We reached out to some of the most experienced mountain bike travelers in the world to find out what they think are some of the best mountain biking places they’ve ever ridden. Their choices range from the trails close to their homes to the most exotic trails on the planet, thousands of miles away.
“There are so many incredible places to ride around the world, but if I had to pick one ultimate destination, it would be Iceland. It’s an incredibly beautiful country of stunning volcanic landscapes and surreal colors and textures unlike any place on Earth. One of the most memorable shoots of my career was a ride I did in 2015 with Hans Rey and Steve Peat across Iceland from the North Coast to the South Coast of the island. Definitely the trip of a lifetime. There may be better riding in other places, but if you get a chance to experience the adventure of mountain biking in Iceland, don’t pass it up.”
Salt Lake City, Utah
SOUTHERN CHILCOTIN MOUNTAINS, CANADA
“Of course, my favorite place to ride technical trails is my hometown on Vancouver’s North Shore. When it comes to my next favorite, I love the Southern Chilcotin Range in British Columbia’s western interior. The Chilcotin Mountains are a high-alpine landscape, and the terrain is not as jagged and steep as most alpine mountain environments, making the trails a bit smoother and more flowy. This area was rich in mining back in the day, and thousands of kilometers of trails were left behind to explore by bike. For full-on alpine epic rides, this is a true taste of what adventure riding can be. No roads, just trail and absolutely jaw-dropping views.”
BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
“There are so many great places around the world to ride, but in my opinion, none is greater than the general area of British Columbia, Canada. From the North Shore to Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and Vancouver Island, the diversity and quality of riding are unmatched, with some of the most beautiful scenery, challenging terrain and excellent trail workmanship a mountain biker will ever experience. I’ve had some amazing days riding my bike in B.C. and probably have only scratched the surface of all the great trails in this area of the world. I look forward to getting back there in 2022 to revisit some of the trails I miss, but also to experience some new ones.”
Laguna Beach, California
4X World, 6X World Cup champion
THE CZECH REPUBLIC
“Traveling the world with mountain bikers and bikes brings me to a lot of beautiful places related to this great sport. I haven’t been to all of them, and I’m still dreaming about photo shoots and rides at the stunning, famous locations of British Columbia or Moab, but despite that, I enjoy riding on my home soil. In the Czech Republic, we have a couple of world-class spots for trail riding, especially Rychlebské stezky and Singltrek pod Smrkem, where you can choose from awesome super-flow trails or pure, natural, rocky trails and enjoy a beer in the pub with friends afterwards.”
“There are plenty of great riding spots in Northern California between Monterey and San Francisco, depending on what you are looking for. When I want to get out deep in the mountains and go for a big adventure, the trails at Henry Coe State Park never disappoint. The park offers a massive trail network spanning 870,000 acres of untouched wilderness. Throughout the ride, you will be taken from forested singletrack to open ridges with incredible views of lakes and mountaintops. One of the best parts of the ride for me is animal spotting. You will see everything from wild turkey and deer to cows and even herds of pigs. It feels like a genuine animal safari. The trails range from big climbs to fun, flowing singletrack with plenty of sweeping turns and bumps to pop off. When you’re done with the long ride, head to Trail Dust BBQ in Morgan Hill, and you will feel like your life is complete.”
Dan Severson (photographer)
“One of my favorite rides is up on the east rim of Lake Tahoe. Views are similar to those of the famed Flume Trail further north, but riding the Southeast Tahoe Rim Trail is more varied with challenging singletrack. Most of the riding is in mature Ponderosa forests with occasional wide-open vistas of the snow-covered variety in spring and of turning aspen in the fall. There is over 2000 feet of climbing in the 20-mile ride from Spooner’s Summit on US-50 to Stateline, with most of it in the first six miles. From there, it’s mostly desert to the bottom, including Kingsbury Stinger. These trails were built for mountain bikers, and they have a sweet flow. Bring your oxygen.”
Joe Breeze, Curator
Marin Museum of Bicycling/Mountain Bike Hall of Fame
THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES
“If I could go mountain biking anywhere in the world, I would go to the Italian Dolomites—Canazei, to be exact. There are so many lift-serviced areas and trails to link them all together, with endless amounts of Alpine riding. Of course, when your day is done, there is the legendary dolce vita of Italy—amazing food, great wine and Italian culture. The mountains in the area are like the look of the Utah desert but high up on the mountaintops. It is one of the most unique mountain landscapes I have ridden in. There is riding for all levels, but the Alpine adventures are not for the faint of heart, due to exposure and massive descent.”
