The best mountain biking cities in the U.S.

Published Date: September 25, 2023

Ready for the rush that comes from a day of mountain biking? We’ve identified five of the best mountain biking destinations in the United States. Grab your kit — mellow meadows, gnarly cross-country trails and epic downhill descents await. 

1. Lake Tahoe

The whole Lake Tahoe region is well known for its endless outdoor recreation options, and mountain biking is no exception. Lake Tahoe offers trails for all ages and experience levels, from low-key wildflower and waterfall rides to heart-pounding singletracks. Many of Lake Tahoe’s ski runs double as downhill trails in the summer months when the snow has melted. Within the greater Lake Tahoe area, which spans the California-Nevada border, Truckee is the preferred destination for mountain bikers in the know. While South Lake Tahoe has some good trails — including the famous six-mile-long Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride — Truckee offers easy access to hundreds of miles of trails, with fewer tourist crowds to contend with. 

Best time to visit

Since Lake Tahoe sits at an elevation of over 6,000 feet, it can take a while for the snow to melt and the trails to reappear. The best time for a mountain biking trip to the Tahoe area is mid-June to mid-October. You’ll find peak crowds in July and August, with things thinning out once September hits. 

Trails to try

Downieville Downhill: As the host of one of the most challenging mountain bike races in the country, the Downieville Classic, this 14-mile ride is best for intermediate to advanced riders. You’ll fly down 5,000 vertical feet in 15 miles filled with rocky, technical features. Expect to see snow in places through May. The Flume Trail: Known as one of the most beautiful rides in the region, the Flume Trail is a challenging 14-mile ride that hangs out at an elevation of between 7,000 and 8,000 feet. Expect over 1,000 feet of leg-pumping climbing during the first third of the ride. After the hard work, you’ll be rewarded with views of beautiful Marlette Lake and a long descent. Start and end at Flume Trail Mountain Bikes, which can hook you up with a bike rental, a shuttle or simply point you in the right direction. 

2. Vail

Your first clue that Vail is a biking town is the sheer number of bike shops in the area. During late spring, summer and early fall, this Colorado town and its surrounding landscape are best explored on two wheels. It’s also a great place for beginners, who can simply pedal flat and paved terrain, while still enjoying beautiful views. Adrenaline seekers can be whisked up the mountain (bike included) via gondola to access incredible downhill tracks.

Best time to visit

Like Lake Tahoe, Vail is a mountain town, so you’ll want to keep a close eye on snowmelt — it can vary quite a bit from one year to the next. Generally speaking, you’ll find good conditions between early May and late October. 

Trails to try

Vail Pass Bike Path: The 14-mile path runs along Interstate 70 between Vail and Copper, and features beautiful mountain views. While it’s a paved path, don’t be fooled: You’ll be covering a 1,500-foot elevation gain at already high elevations. Spend a couple days in Vail first to get acclimated to the altitude.Radio Flyer: The resort’s most popular trail, this downhill track descends 1,257 feet through a variety of terrain, including sections of sculpted rollers that present a fun challenge. Tabletops mark the section, and if you’re not ready to call it a day, you can connect to the 1.8-mile Hank’s Hideway and make your way through a picturesque aspen grove. 

3. Jackson

The town of Jackson and the whole Jackson Hole Valley is an outdoor lover’s dream, no matter the time of year. In the winter months, this Wyoming wild west town draws winter sports lovers in search of perfect powder. But when the snow melts, a whole new outdoor playground emerges. Grab your bike and head to this mountain biking mecca — and don’t forget to make time to visit nearby Yellowstone National Park

Best time to visit

Most trails are melted and ready to use by June, making July, August and September the peak mountain biking months. By September, you can expect trails to be fairly dusty, but the goal of mountain biking isn’t to stay clean. 

Trails to try

Jackson Hole Bike Park: Not a trail but instead a massive bike park perfect for honing your skills, Jackson Hole Bike Park has everything from novice trails to advanced jump tracks. Ride to the bottom of the mountain on your choice of downhill or freeride trails, then hop the chairlift or gondola to do it again. It’s adaptive biking-friendly and even offers bike camps for kids looking to build their MTB skills. Thursday Ladies’ Laps clinics are designed for women to gain the skills needed for more technical riding.  Big Holes: A network of trails totaling almost 80 miles and covering more than 3,000 vertical feet, Big Holes is a playground for advanced riders. Choose from 29 thrilling trails with good flow, technical features and incredible ridgeline views. 

4. Moab

Bike surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Utah desert in and around Moab. A home base for exploring two of the country’s most beautiful national parks — Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park — Moab draws outdoor adventurers of all types. In between biking expeditions, enjoy rock climbing, horseback riding, whitewater rafting and camping.  

Best time to visit

As a desert destination, Moab is simply too hot to enjoy on two wheels in the summer, when temperatures can be 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. September and October, along with April and May, are the best months to take a mountain biking trip to Moab, as temperatures are more moderate and you’re less likely to encounter snow on higher elevation rides. 

Trails to try

Slickrock Bike Trail: More than 100,000 mountain bikers traverse this challenging trail every year, and it’s easy to see why. The 12.7-mile singletrack route covers a mix of petrified sand dunes and ancient seabed, with steep, sustained climbs and tricky sandpits. Not sure if you’re up for the challenge? Test your skills on the practice loop first. The Whole Enchilada: The name of this trail says it all: It has a little bit of everything. Start high above the alpine treeline and wind your way down almost 8,000 feet, through steep sandstone rollers and over red rock. Consult a local bike shop or shuttle service before embarking on this full-day expedition. Late-season snow can make the window to ride the full trail short, and shuttles are recommended. 

5. Asheville

The United States’ best mountain biking towns aren’t limited to the western half of the country. Case in point: Asheville. This charming North Carolina town is perhaps the most popular outdoor recreation hub in the Southeast. You’ll want to leave plenty of time to explore the region. Hundreds of miles of mountain biking trails await, as do other activities like paddling, rafting, hiking and exploring Asheville’s quirky arts district. It’s also home to more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city!

Best time to visit

Asheville’s mild spring and fall months are ideal, but often crowded. Summer can be a surprisingly good time to visit, too. The surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains can be a welcome respite from sweltering temperatures in town. 

Trails to try

Pisgah National Forest: With over 500,000 acres, Pisgah is more than just a single trail. Rather, you’ll find three distinct trail networks that crisscross the forest. Bent Creek is more beginner-friendly, and closer to town. Mills Creek has multiple routes and rugged, backcountry terrain. Davidson River offers both singletrack and doubletrack routes that are best suited for experienced bikers. DuPont State Forest: Another state forest near Asheville, this one boasts 100 miles of trails across 10,000 acres for mountain bikers of all skill levels. Take your time exploring features like slickrock routes, waterfalls and lush forest. Note that many trails are shared use with hikers and equestrians, so take care when heading around the many blind corners in the park. 

Plan your outdoor escape with Pacaso

For outdoor adventurers of all types, there’s nothing quite like having a home base in your favorite destination. Pacaso offers co-owned vacation homes in the best outdoor recreation areas, from Lake Tahoe to Vail to Jackson Hole and beyond. Best of all, these second homes are designed for adventure lovers. They’re located near all the outdoor action and boast features like ample gear storage, hot tubs to soothe sore muscles and plenty of space for your fellow adventurers.

Jen Headshot

Jen Lyons

  • Share this post:

Featured articles


A couple on a hike on the island of Maui, one of the best vacation spots for couples.


Don't miss out

The best homes sell fast. See the latest luxury listings, inspiring second homes and buying tips.

Want to chat? Contact us.