As a giant and diverse nation, the U.S. is packed with stunning natural landscapes begging to be explored. Cycling allows you to cover long distances while enjoying the feeling of being outdoor – and luckily cycling trails reside all over the country. Get ready for three trails that are perfect for witnessing the country’s beauty while physically challenging yourself by bike. Before you attempt these trails, be sure to bring your professionally fitted bike and the proper eco-friendly cycling apparel.
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McKenzie Pass, Oregon
For a long, difficult ride with a variety of gorgeous scenery, cycle along the McKenzie Pass in central Oregon. With 38 miles of smooth, paved road winding through forests, this trail reaches an elevation of 5,325 feet and is only open during summer and fall.
The trail starts at the Village Green Park on the eastern side of the summit and climbs along Highway 242 for most of the way. Beginning with five miles of easy ride, you can soar through the thick, rich Oregon forest on a pristine road with turns and curves to keep things interesting.
After the peaceful first five miles, it is important to begin pacing yourself as the incline begins.
To further explore the breathtaking wilderness of the area, visit Proxy Falls Trail Head. You can park your bike in a parking lot, located about nine miles into the ride, and hike a half mile to view some elegant tumbling waterfalls.
Nature’s impressive phenomenons only continue as you near the summit. The dense forest transitions into a landscape of dried lava flow with dead conifers bursting out of the dark, ashy rock. The Dee Wright Observatory, a small building composed completely of hardened black lava, lies at the trail’s summit. From the top of the building, you can see the towering Three Sisters volcanic peaks, the crystal waters of Clear Lake, and other distant mountains.
The westward descent leads towards Highway 126, with spacious, clearly marked curves accompanying the thrilling ride. Full of natural diversity and great riding conditions, the McKenzie Pass is sure to amaze.
Flume Trail, Nevada
One of the most popular bike trails in Nevada, the Flume Trail snakes along lake Tahoe and offers incredible views. Carved into the steep cliffside, the single track road weaves through mountain terrain and is suitable for beginner or intermediate cyclists. The first four miles of the trail include over 1,000 feet of steep climbing, but the rest of the trail is an easy descent. However, with elevations between 7,000 and 8,000 feet and steep drops neighboring the bike path, anyone who is afraid of heights may want to pass on the Flume Trail.
But for adventure-seeking cyclists, the dramatic views on this trail are worth the initial incline. The entire trail is 14 miles, and the smooth, dusty path is free from rocks or roots that may hinder your ride. Because the trail is quite sandy, it is important to always brake and turn with caution to avoid sliding.
The best months to tackle the Flume Trail are between June and October, and Flume Trail Mountain Bike Company offers daily shuttles to the beginning of the trail on the eastern side of Lake Tahoe. Marlette Saddle is the name of the summit, where you can relax at a lodge and savor the accomplishment of reaching the top.
As you reach the southern end of the trail on the descent, the path becomes more technically challenging as you enter a dense forest landscape. Soon you will pass Marlette Creek and eventually emerge on the edge of Marlette Lake. Ride along the gorgeous, glassy waters for about one mile, or take a quick swimming break. The Flume Trail used to be an aqueduct that carried water from the Marlette Dam in the 19th century, and now it is a captivating trail for cyclists who love to immerse themselves in nature.
Cedar Rock Trail, North Carolina
Located among the 100 miles of bike trails within the DuPont State Forest, the Cedar Rock Trail may be the best for mountain biking in the southeastern USA. Set only 20 minutes from Brevard, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains, experienced bikers can find a challenging ride with panoramic views. The trail is shaped like a figure 8 loop, is mainly single track, and has clearly marked intersections since neighboring trails in the State Park are favorites among hikers and horseback riders as well.
Begin this short but exhilarating 2.2 mile loop at the Corn Mill Shoals Parking Area. The start of the trail is a steep incline, and the terrain is quite rocky as you climb through the forest. Once you reach the top you will emerge onto the smooth granite slick rock, and the fun begins. The rock has surprisingly great friction but be careful to avoid the moss and other vegetation along the side of the trail. Slick Rock is rare to find in the Appalachians, so people flock from all over the east coast to glide along the granite surfaces of Cedar Rock.
Near the summit, cyclists can enjoy views of the vast Bervard Valley and Pisgah Ridge. Autumn is the perfect time to visit to watch the beautiful forest views shift from a rich green to a medley of red, orange, and yellow as the leaves change. The summit lies at the top of Cedar Mountain, and the 10,000 acres of DuPont forest make for lovely scenery while you catch your breath.
The granite slick rock on the descent towards the south gives the trail its fame, with technical turns and short, bumpy, steep sections. This trail is meant for advanced mountain bikers, so those with the skills and the courage will have the time of their lives. Eventually the trail returns to the forest, and an intersection with Little River lies near the end of the trail. Follow this fast, double track dirt path along the river to see multiple cascading waterfalls and end your journey on a wonderful note.