1. The Slickrock Trail | Moab
Quite possibly the most famous trail in Utah, the Slickrock
trail traces an improbable path over and around a massive landscape of petrified sand dunes. The sticky nature of the smooth sandstone rock allows your tires to grip and climb hills and steer through descents you wouldn't dare to tackle on dirt. The 10.2 mile loop is a blast for confident riders with strong technical skills. The trail can be quite intimidating for novice and intermediate riders. The shorter Practice Loop is ideal for getting acquainted with the unique riding techniques and experiences you'll encounter on the trail. Staying in Moab
also puts you near Arches
National Parks for some post-ride sightseeing.
2. Wasatch Crest Trail | Park City/Salt Lake City (IMBA Epic Ride)
The Wasatch Mountains
just outside Salt Lake City
divide the Salt Lake Valley from Park City and make a spectacular year-round playground for skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers and rock climbers who flock to the area for the easy access, superb trails and stunning vistas. The Wasatch Crest Trail is a thin ribbon of singletrack snaking along the top of the mountain range — so, yes, early winter storms and lingering spring snowpack can complicate your singletrack plans. Mostly flowing singletrack through aspen glades and alpine meadows with a single, easily walkable technical section, the trail doesn’t disappoint. There are many options for riding the trail, the most popular being a point to point (car shuttle required) from the top of Guardsman Pass along the Wasatch Crest before linking with trails in Millcreek Canyon (even numbered days only). Other riders climb the steep grade from starting points in Park City or Big Cottonwood Canyon to access the start of the crest. Oh, we should mention, riders on the Wasatch Crest have to negotiate a climb lovingly referred to as “puke hill” before reaching the main part of the crest. This little bit of suffering makes the rest of the ride even sweeter.
3. Red Canyon/Thunder Mountain | Panguitch
Red Canyon is many visitors first introduction to the rust- and chalk-colored hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park, just a few miles to the east. As they drive through the stunning canyon on their way to the park gates, most don't realize they're driving right past one of Utah's best singletrack rides. Complete the ride either with a car shuttle from the lower parking area, or by riding 5 miles up the paved bike path to the Thunder Mountain
trailhead. After a relatively brief climb to the ridgeline, the fun begins as the trail contours along the ridge down valley with epic views, tight switchbacks and a few technical sections thrown in for good measure. Approximately 10 miles one way from the parking lot off the highway.
4. Porcupine Rim/Whole Enchilada | Moab
For years, the sweeping downhills, epic views and stunning descent into the Colorado River valley made Porcupine Rim
has been one of the crown jewels of mountain biking trails in the western United States. Recent singletrack additions to the sections above the original trailhead, and the aid of bigger-suspension bikes have made this ride even better and more popular. The original Porcupine Rim is 13.9 miles with the upper sections adding as much as 9 additional miles of downhill. If that isn't enough, tackle the Whole Enchilada, a 27 mile, 7,000 foot descent from the La Sal mountains to the Colorado River. Almost everyone rides Porcupine Rim with a car shuttle to the Sand Flats recreation area, with several shops in town providing regular shuttle rides from town. This is a technically challenging ride that is simply unforgettable. By the way, snow will close the La Sal Mountain Loop in winter, limiting access the upper reaches of the trail system but northern-latitude MTB enthusiasts should keep on eye on local conditions — lower trails are often accessible in the winter. For more legendary Moab-area mountain biking, check out Amasa Back
and the Magnificent 7
5. Mid Mountain Trail | Park City (IMBA Epic Ride)
Mid Mountain covers 22 miles of trail traversing the two grand ski areas behind the town of Park City
. With numerous options for shorter loops, the Mid-Mountain trail encompasses some of the best riding Park City has to offer. Flowing singletrack guides you through dense stands of pine and aspen trees before breaking out into meadows filled with wildflowers. The trail's greatest difficulty lies in reaching the trail (it is called "Mid Mountain" for a reason). Once on the trail, there are numerous short climbs and descents with very few technical sections, making it an ideal ride for intermediate riders looking for a spectacular experience. Many riders opt to access Mid Mountain from the newly built, uphill only, Armstrong Trail and link Mid Mountain with several other trails to make loops in the 5–10 mile range. And that IMBA thing? That's part of Park City's International Mountain Biking Association Gold-level Ride Center certification — but hit them while you can; The Greatest Snow on Earth®
owns these slopes for half the year.
6. Rush Trail — Corner Canyon | Draper
Salt Lake City prides itself on its access to spectacular outdoor recreation. Just a few minutes from downtown, Corner Canyon (CC) is no exception. CC is a compact network of purpose-built mountain bike trails for cross-country and downhill riders. Combine this with the pump track, DH training courses and skills park at the Draper Bike Park and you have access to all types of dirt riding in a location perfect for a lap at lunch, the end of the day, or a longer experience by linking trails. If you were to hit just one trail in CC, the Rush Trail would be it. The embodiment of flow, Rush is downhill only with fast turns descending through open views of the valley at the top into tighter forest at the bottom. Advanced riders will love all the double jumps and gaps, while more intermediate riders can bypass the features by sticking to the main trail.
