Grab adventure by the handlebars

5/9/2019

Get outdoors and enjoy some two-wheeled fun on your public lands. Parks, wildlife refuges and recreation areas across the country offer excellent opportunities for bikers to ride through gorgeous landscapes, learn about history from behind their handlebars or even share the trail with wildlife. So strap on your helmet, check your tires, grab your water bottle and scoot on down one of these amazing trails. We hope you have a wheelie good time!

Moab Brand Trails in Utah

A white man wearing a helmet rides a bike across a red rock plateau with a rugged desert landscape in the background.
Enjoy spectacular views along the Moab Brand trails in Utah. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Imagine yourself riding through a red rock landscape of rugged canyons and dramatic mesas. The Moab Brand Trails in Utah offer 31 miles of dedicated bike trails in which beginner, intermediate and advanced riders can enjoy a wide variety of challenges. Many of the trails provide outstanding views of Arches National Park and thrilling rides with steep climbs and sudden dips. Two other excellent bike trails -- Klondike Bluffs and Captain Ahab -- are in the area and draw riders from around the world. Altogether, that’s more than 120 miles of mountain bike fun! Summer riders -- remember to carry plenty of water and snacks.

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

A white man in tight biking clothes and a helmet rides a bike past a blue mountain lake.
Ride in the fresh mountain air Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Photo by National Park Service.

Looking for a challenge? Riding the Rim Road at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is physically demanding, but very rewarding. The 33-mile loop circles the pristine waters of Crater Lake with many overlooks along the way to catch your breath (at this higher elevation, you’ll probably need it) while soaking in the scenery. More than 180,000 acres of old-growth forests, meadows of wildflowers, wetlands, and pumice fields line the route showcasing the park’s rich biodiversity. Mountain bikers can explore more of this incredible landscape on the eight miles of Grayback Drive.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida

A large alligator lays in the grass next to a bike path.
Share the road has a different meaning J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a bike ride in the winter, pedal down to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. With an average high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit in January, it’s a great place to shake off the winter chill. The refuge’s 8 miles of wide, flat, paved trails winding through a mangrove estuary are part of Sanibel Island’s 22-mile system of shared-use paths. Inside the refuge, pedal a 4-mile or an 8-mile loop while looking-out for wading birds, shorebirds, river otters and alligators. 

Black Canyon Trail in Arizona

Two mountain bikers wearing helmets ride down a trail curving through a desert landscape of low bushes and tall cacti.
Veering off trail is a sticky situation at the Black Canyon Trail in Arizona. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, International Mountain Bicycling Association.

The Black Canyon Trail in Arizona meanders through the Sonoran Desert landscape past saguaro forests and rugged canyons. The trail provides a challenging ride experience characterized by rough, unstable soils and rocks, with various trail grades and numerous elevation changes within the harsh desert climate. Running roughly parallel to Interstate 17, the trail follows an ancient Native American trading route. Ending near Phoenix, the Black Canyon Trail is an easy way to get from backyard to backcountry in a hurry.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Washington, D.C., Maryland and West Virginia

A group of young people ride their bikes along a wide dirt path past an old white building and a waterway bordered by trees.
Take a smooth ride through history at C&O National Historical Park. Photo by National Park Service.

Whether out for a casual afternoon ride or a challenging weekend trip, the Towpath along the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal provides 184.5 miles of exploration for the casual to experienced cyclist. Starting in D.C., the trail follows the Potomac River north into Maryland and West Virginia connecting historical places that shaped the early nation and natural wonders of the inland Chesapeake Bay watershed with many places for cyclists to jump on and off. Remnants of canal locks and lockhouses, historic communities like Harpers Ferry and the dramatic Great Falls are just a few highlights.

Paradise Royale at King Range National Conservation Area in California

Three men on mountain bikes ride on a narrow trail over a hill with tree-covered mountains in the background.
Kick up some dirt at Paradise Royale in California. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, International Mountain Bicycling Association.

The Paradise Royale trail system is an amazing way to experience the Lost Coast of Northern California. The trails have been designed and built for the ultimate mountain bike experience. The Bureau of Land Management partnered with mountain biking advocates and clubs to plan, develop and construct an environmentally-sustainable trail system in the Paradise Ridge area of King Range National Conservation Area. The system currently includes 23 miles of trails with varying levels of difficulty. Riders will marvel at the modernized trail construction techniques skillfully blended with backcountry scenery for a truly unique ride experience.

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park in Massachusetts and Rhode Island

A white male park ranger rides a bike in front of a small group of people also riding bikes across a paved bridge.
Ride with a ranger at Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Photo by Carol Dandrade, Blackstone Heritage Corridor.

