Glowing trees accentuate the vistas as you rip some primo singletrack on these amazing fall rides.
Leaves wisp beneath your tires as the changing season lights up views in every direction. A glow fills the scenery as far as the eye can see while you drink in the crisp fall air. There isn’t much that beats a sunny autumn ride filled with mind-melting color across the landscape.
Two years on the road as a member of IMBA’s Trail Care Crew—and living full-blown #vanlife in my current role as a field marketer for Kitsbow Apparel—means I’ve been fortunate enough to sample some of North America’s top trails.
To get you psyched on the changing season, I’ve rounded up a few of my all-time favorite rides from around the country that are that much better when the leaves change. Even after the leaves have fallen, tacky dirt and cooler temps add to the allure of these classics.
The Whole Enchilada: Moab, UT
This unique shuttle ride is like no other in the world, especially when you hit it at peak foliage. Aspen trees in the La Sal Mountains put on a spectacular show of color from late September through mid-October, and the Whole Enchilada is a prime ride to experience them from.
Descend from the high point on Burro Pass through an alpine forest ecosystem as you make your way to the Moab desert environment and the Porcupine Rim Trail. The weather in the La Sals can be dicey this time of the year (snow can fall early), so in order to experience the amazing foliage around Warner Lake, riders must be shuttled up to at least the Hazard County Trail.
Wild Oak National Recreation Trail: Stokesville, VA
This 25+ mile backcountry loop offers a diverse trail experience and is sure to please riders of all interests. Traversing through the rugged and rocky Shenandoah Mountains, the Wild Oak NRT is lined with massive Oak trees and dense ground vegetation that explode with color throughout the fall. Done in its entirety, this is a challenging ride with more than 7,800 feet of elevation gain, but be sure to give yourself time to enjoy the massive views of the Shenandoah Valley.
Kenosha Pass: Jefferson, CO
As one of Colorado’s more accessible high country rides–just a 90-minute drive from downtown Denver–Section 6 of the Colorado Trail begins just north of Highway 285 at Kenosha Pass. Though timing can be tricky from year to year, riders that hit this one between early September and October have the best chance of being immersed in the sea of gold, yellow, and orange aspens that have made this outing a fall time cult classic.
The main event starts directly from the parking lot as riders traverse flowy singletrack that’s blanketed in golden leaves falling from the surrounding stands of massive aspen. A grinding and technical 1,600′ climb leads riders above treeline where, assuming normal Colorado bluebird conditions, they’ll drink in views of the Fairplay valley and the 10-Mile Range near Breckenridge. From Georgia Pass, riders can retrace their steps or opt for the fast and rugged descent of the West Jefferson Trail.
Brown County Epic: Nashville, IN
A true Midwestern gem, Brown County State Park has been developed around providing a bike-specific experience. With a wide range of trails dedicated to mountain bikers, excellent amenities, and lush vegetation, this prime midwestern ride is made better during autumn because of spectacular colors, lower humidity, and cooler temps.
Trails like Green Valley and Hesitation Point offer up a mix of intermediate features paired with fun and flowing narrow singletrack. More technical options include Bobcat and Schooner, with exposure, technical rock features–everything from rock gardens to strategically placed optional lines–and some steep climbs and descents.
Rock Lake: Cable, WI
Known for its Northwoods backcountry feel, this loop works its way through the dense hardwood forest surrounding Rock Lake. Riders are treated to rolling hills, incredible broad-leaf colors, a mix of trail features, and excellent vistas over Rock Lake. Continued trail development is the result of lots of hard work by the local advocacy organization CAMBA.
Adams Gulch: Ketchum, ID
Known for it’s mellow, flowy trails, Adam’s Gulch is a prime spot to peep some glowing aspen trees. Situated just northwest of the quaint ski town Sun Valley, this trail network offers great afternoon sun and a warm welcoming way to get out and enjoy the fall colors on two wheels.
Oak Mountian: Burmingham, AL
With a name like Oak Mountain, this 10,000-acre park in the heart of Alabama is a prime spot for leaf peeping and pedaling. Oak Mountain features trails that suit riders of almost any ability level–from four-foot-wide beginner trails to primitive and technical rock-filled trails. Beautiful, mature oak trees paired with massive rock outcroppings and historic trails make Oak Mountain a must-hit ride in the Southeast.