The Pros Weigh In: “What’s Your Favorite Trail?” Part 2

Be sure to check out Part 1.

We spend a lot of time talking about trails here on Singletracks… and I think that’s pretty understandable, since we are home to the largest mountain bike trail map database in the world. However, sometimes it’s good to go outside our bubble of, admittedly, quite knowledgeable writers, and get input on trails from some guys and gals who have really been around the block… er, more like around the world.

A number of pros and all-around famous mountain bikers chimed in and shared their favorite trails with us. Since we had a hard time figuring out just how to organize a list that boasts so many illustrious folks, these trail choices are organized alphabetically by last name.

Jesse Livingston and Lori Reed

Current IMBA Trail Care Crew members, Jesse and Lori travel the country educating riders and communities about the economics of mountain bike trails, as well as best-practice trail building techniques.

Picking a favorite trail is like trying to pick your favorite parent. Your love for each might be for very unique reasons, and therefore, it is impossible to compare. We’ve ridden numerous trails in every region, and several stick in our minds as elite trail systems.

Farewell Trail, Bend, Oregon. Rider: Greg Heil.

Here are a handful of our favorites:

Elden Nelson

The comedic mastermind behind FatCyclist.com.

Tibble Fork is at the North end of American Fork Canyon, in Utah County. It is all singletrack and is, from a purely objective analysis, the best mountain bike trail in the entire world.

Most people ride Tibble wrong. They take a shuttle to the summit of the Alpine Loop and ride their mountain bikes down. There should be a law against that. But there’s a reason most people ride Tibble Fork down, not up. It’s unbelievably steep. The first mile, in particular, is pure agony (the good kind). It’s steep and often loose, with a couple of near-impossible switchbacks at impossible angles, followed by a quick maze and climb over roots and rocks. When / if you clean that first mile, you haven’t had just a good day. You’ve had a red-letter day — the kind of day you talk about in your Christmas letter to friends and relatives.

Adam Newman

Web Editor for DirtRagMag.com.

Photo: Greg Heil.

So hard to pick just one! I’d have to say my current favorite is Tamarancho and the surrounding trails in Marin. I rode there for the first time a few weeks ago and it has a great variety of terrain. It was exciting to ride some of the very trails where the sport was born. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the city of Fairfax is so welcoming to cyclists. I can’t wait to visit again.

Eddie O’Dea

An accomplished ultra-endurance mountain biker with numerous course records under his belt, most recently the Huracan 300.

Photo: tumbleweed14.

My favorite trail is the next one….but for the sake of your article, I’ll go with one that has great mix of amazing scenery with mountains, rivers, waterfalls & weeping walls. The Umpqua Trail in Central OR because of its gorgeous views, mix of sweet descents and challenging climbs and all the options of breaking it up or shuttling it. I might be able to plow through it all in one day, but it’s best enjoyed with a group of friends at a pace & distance that satisfies everyone’s single track itch.

Josh Patterson

Previously the head editor for Dirt Rag, and now an editor for BikeRadar.com.

If you like ribbons of red singletrack, new-age spirituality, or fancy a close encounter of the third kind, Sedona may have something to offer you.

Among Sedona’s finest trails is Hangover, an 8.5-mile double-black diamond that, until recently, was one of the most popular trails that nobody was supposed to ride.

Photo: OTE Sports.

Like many of the best trails in Sedona, Hangover was constructed by renegade builders and was technically “illegal” until late in 2012. Thankfully, the local Forest Service works closely with mountain bike advocates to keep things moving in the right direction.

If you’re looking for an easy-going stretch of singletrack to ride with your significant other, this isn’t it. Hangover is the antithesis of the carefully-sculpted, machine-built “flow trails” that are becoming increasingly popular.

Hangover is a chess game on mountain bikes—picking lines, while anticipating your next move and weighing the risks and rewards with each pedal stroke. There’s very little flow, a lot of exposure, several grunt-inducing climbs, and a number of hairball descents. There are sections of the route that are clearly marked, as well as several areas where riders can choose their own adventure.

Half of what makes Hangover so special are the stunning views. Though it’s best to take in the scenery while taking a snack break, as the trail demands you full attention while riding.

I’ve ridden Hangover on 100mm cross-country bikes and 160mm all-mountain brawlers, and it’s always a good time. Hangover is difficult but doable, and much like Porcupine rim in Moab, no trip to Sedona is complete without riding it.

Hans Rey 

One of the world’s leaders in extreme mountain biking, Hans “No Way” Rey has traveled the globe riding insane trails.

That question is about as hard as what my favorite food it.

Generally there are different types of trails, in the new, purpose built era I would say it is the “Flow Country Trail” in Bischofsmais at the Geisskopf Bike Park in Bavaria/Germany.

This trail was built by trail guru Diddie Schneider after the Flow Country Trail model he and I have created. Flow Country Trails are flow trails for anybody, never too steep, never extreme, and never dangerous. For any rider and any kind of mountain bike. It’s a bit like a giant pump track to give the rider the roller coaster sensation.

More info can be found here: http://hansrey.com/flow-country/

Watch a video of the trail here:

Photo courtesy Hans Rey.

When it comes to natural/traditional trails, one of my favorite ones is in Livigno, Italy: the Val delle Mine Tour.

One rides up from Livigno (1850m) to the top of the Mottolino Gondola (2300m) or takes the gondola. From the top station the tour climbs up a short fire road to the Flow Country Trail (short test trail) and continues to the Val delle Mine traverse trails. Once at Val delle Mine valley, one climbs up the fire road to the alp hut restaurant then crosses the creek to the start of the fun and flowy Val delle Mine downhill. Once back in the Livigno valley, one can take the Panoramica single trail back to Livigno. (Duration with gondola uplift: approx. 2 hours.)

Photo courtesy Hans Rey.
Photo courtesy Hans Rey.

Rebecca Rusch 

One of the most decorated female endurance mountain bike racers of all time, The Queen of Pain holds course records for a plethora of big-name courses, including the Leadville 100, Dirty Kanza 200, and the Kokopelli Trail… just to name a few.

.@singletrackscom my fav mountain bike trail : castle peak in the boulder white cloud mountains Idaho!

— Rebecca Rusch (@thequeenofpain) February 27, 2014

Chris Sugai: 

The founder and President of revolutionary bike brand Niner Bikes.

Butcher Trail in Downieville, CA. Why: the town of Downieville is a cool place to stay (Old Gold mining town with wooden sidewalks). The trail is a hoot. I rode this trail with my friends and I will remember those times till the day I die.

Downieville Downhill. Photo: gar29.

While most of us haven’t traveled as far and wide as the folks on this list, that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a favorite! What’s your favorite trail?