Ohio boasts an extensive network of mountain bike trails that riders of any level are bound to enjoy. In addition, many of these trails are in mountain-bike-specific areas designed with riders in mind, as well as several biking-only locations where foot traffic isn’t allowed. Here’s a range of trail suggestions, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly ride, some rolling dirt singletrack to help you ease into the sport, intermediate tracks that let you build your skills, or heart-pounding challenges if you’re a more advanced rider.
- Location: Strongsville, OH, in Mill Stream Run Reservation, 20 miles southwest of Cleveland
- Length: 9-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Beginner/intermediate
- Best For: New riders looking for a hearty ride
Nestled in the Cleveland metro area, Mill Stream Run Reservation is a park that offers up numerous recreation opportunities. In addition to the paved All-Purpose Trail, there are two shared-use trails that are open to biking. However, be sure to stay on the biking trails, as there is a hiking-only trail that you could accidentally end up on if you aren’t careful. If you’re heading out with non-riders, the park also offers hiking and horse trails, plus fishing, boating, archery, picnic spots and more, as well as several programs and events to keep all parties entertained.
Begin this ride from the lower parking lot, taking the Yellow Trail clockwise. The trail weaves and flows along gentle singletrack through the forest. Stream crossings, bridges and a bit of boardwalk keep things interesting as you make your way south. When you reach the intersection with the Red Trail, stay right to follow it along the edge of the hillslope above the river. Cross the road to continue following the Red Trail downhill. Here, you can really pick up a bit of speed on some fast and flowy singletrack. As the trail loops back toward the junction with the Yellow Trail, there is a right turn that will take you onto Red Trail Spur. While not part of this ride, the spur trail provides a couple of features and bit more length for those who want a challenge. If you choose to opt out of the spur trail, continue on the Red Trail to finish up the ride. Though the length might seem a bit intimidating to some newer riders, with smoother trails and nice flow, this is a great option for beginners.
- Location: Swanton, OH, in Oak Openings Preserve, 25 miles west of Toledo
- Length: 5-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Beginner/intermediate
- Best For: Families and beginners looking for some unique trails
Oak Openings Preserve is a great park with a rather extensive 12-mile mountain bike trail system. The park also boasts trails for hiking, skiing and horseback riding. Though most of the bike trails in this park are rated easy to intermediate, the numerous bridges and wooden boardwalks make the riding in this area truly unique. The bike trails at Oak Openings are perfect for a family outing or for new riders looking to get out for a spin. Plus, with a few optional features out on the trails, this is an ideal place to practice and improve your skills.
At 5 miles, this ride does not use all of the available biking trails in the system, but it does give riders a good taste of what the park has to offer. As described here, the ride follows a clockwise route; however, the direction of travel changes based on the day of the week—so be sure to check the day’s directionality before heading out! Follow the Wabash Cannonball Trail for a short distance to the first junction with Hognose Snake Loop. Take this trail to head north (clockwise) on the Hognose Snake Loop as it winds through the woods and low wetlands. Here is where you’ll find some of those bridges and boardwalks that flow along the terrain. At the junction with the Blazing Star Loop, turn left to continue north. Here you’ll find rolling, elevated boardwalks that flow and wind through the woods. As you head around the loop clockwise, there is a turn for the Blue Racer Loop, which leads to the western edge of the park—this is a great option if you want to add some more mileage to the ride. As you head south and rejoin the Hognose Snake Loop, the trail opens up a bit, allowing riders to pick up speed and carve some swooping turns before finishing up back at the start.
- Location: Cuyahoga Falls, OH, in Hampton Hills Metropark, 28 miles south of Cleveland
- Length: 6.4-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
- Best For: A workout on fast trails free of foot traffic
A seemingly rare thing, Hampton Hills Metropark offers up the mountain biker’s dream: bike-specific trails that are closed to foot traffic. These routes are not the most heavily trafficked in the area, so the fast trails, tough climbs, fun descents, tight turns and optional features make this an excellent place to practice your skills and work on increasing your speed without the worry of encountering hikers and horseback riders. However, keep an eye out as you rip along—some sections of these trails are one-way, while others are two-way. Make sure you follow directionality indicated by signs and watch out for other bikers.
The ride heads south from the parking lot and takes a quick spin on the Green Trail. This is a flowy singletrack that allows you to warm up your legs and get your heart pumping before jumping into the heartier intermediate trails. After the warm-up, pass by the parking area heading north to the intermediate trails via the gravel doubletrack Intermediate Connector. As you leave the connector and dip into the woods on Upper Loop, Woodward Creek Loop and Woodward Creek Western Extension, the trails get a bit more challenging. Along the fun, twisting singletrack, you’ll discover wooden features, berms and drops. Many of the features have ride-arounds but not all of them, so take your time and scope out any features before hitting them with speed. The trail is dotted with punchy climbs, creek crossings and rooty sections, making for an entertaining ride. As you head back toward the gravel connector trail, you can opt to take a second lap or return via some fast descents to the parking lot.
- Location: Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, in Huffman Metropark, 61 miles northeast of Cincinnati and 65 miles west of Columbus.
- Length: 7.2-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
- Best For: A fun ride on trails designed specifically for mountain biking
The Metroparks Mountain Biking Area in Huffman Metropark is a sustainable trail system whose creators followed IMBA standards to design the area specifically for mountain biking. The trails have been laid out and built in order to sit lightly on the land, help prevent erosion and effectively manage the flow of riders. The area has trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced, and takes riders through beautiful woods using the natural flow of the land. Also, since this trail system is open exclusively to mountain bikes, you don’t have to worry about other traffic!
