails.’ It’s also the history I relate to this area. I explored mountain biking in Tom Ritchey’s backyard in the early ’90s and immediately understood why the mountain bike was invented in this area. Today, I love coming back, as Kate Courtney lives in the area, which closes a 30-year cycle.”
Thomas Frischknecht, Scott-SRAM Team Manager, 1996 UCI World Champion

 

 

Ron Koch in Truckee.
Photo by Saris Mercanti

 

TRUCKEE, CALIFORNIA

“I’ve been lucky enough to ride all over the world, and before the fires wiped out the area, Camp Nelson in the Southern Sierras was my favorite place to ride,” says Ron Koch, the editor of Mountain Bike Action. “Now, my new favorite is Truckee, just north of Lake Tahoe. It has a wide variety of trails—everything from XC flow to gravity-fed tech—and the views up high are simply stunning. It can get a bit dry and dusty at times, but if you hit it when there’s moisture in the soil, it’s all-time. One of the best parts about Truckee is that the masses have seemingly not found it yet, so the trails tend to lack the crowds of more popular areas. Hopefully, this call-out does not change that. Another reason I love it is that it’s easy to access. The hoops I have to jump through to get there are far fewer than most.”

 

Flagstaff, Arizona.

 

MORE PLACES IN ARIZONA

“For a Canadian heading south in the spring or fall, likely dodging cold weather,” says Andreas “Dre” Hestler of Rocky Mountain Bicycles, “it’s a straight-shot flight into the Phoenix airport. All of the surrounding trailheads and nearby towns are loaded with high-quality mountain biking—Sedona, Prescott and Flagstaff to name a few. In 1996, I arrived a starry-eyed young pro and won the Cactus Cup. Since then, I have raced, ridden and bike-packed so many amazing trails, all based out of Phoenix. It’s like pushing the easy button on ‘awesome MTB!’”

 

Jill Bradley checks out one of the trails in Idaho.
Photo by Dean Bradley

 

IDAHO

“I’ve been fortunate enough to ride in a lot of really awesome areas all over the USA and Canada, and I’d have to say my favorite places to ride are here in my home state of Idaho. Idaho is made up of about 63 percent public lands, so when you combine tons of square miles of open space with a relatively unpopulated state, we have what seems like an endless amount of fun, flowy, uncrowded trails and spectacularly beautiful dirt roads to ride on. We’ve been here for six years now, and I feel like I’ve ridden a lot of amazing places, but the more I get out there, the more I realize I haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of riding areas.” – Jill Hamilton Bradley

 

MBA’s JJ Squires tries out the new Giant Trance Advanced E+ on the Zen Trail in St. George, Utah.
Photo by Sterling Lorence

 

ST. GEORGE, UTAH

St. George, Utah, doesn’t only have beautiful scenery in its red rocks sweeping up to the foot of Zion National Park,” says MBA’s assistant editor, JJ Squires. “It also plays host to some of the greatest mountain biking in the state, with trails like Zen and Paradise Canyon. The close proximity to Hurricane and the old Rampage sites is also excellent, and they’re all within a relatively short driving distance from Gooseberry Mesa and all of the tech flow it has to offer. If we were to spend a week anywhere seeking endless red-rock bliss, St. George would be at the top of the short list.”

 

This shows only a fraction of the riding area at Ray’s MTB in Cleveland, Ohio.
Photo courtesy of Ray’s MTB

 

RAY’S MTB, CLEVELAND, OHIO

When Ray Petro got permission to build an indoor mountain bike park in an old parachute factory in Cleveland, Ohio, the idea of riding mountain bikes indoors sounded crazy to most people—until they tried it. Ray’s MTB has now been open for over 18 years. The MBA staff visited the park on two different occasions more than 10 years ago and we absolutely loved it. We were blown away by the enormous size of the riding area, the variety of trails, the foam pits, the half pipes, overpasses, the underpasses, the pump tracks, the XC loops, the rock gardens, the log rides and everything else. MBA’s John Ker still talks about it as one of his all-time favorite places to ride. Visitors will often drive five or more hours to ride there. The park is open from October into April. After that, the park closes during the warmer months for maintenance and revisions, and then opens again in the fall.

 

Going for style in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Photo by Campbell Creative

 

BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS

“Choosing my favorite place to mountain bike is a tough task! I need to do more, uh, ‘research’ (aka riding new trails),” says Todd Britton of Azusa Bikes in Grandview, Michigan. “I finally broke it down: ‘If this place suddenly didn’t exist, which one would I miss the most?’ With that being said, my choice is the Bentonville, Arkansas, area (Bella Vista and Rogers included).

“There is simply an unbelievable amount and variety of trails and paths for all riding abilities. It has everything from pump tracks, paved pathways, simple dirt trails, flow, rock, tech and jump lines, pump tracks and bike parks. (The Railyard is something everyone should strive to have built in their town!) Even when you’re not riding, you’re feeling the bike vibes of this town—from the bike-themed restaurants and bars to the dozen or so bike shops in the area, riders everywhere, or simply seeing all the vehicles with bikes on them.

Bentonville ‘gets it,’ and gets my vote as my favorite mountain bike destination! Prior to 2022, I had never been to Bentonville. After visiting there in April of 2022, I went back again in September, and I can’t wait to go back!”

 

Guerrilla Gravity co-founder Will Montague clocks some riding time in British Columbia.
Photo courtesy of Guerrilla Gravity

 

MORE PLACES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

British Columbia is my go-to ride destination outside of Colorado,” says Will Montague, the president of Guerrilla Gravity. “I’ve ridden all over the province—Sea to Sky, Pemberton, the Island, Sunshine Coast, Fernie, and Nelson. While the Sea to Sky has the most trails in one area, all of those other places have great trail networks. One of the things I love about riding in Canada is the ability to access a huge network of trails from town. And, British Columbia provides a great bookend to the type of riding we have here in Colorado—forested, steep, technical, and loamy versus Colorado’s wide-open landscapes and high-speed trails.”

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