3 Epic XC Bike Meccas You Must Visit Before You Die

We’ve all seen endless footage of Moab, of British Columbia, of trails so gorgeous they look downright edible. The places where throngs of bikers flock, called to pilgrimage by bloggers and videographers alike. 

But that’s not what we’re concerned with today. Today, we look at three of the less-talked-about trail systems in the lower 48. Trail systems that beckon you with open arms, give you the ride of your life, and send you home grinning. Without further ado, here are our picks, as well as the best bikes for each terrain:

1. Dupont State Forest, North Carolina

Dupont State Forest provides some of the most dream-like riding in the country. But its most famous feature is what truly sets it apart for an east-coast trail system: slickrock.

You read that right. We dub this trail system “The Moab of the East.” Rolling, completely non-slick granite slickrock that’s as fun to ride in the wet (when nearby dirt trails are a muddy mess) as it is in the sun. The surrounding pine and deciduous forest provide the atmosphere for these broad domes while also providing merciful shade on summer days.

Also a big fan of scenic waterfalls? Done. Dupont features four incredible waterfalls where you can cool off, snap a picture, and hop back on your bike to continue exploring. The signage is excellent, the trails dense, the atmosphere bike-friendly.

The Best Bike for Dupont State Forest

You’ll spend plenty of time hooting with joy as you roll over smooth rock domes, but you’ll certainly want some suspension to soak up the gnar on those forested descents. For this reason, our pick for the best bike for Dupont is a Specialized Stumpjumper Pro. With FOX Float suspension front and rear and a 12-speed drivetrain to scoot you up to stunning 360º views, this bike takes the prize.

2. The Northeast Kingdom, Vermont

Two east-coast trail systems in one article! Madness, you say? Perhaps. That is, until you arrive in this bucolic, utterly picturesque little corner of the Jewel of New England. The Northeast Kingdom is a biker’s paradise. Part cute little villages, and part wild frontier where pedalers and skiers rule, it’s everything you want at the end of a long road trip.

The nucleus of biking here is Kingdom Trails. People drive from all over to experience the 100+ miles of perfectly sculpted singletrack, featuring some of the flowiest riding in the country. When you’re done at Kingdom Trails, head over to explore the trails at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, where half are machine-built, and half are some straight-up, old-school north shore. Finish off with the Morrisville trail system, where things take a rockier turn.

The Best Bike for the Northeast Kingdom

This trail system works with the landscape, and the landscape was formed by mile-thick glaciers scraping everything below into fun, fast-draining terrain. You can get away with just about any XC bike here, but you’re going to have so much fun on the Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 that it makes our pick. 

This aggressive monster screams attitude. With a 65.5º head angle and 430mm chainstays with a ±10mm flip chip, the Tallboy is perfect for staying flowy on Kingdom Trails, climbing all over some rocky north shore at Craftsbury Outdoor Center, and dialing in some enduro runs in Morrisville.

3. Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe reigns supreme in the Californian highlands and offers more biking than you’ll be able to do in a single trip. As the largest alpine lake in North America, Tahoe offers a jaw-dropping backdrop from just about every spot on this trail system. 

Recent trail developments have officially made Tahoe a must-ride destination, with wild-west forests, cliffside traverses, flowy downhills, and rewarding climbs everywhere you turn. Don’t miss the famous Flume Trail, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, or the Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Best Bike for Lake Tahoe

The BMC Fourstroke 01 LT One is a race bike that’s not afraid to cut loose. With a premium carbon frame, minimal frills, and 120mm of suspension to bounce around on, this is the perfect bike for covering miles — which is exactly what you’ll want to do in this stunning landscape.

About Mike’s Bikes: Mike’s Bikes is a growing family of local bike shops, all with a singular purpose - to get as many people on bikes as possible. We locally own and operate twelve wildly successful stores in Northern California. In addition to our brick-and-mortar shops, mikesbikes.com is one of the top online bicycle retail sites in the country.