7. Wheeler Creek to Coldwater Overlook | Ogden
Just a few minutes outside of Ogden
, the Wheeler Creek trail climbs steadily out of the valley where the main trail intersects with several possible trail variations. The most popular branches off onto the Art Nord trailhead, becoming singletrack and joining the Maples Trail to guide you through open meadows and dense stands of oak and aspen, beautiful no matter the season but bursting with vibrant colors in the fall. After a short while the trail intersects with Snowbasin Resort’s trail system as well as others in the Wheeler Creek drainage providing you with options to extend your ride or take an alternate path back to the car. Check local conditions for early season precipitation or lingering spring snowpack.
Bonus: Gooseberry Mesa | Between St. George and Zion National Park
The Place to Bike in the Promised Land
Gooseberry Mesa National Recreation Trail combines some classic Utah sandstone tracks with advanced technical features but set against the unabashedly impressive backdrop of Zion National Park's red rock monoliths. The main dirt road that leads out the center of Gooseberry Mesa is a mighty fine novice to intermediate ride — 10 miles out-and-back and pleasantly flat.
On arrival, you'll encounter a trail system that incorporates technical slickrock and awesome singletrack atop a stunning mesa. Expect few uphill grinds, but a smorgasbord of turns, quick dips and short climbs to test your balance and reaction. You can play out here for hours especially as you pause frequently to take in the panoramic views from 5,200 feet of one of America's best national parks.
Rarely does anyone travel to ride just one trail, so we've put together a list of the top Utah mountain biking destinations. In these areas, you'll find the highest concentration of great rides with options for beginner through expert riders.
Park City is the world's only IMBA Gold-level riding destination. IMBA bestowed this accolade on Park City for the diversity of trails, the bike-friendly culture, the proximity of the downtown to trailheads and the amenities for travelers. Park City has hundreds of miles of trails to explore, almost all of which can be easily accessed from downtown without needing a car. Cross-country riders will want to ascend Armstrong to jump on the Mid Mountain Trail, or climb higher to join the Wasatch Crest Trail. Downhill riders will want to look to the lift-served
DH trails at Canyons and Deer Valley resorts and recreational riders will find the wider singletrack at Round Valley to be the perfect speed for a casual day on the trails.
SALT LAKE CITY
While not quite as compact as Park City, Salt Lake City still offers great access from just about anywhere in the city. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST) encircles the foothills to the east and north of the city with a growing network of roughly 100 miles of multiuse trails with dozens of trailheads throughout the valley. The most popular stretches for riders connect the Hogle Zoo with the University of Utah and another stretch between City Creek and Dry Creek Canyons, which includes the ever-popular Bobsled downhill trail. Little Cottonwood (LCC) and Big Cottonwood canyons (BCC) house several excellent cross-country trails in the national forest including the Wasatch Crest Trail and a growing array of singletrack rides at the area’s ski resorts: Brighton, Solitude, Alta and Snowbird. These higher-elevation rides are best late June through August when the snow has melted and the wildflowers carpet the open alpine
A growing hub for outdoor industry companies, Ogden has attracted this clientele by offering a veritable product testing lab just outside the city with trailheads stretching from minutes outside downtown deep into the mountains. Generally less crowded than other Central Wasatch destinations, riding in Ogden means you have more of the good stuff, all to yourself. For years, Ogden was known as the place to challenge yourself on tough hill climbs like the Skyline trail, but in recent years, flowing cross-country trails like Sardine Peak or Wheeler Creek have grown in popularity. Close to downtown, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail offers a quick getaway while the higher up Snowbasin has 26 miles of singletrack on-mountain and connects
with another 50 miles of Forest Service trails, making an excellent base for exploration.
Synonymous with mountain biking, Moab claims the top spot as the #1 destination
mountain bikers are heading to in the American West for 2015. Known for the classics like Slickrock, Amasa Back and Porcupine Rim, bikers are rediscovering Moab for new single tracks like the Sovereign Trail, Mag 7 and HyMasa/Captain Ahab.
Most mountain bikers use the town of Moab as a basecamp and ride from town or car shuttle to nearby trailheads. The easiest trails to ride to from town are Pipe Dream, Hidden Valley, Amasa Back or the new variant HyMasa/Captain Ahab. The Sand Flats Recreation area is only a short drive from downtown, but is quite a climb by bike to reach the Slickrock and Porcupine Rim trailheads or one of the many variants to Porcupine that have become quite popular.
For riders looking for more moderate Moab rides, look north of town to Klondike Bluff or nearby Baby Steps, both excellent introductions to Moab riding. The expanded Bar-M trails provide a winding network of singletrack trails with many options to vary the length and technical challenge.
Late spring (March through May) offers great riding weather, with highs in the 60s and 70s. Visit the Moab city page
for trip planning information.
St George is quickly becoming a destination for year-round Utah mountain biking, led by the popularity of Gooseberry Mesa trail network, a technically challenging trail system with slickrock, singletrack and jaw-dropping views toward Zion National Park. In the region west of town, the network of Sidewinder and Barrel Roll offer more technically moderate trails high on the fun factor. With very temperate weather all winter long, St. George has become THE go-to destination for early-spring, late-fall and winter mountain biking in Utah.
Whether you're new to road cycling or a seasoned pro, it never hurts to brush up on the rules and etiquette of the road. A favorite? "It benefits all bicyclists to ride courteously." Read about Utah Cycling Laws, Bicycle Parking, how to Ride With Traffic and more.