Our Top 10 Mountain Bike Trails Around The World
Our favourite trail gold from across the globe!
After riding and guiding mountain bike tours all over the world for nearly 15 years, we’ve clocked up quite a list of ‘favourite trails’, which makes it difficult to narrow things down to just 10! There are so many amazing trails out there, if you know where to look, but what makes a ‘Top 10 Mountain bike trail?’ Well, the truth is they’re probably subjective to you as an individual, but more often than not a great trail will have the whole group smiling from ear-to-ear.
Here’s the full list, and you can jump to each one by clicking on the trail title:
- The Old Ghost Road, New Zealand
- Mefjellet, Norway (with video)
- Lupra Pass, Nepal (with video)
- 401 Trail, Colorado
- Achnashellach, Scotland
- “Cheese Man”, Slovenia (with video)
- Tizi Mezzik Pass, Morocco (with video)
- Cotopaxi, Ecuador (with video)
- “Flowtastic”, Spain (with video)
- Mountain Hero Mine Trail, Yukon
The Old Ghost Road – New Zealand
The Old Ghost Road is not just a trail but a journey. This 85km point-to-point will have you climbing for a day through the green of the temperate rainforest before bursting above the tree line with views of rolling hill, after hill, after hill. We then stop for a night under the stars at Ghost Lake Hut, an experience you won’t forget. After watching the sun burst over the horizon you’ll get your teeth stuck into the first descent of the day as you jump back into the rainforest. You’ll be rewarded with long and thrilling descents as well as plenty of mile munching up, along, and out of the jungle before a refreshing cold beer at a quirky village pub.
Mefjellet – Norway
Waking up aboard your floating hotel, “Gåssten”, the towering peak of Mefjellet is almost a daunting prospect as you stare upward, bobbing on the turquoise waters of the fjord far below. You’ll earn every one of the 1100 metres as you bike and hike your way skyward atop the glacier carved ridge line surrounded by snow capped peaks. Once your wheels are pointing downwards with gravity on your side you won’t be needing to crank your pedals much! Tearing down the open mountainside over rock slabs and a ribbon of singletrack which changes taste once it reaches the woods, becoming filled with flow and features. Once ridden, never forgotten! You’ll pop out at the water’s edge where your lift back to the Gåssten awaits.
Lupra Pass – Nepal
In the depths of the Himalayas you’ll be surrounded by some of the world’s tallest mountains which will leave you lost for words, and breath! The high altitudes will leave you gasping for air but you’ll reap the rewards in the country often dubbed as the “Roof of the World”. After a 300m scrabble to a lofty height of 4100m through the Lupra Pass you’ll be rewarded with a solid vertical kilometre altitude dump filled with fast, flowing, dusty singletrack – all in a surreal surrounding. After a series of steeper switchbacks you’ll traverse a long suspension bridge before taking to the dried up river bed for some rubbly riding to your lunch spot in Jomsom, perhaps having to dodge a yak or two! You’ll then finish off your ride to the overnight stop of Marpha through some ‘urban’ Nepalese trail taking in alleyways and farmland… Far from your average day on the bike!
401 Trail – Colorado, USA
There’s more to the old mountain town of Crested Butte than its chilled and relaxed atmosphere, you’ll take in some real classics whilst here that will set your pulse alight. The fact that Crested Butte has hosted an EWS speaks volumes about its trail calibre. Taking to the high backcountry you’ll be left somewhat humbled by the silence and remoteness where true trail gold lies in wait. Reaching deep into the valley floor before peeling into the trees, you’ll wind your way up before popping into the open in an explosion of colour from the flower meadows. You’ll then engage in an unavoidable fist fight with the flowers as your bars brush through the blur of yellows and purples. A rollercoaster of rises and falls that will have you hooked before spitting you out right by the van. A true Colorado Classic.
Achnashellach – Scotland
It’s not only the US that has a wild west! Scotland’s rugged west coast is certainly a wild place, although granted, is lacking in cowboys. The dramatic scenery and weather make a mythical environment which contains plenty of challenging trails which are tough and technical. There’s no shortage of rocks! Our personal favourite is Achnashellach in the heart of the Torridon mountains. A true test of bike and rider alike. A tough climb marooned deep in a glen sets the tone for the day, the Scottish MTB trail gods don’t give away their offerings easily. Once crested you’ll take on the burly and brutal rock ride over smooth glacier-shaved slabs and teeth-chattering rock gardens, a descent that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat, or rather saddle, the whole way. This is also only the first descent of the day!
