Mountain biking enthusiasts are in for a treat as trail building is booming worldwide. Unlike the old days of hastily constructed, eroding trails, professional trail builders are now crafting purpose-built mountain bike routes with thrilling features like massive jumps, technical challenges, and great flow. Plus, there’s a shift away from illegal forest trail building, with regional, national, and international organizations supporting the construction of top-quality trails.
From Canada and New Zealand to Norway and Wales, this article covers the best destinations in the world for your next mountain biking adventure. Whether you’re into downhill, cross-country, or enduro, there’s something here for everyone.
Located in British Columbia, Whistler stands out as the mountain biking capital of the world, featuring famous technical mountain biking trails and challenging features. Renowned for its world-class bike park, Whistler essentially pioneered the concept of purpose-built flow trails that set a global standard.
Riding in Whistler is not for the faint-hearted. However, there are also beginner-friendly and intermediate trails tucked amidst the forest, along with flowy berms and tabletops in the bike park for those looking to improve their jumping skills. Mountain biking in Whistler is a must for any rider’s bucket list.
Moab, Utah, stands out as one of the oldest and still among the best mountain biking destinations. Known as the mountain bike capital of the United States, Moab offers a chance to ride on slickrock and sandy trails in an ultimate desert spot. It’s a must-visit for all mountain bikers, ideally at least once in a lifetime and, if possible, once a year!
Offering possibly the most unique landscape for mountain biking on a global scale, riders flock to this stunning location to explore beautiful canyons and traverse mesa tops. There are plenty of fantastic beginner and intermediate trails, making it a great destination for riders of all levels. In Moab Trail Mix, trail builders have been busy crafting newer, more beginner-friendly trails, ensuring that riders of all levels can find a ride that suits them. However, Moab truly shines for advanced riders, thanks to its world-renowned and highly technical trails.
Finale Ligure, Italy
Thanks to its status as a regular stop for the Enduro World Series, Finale Ligure has become a world-famous mountain biking destination. Often dubbed “Whistler by the sea,” Finale Ligure is known for its rocky, technical trails that start high in the hills and lead you to the beautiful Mediterranean coast. Few places on Earth allow you to ride from a mountaintop to a beach, and Finale Ligure is one of them! The combination of incredible riding and breathtaking scenery is hard to beat and must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
Most riders opt for shuttles or uplifts to reach the top of the climbs, as many trails are one-way and gravity-focused. The abundance of trails in Finale can be overwhelming for newcomers. As a result, most shuttle services in the area provide guides as part of the package to help you navigate the extensive trail network. You’ll also find bike rental options, repair shops, accommodation, and more in town.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Nestled beside the stunning Southern Alps on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown proudly wears the title of “Adventure Capital of the World.” For mountain bikers, it’s a true haven. Queenstown is a magnet for bikers from New Zealand and around the globe.
With three downhill mountain bike parks supported by lifts and more than 130 kilometers of scenic trails hugging Lake Whakatipu and local vineyards, the biking scene here is incredibly diverse and extensive. But it’s not just the trails that make Queenstown special; it’s the biking community. Queenstown boasts a vibrant biking community bolstered by various bike shops providing equipment, rentals, and repairs. Even the local taxi services are bike-friendly and more than willing to get you to the trailhead if you’re traveling without a car.
When it comes to being a mountain destination in the Alps, Verbier sets the gold standard. As one of Switzerland’s most renowned ski resorts, Verbier serves as the central hub for the expansive Four Valleys region, welcoming mountain bikers with open arms, unlike some other Alps destinations.
The heart of Verbier’s mountain bike scene is its bike park, conveniently located beneath the main gondola. The bike park seamlessly connects to the broader trail network and offers a wide range of trails suitable for riders of varying skill levels, from intermediate to expert. But what truly sets this esteemed mountain destination apart is its exceptional enduro trails. Verbier boasts some of the finest enduro trails in the entire Alps, and they can certainly hold their own in a fiercely competitive field.
The area is also welcoming to e-bikers, with e-bike rentals available in town and charging stations scattered across the mountainside. In fact, Verbier even hosts an annual festival exclusively dedicated to e-mountain biking.
While Derby may be considered remote by many standards, this small Tasmanian town has rapidly become one of the world’s premier mountain biking destinations in the last six years. Millions of dollars have been invested in creating a mountain bike trail system that now boasts over 77 miles (125km) of dedicated singletrack.
