First-time experiences make a huge difference on whether you’ll like a new activity—or avoid it at all costs. No surprise, then, that if your first day of mountain biking includes lots of frustration, bruises, or even a big crash, there’s a good chance you might ditch it altogether.
After you develop basic skills on some easier routes, you can stretch a bit and seek out more challenging terrain on intermediate trails. But these five trails are a great place, in bike-speak, to get in the saddle.
Choose a track that matches your skills, fitness and the experience you’re after. Most tracks are more difficult when wet. Avoid riding in the mud and rain.
Mountain Bike Trails for Beginners In Helena, MT
Eagle Scout Trail
Montana’s capital is surrounded by great mountain bike trails for all ability levels. The Eagle Scout Trail provides a super sweet bit of singletrack for the new rider. The switchbacks are of a gentle grade and have a large enough radius to not threaten a new rider. There’s one sharp climb, but it’s short enough to not be discouraging. Once this trail is mastered, the rider has a perfect step up across the street on Rodney Ridge.
Mountain Bike Trails Great for Beginners In Alabama
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
Encircling the heart of Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, the 3.9-mile Ironworks Loop (marked as the Brown Trail) is a great route for beginners. The wide, double-track path actually follows historic roads, including the Slave Quarters Trail, The Iron Haul Road and the Montevallo Stagecoach Road. While it includes a couple of moderate climbs, the trail covers easy ground and is popular with hikers, walkers, and birders, so be aware of fellow trail users.
As you travel the Ironworks Loop, you’ll enjoy creek views and visit some of the park’s significant historic sites, including a slave cemetery. From 1859 to 1863, slaves at Tannehill Ironworks cut huge sandstone rocks, and then hauled and stacked them to form the area’s three furnaces.
Once you’re more familiar with Tannehill and you’ve gained some biking experience, you can explore the area’s great intermediate routes like the Iron Runner Loop and Tri-County Marker Trail.
Dothan Forever Wild Trails
Covering 100 acres of shaded woodlands and wetlands, the Forever Wild system in Dothan includes 10.5 miles of trails for biking, hiking, and trail running.
If you’re brand new to mountain biking, try the 1-mile Beaver Flats Trail, which is the only path that isn’t singletrack. About eight feet wide in most places, it covers mild terrain and passes through attractive woods with tall magnolias and stands of oaks and pines.
If you have a bit of experience, try the 1.4-mile Stagecoach Plateau Trail. Rated somewhere between a beginner and intermediate trail, it crosses a plateau that’s about 70 feet tall and drops through banked curves in a mature hardwood forest. If you’re less experienced, you’ll be fine if you take it slow on the downhill sections.
For a bit of a thrill, try the 1.4-mile Zion Cemetery Ridge Trail. While it’s designed for beginners, the path is built on hard clay, so it rides fast. Here, you’ll also enjoy beautiful surroundings, including stands of hickory trees, oaks, and big pines. In a few areas, the path runs through patches of wetland, so grid blocks cover the ground to keep riders out of the muck.
Mountain Bike Trails For Beginner In Sedona
Bell Rock Area Trails
Raney calls Bell Rock “a great trail for first-timers.” The Bell Rock Area Trails include 16 miles of beginner-friendly riding between Courthouse Butte and Little Horse Trail. Keep an eye out for other mountain bikers using the Bell Rock trails as a connector to get from Oak Creek back to Sedona, but with mostly smooth surfaces and wide trails, there’s room to share (it’s also regularly maintained, so it’s not technical). Thanks to the killer views, this makes a memorable ride both for first-timers and newer mountain bikers looking to gain a little confidence before checking out some of Sedona’s more challenging trails.
When you’re ready to step it up from beginner to intermediate (or are feeling adventurous and don’t mind doing a little hike-a-bike), head to Chuck Wagon. This trail, accessible via the same trailhead as Long Canyon, shows off several of Sedona’s best landscapes. Chuck Wagon has many of the same flowy features you expect from modern mountain bike trails and is solidly intermediate, but throws in some new elements, like a short section of exposed slickrock and some rock steps. You’ll also get some twisty turns through classic scrubby pinyon forest. You can ride Chuck Wagon in either direction, but if you take the loop counter-clockwise, you’ll save the highlight for the end of your ride.
Mountain Bike Trails in Pretoria
Buffelsdrift Trail Park
Located within the Buffelsdrift Nature Conservancy just 15 km (9.3 mi) north of Pretoria, the Buffelsdrift Mountain Bike Park is one of the most popular and spectacular biking trails in the area. The trails are a mix of single track and jeep track with fun climbs and fast down hills and vary in length from 7 km (4.3 mi) to 50 km (31 mi). The bike park has been designed to showcase the natural beauty of the bushveld and wildlife such as kudu, zebra, impala and warthogs can be viewed while biking.
Hazeldean Valley Trails
While additions are constantly being added to the Hazeldean Valley Trails, there are now up to 42 km (26.1 mi) of well-designed single track trails to be enjoyed in the bushveld fresh air. Trails are open seven days a week and are suitable for beginners and pros. Stop by for a delicious breakfast and drinks at the Cowhouse Market. There is also a fenced-off kiddies bike park for the little ones to try their hand at safe mountain biking.
Mountain Bike Trails in Phoenix, AZ
McDowell Mountain Preserve
Despite being called a “Mountain Preserve,” the bulk of the trails in the main section of McDowell Mountain Preserve are rather flat. Most importantly, obstacles are few, non-threatening, and the main climb on the former Cactus Cup race route offers an easier ride around for those not wanting to step up the rock on a steep incline. This trail is loaded with “beginner flow, ” giving the new rider plenty of opportunity to practice turning on a secure surface (except for a few sandy washes) and play with adding speed as well.