‘Cheese Man’ (unofficial title!) – Slovenia
You can expect Slovenia to rocket into the media when the EWS visits later this summer and for good reason. The trail atop our list starts on the fringes of the Italian border. Whilst climbing you’ll shoot for the high alpine pastures overlooking the Julian Alps and the Soca river below before stopping to sample some cheese delicacies with the local shepherds. Now, get ready for action. In front of you lie 15km of diverse trail taking you from the alpine pastures with grazing cattle, into the trees which switch from your classic evergreen Alpine forest, into the orange hues of the beech woods, floating through loam and hero dirt before some tricky limestone outcrops appear just to add that little bit of extra zest to your day! Pitching up by the emerald flow of the Soca river for a refreshment will give you a moment to savour and appreciate what you’ve just experienced.
Tizi Mezzik Pass, Morocco
Our favourite trail in Morocco arrives on day 3 and takes us over the breathtaking Tizi Mezzik Pass at 2,280m, from Imlil to Ouirgane. The start of the trail is steep, loose and rocky, and with altitude in the mix, it’s more efficient to climb this part on foot.
On top of the pass we’ll stop to soak up the immense views, before we put on knee pads and start the descent. There is only a pencil-thin line of singletrack that slices its way across the hillside, before peeling down the valley through villages that appear to be stuck to the side of the mountains.
We’ll climb on road for a while, then pick up a piece of singletrack that drops us into jungle-type trail along a river, then red rolling trails to our little bit of heaven for the night in the High Atlas.
Cotopaxi – Ecuador
Ecuador isn’t widely known as a top mountain bike destination, but it should be. From the imposing Andes, to tropical jungles and active volcanoes… Ecuador has diverse environments and trails to match. The day that stands out in our minds is when we take to the volcanic slopes of Cotopaxi; ash, boulders, sand, and petrified lava make for one hell of a unique riding surface and environment. With three, 700m descents you won’t be left feeling short-changed! Starting in the wide-open lava field you’ll be cutting and carving your own line through the deep ash and sand, the closest feeling to skiing you’ll get on your bike! You’ll then flow like lava as the MTB trail begins to filter into narrow, finger-like ‘Vs’ which you’ll continue to carve down, eventually filtering out on the flat valley plain and have you longing for more. You’re in luck.
Flowtastic – Spain
It’s not only the Andalucían food that’ll have you drooling, the riding is more than a match for the local cuisine. Deep in the Sierra Nevada, ‘Flowtastic’ branches out from the highest village on mainland Spain, Trevelez, which is famed for its tasty ‘jamones’. A climb out of Trevelez on the popular GR-7 walking route allows us to reach close to 11kms of pure, unbridled fun. If the air is clear you may even see the coast of Morocco on the horizon! A smooth and dusty fairground ride through the southern Spanish countryside, a feeling that is nothing short of pure joy on two wheels which takes you right to your accommodation for the evening on an organic farm where olives, grapes, and almonds grow in abundance.
Mountain Hero Mine Trail – Yukon, Canada
Standing at the top of our favourite Yukon trail – Mountain Hero Mine Trail – surrounded by vast, empty wilderness, you feel great respect for the power of Mother Nature. Starting from the First Nation village of Carcross, this is an alpine day with outstanding 360 degree mountain views! You’ll have a shuttle to take you a good way up the access road, but there is still some stiff climbing ahead before you can reap the rewards of the awesome descent to come.
The Mountain Hero Mine trail follows the tram line that the historic mine created to get supplies up and down the mountain. This stupendous singletrack descent will have your braking fingers aching and have you laughing out loud as we reconvene at the side of Windy Arm Lake.
Narrowing down our Top 10 mountain bike trails was both hard and easy at the same time. We’ve had the privilege to ride fantastic trails in so many remarkable destinations, but a truly great MTB trail is one you’ll come back to again and again in your mind.