Scenic Trails for Fall Mountain Biking

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There’s nothing quite like enjoying an autumn ride with cooler temperatures, scenic views, and fewer crowds. This shoulder-season activity is well worth the extra planning and scheduled time away from daily life.

Plan your fall riding adventure and learn the rules of the trail before arrival. Remember, safety first! Always wear a helmet and other appropriate protective gear, respect the rules of the trail, and ride responsibly. Make sure to check trail conditions prior to venturing out. Trails may be closed for many reasons, especially with changing seasonal weather conditions.

Fall is an invigorating time to be riding on dirt

Black Canyon Trail


Two mountain bikers ride a narrow dirt track between saguaro cacti

Black Canyon Trail (Leslie Kehmeier, IMBA)

The 80-mile (128 km) Black Canyon Trail provides mountain bikers with a long range backcountry trail riding opportunity. This National Recreation Trail is significant as it follows a historic route used by Native American travelers and traders. This trail provides a challenging ride experience characterized by rough, unstable soils and rocks, with various trail grades and numerous elevation changes within a harsh desert climate. The trail meanders through the Sonoran Desert landscape, including saguaro forests and rugged canyons.

Baileys Trail System


Yellow sunflowers bloom along a dirt bicycle trail

Wayne National Forest (Kyle Brooks, US Forest Service)

When you think of fall in Appalachia, you picture colorful leaves and scenic drives. Now you can experience scenic trails over rolling hills through vibrant forests on the newly constructed Baileys Trail System on the Wayne National Forest, in partnership with the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia. Currently, 54 miles (87 km) of the planned, 88-mile (141.6 km) sustainable and purpose-built system are open to riding. Trails will be available for riders of all levels.

Begin your ride at the Chauncey-Dover Community Park, then choose your route [PDF]. Short but packed with sweet views, bumps and jumps, the Thrillium Trail (1.5 mi / 2.4 km) is a must. For a family ride, the 4.2-mile (6.8 km) Coal Train Trail is an easy, natural surface trail with a few alternate routes for the adventurous. Wherever you choose to ride, be sure to obey posted “trail closed” signage as construction continues. The next time you ride, you may be able to take a brand-new route!

Check out this video to learn more about this incredible new system and get inspired for your ride!

Johnny Behind the Rocks Trail System


Two mountain bikers ride a steep dirt track downhill

Johnny Behind the Rocks Trail (Leslie Kehmeier, IMBA)

One of the Bureau of Land Management’s “Backyard to Backcountry” destinations, the Johnny Behind the Rocks trail system features high desert routes that climb and traverse long, scenic ridgelines. The 9 miles (14.5 km) of trails provide opportunities for beginner and intermediate riders. Locals recommend the Johnny Draw to Red Ridge route, a 4.3-mile (6.9 km) intermediate, primarily singletrack trail with moderate climbs. The trail is open year-round, but for a snow-free experience, it’s best to plan your trip between mid-March to November.

Stonewall Falls & White Twister Mountain Bike Trails


A male mountain biker pedals a narrow dirt track through a dense forest

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest (US Forest Service)

Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the 7.8-mile (12.6 km) Stonewall Falls and White Twister mountain bike loop is comprised of a mixture of old Forest Service roads, old logging roads and single-track. The trail crosses Stonewall Creek four times and takes riders by the beautiful Stonewall Creek Waterfalls. The Saga Mountain lookout point provides an awesome view of mountains including Rabun Bald (Georgia's second highest mountain), Standing Indian, Tiger Mountain and Black Rock Mountain. The White Twister Trail gets its name from the 4.5 miles (7.2 km) of winding, twisting, roller coaster route it flows. Enjoy stunning views of the Stonewall Falls and the cooling, protective canopy of the forest on this exciting and rewarding trail.

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail


A wooden signpost that reads LOViT Trail marks the entrance to a forested mountain biking trail

Lake Ouachita (US Army Corps of Engineers)

Traversing Lake Ouachita and Ouachita National Forest, the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (commonly known as LOViT) is a fall biking staple. The trail winds across mountain slopes through hardwood and pine forests and opens up to spectacular views of Lake Ouachita throughout. Brilliant blue water and classic fall foliage combine for the perfect backdrop to your ride.

38.3 miles (61.6 km) of singletrack trails offer a variety of experiences, from beginner to difficult. This map [PDF] offers helpful information about routes in the east and west portions of the trail, including points of interest, parking, and restrooms.

Gooseberry Mesa and Hurricane Cliffs Trails


Two mountain bikers ride a narrow red rock track along a high desert mesa above a river

Gooseberry Mesa and Hurricane Cliffs (Leslie Kehmeier, IMBA)

For an epic ride through southern Utah’s red rock country, add Gooseberry Mesa and Hurricane Cliffs to your itinerary. Singletrack and slickrock routes across colorful desert mesas provide a unique and technically challenging adventure. The Big Loop on Gooseberry Mesa is a world-renowned 13.1-mile (21.1 km) route above 5000 feet (1524 m). The Hurricane Cliffs system contains nearly 40 miles (64.4 km) of trails designed for mountain bikers. Dispersed camping near Hurricane Cliffs is available at 56 designated sites.

Plan ahead and prepare for this destination – bring all drinking water you and your group will need and check conditions for storms that can make access roads impassable for all vehicles.

W. Kerr Scott Lake Trail System

North Carolina

A paved road covered in downed leaves winds through a forest of red and yellow leafed trees

W. Kerr Scott Reservoir (US Army Corps of Engineers)

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 40 miles (64 km) 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.

Spearfish Canyon

South Dakota

A narrow dirt trail meanders through stands of yellow leafed aspen

Rimrock Trail (Callie Ackerman, US Forest Service)

A gem of the Black Hills National Forest, Spearfish Canyon is an idyllic place to spend a fall day. The Little Spearfish Trail [PDF] is a 6-mile (9.7 km) loop that meanders through stands of ponderosa pine, quaking aspen, and paper birch. You can also access the 7.2-mile (11.6 km) Rimrock Trail from the Little Spearfish trailhead. Both trails offer gorgeous views of towering limestone cliffs and easy to moderate rides.

Meadowood Grand Tour


A child rides their bike across a rolling wooden track in the forest

Meadowood Trail System (MTB Project)

Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) south of the Nation’s capital in Lorton, VA. The Meadowood Grand Tour offers nearly 7 miles (11 km) of biking trails open year round to the public, from sunrise to sunset. The South Branch Loop Trail is a beginner trail that totals 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of mixed use hiking and biking and is one of only a few natural surface trails open to mountain bikes on public land in the greater Washington, DC area. There are three intermediate trails that were constructed solely dedicated to mountain biking. The Boss and Stinger trails combine to provide almost one mile (1.6 km) of trail with a great deal of technical variety. They boast a 300 foot (91 m) Progressive Bike Ramp, multiple table tops, wooden skinnies, and large fast wooden berms. The Yard Sale is a very fun, fast free flowing trail that totals 0.5 miles (0.8 km).

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