What Mountain Biking Towns Are Really Worth the Drive?

What Mountain Biking Towns Are Really Worth the Drive?

Our Top 6 Places to Ride From Sedona

Do you find yourself daydreaming of riding different trails? Traveling to that cool mountain bike town you keep hearing about? So do we! No matter where you live, seeking out new trails is a common thought for all mountain bikers. As a random rider once said, "trail variety is the spice of biking life." Even when you have the vast trail network of Sedona, Arizona mountain biking right here, it's natural to find yourself looking up "mountain biking near me" in hopes of finding a new ride idea close to home. Lucky for us, Arizona is within driving distance to many mountain bike towns and trail networks that we're big fans of, and we'll share a few of them here. Beyond 500 miles, we'll share a few other hot spots we recommend spending a few extra of your vacation days. 

Home Sweet Home - Sedona, Arizona

It's hard to beat Sedona, Arizona mountain biking, and we love riding here year-round! There's enough trail variety to keep it exciting all the time. There are four main trail networks to consider, each with its own flavor, yet all within the town.

The Dry Creek / Boynton Pass network is mostly intermediate trails with rolling terrain that flows up and down. Linking this up to the Western Gateway trails gives it more of a cross-country mountain biking feel.

Soldier's Pass network of trails is conveniently located right in town and next to the Sedona bike park. These are a tight and twisty network of trails with punchy technical riding.

The Broken Arrow network is a slow-going, technical, black diamond network of trails with famous Slickrock mesas.

Finally, the fourth Sedona area of trails is the Bell Rock network of trails on the southern end of Sedona. This area has everything from the beginner-friendly Bell Rock Pathway to thrill-seeking black diamond trails like Slim Shady and HIline.

The trails mentioned above are well signed, but there are still plenty of turns that could catch you off guard. We highly recommend getting a map and a few pointers from the friendly folks at Thunder Mountain Bikes. 

And, If you're traveling to Sedona without a bike or want to demo a newer or fancier bike than the one you have, be sure to check out Thunder Mountain Bikes for the largest offering of Sedona mountain bike rentals. 

Within 500 Miles: Mountain Biking Trips From Sedona 

Who doesn't love a good road trip? It's a big part of the mountain bike lifestyle. With Sedona being in northern Arizona, there are so many excellent mountain bike towns within road-trip distance. An hour away is Flagstaff, Arizona, a proper mountain town with a ski resort at 7,000 ft of elevation. The landscape here is a complete turnaround from Sedona, with towering ponderosa pines and aspens. Going much further out, let's look at a few other famous MTB towns. 

Fruita, Colorado Mountain Biking

We all dream of mountain biking in Colorado. It's the pinnacle of high elevation adventures. But there's a little town on the western slope of Colorado that's carved out a name for itself, even though it doesn't have the alpine terrain that makes Colorado famous. Welcome to Fruita. A little town with a brewery, pizza shop, and a whole lotta trails.

Fruita sits above the Colorado River, with swoopy trails built into the high desert open space. The Fruita mountain biking trails are great for all levels of riders. Not too intimidating for new riders, yet fun for experienced riders to push their level of flow. Overall, the trails are smoother compared to Sedona, and the town is smaller. It's a fun getaway for camping and knocking out a bunch of trails on a long weekend.

Favorite trails include Marys, Horsethief and Hawkeye in the Kokopelli trail network. Also, be sure to check out the 18 Road network. Favorites here include Zippity Do Da, Joe's Ridge, PBR, and Prime Cut. Insider tip, if you're able to get just outside of town, check out Ribbon Trail. This trail would be on our bucket list ride for the area. It's like riding on the moon! 

Moab Mountain Biking

The most similar terrain to Sedona is Moab, Utah. Moab mountain biking features towering red rock formations, expansive slick rock terrain, and bone-crushing rock gardens. There's a plethora of bike shops and shuttle outfitters in town, with options to shuttle you and your bike up to 7,000 ft elevation to drop in on the world-famous Whole Enchilada ride. We'd say this is a bucket list must-do ride and truly embodies the "trail variety is the spice of life" mentality - all in one ride!

You get a true mountain landscape with trees and dirt starting at that high elevation, descending to a plateau of rock shelves overlooking the valley below. Further down, you'll experience true red rock singletrack on the Lower Porcupine section. Finally, finishing right alongside the Colorado River and pedaling on a scenic bike path back to town.

