6 Top Mountain Biking Meccas in the East

Photo: Dane Cronin/TandemStock

Get pedaling at these more-than-worthy biking wonderlands back East.

Mountain biking is gaining momentum across the country, just like its riders flying down a well-designed trail. And speaking of trail quality, when seeking out the overall best biking destinations, let variety be your guide. Head where you get a bit of everything, from miles of smooth, flowing singletrack and technical riding to world-class scenery and quaint towns ready for après-ride relaxation. Here are six regional hotbeds east of the Mississippi to put on the mountain bike radar for riders of all levels. 

Green Woodlands, NH/VT 

Green Woodlands is a multi-generational family foundation dedicated to preserving “a little piece of nature for future generations.” One way it does so: maintaining 70 pristine miles of purpose-built, continuous mountain biking trails that are part of its cross-country ski network. A slew of multi-use trails (open to the public and free) meander through the forested terrain marked by eight ponds, butting up against the New Hampshire townships of Wentworth, Lyme, Dorchester and Orford. Also nearby, check out the Ascutney Outdoors Trails Center, a 30-mile network running along the former ski slopes of Mount Ascutney (home of the Vermont 50 mountain bike race). Farther north lies Burke’s Northeast Kingdom, a Vermont trail network founded by East Burke Sports co-owner and local bike aficionado John Worth (and the reason why 2012 Olympic bronze medalist mountain biker Georgia Gould lives there). More Info: greenwoodlands.org

Want more riding info on the Green State? Check out the Vermont Mountain Bike Association, whose 7,000 members have helped build and maintain more than 1,000 miles of trail since 2012. Its 29 chapters can provide local beta on wherever you plan to ride. For more on New England riding, visit NEMBA, an organization with 30 chapters throughout six states. More Info: vmba.org

Milford, MA 

Marking a first for U.S. mountain bike associations, in 2003 the New England Mountain Bike Association pulled a coup in purchasing a 47-acre parcel of land 20 miles west of Boston to preserve the technical mountain-biking mecca known as Vietnam. Surrounded by 1,000 acres of conservation land owned by the towns of Milford, Holliston and Hopkinton, the region boasts nearly 25 miles of classic New England trails with 1,250 feet in elevation gain for riders of all levels, from flowing singletrack to jump lines and technical features. The trails are maintained and upgraded annually by NEMBA. Side note: NEMBA once turned down an offer from Ajax Gaming Ventures—a Delaware LLC owned by former President Trump—to buy the Vietnam property. More Info: nemba.org

Northfield, NH 

Head to Highland Mountain, a former ski hill just 90 minutes north of Boston, and swap a bike for your skis or snowboard to ride one of the best bike parks in the Granite State. While it’s a private park (passes range from $39 on weekdays to $56 on weekends, with a variety of discounts available), you’ll be riding 25 miles of trails for pedalers of all persuasions, from adrenaline-addled technical romps to flowy berms, tabletop jumps and more. Climb to the top and you might even be rewarded with a view of Mount Washington, at 6,288 feet, the highest peak in the Northeast. Note: The region brings out the freeriders (it even has a dirt halfpipe), but it still serves up plenty of fun for the whole family. For more views of Mount Washington, try the 18-mile Presidential Rail Trail, a scenic route in the White Mountains’ Presidential Range leading from Airport Road in Coos County to Gorham and Moose Brook State Park (a great place for camping at trail’s end). More Info: highlandmountain.com

A trail and railway in New Hampshire leading to the summit of Mount Washington.

Carrabassett Valley, ME 

Western Maine’s Carrabassett Valley Trail System is an extensive network of more than 100 miles of trails near the Sugarloaf Ski Area, dishing up 1,200 feet of elevation gain with single- and doubletrack for everyone from novices to experts. With sections paralleling the Carrabassett River, the looping, rollercoaster trail network is located west of State Route 16, following a cross-country ski network, but dovetails with an 80-mile trail network on the opposite side of the highway operated by Maine Huts & Trails. The combo creates one of the best mountain biking destinations in the Northeast. Bonus: Make it an overnighter by staying at one of the nonprofit’s off-the-grid eco-lodges along the trail system, offering hot showers, toilets, heated bunkrooms and either self-serve kitchens or fully catered, post-ride meals. More Info: cvtrails.me, mainehuts.org

Charlottesville, VA 

Virginia is for lovers—and also lovers of mountain biking. One hot spot sure to earn a place in your heart is the region around Charlottesville, a network of more than 100 miles of trails spearheaded by the Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club. Choose from trail systems at city-owned McIntire Park, the University of Virginia’s more technical O-hill trail network, or the rolling trails of Preddy Creek Park or twists and turns Walnut Creek Park (which draws riders from as far away as D.C.). Or head to Pleasant Grove’s 20 miles of root- and ramp-filled singletrack along the Rivanna River, or even the 10-plus miles of trails owned by the Blue Ridge School. Just don’t be surprised if you leave with an “I Heart Virginia” T-shirt. More Info: cambc.org

Asheville, NC 

With access to more than 640 miles of trails, Asheville, N.C.—nestled snug in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains—is one of the country's most unsung outdoor havens, with mountain biking (right alongside paddling) leading the charge. For a quick ride near downtown, try the Kolo Bike Park at the Asheville Adventure Center. Once you’re warmed up, beginners can head to the 6.2-mile Pisgah Area SORBA Beginners Loop, while intermediates might want to sample the 12-mile James State Park Loop, 50 miles east, or 5.2-mile Fire on the Mountain, 52 miles west near Cherokee (while you’re there, check out the renowned Tsali Recreation Area as well). The 50-mile radius is key, because within an hour’s drive are also such riding gems as Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Forest and Bent Creek Experimental Forest. Or try the trails at Trace Ridge in Mills River; Brevard’s Davidson River; and South Mills River, near the town of Pisgah Forest. Want true punishment? Tackle the Carolina Panther, a 140-mile-long gravel and singletrack ride with a walloping 15,000 feet of vertical. That wood-fired pizza and brewha back in Asheville (try Brixx Wood Fired Pizza and Craft Bar) will never taste so good.  

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.