America’s Best Destinations to Learn Electric Mountain Biking
America’s Best Destinations to Learn Electric Mountain Biking
With a beginner track and bike park, plus lessons and rentals, you’ll have everything you need to ride on two wheels.
Conditions for navigating dirt on two wheels have never been better. In addition to innovative bike designs, many beginner custom electric mountain bike trails now adorn the country, from red rock country in the west to white oak corridors in the east to bald cypress trees in the south.
“To support the growth and longevity of mountain biking, many trail networks are specifically designed to accommodate a variety of skill levels, including beginners,” said the Senior Global Product Marketing Specialist. “Many have designated skill areas, which include Elements like the pump track and rock garden are perfect for riders who want to practice their skills and handle the bike with more confidence.” The pump track is a series of smooth back-to-back rollers and banked turns, while the rock garden is a dynamic section full of rocky features. Artificially constructed park barriers all help mountain bikers get ready for the trail.
If you’re looking for beginner bike parks or circular dirt roads across the country, here’s a list of havens for your first mountain biking adventure.
Destination: Atlanta, Georgia
Within 90 minutes from The Big Peach, top-notch off-road trails won’t be too technical, whether you’re heading to woodland or mountainside. Novice riders can warm up on the 3.1-mile Haw Creek Park Loop, a smooth, wide, forested single track. You can also check out the Cycling Skills Area located on the north side of the park.
Equidistant northeast of Atlanta is Fort Yago State Park, where you can improve your skills and stamina with several 100-foot climbs on the 11-mile loop around Lake Yago.
Next, head north to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the state’s official mountain biking capital, Ellijay. The new Pinhoti Trail is for intermediate and advanced riders, but the 3.6-mile Amadahy Trail is a stunning pancake trail flanked by ferns and views of Carters Lake.
Destination: Austin, Texas
Start your adventure by cobbling together a short section of easy beginner and intermediate trails at Walnut Creek Metro Park. Then step up your game with dirt and limestone on the Slaughter Creek Trail, a 5-mile route with an easy 200-foot climb. Or cover even greater distances with the 6.3-mile Great Escape Loop at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, which mixes hardpack singletrack with root throws and rock-strewn grounds.
Destination: Bentonville, Arkansas
Bentonville is known as one of the most incredible riding destinations in the country, if not the world. More than 20 miles of clever singletrack, known as the Slaughter Pen Trails, is introduced downtown, and it’s progressive and well-marked.
A mile west is the Coler Mountain Bike Reserve, which features 17 miles of technical rock patches and smooth lines like Good Vibrations, an easy 1-mile section with interesting turns and berms.
Cyclists can also venture south to Fayetteville, where there are more than 52 miles of rides, such as the town’s 6.6-mile eponymous lake. Or head to the Monument Trail at Mount Nebo State Park, where 2 miles of Three Cs trails refresh newcomers and intermediate circuits such as Miller Goats need to accumulate 652 feet.
Destination: Hood River, Oregon
Take a scenic long ride along the Klickitat River (part of the National Wild and Scenic River System) along the converted railroad bed, with views of waterfalls and spring wildflower meadows. Today’s eponymous trail segment is a mixed dual-track and single-track route that’s fairly flat and can be ridden 13.8 miles one way (you just park your car at the end or book a shuttle to get back to the beginning) or as a 28-mile round trip. There’s also a 31.3-mile rail-to-trail for the most ambitious and excited mountain bikers.
For another type of adventure, book a shuttle at the famously lush Post Canyon to drop you off for a 12-mile downhill ride that takes you to Eldorado, Family Man, and back to town. Then fly to Timberline Lodge Bike Park on the south side of Mount Hood. This National Historic Landmark offers plenty of lift-assisted trails for newcomers, including green- and blue-rated routes like Gotta Go and Gravy Train.
Destination: Bethel, Maine
Hit your first dirt in one of North America’s most popular ski towns. This charming Maine town in the western part of the state is also a new center for mountain biking trails.
Start with a network of flowing green trails in the Bethel Community Forest, which is lush with maple, beech and birch trees. For a solid ride, connect the Phoenix, Ghost, Limbo and Flux trails, then the middle 1.9-mile Tribute loop (clockwise only).