Our other favorites include the Slickrock Bike Trail, a deceptively hard trail that is 95% on smooth, grippy slabs of sandstone. Many inclines look ridiculous at first glance, but once you get the nerve to pedal at it, the grip is unreal. If you're after flowier trails, Moab has you covered with the Mag 7 trail system. This network provides a handful of fun descents, with a dirt road to get you back up to the top, all with amazing views of massive Moab rock formations in the distance. 

Big Bear Mountain Biking 

To change it up, a road trip to Big Bear Mountain in southern California is an awesome long weekend adventure. Big Bear is mainly known as the go-to skiing destination for southern California in the winter. But, Big Bear mountain biking has come a long way in recent years, making itself a mountain bike destination town. It's got all the pieces in place - a big lake in the center of town, a chairlift served bike park, and plenty of mountain trails to explore. Coming from Sedona, we don't have access to a chairlift bike park. Snow Summit in Big Bear is one of the closest and best bike parks within driving distance. It's has something for everyone, with a few beginner runs and a few advanced runs littered with well-built jumps of all sizes. If you want to progress your bike jumping skills, this is the place! For a full-day pedaling adventure, check out the Skyline Ridge trail, offering views of the nearby San Gorgonio peak and plenty of singletrack in the pines. 

Mountain Biking Trips Worth The Vacation Day

Going beyond 500 miles from Sedona, let's check out a few other mountain bike destination towns. The real surprise here is Bentonville, Arkansas, which is not traditionally known for mountain biking. But they've been coming on strong and putting a massive effort into their trail building.

The second location to highlight here is Park City, Utah, another town that has put a considerable effort into trail building and becoming more than just a ski town. These destination towns are "IMBA Ride Centers," meaning their trails are certified epic by the International Mountain Bike Association standards. 

Bentonville Mountain Biking

Arkansas? Really? Yes, really! Bentonville mountain biking has become a major focus for this city, even saying their goal is to be the mountain bike capital of the world. This town has a surprisingly nice upscale feel and has long served as a gateway to the Ozark mountains - just now, they've added mountain bike-specific trails weaving all over the area.

More than any other mountain bike destination town, Bentonville is the most family-friendly mountain bike vacation. Not only for the amount of kid-friendly and beginner-friendly trails but the number of activities to do outside of biking - like the famous Crystal Bridges Museum of Arts, for example. There are well-built jump trails and black diamond-level features in the forest for advanced riders, like the Ace of Spade trail and the Slaughter Pen trail network. Like Sedona bike shops, Bentonville bike shops offer mountain bike rentals, making it an accessible destination to fly into and get set up to ride. Weather-wise, it's year-round riding. Although the summers can be humid and muggy and the winters cold and windy. Ideally, you'll want to aim for the Fall and Spring! 

Park City Mountain Biking 

Summertime in Park City means mountain biking is in full swing. As you'd expect from a famous ski town, they have it all. Great restaurants, nightlife, and a vast variety of trails! They have an awesome chairlift-served bike park at the Deer Valley resort, several networks of tight singletracks in town, and truly epic trails climbing way up into the alpine tundra.

Our favorite epic trail that gets above treeline is the Wasatch Crest trail, which includes a traverse between two major canyons followed by a 4,000 ft descent back to town. And, of course, spectacular views of the Wasatch mountain range. For a rewarding intermediate ride that is less intimidating, check out the Mid Mountain Trail, a ride that stays at a constant 8,000 ft elevation through groves of aspens. It's designated as an IMBA epic ride and links to many other trails in the area.

With summer and early Fall is the only windows of time to ride out here, but Park City mountain biking is a priority for your summer vacation! Another bonus is that Salt Lake City airport is nearby, and there's plenty of mountain bike rental outfitters in town. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, we've given you some good ideas and inspiration to discover some new mountain biking! In our minds, combining vacation days and mountain biking is the best way to go. It opens up new destinations you may have never thought about visiting, and riding new terrain can only help your mountain bike skills progress. Even if you can't make it to the destinations listed here, it's clear that new mountain bike destinations are popping up all over the country. While we will always tout Sedona, Arizona, as the top spot, we can confidently say that "trail variety is the spice of biking life." Get out and ride new trails!