Beginner Mountain Biking Destination?
February 28, 2017 8:43 AM   Subscribe

What is a great vacation destination where I could learn mountain biking?

I would love to try mountain biking. Currently I ride a regular bike frequently on flat trails as I don't have mountains nearby. I am planning an upcoming vacation and am looking for a destination in the US or Canada that would be good for someone with no mountain biking experience to rent a bike and try some relatively easy trails. Does anyone know of a great place for this?
posted by Mallenroh to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Almost all ski areas rent bikes and have trails to bike on in the summer months. Whistler out west, Mt Tremblant in the east, where ever. Just look at whatever ski area is close to you.

For ski areas in the sierras it may not be mountain biking weather until August, so maybe go east if you want to try it earlier.
posted by GuyZero at 9:17 AM on February 28, 2017

Ruidoso, NM and Sedona, AZ are a couple of nice destination spots I've gone for mountain biking.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:29 AM on February 28, 2017

I was going to say Whistler as well. I'm sure there is some mountain biking in the Tahoe area, but I can't give you any specific recommendations. Beautiful country as well, lots of other vacation-y things to do.

I've biked Mt Hood Ski Bowl in the summer. It's pretty beginner friendly, but very much "downhill" mountain biking.

If you are looking for more flat/cross country biking, I've heard the Moab area has some great trails and renting outfits.
posted by TomFoolery at 9:35 AM on February 28, 2017

So I ride a lot, mostly in the SF Bay Area.

I'd highly recommend Sedona, it's fairly flat and has a great mix of trails from beginner to experienced and nice little town to chill out - pretty short drive to the grand canyon to boot. It can be hot however you'd want hit it at the beginning or end of summer.

Moab is fantastic - but not a place to learn mountain biking.

I'm 50/50 on whether hitting the ski slopes/bike parks is a good way to start mountain biking. It's a doable and easy (all down hill!) but an atypical experience.

Other places I want to go but have not been that might be good. These are links to MTB project a great site for finding trails. You're looking for Blue Squares, I'd stick to around 10 mile loops to start with.

1. Fruita Colorado
2. Portland/Mt Hood (good riding - drivable from portland)
3. Western North Carolina
posted by bitdamaged at 10:06 AM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would say it also depends on what kind of holiday you want off the bike. The range goes all the way from guided tours that will pick you up right at your hotel on the Vegas strip for canyon riding (Mcghie's) to tiny villages in Vermont's mountains that have some of best trails in the east (East Burke/Kingdom Trails). The above mentioned Whistler or Tremblant are middle of the range, bigger resort town but still in wilderness.

Downhill (DH) would not be the kind of mountain biking I would recommend trying first, go for cross-country (XC). The error margins in XC are more forgiving and the penalties for mistakes are less severe than in DH.
posted by TinTitan at 12:26 PM on February 28, 2017

Fruita/Grand Junction/Palisade are great. I live here, and volunteer doing trail building and maintenance, so... I may be biased.

But, the trails here aren't as crowded as Moab (which is also fantastic) and the drinking laws are saner. Plus, we're an hour from Moab if that's your thing. Trails range in difficulty - but really, if you're in any kind of shape, hike-a-bike through tough spots means you can often still do harder trails. This does bother my inner 18 year old, but I was 18 in 1990... I was born far too soon.

The Ridgeway Area Trail (RAT) system is also very awesome and scenic with some really great downhills. Plus easy access to the Ouray Hot Springs for some evening relaxing.

And yeah, the 800lb gorilla in MTB destinations is Moab, Utah. Trails range from easy to insane and there are many of them. But, Moab is very popular and it's not uncommon for trails to have a line waiting to start.

And lastly - a friend of mine just came back from a MTB trip to the Yukon - Montana Mountain MTB resort and he said it was a blast.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:33 PM on February 28, 2017

Seconding Whitehorse, Yukon for beautiful, flowy singletrack. There's a wide variety of easily accessible trails in town, two local bike shops for rentals and almost 24-hour daylight in summer. You can go to the trailhead at 10 pm and get a ride in before dusk.
posted by bighappyhairydog at 2:41 PM on February 28, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you for the many great ideas! Very excited to start researching all these links!
posted by Mallenroh at 3:58 PM on February 28, 2017

Park City is a great place for learning how to mountain biking. Most of the trails aren't too technical. The signage is great. There are hundreds of miles of world class trails. It’s the world’s first Gold Level Ride Center Destination, according to the International Mountain Biking Association – IMBA. Have fun.
posted by trbrts at 6:19 AM on March 1, 2017

Mt. Tam is where it began.
posted by at at 8:44 AM on March 1, 2017

Mt. Tam is where it began.

Unfortunately mountain bikes on Mt. Tam's public paths have been relegated to mostly fire road access which kind of sucks. There's Camp Tamarancho however which is nice to ride (but technically requires a day permit).

For better beginner riding in Marin there's actually China Camp

There is a ton of good biking in the SF Bay Area area from Demo in Santa Cruz to Skeggs in Woodside, to Tamarancho and Annadel. But its a different type of vacation then something like Moab or Sedona.

I should clarify the only reason to avoid Moab for noobs would be it can be pretty grueling even when its easy, something like Slickrock looks easy on paper, but its harder then it looks to actually ride. So your fitness level really comes into play.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:22 PM on March 1, 2017

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