For mountain bikers, spring means trails are drying out, ski resorts are transitioning into bike parks, and mountain bike season is starting across the U.S.
Like trail running and backcountry snowboarding, mountain biking is another exhilarating way to experience the outdoors. From downhill parks and cross-country trails to singletrack and long bikepacking excursions, there are many ways to explore on a mountain bike.
The U.S. is a hot spot for mountain biking with vast trail systems in nearly every state. Here are six of the best places to mountain bike with camping nearby.
Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
For East Coasters, Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina is the perfect trek. It’s right off the Blue Ridge Parkway with more than 500,000 acres of land.
The national forest is divided into three different ranger districts. The best district for mountain biking is Pisgah Ranger District. This area has a massive system of interconnected trails. Some classics are Bennett Gap, Laurel Mountain/Pilot Rock, and Black Mountain. Black Mountain also offers ideal access to The Hub bike shop if you need any tunes or repairs.
Where to camp in Pisgah National Forest:
Bentonville is an up-and-coming mountain biking destination. It’s nestled in the hills of the Ozark Mountains in northwestern Arkansas.
As an IMBA Silver-Level Ride Center, the entire town of Bentonville is dedicated to its mountain biking community with local bike shops offering services and guides. Bike Bentonville was created as a non-profit to enhance community engagement around mountain biking. Coler Mountain Bike Preserve protects miles of cross-country, rock, dual slalom, and flyover trails. A must-do mountain biking experience in this area are the Slaughter Pen and Blowing Springs trails that connect to the Back 40 loop.
Campgrounds, like Blowing Springs RV Park, are also set up and ideally located for mountain bikers. “This campground [Blowing Springs RV Park] is all about the location,” according to a Campendium review. “If you are looking to ride the NWA trails then this is the best camping spot.”
Where to camp in Bentonville:
Colorado is an epicenter for mountain bikers, filled with epic singletrack looping through aspen forests, high alpine destinations, and centuries-old desert rock. But don’t sleep on the town of Fruita.
“If you are a mountain biker, this place is for you,” says a Campendium reviewer staying at North Fruita Desert Campground.
Fruita is located in western Colorado near Grand Junction. It’s an ideal alternative to the desert mountain biking mecca of Moab, Utah, during peak season.
Since it’s a desert location, mountain biking season starts earlier here. The singletrack trails run along the historic Colorado River on puckering cliff sides and ridgelines. It’s home to steep climbs, nerve-wracking downhill, intense switchbacks, and overall intense riding.
There are trails for everyone, including the 18 Roads Trails, Kokopelli Trails, and Horsethief Bench.
Where to camp in Fruita:
Crested Butte, Colorado
The small mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado, is considered one of the birthplaces of mountain biking. It offers a classic ride through the high alpine with miles and miles of trails.
The area is known for its all-mountain, downhill, and cross-country riding. The town is also home to a ski resort that turns into a bike park in the summer. The bike park features lift service with steep downhill tracks and features.
Beyond the bike park, there are a vast number of trails to choose from for all experience levels. In the spring, the Lupin Trail explodes with wildflowers, and the 401 Trail loops through the high alpine above 11,000 feet with beautiful views of the distant Elk Mountains. You can’t do any better than Doctor Park with flowy singletrack and steep climbs.
Most campgrounds in the area offer access to nearby trails and the town.
Where to camp in Crested Butte:
Bend, Oregon, is another quintessential mountain bike destination. It’s an outdoor paradise with easy trail access and dispersed camping just a few miles outside of the city.
“Great space to camp, work, mountain bike! The trails are right outside your door. And you’re about 6 miles from Bend,” says a Campendium reviewer camping at Forest Road 4610.
In the city, you’ll find a dirt jump and skills park, mountain bike guiding services from Cog Wild, and local bike shops to give you all the help you need.
Beyond Bend, there is Mount Bachelor’s downhill mountain bike park, which opened a few years ago. There are also massive trail systems in the surrounding national forests, including the McKenzie River Trail. This is a 26-mile trail of singletrack that flows through old-growth forests, pristine pools of fresh waterfalls, and refreshing sections of brilliant green moss.
Plus in Bend, there’s always a cold beer waiting for you after a ride.
Where to camp in Bend:
Beyond Bellingham, you’ll find Leavenworth, another up-and-coming destination for mountain bikers.
This is a small Bavarian-themed town just 2 hours from Seattle. It’s the perfect weekend getaway with campgrounds like Lincoln Rock State Park, located near mountain biking access and the eccentric town.
This area is home to incredible cross-country, enduro, and downhill trails. Check out Freund Canyon, Icicle Ridge, and the 4th of July Trail. Be prepared for long climbs and technical descents.
Where to camp in Leavenworth:
Beyond these locations, you’ll find epic trails across Vermont, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and California. Celebrate National Bike Month this May and plan a road trip to one of these mountain bike destinations.