Derby offers top-notch riding experiences, so much so that globe-trotting enduro racers have consistently voted it the best stop on the Enduro World Series for several years running. “Derby is renowned for its massive granite slabs and unique trail features that harness the natural terrain to create that coveted ‘flow state,'” says Mark McCann, Director of the Blue Derby Foundation. Iconic black trails like Detonate, Kumma-Gutza, and Trouty have put Derby on the map, but the town also offers lesser-known family and beginner-friendly trails to welcome riders of all abilities.
Though Derby itself is a small town, it provides a range of bike-friendly amenities for your mountain biking adventure, including four bike shops, bike rentals, shuttle services, and much more.
Crested Butte, USA
Crested Butte, Colorado, USA Crested Butte, one of two places in the United States claiming the birthplace of mountain biking, remains a highly relevant destination for mountain bikers today. The area continuously expands its appeal with new trails, the addition of a downhill bike park, and the ongoing maintenance and improvement of classic backcountry singletrack routes that have been cherished for decades.
The riding in Crested Butte is characterized by epic high-alpine singletrack, winding through fields of vibrant wildflowers beneath towering mountain peaks. Grippy dark black dirt guides you through forests and meadows, occasionally spiced up with rocks and roots. The town offers several bike shops and rental services to cater to all your biking needs, while Crested Butte Mountain Resort provides lift-served downhill biking. If this sounds like paradise, well, you might be right!
Tweed Valley, United Kingdom
In Scotland, where fantastic mountain bike trails are scattered all over the country, the Tweed Valley, affectionately known as “Bike Valley,” reigns supreme as the ultimate singletrack haven. The Tweed Valley boasts several major trail systems, including purpose-built trails in Glentress Forest, hand-cut trails in Caberston that are steep and tight, and a plethora of classic enduro and downhill trails in Innerleithen. These trails are interconnected with gravel paths and bike lanes, creating an intricate network through the mystical Scottish forests.
The facilities at Scottish trail centers are top-notch, featuring bike-friendly cafés, secure bike storage at accommodation providers, numerous bike shops, skilled mechanics, various bike rental options, local guiding companies, and even skills coaches. Cotter advises that hiring a local guide is a wise move, given the wealth of choices available, as they’ll ensure your first visit is memorable and leaves you wanting more.
Rotorua, New Zealand
On New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua takes the crown as the undisputed mountain biking hub. Whakarewarewa Forest, with over 136 miles (220km) of trails, is so magnificent and diverse that many mountain bike enthusiasts visiting New Zealand find themselves staying put and never wanting to leave.
The riding experience in Rotorua is characterized by dark rainforest singletrack with rich black dirt. Despite the damp climate, the trails are resilient to moisture. The professional trail design, including grade reversals, berms, and numerous jumps, ensures not only thrilling rides but also efficient water drainage.
Amidst the wealth of remarkable mountain towns in British Columbia, Fernie secures its spot on this list due to its distinctive location in the heart of BC and the incredible variety and quality of biking experiences it offers. While many of BC’s top mountain bike destinations are found in the Coast Range or other interior ranges, Fernie stands out as the ultimate mountain biking destination in the Canadian Rockies. Here, the Rocky Mountains carve a striking path through the continent, with their rugged, rocky peaks dominating the horizon. And it’s on these mountains that you’ll discover some truly spectacular mountain bike trails!
Fernie features eight distinct biking areas that come together to create a network of hundreds of mountain biking trails, with the most accessible right from town. You can explore trails through ancient forests and soak in scenic alpine and valley vistas.
Lupra Pass, Nepal
Nestled deep in the Himalayas, you’ll be surrounded by some of the world’s tallest mountains that will leave you speechless and breathless due to the high altitudes. Yet, the rewards in the “Roof of the World,” Nepal, are well worth it.
After a 300-meter scramble to a lofty 4,100 meters through the Lupra Pass, you’ll be treated to a thrilling kilometer-long descent filled with fast, flowing, dusty singletrack against an otherworldly backdrop. Descending through a series of steeper switchbacks, you’ll cross a lengthy suspension bridge and navigate a rocky riverbed to reach your lunch spot in Jomsom, perhaps even sharing the trail with a yak or two! The journey concludes with your ride to the overnight stop in Marpha, traversing Nepalese trails through alleyways and farmland, making for a far-from-average day on the bike.
