Glenwild Trails, Park City, Utah
WITH MOUNTAIN BIKER-FRIENDLY GRADES AND SWEEPING SWITCHBACKS, THE EMPHASIS IS ON LETTING GRAVITY AND MOMENTUM DO ALL THE WORK
Park City is a rich destination for mountain biking, and in recent years the proliferation of quality, purpose-built trails has jumped the highway like a brushfire and is now spreading up into the McMansion-studded mountains north of Interstate 80.
Witness the Glenwild system, which boasts 25 miles of trails that range from classic, high-altitude Wasatch singletrack to a four-pack of high-speed dirt bomber runs called Bob's Basin, which, combined, total three miles of narrow, fun, flowy trail. Ride one trail, ride back up a mile-long self-shuttling connector, and try the next.
There's plenty of high-climbing XC here, too. Eight-mile-long Flying Dog is a clear favorite, for instance. "There are some classic trails in Park City, but everything on the north side of I-80 has bigger, rounder, bermier corners," says Troy Duffin, a longtime local trail builder whose company, Alpine Trails, constructed Flying Dog. "We've really gotten the rhythms and the ups and downs and twisties just right, so they feel like they're going downhill both ways."
> Miles: 25-plus > Miles of singletrack to connect to: 200-plus > Elevation: 6,800-7,500 ft.> Number of full-time staff maintaining trails: 4
Paradise Royal, Shelter Cove, California
EARN-YOUR-TURNS CLIMBING LEADS TO ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY MANICURED ROLLER-COASTER DESCENTS IN NORTH AMERICA
In a state that's teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, improbably publicly funded mountain bike-specific trails—the first of their kind on California state land—are being hewn into the lush, King Range mountains that thrust out of the ocean along the so-called Lost Coast, about 30 miles south of Eureka.
The inaugural 14-mile Paradise Royal loop takes work; an initial descent segues to a sustained, 1,200-foot climb out of the jungle-like drainage that includes a section of 19 switchbacks known as The Prince of Pain. At the top, the knotted trail unravels along Paradise Ridge—from which you can see the Pacific Ocean far below—and on the way down you're rewarded with a series of whoops, tabletops and beautifully banked turns that run a full 5 miles.
If you're not up for a repeat course, hit the beginner, intermediate-and expert-rated flow trails of the recently completed $250,000 skills park, conveniently located just a mile from the trailhead and right next to a campground. Phase Three, tentatively ready for spring 2011, is an 8-mile stretch of ocean-view singletrack.
> Miles: 14 > Percent machine-built: 30 > Elevation: 1,200-2,500 ft. > Cost to build: $1.25 million > Surf breaks: 1
Free Lunch, Grand Junction, Colorado
LEGIT FREERIDE—FUNDED BY TAXES AND BACKED BY BICYCLE COLORADO
Fifteen miles up I-70 from Fruita's famous singletrack, the Lunch Loop trails built into the high-desert plateau above Grand Junction offer a worthy destination all their own.
The 30-plus-mile network bench-cut into the rugged terrain is a model of cooperation between land managers and local riders, but the real coup de gras here is Free Lunch, the first sanctioned freeride trail built on federal land.
This landmark trail sheds some 1,000 vertical feet in less than a mile, as riders slice through ledgy sandstone. Most moves that threaten serious consequences have alternate, roll-down lines, but some—like the three-foot-high "squirrel-catcher" drop that kicks off the trail—are mandatory.