As much as we love biking in the Rockies, scaling the Tetons or camping in the Sierras, we have to admit; there is some fantastic mountain biking east of the Rockies too. From the East Coast all the way through to the Midwest to the Continental Divide, the rest of the country is filled with breathtaking – literally, lung-busting – bike trails. Whether you’re a fan of smooth cross-country treks, or downhill, flying at breakneck speeds, there’s no shortage of fantastic biking destinations. There’s bound to be one or two within distance of your home. Here’s our list of the best Mountain Biking Spots In The East. Some are bigger than others, some have better views, but all have miles of excellent single track that will challenge you – and your legs.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Brevard, North Carolina. Particularly, Dupont State Forest and Pigsah National Forest. This is the premier mountain biking destination in the Appalachian Mountains, located just east of Smoky Mountain National Park. There are hundreds of miles of singletrack of different difficulties and terrain. But most of it is difficult and challenging, a testament to the sheer ruggedness of the Appalachians. There may be some smooth rides, but most of it will be rough, rocky, rooty terrain, with a thick layer of trees overhead. Be sure to check out the Ridgeline Trail for some flow. If you’re up for a challenge, this is the way to go. There are tons of bike shops and resource for bikers and travelers nearby.
Another mega biking spot on the East Coast. Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont, contains over 110 miles of singletrack, and is the premier mountain biking destination in New England. They are open May through October for summer riding on regular bikes, and from December to March for fatbikes, so you can check them out almost all year. Difficulty varies with trail, but there is essentially something here for every skill level. Most of it is smooth, winding single track, with berms and tons and tons of turns, winding through New England pine forests and alternately thick brush. Honestly, these trails aren’t just good for New England, or the East Coast; they’re some of the best of the country.
You’ve probably never even considered Florida as a mountain biking destination, unless you consider flat swamp riding as mountain biking. But up in Ocala, in Central Florida, you’ll find Santos, a network of 81,000 acres and 85 miles of everything: singletrack, freeride, dirt jumps, wall rides, drops. In fact, it was one of the first mountain biking destinations to receive the designation of “Epic” from the International Mountain Biking Association.
But where this place really shines, is wooden jumps: they are constantly building new jumps and obstacles, and the network of bikers and volunteers keeps the trails in perfect condition year-round.
Like Florida, Alabama definitely isn’t a place you would think of mountain biking. But Coldwater Mountain, located in Anniston, Alabama, is a world-class network of trails that range from beginner to expert difficulty. There are currently 35-40 miles of singletrack, mostly of packed red dirt trails. Highlights include Bomb Dog’s trail, Mama Bear and Baby Bear, which are smooth, winding and fast. And because of the regions relatively mild winters, one can usually bike them year-round.
One of the best parts about these mountain bike trails is finding the difficult terrain in places we always think of as boring and flat. But Minnesota has some elevation, and lots of rocky terrain. Cuyuma Lakes, located about two hours north of Minneapolis and two hours west of Duluth, contains 25 miles of flowing singletrack, uphill climbs, wooden ramps, and beautiful lakeside views. It’s located about 1200 feet in elevation. Be sure to check out Bobsled for some tight, fast, flowing turns. And don’t forget to pump up that Fat bike for some winter biking. This place is open year-round, which is great, seeing how it’s just about always winter in Minnesota. (We kid.)
If Cuyuna Lakes was nice, but you’re looking for even more trails, drive those two hours to Duluth, and you’ll have access to the Duluth Traverse, a path stretching over 100 miles around the ridge overlooking the city, with expansive views of the city and lake the whole way. Within city limits are also Spirit Mountain, which goes up to 1320 feet elevation and offers lift-served downhill mountain biking, on a mountain usually used as a ski area. Yep, in the Midwest. It’s also a great place to break out the fatbike come winter time.
Located in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley, the Harrisonburg area is home to a booming bike scene. It’s even been certified as a Bronze-level biking destination by the IMBA. More than 500 miles of bike-ready trails can be found around town and in the nearby George Washington National Forest. Bryce Mountain Bike Park has lifts to shuttle you to the top, where you can grab some sweet downhill flows. The Southern Traverse is a 32-mile ride rated Epic by IMBA, with everything from smooth and fast downhills extremely technical rock gardens. Masanutten Resort provides miles of flowing cross-country singletrack, littered with berms and jumps. The National Forest also allows dispersed camping, so you can attempt overnight trips and multi-day bike treks.
A well known mountain biking for those in the flatlands of the Midwest, Brown County State Park in Nashville, Indiana (not THE Nashville) has more than 30 miles of trails, all winding, flowing, smooth singletrack. Much of it is moderate difficulty, and while the elevation itself isn’t that high, the frequent climbs and downhills make for nice elevation gain and change, and for fun ride. The trails are well-maintained and there are some nice wooden ramps and jumps to try out.
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