Vacations are great, and taking your bike with you can make it even greater. But, you may be tiring of the same ol’ vacation spots that have great cycling. Have you checked out the National Parks? They allow mountain biking – and some even have bike rental stations for those who do not own a bike (or do not want to travel with their bikes). While all National Parks are great for exploring, not all are top-rated for their cycling adventures. Below are the best National Parks for cycling fun.
New River Gorge Recreational Area in West Virginia
Relatively new to mountain biking is New River Gorge National Recreation Area in West Virginia. Many believe that the 70,000-acre New River Gorge will quickly become one of the premier mountain biking destinations in the US, partially because it’s located near some major metropolitan hubs – namely Atlanta, Charlotte, and Washington D.C.
Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area in Tennessee
With over 30 miles of biking, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is an MTB mecca. The massive 125,000-acre park sprawls between Kentucky and Tennessee, and is best visited in the fall or early winter when the South cools down—even the park’s website warns the only predictable thing about its weather is its unpredictability. With trails maintained by the local Big South Fork Mountain Bike Club, there are mountain bike-specific singletrack trails, plus plenty of horse paths, paved roads and even a hiking trail that shares the path with cyclists.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio
The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail runs through the park, with plenty of historical landmarks along the way—and with 95 miles of paths open to riders, you can spend plenty of time pedaling without ever crossing the same spot. It’s gorgeous in the fall when leaves are turning, so avoid the New England autumn traffic and head to Cleveland instead.
Redwoods National Park in California
You knew this would be on the list, right? You can’t beat riding through redwood forest or along the California coastline—the giant trees will make you feel like a Hobbit on a bike. Most trails in this park are rehabilitated logging roads, but between 50-plus miles of trails and the steep climbs you’ll hit along the way, this park has plenty to offer, even without much singletrack riding. To get in nearly 10 miles of climbing, try Little Bald Hills Trail (1,600 feet of climbing), which whittles to completely nontechnical singletrack and ends on a pine-dotted hilltop, followed by the USFS Paradise Trail. You’ll pass through some beautiful fir tree groves, and the beauty of this park is that there’s no bad time of year to check it out: No matter the season, the weather is temperate. Just a note, though: Roads here are paved and gravel-topped, so check your map to make sure you have the right gear for the right trek.