Looking for a great place to ride a mountain bike on National Forests?

Mapping Manager for the International Mountain Bicycling Association Leslie Kehmeier picks some of her favorite trails on National Forests across the country. Visit MTB Project to explore more mountain biking trails across the country.

From Alaska to Georgia and Wisconsin to Arizona there are a multitude of experiences in a variety of landscapes. And there’s something for everyone from beautiful to challenging to playful.

Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, courtesy of IMBA

Munger Mountain, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming.

Unexpected Epics

It goes without saying that the National Forests in the western US have the goods. What people might not expect is that the Upper Midwest, East Coast and the South have more than comparable rides as well.

Rock Lake Epic - Chequamegon National Forest

Throughout the Rock Lake Epic in Cable, Wisconsin, you’ll wind and twist your way through deep woods along one of the longest single track routes in the Upper Midwest.

Southern Traverse - George Washington and Jefferson National Forest

Test your courage and endurance on the the Southern Traverse in Northern Virginia. With over 3,000 feet of climbing, this ride offers plenty of legitimate big mountain riding on the East Coast.

Jake and Bull Mountain - Chattahoochee National Forest

In Georgia, the Jake and Bull Mountain trail system offers an amazing mountain bike experience in the very southern reaches of the Appalachian Mountains. There you'll get little bit of everything from red clay singletrack and rocks to take-off-your-shoes stream crossings and steep, sustained climbs.

Life is Good in the Ozarks

Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike Trail System - Ozark National Forest

The Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike Trail System, east of Fayetteville, Arkansas combines the best of old school singletrack with mountain bike optimized trails that offer a lot of playful flow. If you are lucky enough to get there in the spring you’ll be treated to the blooming red bud and dogwood trees.

Deep in the Backcountry

Lost Lake - Chugach National Forest

Combine the Alaskan tundra with 360 degree views and you’ve got an unforgettable experience. Lost Lake, above Seward, is a must-do ride if you visit the 49th state.

Ape Canyon Trail - Gifford Pinchot National Forest

This ride initially takes you up the secluded but strenuous Ape Canyon Trail before continuing to the upper trail segments. As you ride along the canyon near the top of the climb, the views and terrain transform from shady forest to an amazing moonscape. The balance of the ride is across the vast pumice fields on the Loowit and Plains of Abraham trails at the base of Mt. St. Helens with views of several other peaks as well.

The Pacific Northwest

There’s great places to ride across the US, but the PNW pushes the limits for quality, quantity and setting. Think big ‘ol lush forest with ribbons of loamy singletrack for miles and miles.

North Umpqua Trail - Umpqua National Forest

While a fair amount of people have heard or been to the McKenzie River Trail (MRT), the North Umpqua Trail ups the ante with three times the mileage and gorgeous terrain.

The Southwest

West Sedona - Coconino National Forest

Mountain bikers flock to Sedona every year to pedal through the monoliths and expanses of unique sandstone desert. Among the most popular rides, West Sedona is perhaps one of the better places to immerse yourself in this spectacular landscape.

The Sierras

Tahoe Rim Trail - Tahoe National Forest

The Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) is a ride that never goes out of style. Pedal sweet single track through big trees and boulders along the shores of a majestic high alpine lake.

Want to find more great mountain biking trails on National Forests?

Since the spring of 2013, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has been working in partnership with MTBproject.com to catalog mountain bike experiences on all public lands, including National Forests.

In addition to detailed maps and elevation profiles, MTBProject.com serves the mountain bike community with an online guidebook detailing nearly 50,000 miles of mountain biking experiences across the United States and beyond.

Author Bio

Leslie Kehmeier is the Mapping Manager for the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Leslie can usually be found behind the wheel of a mini-van, searching for good food, amazing coffee and marking another trail of the list in her quest to document every mountain bike route on the planet.

National Forest Foundation