Mountain biking is one of those things you can do at the local park in whatever town you live in. If you really want to take it to another level, however, try one of these five locales across the world. Here are the best places to mountain bike.
The first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of Colorado is skiing. While that’s certainly not wrong, many of the same qualities that make Colorado good for skiing also make it great for mountain biking: huge amounts of unsettled territory, changes in elevation and landscape, and a wide range of options. Options that include tightly wound, difficult trails and ones that are a bit more accessible. If you’re interested in mainly experiencing the natural beauty of the mountainous Western United States, you can do that, and if you’re mainly interested in being challenged as a biker and an athlete, that’s also doable. Don’t worry, not all of Colorado is always covered in snow.
Austria’s Alpine Mountains
Few mountain ranges in the world combine sheer size and beauty the way the Alpines do while still remaining accessible to individuals who might not have the time, money, or interest in schlepping off to the Himalayas. Mountain biking in the Alpines offers a variety of opportunities and challenges for riders, including steep vertical climbs and flatter cruises through landscapes featuring grassy slopes and lovely trees. And if you’ve ever wanted to cut along the side of a mountain with a half-frozen lake idling just slightly off to the side, the Alpines are a good bet. One of the most amazing parts of the Alpines is how it alternates between forbidding, stony surfaces and lush green valleys, and it’s certainly not hard to experience both environments over the course of one riding expedition.
Western North Carolina
Cities like Asheville, in western North Carolina, make for great launching points for excellent mountain biking of a very different genre than what you might do in Austria or Colorado. While their are mountains in North Carolina, in this case, you’re near the Appalachian range, they are smaller and less dominating than the Rockies or the Alps. What this makes for is a satisfying and exciting blend of both downhill and uphill biking as well as extensive forest territory. That’s the biggest draw of this area: varied and challenging forest rides that provide a perfect marriage of incline and difficulty in terms of elevation, while still focusing on the main draw of forest biking, including landscape, technically tricky trails and navigating between trees. Plus, as far as world-class biking goes, North Carolina might be the most accessible destination there is.
Biking in Vietnam ranges from scenic and relaxed to so challenging that even the most talented, technically able riders will have to carry their bikes for a bit. Terrain alternates between flat valleys and vertiginous rises, with plenty of agriculture and smaller villages mixed in. One of the most interesting aspects of riding in Vietnam is that you can traverse the country by stopping at villages as you make your way; you’ll always be able to find some local food and a place to stay to break up your journey, and because there aren’t as many larger cities and towns, that might be your only option. But that means that not only are you getting an excellent mountain biking experience: you’re also experiencing the culture of a place, and touring another country, at the same time.
Last but not least, there’s Moab, Utah. Moab is internationally renowned for the challenge and beauty of its trails, which include desert environments and unbelievable rock formations. Unlike the mountains of Colorado, Moab’s hills and valleys are of the red-rock variety, featuring sandy expanses and enormous outcroppings of boulders. And because the area is such a huge destination for bikers, you’ll be sure to find plenty of well-traveled trails and paths to follow as well as the opportunity to blaze your own if you’re more inclined to experiment. While you’re there, you can also check off some of the best-known natural phenomena in the United States from your list.