Because finding your flow state shouldn’t require a spendy lift ticket
The uptick in new school trail development in recent years has catalyzed new riders to get into the sport while offering a fresh experience for folks who’ve been riding for many years. And this revolution isn’t just happening inside of pay to play, lift-served bike parks. Flow trails are popping up in backcountry and backyard trails systems across the country.
Though some riders feel that flow trails are a degradation of the challenge in mountain biking, I disagree. In most communities, these trails have proven popular with riders of all abilities. Their in-sloped (bermed) turns allow riders to maintain speed while rollers, jumps, and a variety of other manmade features create a high-speed roller coaster experience. While natural trails with more rugged and technical features will always rank highly on my list, I see flow trails as just one more reason to love mountain biking.
Add these public land flow trails to your to-do list today, and forget about your credit card and DH bike when it’s time to shred.
Demo Flow Trail
Soquel Demonstration Forest // Santa Cruz, CA
A prime example of a community coming together to make something great happen, the Demo Forest Flow Trail features four straight miles of high-speed pumps, rollers, jumps, and berms. Managed by Cal Fire, the Soquel Demo Forest showcases how land management can integrate all forms of land use in a constructive and cohesive manner.
Built by volunteers with paid design and oversight, this trail came out perfectly—more advanced shredders can pin it to clear jumps and roost berms, while more entry-level riders can enjoy the smooth flow at slower speeds. A gravel road return climb means this trail is easily lapped over and over—as a whole or in segments.
South Trails // Marquette, MI
If you’ve ever spent time in this magnificent part of the Midwest, you know that the locals have been working their butts off to make this quaint community on Michigan’s U.P. super attractive to mountain bikers. One such example of that hard work is the Down Dogger Trail.
Rated black diamond due to its often steep grade and plentiful opportunities for massive amounts of air and speed, this trail is a highlight of Marquette’s South Trails. Down Dogger also features some pretty unique bridge and rockwork—examples of the heart and soul put into the build. At just under a mile in length, Down Dogger is easily lapped over and over again off of Benson Grade Road.
Post Canyon // Hood River, OR
Post Canyon is known for its diversity of trails and easy accessibility from nearby Hood River. It features an extensive skills area near the family man staging area, numerous bike-optimized trails, and a vast network of moto-inspired trails higher up the hill. Gran Prix, or GP as the locals call it, is a must ride if you’re at Post. Even in the dusty dregs of mid-summer, its machine-built tread and perfect berms allow riders to let it run with immense confidence while the well-sculpted jumps offer a progressive way to improve your airborne skills.
Check out the Post Canyon Hot Lap featured ride to sample both Upper and Lower GP, as well as some of the trail system’s other top trails.
Coldwater Mountain // Anniston, AL
With an extensive amount of planning and development, Cold Water Mountain in Anniston, Alabama, is a prime example of fully bike-optimized trail system that features everything from beginner to advanced trail. Boasting 6.4 miles of almost completely continuous flowing descent, Bomb Dog sits in the middle of the spectrum with a blue, intermediate level rating. Advanced riders should be on the lookout for tons of optional A-lines along the way and have confidence that the trail was built to be ridden at high speeds.
Galbraith Mountain // Bellingham, WA
Extensive efforts by the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC) have resulted in public access and extensive trail development on this privately held property. Unemployment Line features some really well thought out design and, though less “sculpted” than some of the other trails on the list, rides extremely well, contouring the landscape and capitalizing on natural features. Unemployment Line also offers up progression, allowing riders to try smaller features first before eventually working up to the optional gap jumps.
Featuring more than 25 miles of bike-optimized trails, Raystown Lake is a prime stop in the mid-Atlantic. This IMBA Trail Solutions project is an excellent example of what can be done with a small amount of elevation and some good dirt. The entire trail network features constant undulation and varying degrees of difficulty. If you live in the East and have never been to Raystown Lake, start making plans. This trail system is so much fun, in fact, that it’s home to Dirtrag Magazine’s annual Dirt Fest event. Oh, and as of summer 2016, there’s a state of the art five-acre bike park on the property, too!
As a recent addition to the expansive network of trails Snowmass Village has to offer, this machine-built ribbon of flow allows riders of all ability levels to let gravity do the work. A dedicated climbing trail offers a return to the top of the downhill-only Deadline Trail. A variety of pumps can be doubled by advanced riders but are easily managed by more novice ones. Thanks to strong advocacy from the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, Deadline is located on Town of Snowmass land and is managed by the local Parks and Rec department, who funded the progressive trail project.
Sandy Ridge Trail System // Mt. Hood, OR
Perhaps the premier example of new school trail development on public lands, Sandy Ridge is home to some absolutely classic descents. And Flow Motion sits high atop the list. Featuring massive berm after massive berm, Flow Motion begs riders to utilize every pump, lip, and roller to generate as much speed as possible during the descent. The dirt is pretty darn good, too, thanks to this trail’s location on Mount Hood’s windward (read: damp) side.
When one lap isn’t enough for you (trust me, it won’t be) a quick half-mile pedal up the gravel service road is all that separates you from as many more laps as your legs will allow. Just be sure to leave some gas in the tank. You won’t want to miss the likes of Quid Pro Flow, Two Turntables and a Microwave, and Hide and Seek. Follow the Sandy Ridge Full Tour for the complete experience.