FOR A SCENIC AND FUN RIDE, GRAB YOUR WHEELS (AND A HELMET, OF COURSE!) AND HEAD TO ONE OF THESE THREE TOP MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAILS.
Looking for adventure? You've come to the right place! These three top mountain biking trails range from the "beginner" to "expert" level and offer varied terrains and scenery that'll keep you both entertained and challenged. Choose the one that appeals most to you—then chart your course for some serious outdoor fun!
Deep Step Trail: North Augusta, South Carolina
For a short-but-tough ride through a forest, try the 5-mile (8-kilometer) Deep Step Trail. South Carolina weather can get steamy, so visiting during the spring or fall is best. This free mountain biking course is part of the Forks Area Trail System that's surrounded by beautiful natural wonders: the Smoky Mountains and the Savannah River. Ideal for beginner cyclists, the trail offers lots of hills (so prep those quads with squats ahead of time!), but the turns are mostly soft and there aren't any major obstacles. Just be careful on the downhills, because you can pick up some serious speed. Fun fact: This trail system is so well regarded that it was named the host trail for the annual IMBA World Mountain Bike Summit in 2010.
Mountainside Loop: East Burke, Vermont
This intermediate route is part of the Kingdom Trails system, which was voted the "best mountain bike trail network in North America" by Bike magazine in the publication's yearly reader poll. Purchase a day pass for $15 between May 1 and October 31st and check out the 15.5-mile (25-kilometer) path, which starts as a doubletrack and turns into a singletrack. After a few switchbacks, the downhill toward the beginning will give you some momentum, but be prepared for a climb at the finish. You'll cycle over quite a few obstacles on this mountain biking path, including roots, jumps, narrow bridges (without railings!), so try not to get too distracted by the gorgeous mountain scenery.
Poison Spider Mesa Trail: Moab, Utah
Only experts should attempt this difficult, 13-mile (21-kilometer) loop, which rises more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) in the desert and is filled with sharp, quick turns and obstacles such as ledges and small boulders. You'll cover lots of steep slickrock made of sandstone and you'll share the road with Jeeps, ATVs, and motorcycles. It's easy to follow, since tiny white Jeeps on the rocks mark the trail. Go during the spring or fall and get ready for a few pits of sand that'll slow you down and test your strength. The last part of the route, the Portal Trail, requires a lot of technical skill and you must follow the signs to dismount and walk your bike along the edge of a steep cliff. But if you can conquer Poison Spider Mesa on your mountain bike, rest assured: There is nothing you can't handle!
Mountain Bike Trip Packing List: When organizing your backpack for your mountain biking trip, don't leave without the following items:
- Cycling shoes
- Shoe Sac
- Pack-It Cube Set
- Water bottle
- First aid kit
- Bike repair kit
- Bike lock and chain
- Emergency whistle
- Insect repellent
- Cell phone
Consider putting items like the bike lock and the emergency whistle into a Pack-It eCube so they don't scratch fragile, valuable items (like your phone). In case it rains or is windy, it's also smart to bring a lightweight waterproof and breathable windbreaker. To create more room in your bag, stuff the jacket into a Pack-It Specter Compression Cube.
Which mountain biking trail is your favorite? Add a comment, below!
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Jane Bianchi is a freelance writer who has worked for a variety of national magazines, including Seventeen, Family Circle, and Good Housekeeping. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.