Best trails/trail systems in the lower 48 USA........- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New question here. Best trails/trail systems in the lower 48 USA........

    Call me crazy....or just a super planner, but I am starting to research making a huge trip several years from now. I have a husband and 2 kids so I'm waiting for the kids to be older and more capable of bigger/longer trails. (They will be around 13 years old when we go)

    The plan: Take a year off and travel the lower 48 USA. We will be camping and mountain biking all along the way.

    So, I am looking for the best trails/trail systems around. Trails that we can do in a day, no overnight riding/camping. Would love to stay at some trail systems for more than a day as well. We live in NE Georgia so we frequent Dupont State Forrest in NC a lot as well as multiple smaller trail systems around northern ATL.

    Let's hear it...the best trails in the lower 48!!!!!

  2. #2
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    I am going to assume from your post that you are looking for easy to moderate XC type trails and maybe a trip to a bike park here and there or a shuttle, and are not looking for huge epics and double diamond knar. Correct me if I'm wrong. Here's a few in the West- you'll need to adjust timing with climate for each and some may take some acclimation to the altitude. Colorado and Utah have the most developed systems in the 48.
    Colorado- Durango, Crested Butte, Pancha Springs, Summit County, Steamboat Springs, Fruita-Grand Junction, Buffalo Creek Those are some of the better known ones, but plenty of other areas. Arizona- Flagstaff, Sedona, Tucson, Utah-Moab, Hurricane/St George, Cedar City, Park City, Price Wyoming- Jackson. Curt Gowdy State Park, Montana- Helena, Whitefish, Bozeman. Idaho- Sun Valley/Stanley, Boise, McCall. California/Nevada-Lake Tahoe, Downieville/Grey Eagle, Fort Bragg, Mammoth Bike Park, Henry Coe State Park. Oregon- Oakridge, Bend, Ashland. Washington is harder to pick one spot, as there are good trails scattered all over the Cascades, but I can't really say one central location. If you are as serious as you say, then you can't possibly pass up on British Columbia, because it is the mountain bike capitol of the world, but the BC bikers are knarlier than typical American sissyasses, so trails tend to be more difficult on average. That being said, there are lots of easier trail too. Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, North Vancouver, Penticton, Fernie, Nelson, Rossland, Revelstoke, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast, and the list goes on....

  3. #3
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    Yes, in general terms, easy to moderate. My husband and I did Slick Rock Trail in Moab 2 summers ago. Yeah, I said summer. We started just before sunrise and still it was rough but mainly because of the heat. Skill level wise, that one didn't have a ton of technical, just rolling red rock imo. There were a few accents that I had to walk. So not really looking for any of the death defying trails that are out there.

    And yes, BC will likely make it on the list of destination because as you say, you can't miss it. WE have done a few down hill/lift bikes that were fun.......Snow Mass, CO and Beach MTn in NC. Beach MTn was definitely more challenging which was a huge surprise to us.

    I'll start looking into these places. Looks like you have covered most of the west! I did find Kingdom Trails in VT that looks pretty steller. Ever been?

  4. #4
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    No, but it sounds good. There are probably a lot of spots in the Appalachians worth stopping for a day-West Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc. On the way West, some spots possibly worth checking out are Mohican State Park in Ohio, Browns County Park in Indiana, and maybe Copper Harbor, MI. Oh, I forgot New Mexico in above post- better add Santa Fe to round it out. Remember, the best travelers have no fixed plans and are not intent on arriving.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpressnall View Post
    No, but it sounds good. There are probably a lot of spots in the Appalachians worth stopping for a day-West Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc. On the way West, some spots possibly worth checking out are Mohican State Park in Ohio, Browns County Park in Indiana, and maybe Copper Harbor, MI. Oh, I forgot New Mexico in above post- better add Santa Fe to round it out. Remember, the best travelers have no fixed plans and are not intent on arriving.

    Totally agree. I plan on having a rough plan but no much set in stone.

  6. #6
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    Arkansas would be good for two to three days at a minimum, excluding the epics. Starting at Iron Mountain and working your way north through Hot Springs to Bentonville.

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  7. #7
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    Good plan starting early because it will make great sense to take time to map out the most efficient route. I don't have a ton of answers for you myself but to keep from getting overwhelmed, I'd make a list of "must ride" places first so you can link them together.... and then figure out what other areas might be worthy along that route. The I-70 corridor through Colorado is going to be littered with options.

    I haven't been there myself but Copper Harbor in Michigan has to practically Disneyland on wheels for young teenagers. Fitting your easy to moderate agenda, I can definitely recommend Fruita where you can camp at 18 Road, Cortez (Phil's World, Sand Canyon and Boggy Draw) where you can't legally camp in the lot at Phil's but people do and you can camp in the forest at Boggy Draw, Tahoe, Park City, St George and Bend.
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  8. #8
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    Speaking of the I-70 corridor you have a couple nice options in the middle of the USA. Kansas City has several systems surrounding the metro area. Starting on the east side there is Landahl park. South is Blue River, above that closer to I-70 is Swope Park. Wyco would be a good one to hit on the northwest corner.

    Head west on I-70 and stop in the middle of Kansas near Russell for an overnight stop. Hit Switchgrass Trail while camping at Wilson lake. Move on to Colorado.

    PS- if you decide to hit Landahl I'd be glad to guide you thru some nice trails the family would love.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogdayz1215@gmail.co View Post
    Yes, in general terms, easy to moderate.... I did find Kingdom Trails in VT that looks pretty steller. Ever been?
    Kingdom Trails fits your bill. There are other trail networks in Vermont you could check out at the same time.
    Raystown Pennsylvania.
    East Hereford, Quebec, if you want to pop quickly over the border.
    Mountain bikers are generally a rational bunch...until someone moves a rock on our favorite trail and we lose our minds - LMN

  10. #10
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    Copper Harbor, MI looks pretty neat! Thanks!

