Spring has Sprung, Time to Get on Your Mountain Bike
In many parts of the country, mountain bike trails are free from the snowy grip of winter and riders are reaping the benefits of early-season riding. As spring begins to make its way to the rest of the country, bike enthusiasts will want to tune their rides and head for the dirt.
Remember, safety first. Check with your local bike shop about bike and helmet rentals and remember to practice safe and responsible riding etiquette. From novice to expert trails, we think you’ll agree that some of the best mountain bike trails are on federal lands.
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National Recreation Area (NPS)
The mountain bike trails traversing the Santa Monica Mountains weave through diverse terrain. From ridgetops to canyon floors, there are many opportunities for a great ride. Challenge yourself with an exhausting ascent that yields rewarding ocean views, or leisurely pedal along an oak-shaded stream. On any trek, always ride safely and responsibly and with minimal impact to the land.
Don’t let the name fool you! Ranked “very difficult,” this is sure to be a leg-burner. The Zippity Do Da trail is a straight forward “out and back” trail, and is part of the bigger North Fruita Desert Trail System – allowing numerous opportunities to extend the length of your ride with several loop options. Stay a few days and explore the area – nearby North Fruita Desert Campground is open from March to November with 35 individual campsites, first-come, first-serve.
The Munson Hills Off-Road Bike Trail offers a scenic and challenging ride through varied terrain. The original trail has expanded to include the Twilight Loop, for a total of 21 miles. The old sand dunes of Munson Hills were once Florida’s shoreline, and they now support towering longleaf pines and pristine ponds. The trail dips down through oak hammocks and winds its way through piney flatwoods, providing opportunities to observe songbirds, deer, fox squirrels, frogs, snakes and the gopher tortoise, a protected species whose burrows provide homes to as many as 40 other animals. Members of the local Southeast Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) chapter maintain the trail in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.
This network of 20 or so trails is great for riding—with something for everyone. It’s still under-the-radar, though, so mountain bikers in the know should take advantage of the lack of crowds while they can. Terrain ranges from mild jeep roads to techie singletrack, through sage and cedar. The trails connect with other trails managed by the Bureau of Land Management Pocatello Field Office.
Appealing to the entire family, Sugar Bottom Mountain Bike Trail, located at Coralville Lake’s Sugar Bottom Day Use Area, accommodates all types of riders – offering well-marked trails indicating the level of difficulty. Through wooded valleys and prairies, mountain bikers can take in the beautiful views of Coralville Lake while riding top-notch singletrack. No need to hurry home, reserve a campsite at Sugar Bottom Campground and continue your adventure with nearby Sugar Bottom Disc Golf Course, hiking trails and spring-time wildflowers!
Located on Perry Lake in northeast Kansas, Skyline Trail is part of the Perry State Park trail system. With over 15 miles of easy-to-difficult rated riding, these trails will keep you on your toes as you experience Kansas hardwood forest and wooded hillsides. Many of the trails consist of hills, tight turns, off-camber sections, fast lines and technical rocky sections. Skyline Trail is rated easy and totals 3.5 miles – and that’s just the beginning. Loops off of Skyline are numerous and even the most experienced rider will be challenged in this trail system.
With a name like Bloody Shins Trail, how could we resist! With over 30 miles of beginner to advanced trails, the Bloody Shins Trail system is accessible from the Water Canyon Recreation Area near Winnemucca, Nevada. Whether you want a loop trail or to add a few side trails to increase your mileage, there is certain to be an adventure waiting with a name like that!
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club cooperated to build this fantastic trail system. Their project started at Dark Mountain in November of 2002 with a visit from the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Trail Care Crew. Over 35 miles of purpose-built, sustainable trail have rolled out since then, including the (less difficult) Overmountain Victory Trail and, most recently, Warrior Creek trails. Each area has its own unique qualities. The entire system is within a historic corridor that follows the path of Daniel Boone, the Overmountain Men and plenty of moonshiners.
Popular with mountain bikers and hikers, the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail closely follows the undulating McKenzie River. Log bridges, 600-year-old Douglas fir forests and white water are sure to make your ride memorable. The upper sections of the trail won’t disappoint – waterfalls and lava flows abound. Stay a while; reservations are available for nearby Paradise, Olallie and Cold Water Cove campgrounds.
Located in the Allegheny Mountains of the Keystone State, the Allegrippis Trail System is considered by many to be one of the best mountain bike trails east of the Mississippi. Specifically designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers, the trail is also open to any non-motorized use, including hiking. But the 32-mile singletrack mountain bike trail system is known mostly for its riding potential. The mostly smooth, flowing surface and more challenging trails provide opportunities for every skill level and the lush, green foliage makes way for some intense colors, come autumn.
Kokopelli’s Trail is a 142-mile multi-use trail from Loma, Colorado, to Moab, Utah. Most mountain bikers use this trail as a through route. Trail surfaces vary; the trail utilizes dirt roads (of all degrees of difficulty), paved roads and some small portions of narrow track. A multi-day Kokopelli’s Trail outing requires you to plan extensively—so take all the steps to make the most of your Moab mountain bike adventure. It’ll be one you won’t soon forget.
The Great River State Trail is a 24-mile, scenic crushed limestone trail. It is also a piece of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail built on an abandoned railroad line. It passes through bottomland forest, sand prairie and riparian habitats in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. The trail offers access to two national wildlife refuges, the town of Onalaska and the city of La Crosse, as well as local parks. History buffs can see Hopewell Native American mounds from a trail observation deck. The Great River State Trail connects to more trails inside Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge and the bike trail offers wonderful views of Lake Onalaska and the Minnesota Bluffs from the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.