Next, enjoy the Bethel Village Trails, a 5-mile Bethel easy-to-intermediate singletrack. The 2.9-mile smooth off-road trail known as the Double Helix is dotted with short, approachable uphills and downhills with slightly undulating flats.
Mt. Abram, 5 miles south of Bethel, has cable car services that appeal to novices, including George’s Jungle and Superchicken.
Destination: Moab, Utah
In an area that prides itself on technical terrain, Navajo Rocks Loop is the perfect place for new riders to experience Moab. “I’ve taken a lot of beginners to this gentle area with smooth rocks that feel scary but not dangerous, and a bit of sand that creates terrain changes that feel exciting,” Yeti Cycles Ambassador Nichole Baker told Bicycling. The trail collection is clover-shaped so you can choose to ride, ranging from 4 to 16 miles. “Signage is great so you don’t have to be afraid to get lost,” Baker said. Think about how long those little clover leaves will take to ride to decide how long you want to be in the day. “For intermediate riders, these trails are still fun because you can really go through there,” Baker added.
Rentals: Moab Bikes, Moab, UT
Course: Moab Mountain Bike Instruction ($85 per hour, $40 per additional student)
Pro tip: Book an Up the Creek campground in town with hot showers and a BBQ station.
Destination: Durango, Colorado
In southwestern Colorado, Durango offers stunning panoramic views of the desert and mountains that welcome puppies. “Start at Horse Gulch and follow the combined 6-mile route of the Meadow Loop and Stacy’s Loop,” Baker said. First, the riders practiced climbing through the valley on a low-slope dirt road that was slightly rocky. After that, the smooth dirt singletrack meanders through the grass, followed by a half-plank descent. “A rider can get off the horse and walk, or ride something intimidatingly comfortable and get an adrenaline rush,” Baker said.
Once comfortable, head to Twin Buttes to explore the loop with gentle descents and novice-friendly berms. Phil’s World, 41 miles west of town, in the direction of Cortez, offers plenty of fun rollers for amateurs and just as entertaining for experts. Refuel with a picnic by the steps of the amphitheater at Animas River Whitewater Park, where you can cheer on the rafters and surfers on the river.
Destination: Knoxville, Tennessee
Located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, Marble City is one of the best venues for off-road cycling in the country. It includes more than 1,000 acres of parks and protected areas connected by trails. Start your two-wheel ride on the Meades Quarry Loop south of the Tennessee River. The 6.6-mile roller coaster course is tucked away within the 315-acre Ijams Nature Center, built by the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club.
Destination: Minneapolis, Minnesota
On a land of 10,000 lakes, Mount Lebanon 18 miles south of the Twin Cities responds to the need for new terrain (and an optional midline). This 7.2-mile circus offers berms, rock gardens, bridges, drops and jumps that were volunteered by Minnesota off-road cyclists.
With the foundations in place, then hike 125 miles north to Crosby, the 21-mile Lake Cuyona Grand Tour that wraps around a dozen lakes including the Manuel and Pennington mines. Complete the journey in one day, or resolve sections like Drag Line North and South, a 4-mile circuit around Portsmouth Mine Lake.
Destination: Richmond, Virginia
On the south bank of the James River, drive your bike along an easy 4.5-mile lollipop route in downtown Richmond called Slave Trail to Pirate Trails.
Afterwards, driving 131 miles northwest to Harrisonburg, Massanuten Resort has developed 30 miles of singletrack on the west slope, including stepping stone beginner and intermediate singletrack.
Destination: Colorado Eagle
As far as Colorado mountain biking goes, it usually gets all the accolades, but its neighbors two hours east are also worth keeping an eye on. Eagle, Colorado has over 200 miles of trails, mostly beginner and intermediate, that wrap around town, making it the perfect place for family adventures or less confident riders to gain skills and experience.
The annual Colorado High School Mountain Bike Championship is a fun, fast 5-mile trail that gradually gets steeper as you approach the top. The descents have high, sloping berms meant to ride at warp speeds, as well as some small drops to keep things interesting.
Boneyard is a three-mile intermediate trail with more challenges and steeper. The singletrack is fast and open near the top, but it gets tighter and more technical as you get closer to the trail start. Both trails offer stunning views and good sun exposure, which is especially important for drying out the trails in the spring and fall as riders try to extend the season.
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