Dragon's Back, Wales , U.K.
THE TRAIL THAT INSPIRED EUROPE'S MOUNTAIN BIKE REVOLUTION
Located in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park, 100 miles west of Birmingham, England, the Coedy-Brenin Bike Center is home to a tangle of seven directional, purpose-built singletrack loops that have been painstakingly etched into the rocky, sodden Welsh landscape.
The 20-mile-long loop known as Dragon's Back is one of the oldest and, thanks to its sound design and construction, still one of the best. The fast, narrow singletrack is both consistently challenging and packed with payoffs. Some sections, such as Uncle Fester and Lurch, are gratuitously armored with rock and make for rough, technical yet fast riding. Farther down the same loop a mile-long stretch of silky smooth singletrack called Big Doug delivers an almost serene experience, rolling a contoured grade through towering stands of Douglas fir.
This seminal trail has been a boon for the surrounding rural economy, attracting riders from around the UK and Europe. And together, the state-sanctioned trail networks total 180 miles and more than 100 purpose-built trails in Wales alone—all packed into an area smaller than New Jersey.
> Miles: 20 > Elevation gain: 2,600 ft. > Miles in network: 86 > Facilities: Bike shop, cafe, showers > Cost to ride: $0
Sprain Ridge Park, Yonkers, New York
NO-APOLOGIES, HIGHLY TECHNICAL, ENTIRELY RIDER-BUILT SINGLETRACK
Tightly sandwiched between the New York State Thruway and the Sprain Brook Parkway, this narrow 278-acre sliver of wooded parkland is defined by the same exposed granite bedrock that anchors Manhattan's famous skyscrapers 20 miles south. Riders get a taste of that copious rocky goodness the moment they enter the North Brother's Loop from the main parking lot.
Fast, tight singletrack snakes dizzyingly through hardwood trees and over never-ending rock outcroppings, spitting riders out more than a mile later at the opposite corner of the same parking lot.
Riding here is a full-body effort that requires constantly muscling over rocks and log piles, grunting up short, punchy climbs and rarely achieving an average moving speed much past six miles per hour.
After getting warmed up, follow the Sprain Slickrock trail down to the southern end of the park, where two more stacked loops await, as well as the new "Sandro's trails," which navigate some of the biggest rock formations in the park.
> Miles: 15 > Percent machine-built: 0 > Cost to build: $0—built exclusively with volunteer labor > Distance to trailhead from nearest Metro North train station: 2 miles