Copper Harbor, Copper Harbor, Michigan
SWOOPING BENCH-CUT SINGLETRACK AND LOTS OF LADDER BRIDGES
Copper Harbor lies a full 11 hours north of Detroit and is not easy to access. But if you make the journey, you'll likely encounter few other riders on trails like Woopity-Woo, a berm-ridden, 2.7-mile-long joyride that flows and rolls and ricochets like its name indicates.
About half of the 25 miles of trail exude that same playfulness, thoughtfully carved into the contours of these Midwest mountains. And the other half? Just ask Aaron Rogers, founder of the Copper Harbor Trails Club and one of Copper Harbor's two staff trailbuilders. But you'll have to wait until he puts down his gas-powered jackhammer.
With three to six inches of topsoil to work with, building most trails here often means bench-cutting basalt. Beyond its XC tracks, legitimate DH runs and budding freeride zones, the most intriguing aspect of Copper Harbor is a future that should see a 30-plus-mile singletrack on the Lake Superior shoreline in the next few years. "And over the next 10 we're planning on adding 7 to 10 miles of singletrack a year," Rogers says.
> Miles: 25 > Trail-building weapon of choice: Gas-powered jackhammer with 3-inch chisel blade > Elevation: 620-1,280 ft. > Distance to Canada: 60 miles > Population of Copper Harbor: 82
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Curt Gowdy State Park, Cheyenne, Wyoming
A PLAYPEN WITH HIGH-SPEED ROCKY CHUTES, SWEEPING BERMS AND BUTTER-SMOOTH OPEN-THROTTLE DESCENTS
Somewhere up in the great press box in the sky, Curt Gowdy is tongue-tied. The legendary sportscaster defined the art of play-by-play coverage over a 40-year career announcing World Series games, Super Bowls and Final Four tournaments. But thankfully, the Wyoming state park that bears his name has nothing to do with stadium sports.
This 35-mile trail network—every inch of which is bona fide singletrack—is bracketed by high plains on its eastern half that rapidly transition into the appreciably more rugged Laramie Mountains that mark the foot of the Rockies to the west. Accordingly, Gowdy includes everything from flat-out big-ring cross-country cruisers to slow-going rock gardens to drop-offs, and freeride-like wall rides and giant rock roll-downs.
Elevation in the park drops 1,400 feet from one end to the other, and the trail designers took full advantage of that pinball-machine tilt, with rocky, riotous plunges like the highly technical El Alto, and smoother, faster-flow trails like Let 'R Huck, with its bermed corners and sculpted senders.
Last year Curt Gowdy (the park, not the sportscaster) received IMBA Epic status—a sign of success that is already being parlayed into trail development in three more Wyoming state parks.
> Miles: 35 > Machine-built miles: 10 > Elevation: 6,700-8,100 ft. > Cost to build: $600,000 in grants; 5,000 volunteer hours