    I never knew about Fruita until I ran into a guy while biking in Dupont. Sounded pretty amazing so I looked it up. Definately on the list!

  11. #11
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    Great! I was wondering if there was anything in the middle (Kansas). I hate to drive straight through and miss a gem. That'll break up the drive depending on the route I settle on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogdayz1215@gmail.co View Post
    Great! I was wondering if there was anything in the middle (Kansas). I hate to drive straight through and miss a gem. That'll break up the drive depending on the route I settle on.
    Folks around here say timing makes a difference with Switchgrass Trail. It is an open trail with lots of exposure to the sun like you'd see out west. Spring or fall might be a better time than July. I'd pick late summer or fall- @September. July is our dry month and springtime is when we have the most rain.

  13. #13
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    KT? Really nice layout of 80? miles or so, bike park, lift served, pump track, food lodging, camping etc. Nemba fest is usually the 3rd weekend in June every year. Bigger thoughts. Riding areas for the best weather and seasons? Thought about all the bike festivals at riding spots? Check out Nemba (for most of New England) and VMBA for Vermont. So many links and maps for riding spots. All our Nemba chapters have great riding areas and trail maps. Doing the home school thing? Trying to incorporate some history/ cultural stuff? Boston( my turf) would be great for a stop of a few days. So much good riding, esp. North. Check out something like Harold Parker state forest in North Andover. Great trails, camping right there, swimming too. Also a place like Bear brook in southern NH. Ride, camp, swim, good stuff.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ray.vermette View Post
    Kingdom Trails fits your bill. There are other trail networks in Vermont you could check out at the same time.
    Raystown Pennsylvania.
    East Hereford, Quebec, if you want to pop quickly over the border.
    Kingdom Trails is definitely on the list. Might be cool to drive through southern Canada from there in order to hit northern MI. I'll check out Quebec.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    KT? Really nice layout of 80? miles or so, bike park, lift served, pump track, food lodging, camping etc. Nemba fest is usually the 3rd weekend in June every year. Bigger thoughts. Riding areas for the best weather and seasons? Thought about all the bike festivals at riding spots? Check out Nemba (for most of New England) and VMBA for Vermont. So many links and maps for riding spots. All our Nemba chapters have great riding areas and trail maps. Doing the home school thing? Trying to incorporate some history/ cultural stuff? Boston( my turf) would be great for a stop of a few days. So much good riding, esp. North. Check out something like Harold Parker state forest in North Andover. Great trails, camping right there, swimming too. Also a place like Bear brook in southern NH. Ride, camp, swim, good stuff.
    I'll check out NEMBA. THat might help us fill in some days if needed. Yes, the kids will be home schooled....or I should say road schooled. America history is a must so we will likely stop in Boston maybe even philly. Good to know there is good riding even in Boston!

  16. #16
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    The mountains of NC are wonderful!!! You can pick easy to extreme. Asheville, Brevard, Cherokee, Hayesville, Sylva all have places. The Asheville/Brevard area has the most varied to choose from. Bent Creek is great too, a lot like Dupont state forest. Good luck and have fun!!

  17. #17
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    You might want to research areas near Quebec City, in particular Neilson trail.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpressnall View Post
    You might want to research areas near Quebec City, in particular Neilson trail.
    Neilson Est/Nord are part of Vallee Bras du Nord (VBDN).

    Neilson Nord is a favorite of mine, but it's a bit more difficult than what the OP is looking for. However, there are some easier trails in that same trail network that might be more what they had in mind. Also good camping, hiking, fishing, and other activities there if you want to venture that far north.

    There is great riding around Quebec City, but tending more towards the intermediate-to-advanced end of the spectrum. Mont-Sainte-Anne, Sentiers du Moulin, Lac-Beauport, VBDN (St Raymond & Shanahan), Lac Delage.... The Quebec Singletrack Experience stage race website has links to videos that will give you a sense of the difficulty level. Quebec City is beautiful and an interesting history lesson for the kids; one they wouldn't get in school.

    If the OP is still considering travelling through Southern Canada to get to Michigan, then you might consider adding Ganaraska and Albion Hills to the itinerary. The "Paul's Dirty Enduro" route at Ganaraska is an IMBA Epic ride. They have tree walk, zip lines, and horseback riding. Albion Hills has camping, swimming, and other activities on site. Both trail networks are fast, flowy, and beginner friendly.

    There is other great riding in Southern Quebec and Ontario. Suggest you ask in the Eastern Canada sub-forum for suggestions if you are seriously considering a detour through the Great White North.

    Cheers.
    Mountain bikers are generally a rational bunch...until someone moves a rock on our favorite trail and we lose our minds - LMN

  19. #19
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    As mentioned, lots available. I'll mention specifics of Utah, as that's what I'm most familiar with.
    Utah trails:
    UtahMountainBiking Home Index
    Park City, Utah trails:
    About Park City Trails
    Most of the PC trails are on the buff-intermediate side. There are almost 400 miles of singletrack in the area, so it could take you a while!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogdayz1215@gmail.co View Post
    Kingdom Trails is definitely on the list. Might be cool to drive through southern Canada from there in order to hit northern MI. I'll check out Quebec.
    The trick will be to hit the Kingdom trails right before the Mont Sainte Anne world cup races in Canada. Then come back and get Montreal and the falls on your way west to Michigan.

  21. #21
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    As someone already mentioned, I gotta put a plug in for my locale of northwest Arkansas. Seriously. If you're driving from Georgia we would be right on your meridian. Look up the back 40 trails, as well as Coler and Mount Kessler in bentonville and fayetteville. Lots of local effort and Walmart money going into trail development here.

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