FOR WHAT IT’S WIRTH
I ’ve been fortunate enough to travel to feed my riding habit. Over the years I’ve ridden some pretty incredible places. Reflecting back on the experiences I’ve had, I’ve come to realize that while the
list is long, there are a few standout places that have shaped my
SUMMIT COUNTY, COLORADO
This was where I learned to ride a mountain bike. Frisco, Colorado,
is where I first rode my hardtail Giant ATX 860 to the top of a death
march of a fire-road climb with my dad. Vail is where I first learned
what it’s like to ride lift-assisted trails. This is where my love for riding
Must-see trails: Keystone’s Milky Way, High Speed Dirt, Jam
Rock combo. Finish it out with a cruise down Mosquito Coast, then
tackle the steeps on Helter Skelter.
MOAB, UTAH & FRUITA, COLORADO
These should be on every rider’s bucket list. I put them together
because they’re only 90 minutes apart, and you’d be crazy to not see
both in a single trip. Moab is the original Mecca for mountain bikers,
and Fruita is a close second as a rite of passage for any respectable
rider to check off. The Whole Enchilada in Moab winds through (by
my estimation) about five ecosystems, from alpine to desert floor. It’s
30 miles of riding everything from aspen forests to rocky slickrock. In
Fruita, don’t pass up on the classic 18-road trails that put this place
on the map.
Must-see trails: The Whole Enchilada and Kessel Run.
SQUAMISH, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
People might think I’m crazy not to say “Whistler” here. Squamish
is a short, 30-minute drive from the best bike park on the planet;
however, Squamish offers more for the trail rider, and I love that. The
forests are littered with mossy bridges and damp singletrack that’s
ripe for shredding.
Must-see trails: Learning to Fly.
SILVER STAR, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
This bike park is hard to get to and not that big. Why does it make
this list? Because the trails are so well-built, it’s like an amusement
park. The berms are perfectly sculpted. The jumps are pristine. And,
the fun factor is super high.
Must-see trails: Be sure to hit Blast Off. This trail features more
berms than I’ve ever seen on a short trail. There are no straight
sections at all.
TRANS-PROVENCE COURSE, NICE, FRANCE
This was some of the best riding I’ve ever done—until a slick trail
and another editor (who shall remain nameless) put me in the dirt with
a broken tibia. I want—no, need—to go back here. This is my “white
whale” of a trail.
Must-see trails: You tell me. I broke my leg in the first
Malaga is about as close as you can get to Africa without actually
going there. You can literally see Morocco from the trails. The trails
are technical and tough. The Atherton team uses them for wintertime
training, and I can see why. These are downhill-worthy trails that
require a lot of pedaling to get to the top—perfect for getting in shape
for a World Cup season.
Must-see trails: Only about a 40-minute drive from Malaga is the
city of Ojen. This is the site for the Big Mountain Enduro, and the trails
RIVA DEL GARDA, ITALY
Garda is a unique place with a ton of history. It’s a northern Italian
city that was used as a very strategic location in World War II. It was
a stronghold for armies crossing the Alps. Just a short ride from town,
about 20 minutes away, you’ll be surrounded by war bunkers on the
hillside. History buffs should not miss this. Oh yeah, the trails are
extremely steep and full of limestone. They’re challenging and a blast
Must-see trails: Do yourself a favor and snag a shuttle for this
one, at least once. If you ride from town, you’re looking at a massive
HOOD RIVER, OREGON
Thanks to my friend, Stephanie Nychka, for showing me these
beauties. They’re full of skinnies, drops and jumps. The town of
Hood River has embraced the riding community as well as any I
can think of.
Must-see trails: Post Canyon is full of everything from the
“Family Guy” skills park to very extreme stunts.
ANYWHERE NEAR SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA
Okay, most of these trails are illegal. I’m not going to risk the hate
mail by naming my favorite trails here. Suffice it to say, though, if
you’re “in the club” in Santa Cruz, you can find some pretty amazing
rides. Don’t expect a warm welcome at any of the local bike shops if
you go asking for a trail recommendation. This place is pretty much
locals-only for now.
Must-see trails: I once rode a trail with a shack that was full of
crack addicts on the side of it. The ones who know will know.
MOUNTAIN CREEK, VERNON, NEW JERSEY
New Jersey? Really? Yeah, it made the list. Mountain Creek, formerly known as Diablo, is one of my favorite spots. It doesn’t have a
lot of vertical to work with, but it makes the best of it.
Must-see trails: Upper Dominion to Pipeline is my favorite route
here. It has a good mix of jumps and tech.
EMMA LONG, AUSTIN, TEXAS
This is a park with an eight-mile loop that was originally a trials
motorcycle lap. It’s full of awesome rock drops and tech sections.
Must-see trails: The whole eight-mile loop. Enjoy.
SOUTH MOUNTAIN, PHOENIX, ARIZONA
I lived in Phoenix for many years and put
in a lot of laps here. It’s the biggest city
park in the nation and provides
an awesome place to ride. Just
be sure to get out early, because
the heat can be a killer, literally.
Must-see trails: Mormon and
MOUNT WILSON IN THE SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA
These are my home trails. I’d be
remiss to exclude them. The rides
are very diverse and allow me to
test everything from cross-country race bikes to downhill sleds
Must-see trails: Merrill,
Sunset and El Prieto. ❏
The Greatest Places I’ve Ever Ridden
BY MIKE WIRTH