Ride through the heart of Rhode Island and Massachusetts on the Blackstone River Bikeway connecting New England’s natural and cultural heritage. A trail in progress, 17 miles are open with 31 more planned. When completed, riders will be able to explore the Blackstone River Valley from Providence to Worcester passing through historic communities and the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Hop on and off your bike to spot wildlife in the restored wetlands of Lonsdale Marsh, go fishing or exploring at Blackstone River State Park or experience a New England industrial town at Milbury, Massachusetts.

Johnny Behind The Rocks Trail in Wyoming

A white woman rides a mountain bike on a dirt trail along a rocky hilltop.
Another great day at Johnny Behind The Rocks Trail in Wyoming. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, International Mountain Bicycling Association.

You’re zooming down a hard-packed trail through a wide, grassy valley and then pedaling up to the top of a rocky plateau. Then, under the wide Wyoming sky, you look over to see the majestic Wind River mountain range in the distance. You’re on the Johnny Behind The Rocks Trail and nothing could be better. A 4.3 mile loop, the trail is excellent for a leisurely ride or for racing against the clock and trying to beat your previous time. Although open year round, bikers wishing to ride something other than snow should plan to visit between mid-March and the end of November. Trails are effectively closed during the spring thaw in early March due to extremely muddy conditions. But what’s wrong with getting a little dirty?

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washington

A tall tree grows in a grassy field next to a wide river.
Watch the Columbia River flow along Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washington. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

On the edge of the Portland, Oregon metro area, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washington offers an awesome bike ride along the bank of the mighty Columbia River. A flat gravel 5.5 mile trail runs along the dike separating the river from the refuge. Riders can stop and explore the refuge’s 1,049 acres of wetlands, pastures and woodlands trying to spot their favorite birds or catch a glimpse of a raccoon or coyote. It’s also an interesting place to learn about how the forces of nature shaped this area and then the work of people altered it yet again.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma

A white man in a orange t-shirt rides a bike along a gravel path curving through a deep green forest.
A peaceful ride at Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma. Photo by National Park Service.

A park with many ways to play in the great outdoors, Chickasaw National Recreation Area has more than 20 miles of biking for family-friendly fun. The main paved loop road through the Platt Historic District brings cyclists past scenic creeks and waterfalls, historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, popular swimming spots to cool off, and wildlife at the Travertine Nature Center and bison pasture. Those looking to get off the paved path can bike on most of the unpaved trails in the park, including the Rock Creek Multi-Use Trail through the scenic prairies of the Arbuckle District. 

Meadowood Trail in Virginia

A person on a mountain bike rides along a curved wooden ramp next to some tall trees.
Cool ramps guide riders along the Meadowood Trail in Virginia. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier, International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area offers nearly 7 miles of biking trails open year round to the public, from sunrise to sunset. The South Branch Loop Trail is a beginner trail that totals 4.7 miles of mixed-use hiking and biking and is one of only a few natural surface trails open to mountain bikes on public land in the Washington, D.C. area. There are three intermediate trails that were constructed solely for mountain biking. The "Boss" and "Stinger" trails combine to provide 1.5 miles of trail with a great deal of technical variety. They boast a 300 foot Progressive Bike Ramp, multiple table tops, wooden skinnies and large, fast, wooden berms. The "Yard Sale" is a fun, fast, free-flowing trail that totals .67 miles. Hold on to your handlebars!

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

A rainbow stretches across a cloudy sky over a landscape of white sand and grass.
Sometimes you have to stop riding and take in the scenery at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Photo by National Park Service.

For a truly unique biking experience, pack the bikes and head to White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. Nowhere else in the world can you ride a bike on a hard-packed gypsum sand road through the heart of an immense dunefield. Dunes Drive offers bicyclists a 16 mile round trip to witness the ever-changing landscapes of the glistening white sands and the unique plants and animals that inhabit the wave-like dunes. Stretch your legs along the way by jumping off the bike to walk the trails farther into other-wordly landscape of the Tularosa Basin.

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan

Sunset over a wide lake.
Sunset is a great time for a summer ride at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Visitors to Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge have some great options for biking. The dike-top Ferguson Bayou Nature Trail -- a 4.4-mile loop -- is geared to family biking. The narrower Woodland Trail is also around 4 miles long, but appeals more to mountain bikers, unfazed by mud and blind curves. The trails are open to biking year-round, except during deer hunting season. Get a good workout on your bike, wave at your favorite birds and breathe the fresh air, but don’t forget to take a break and enjoy the sunset. 

Have fun and ride safe!

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