The 10 Best Bike Park Trails in North America
6 Mar 2014
By David Scorer
As we start to see the first indications that we’ll survive the winter and get back to the bikes, many of the big resort bike parks in the USA and Canada are beginning to plan for the summer season. So for the next ‘Top 10’ article we have a look at the trails themselves and put together a list of the 10 best bike park trails in North America. Now when the snow melts, you know exactly which start-gates you need to head for first! But how do you identify the best trail at any given bike park, and then what makes one trail better than the other? We’ve got in to trouble here before with the Top 10 Bike Parks in the World article, where we took a hugely engineering approach to analysing the statistics. There was some hotly debated feedback so this method obviously only gets you so far! We could take this approach again and rank trails based on the number of berms, number of jumps, average gradient, total trail length and so on, but frankly that’s an insane amount of work and we don’t have a spare super-computer to crunch the numbers.
And the reality is that it’s hugely subjective. The factors that make any trail awesome might be different for you than they are for me; you prefer air time, I like steep and technical, your buddy is all about flow… You just can’t do it that way. So the bike park trails that made our list are those with the big reputations, some-what unique, and often promoted as the ‘signature’ trail at the bike park. But more than that, they are the ones that have involved some serious thought and effort in development - where the sustained blood, sweat, and tears of the trail crew is immediately evident in the dirt, and where they have ultimately created something beautiful for us to ride. So, in alphabetical order, here are the 10 best bike park trails in North America...!
#1: A-Line at Whistler
You know it, you love it, and you’ve probably even bought the t-shirt! The original classic jump trail at Whistler Bike Park; has any trail anywhere in the world ever garnered such an epic reputation in the mountain bike community as A-Line? Spawning copycat trails at bike parks throughout North America and beyond, there’s nothing like a few laps of big air style on the A-Line hero dirt.
#2: Cruel and Unusual at Trestle
Cruel & Unusual is Trestle Bike Park’s signature jump trail and makes the visit to Winter Park in Colorado worth it all on it’s own. They have a great philosophy and approach to trail building at Trestle; “...to reward the best riders, and meanwhile not to break the ones that are working to get to be the best riders”. Understandable then, that the grin-inducing berms, drops and jumps will have you lapping Cruel & Unusual all day long!
#3: Gypsy at Northstar Tahoe
Great bike park trails do not just appear overnight. They take some thought, plenty of hard work, and a desire to iterate and improve on every aspect. The Trail Crew at Northstar Bike Park in Lake Tahoe took a meticulous approach to their work on the Gypsy Trail, improving the sections that worked and redesigning those that didn’t. And it’s that level of dedication that brings you awesome results like this…
#4: NE Style at Highland
NE Style was the first machine built trail at Highland Bike Park back in 2005 and is now the most featured trail in images and videos from Highland as it flows in and out of the woods right underneath the chairlift. It’s a black diamond machine built trail with berms, dirt, wood features and more, including the signature “SkyBrow” feature. However the real beauty is that it’s actually two trails in one, with the Highland Trail Crew having added a fully redesigned B-Line option to allow riders to build up to the biggest features on the main line. So you can pick and choose your lines all the way down the mountain. Yet another great Highland masterpiece!
#5 Paid In Full at Keystone
One of the newly redesigned trails at Keystone Bike Park and one of the longest trails on the mountain too. The Paid In Full trail weaves in and out of the trees at high-speed with features & alternate lines throughout, and there are plenty of opportunities for riders to get creative and style-out on the jumps. The trail was totally revamped by the Keystone trail crew in 2012, and since then the flowing jumps, berms and fast-paced fun has seen the trail’s reputation grow. And an added bonus for riders wanting to step-it-up and go big, the Keystone “Drop Zone” featuring 5’-22’ drops is conveniently located just off the Paid In Full trail.
#6: Pipeline at Mammoth
Famous for the Kamikaze, Mammoth Mountain Bike Park has another trail with a growing reputation. Introducing the Pipeline Trail - super fast and super dusty, there are stacks of wooden features and big hits to put a huge grin on your face. This is a trail you can practically float down if you have the ability, but is still good for others to develop their skills so they can start hitting it that little bit faster on the next run down...
#7: Super Star at Silver Star
The Super Star trail is one of the most popular trails on the hill, and has contributed to Silver Star Bike Park’s reputation for beautifully carved trails that are just plain fun. But this is inevitable with a trail crew as dedicated as Cam Sorensen and his team - we could include any number of trails there! Super Star is fast and flowy and loaded with table top jumps and smooth berms from top to bottom; as Cam puts it, “more G’s than a Nasa pilot can handle in a day!”. It’s also the intermediate grade jump trail at Silver Star which makes it awesome for pretty much anyone to ride.
#8: Top of the World at Whistler
Yes, it’s another trail at Whistler Bike Park but we can’t leave it out! Where else in North America can you ride a high altitude alpine trail at a bike park? (OK so maybe a few other places…). The trail is the fine handiwork of Tom Pro and the Gravity Logic team, and brings alpine single track to Whistler in a big way. Starting at the top of the Peak Chair, the trail runs through Whistler's insane alpine environment with berms, switchback corners and fun flowy descents throughout. Described as "a mind blowing experience which takes the flow that the Whistler Mountain Bike Park is famous for and drops it on the Peak...”, Top of the World is a unique trail experience amongst North American bike parks.
#9: Valhalla at Aspen-Snowmass
The beautifully crafted Valhalla Trail at Aspen-Snowmass Bike Park is another classic from the Whistler Gravity Logic team. Beginning at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola and descending down to the Snowmass Base Village for more than 1,400 feet of vertical drop, the trail features 2.75 miles of freeride terrain with berms, jumps, bridges, table tops, a wall ride, drop zone and even a fruit bowl!
#10: World Cup at Mont Sainte Anne
There are very few bike parks in North America where you can ride a UCI World Cup downhill race track, and there’s only one place that you can ride a trail used for the DH World Championships. That bike park is Mont Sainte Anne, and that trail is, of course, the World Cup Trail. You’ve seen the pros tear down it, so you know just how you’re supposed to ride it. It’s big, fast, loose, and awesome - well worth making the trip out East to Quebec, to give it a go yourself. A truly classic mountain bike downhill trail.
What have we missed?
If you think we've missed one then let us know. There are plenty more brilliant trails out there, so maybe your local bike park has a trail that rivals the ones here and you want to shout it out and make everyone else jealous. Ultimately it's about spreading the word of the sickest bike park trails so we can all get to ride them at least once in our lives!