Laguna Beach, California
MAYDENA BIKE PARK, TASMANIA
“After traveling all around the world and riding in some of the best and most well-known MTB hot spots, without a doubt, the best place I’ve ever ridden would have to be Maydena Bike Park in Tasmania, Australia. The quality of the dirt, the design of the trails and just the sheer variety make it hard to beat. Throw in a cool little town, a great vibe and Australian hospitality, and you have the best MTB destination in the world.”
COLOMBIA, SOUTH AMERICA
“One of my favorite mountain bike riding areas is the mountain town of Manizales, Colombia. I was fortunate to attend the 2018 Enduro World Series event in this beautifully lush area where challenging trails are surrounded by a vibrant South American culture. While extraordinary rainfall kept overall speeds and control to a precarious minimum, participants were treated to a purpose-built, flowy, jungle singletrack in the center of the Colombian coffee-growing region. Outstanding trails, friendly people and delicious coffee made it an event (and location) to never forget.”
Newberry Park, California
“Asking an old, well-traveled, freeride mountain biker to name one place in the world he would choose to go mountain biking is like asking a parent to name their favorite child—simply impossible. One place for me, though, does come to mind—a place I reserve the lion’s share of my shredding memories for is the Alps. I often joked years ago as a sponsored rider that I’d spend my own money to come ride the high-alpine trails of the Alps.
“Nothing beats popping around on a century-old, low-angle, snakey singletrack above 2000 meters. The views are spectacular. The trails are endless (literally up every valley and tracing every ridgeline), and every huge descent on timeworn, animal-cut, traversing ribbons of perfection seems to end in a culinary utopia of beer and food.
“I’ve spent most of my Alps riding time in and around the Valais region of Switzerland, but I’ve sampled many places, and they all have great trails to explore. Highlights include Livigno, Zermatt, Lago Di Garda, Cortina, and many more. I suggest you go to the Alps, buy a good topo map, study it for hours over beers with friends, and then spend the rest of your time finding your favorite Alps trail—simply endless.”
Rocky Mountain Bicycles
North Vancouver, British Columbia
SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA
“One of my favorite locations to ride is in Santa Cruz, where there’s Nisene Marks or Campus. And the reason is that I can ride right from the house. The weather is always good. You meet so many different, great people out there riding. There’s quite a variety of rides. And even if it’s cold, the sun is out and it’s wonderful.”
Founder, Specialized Bicycles
Morgan Hill, California
“One of my favorite places in the world to ride is on the trails around the medieval city of Ainsa, Spain. Ainsa is located in the southern foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, about a three-hour drive from the Barcelona airport.
“There is plenty of variety of terrain on the trails around Ainsa. They have trails that a novice would enjoy, like smooth, tight singletrack in the woods. While you’re riding, you see spectacular views of the rocky cliffs of the Pyrenees in the distance and 1000-year-old castles on the hilltops. They have hosted several Enduro World Series events there, too, so they definitely have the steep technical riding that will challenge expert riders. You can search for the 2018 EWS event on YouTube to check out the more extreme trails.
“I like to be comfortable after a long day of riding, so the hotel where I stay is called the Barcelo Monastario de Boltana. It’s a monastery that has been converted into a five-star hotel. Even though it’s got a five-star rating, it’s still very reasonable, costing less than $100 per night for most of the year.
“Along with the great riding, Ainsa has plenty of good restaurants and an interesting historical city to explore. I highly recommend it.”
1990 UCI world champion, 6x NORBA national champion
“In my 30-plus years in the sport, I’ve had the pleasure of riding all over the world—from Japan to Italy to Mt. Snow to Mammoth Mountain. And for as long as I’ve been asked the question of my favorite place to ride, I always come up with just one locale—Moab, Utah. As much as I love Crested Butte, Colorado, with its high-elevation scenery and lack of oxygen, there is simply no other place in the world that duplicates the hardened rock surface and adventure of riding the Slickrock Loop.”
Editorial director of Mountain Bike Action