There are some stateside mountain bike destinations that simply stand above the rest. Moab, Crested Butte, Park City—these are all famed for their gnarly singletrack. But they can get clogged up by local and visiting cyclists. It’s the difference between waiting in line at an amusement park, and flying full-throttle on the ride of your life. So if you’re looking to move off the beaten path, these are the lesser-known U.S. destinations with noteworthy trails. Happy riding.
Medora, North Dakota
It may be a tiny town that’s home to less than 150 people year-round, but Medora also happens to have the Maah Daah Hey Trail—one of the longest singletrack trails in the U.S.—running right through it. It starts about 30 miles south of town and stretches 144 miles through the state’s Badlands territory, ending in Waterford City. Along the way you can expect plenty of tough climbs up the bentonite buttes, steep descents through the valleys, and you’ll even cross paths with the Little Missouri River in two spots. If you take on the entire trail, there are 11 developed campgrounds for when you need a rest. (You’ll get the best experience spreading this one over multiple days.) If not, there are 16 trailheads with connecting access, so you can join in and jump off wherever you want. Just keep an eye out for wildlife when you’re in the saddle: Plenty have reported sightings of antelope, bighorn sheep, and bison, especially once you cross into Theodore Roosevelt National Park territory.
Mountain towns make some of the best trails, and this village near Aspen, CO, is no exception. There are over 80 miles of downhill, cross-country, and singletrack trails; nearly 4,500 vertical feet to play with; and manmade obstacles like jumps, wooden features, and drops to master. Snowmass Bike Park also has chair lifts that offer direct access to it all, and pro instructors are available for anyone who needs an intro or refresher course. Newbies can sign up for the three-hour Park Ready Downhill Bike Clinic ($50; rental and lift access sold separately) to learn the ABCs of the sport—Active Stance, Braking, and Cornering—on the skills park before going up to the real fun stuff. Otherwise, popular routes include the Snowmass Loop, which contains 28 miles and 4,408 feet of vertical singletrack over 10 different trails. Locals also gravitate toward the 3.7-mile Tom Blakesingletrack for its smooth (and fast) ride through the Aspen groves.