Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
As Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” alludes, it’s not that one place is more visited than another but rather the way you perceive it. While there are the classic mountain biking meccas like Whistler or Park City, we’d rather journey to a less obvious place. Here’s a few of the best mountain biking towns that we feel are less spoken about & are now on our personal bucket list to experience.
Copper Harbor Michigan
“The BC of the Midwest”
Jaw-dropping views of a great lake? Check. Escape from the hustle & bustle of a major metropolitan area? Check. Miles and miles of prime single track that is ranked among the top 5 trail systems not just in the US but the world? Check.
The grassroots Copper Harbor Trails Club on the northern-most tip of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan is where it’s at. Some of you are thinking, “Oh, it’s in the Midwest so it can’t be THAT good.” Well, the riding at Copper Harbor is REAL mountain biking! And, if you’ve ever ventured up to Mount Bohemia in the winter, you know what we’re talking about. Still don’t believe us? They’ve been building their network since the 90’s and were given the prestigious International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Silver Level “Ride Center” just behind Park City. With all these accolades it’s no wonder that it’s made our list of the best mountain biking towns in the US that are off the beaten path.
If you do make it up here, be sure to be sure to stop by the Keweenaw Adventure Company for more information on Copper Harbor bicycle rentals, mechanic help, guides and shuttle service.
City Life with Uncrowded Trails
We LOVE Idaho. The state is a land filled with outdoor adventure for ALL seasons. While most people think of Sun Valley when they talk about Idaho destinations, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A great affordable option is Boise. It’s a recreationalist’s paradise!
During the day, you can spend time on the pristine rivers and rugged mountains while at night enjoy locally sourced food and drinks on an outdoor patio. But the best part is right at Boise’s doorstep with over a 100+ miles of trails covering the full gambit of terrain. From high alpine in the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation to the smooth rolling network in the lower foothills, the gem of the network is the Around the Mountain to Berm Baby Berm trail. It’s considered one of the best not just in Boise but all of Idaho. It’s flowing with scenic views of the Sawtooth Mountains and relatively tacky dirt.
For more information about this trail & others, be sure to check out Boisetrails.com.
Biking Your Way into Alice’s Wonderland
We first heard about this destination through an event called the Ashland Spring Thaw. Taking place each May & considered one of the biggest and longest standing mountain bike events in Oregon, it sounded like the Oregonian Downieville Classic. As we tumbled further down the rabbit hole researching this destination, we found out they have an entire network filled with trails named after Lewis Carroll’s fanciful creations from Alice in Wonderful.
Besides the creative names, the East Side Forest Lands stretch over fifty miles offering a combination of shuttle accessed riding and cross-country treks. Featuring a rich biodiversity of vegetation such as oak savanna and mixed conifer growth and scenic views, it will keep anyone entertained. And with many of the trails dropping right back into the laid back town’s center, you can finish the day off right with a cold brew or a glass of local wine. Talk about our type of place!
Biking the “Burg”
While not as old and established a destination compared to some of the others on this list, this spot is nothing to scoff at. This college town, located in the Shenandoah Valley, has an enthusiastic partnership between the City of Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition. Working together, they’ve successfully secured federal funding for large-scale mountain bike projects. It definitely helps that it’s surrounded by one of the largest concentrations of public land east of the Mississippi.
With over a MILLION acres of the George Washington National Forest, it makes sense that there are HUNDREDS of miles of single track. From the easily accessible Rocktown Trails at Hillandale Park to the flowing slopes of Massanutten, with so much to access and explore, you might just consider starting at the Shenandoah Mountain Touring Ride Center. It creates an ideal jumping off point for group rides, multi-day adventures and family excursions. If you do hit up Massamutten’s Western Slopes they’re on resort property so you must be a member of the Bicycle Coalition and volunteer for trail work to obtain a pass. The trails are bicycle optimized and built by riders for riders. If you’re feeling a bit lazy there are two lift-accessed bike parks in the area each less than 45 minutes from town:
On the cover, this list of the best mountain biking towns might be popular to some people, but in our heads, they’re obscure and not as well known… and as Robert Frost stated, “And that has made all the difference.”
If you want to read about unique adventures like heli-biking, get tips on gear, or learn about the history of the sport and more check out our comprehensive guide: The Down & Dirty On Mountain Biking