Hajfell Bike Park is famous for hosting Norwegian World Cup races and the 2014 World Championships. Some may get intimidated, thinking it’s only for expert riders, but it has something to offer for everyone. With 18 downhill trails, ranging from easy to expert, Hafjell continually expands and enhances its offerings to maintain its reputation as one of the most innovative bike parks in Europe.
Could it be the ultimate mountain bike playground? It very well might be. The riding here is typically fast and undulating, keeping you engaged with rocky trails and well-crafted jumps.
Nelson, New Zealand
Tucked away on these charming islands of New Zealand, you’ll uncover boundless opportunities for outdoor adventures. This place hosts some of the finest mountain biking experiences globally, offering everything from smooth singletracks to thrilling heli-bike ridge-top escapades.
Located at the northern tip of the South Island, Nelson boasts impressive peaks that shoot up from sea level, providing unmatched riding opportunities and breathtaking vistas. The local gem, Wairoa Gorge Bike Park, is cherished by both residents and tourists. And when you’re ready for a well-deserved day of relaxation, the stunning Abel Tasman National Park is just a stone’s throw away.
Without a doubt, Bellingham is the ultimate mountain biking destination in Washington, and it’s no surprise that numerous prominent bike brands call it home. Located around an hour and a half north of Seattle, Bellingham’s forested singletrack resembles the high-quality trails of their Canadian neighbors just over the nearby border.
Offering diverse all-mountain riding experiences with smooth trails, technical descents, substantial climbs, impressive jump lines, and that dream-worthy hero dirt, Bellingham’s standout feature might just be its highly engaged mountain biking community. Within a short 30-minute ride from town, Bellingham is a tough contender, offering exceptional trail accessibility, quality, and quantity.
Mexico and mountain biking? You might not have seen this one coming, but Oaxaca is definitely deserving of its place on this list. Oaxaca delivers superb views and a wide array of riding experiences, ranging from semi-wet forest singletracks to dry rock gardens. Roots, switchbacks, flowy sections, rock features – what’s not to love?
And let’s not forget the incredible culture and cuisine of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city of Oaxaca is as much of a delight as the wonderfully diverse forests you’ll explore. With some trailheads starting at elevations exceeding 11,000 feet, opting for shuttle service is highly recommended to make the most of your riding time.
Samoens, French Alps
Downhill, enduro, cross-country – Samoens offers it all. Nestled in the heart of the magnificent Grand Massif mountains of the French Alps, this location is nothing short of world-class. With breathtaking Alpine scenery and a network of over 615 kilometers of gondola-accessed marked trails, Samoens is a paradise for French mountain biking.
Primarily known for its steep and technically challenging terrain, Samoens is a preferred destination for intermediate to advanced riders. Thanks to six lifts that grant access to an ever-expanding web of trails leading down to the valley, it’s no wonder the Enduro World Series frequently visits this resort.
Mountain Hero Mine Trail, Canada
Surrounded by vast, untamed wilderness in Yukon, the Mountain Hero Mine Trail will make you feel an immense respect for the raw power of Mother Nature. This trail kicks off from the First Nation village of Carcross and promises an alpine adventure with incredible 360-degree mountain vistas. While you’ll get a shuttle to cover a good part of the access road, there’s still some serious climbing ahead before you can fully enjoy the exhilarating descent that follows.
The Mountain Hero Mine Trail traces the historic mine’s tram line, once used to transport supplies up and down the mountain. This incredible singletrack descent will test your braking fingers and leave you laughing in pure joy as you regroup by the side of Windy Arm Lake.
With a location as stunning as Tasmania’s Derwent Valley right at its doorstep, having a bad time at Maydena Bike Park is hard to imagine. Crafted by renowned trail builders, Dirt Art, the park offers a year-round shuttle service that traverses over 820 meters of vertical elevation. Featuring an extensive network of epic long descent singletracks and thrilling downhill rides spanning 68 kilometers, you can expect steep lines, rugged tracks, narrow singletrack, big jumps, and flowing berms.
The park primarily caters to intermediate to advanced riders, but its clever trail layout ensures there’s something for every skill level throughout the park’s various sections.