Take the Parking Connector into the trail system to reach Twisted, an engaging warm-up that meanders through the woods. Take this trail heading south. At the junction with Mr. Zig Zag and Upper and Lower Stealth, take a sharp right onto Mr. Zig Zag and enjoy one of the most fun trails in the park. This trail ends where it begins, so once finished, take a right to hop onto Voodoo, which will take you down to Hawk’s Lair via a series of elevated bridges. Just as you get to Hawk’s Lair, you’ll be faced with a steep hill; this will test your mettle for the rest of the ride. It descends a rather technical section before twisting back to an area with some very advanced features. Be honest with yourself and bypass these if they’re beyond your skill level. As you head north again, make a right onto Upper and Lower Stealth and recharge on a great roller-coaster of a ride. At its northern terminus, bang a right onto Creekside, a smoother and easier trail that will eventually wind back to the Parking Connector, finishing your ride.
- Location: Grandview, OH, in Mitchell Memorial Forest, 18 miles northwest of Cincinnati
- Length: 8.2-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
- Best For: Lunch loops or post work rides
Mitchell Memorial Forest doesn’t have a huge system like some other areas; however, the trails were designed with mountain bikers in mind. These trails are also open to hikers and runners, so keep an eye out as you rip along these super fun tracks. There are some technical features, and the terrain is steep enough to entice more advanced riders while still being accessible to those improving their skills. Just be courteous to other riders and users when you head out. There is a daily-use fee of $3, or you can buy an annual pass for $10.
The stacked loops in this area make it easy to create a ride that’s as long or short as you want. Both loops are singletrack with great flow and some rock gardens sprinkled in for good measure. Though this route follows a clockwise direction, both trails can be ridden either way. From the parking area, head out on A Loop, which follows the terrain closely, even going over an old foundation. Stay left at the bailout point to continue on, passing a small pond and a short but fun downhill section. Where B Loop splits off, turn left to head down to it. This trail is a bit more technical than Loop A, with more rocks on the trail and some bigger rock gardens. Despite the rocks, the trail flows nicely, and you can set up to carve some fast corners. Once you finish the loop, head back toward A Loop—hang a left, and you’ll find a great downhill run. The ride finishes back at the parking lot.
Camp Tuscazoar MTB Trail
- Location: Dover, OH, at Camp Tuscazoar, 78 miles south of Cleveland
- Length: 5.8-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Intermediate/advanced
- Best For: A challenging ride with great views
Originally developed in 1920 as a Boy Scout Camp, Camp Tuscazoar is now owned and run by the Camp Tuscazoar Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the area for all to enjoy. Though generally used by youth groups, the camp has a system of trails that are open to the public; riders must simply sign in and out at the board in the parking area. This riding area has recently been revamped by the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association into a more sustainable flow trail with some technical features along the way that spice things up. Though this ride offers a bit of a challenge, especially for intermediate riders, it’s a ton of fun and provides some stunning views!
Keep in mind that this ride is just one option and that riders can take on extra trails and miles along the way. This is a shared-use trail, so stay alert and watch for foot traffic as you ride. Head out from the parking lot and locate the Pipestone trail behind the museum. Follow the trail up to Pioneer Point Overlook; pausing to take in the view is a great way to start this ride. After a steep descent, this trail climbs again before ending at the Troop 5 cabin. Follow the gravel Zoar Valley Trail south along the Tuscarawas River a short distance before veering left toward Roost Trail. Take the cutoff trail for a rather abrupt fire-road grind, or head up the rerouted trail following the more gradual switchback climb. At Buzzards Roost, take a right onto Iron Mine, a fast doubletrack descent—just watch out for those water bars! The trail ends where Icky’s Trail begins. This popular shared-use trail can be a bit challenging, with technical features, rock gardens, bridges and steep climbs. The trail ends with a steep gravel road climb to the parking lot. If you’re looking for more mileage, hop on any of the side trails open to bikes along the way, or follow the 10-mile Camp Tuscazoar Full Loop route.
Dow Lake Loop
- Location: Athens, OH, in Strouds Run State Park, 77 miles southeast of Columbus
- Length: 15.1-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Intermediate/advanced
- Best For: A great ride as part of a weekend adventure
Strouds Run State Park is a great place to go if you’re looking to get out of town and want to mix a bit of mountain biking into your weekend plans. With camping, boating, fishing and hiking available at the park, there is plenty to do for the non-riders in your group while you head out for a spin. Keep in mind that while there are 15 miles of mountain bike trails, you are likely to encounter foot traffic, so keep an eye out for other users—and be sure to stay off the hiking-only and bridle trails!
Though you can ride this loop in either direction, heading counterclockwise allows you to start off with the harder segments, and to look forward to the trail becoming a bit easier as you continue—not a bad option on a lengthy ride. To do so, head out of the parking lot and up the dam to start on the Sundown Trail. This long, challenging trail throws all sorts of obstacles your way, including rocks, sharp turns, dips and rooty sections. Most of this trail skirts the lake, so don’t forget to look up on occasion and take in the view through the trees. The trail ends at the road, so head left briefly on Strouds Road and then right onto State Park Road (be sure to watch for traffic). Very shortly after turning onto State Park Road, you’ll take Hollow Point Trail on the right. You’ll immediately face a tough climb which is the hardest part of this trail—the rest has some enjoyable flow. Once you finish up Hollow Point Trail, cross the road (again watch for traffic) and drop onto Thunderbunny Trail to continue some sweet, flowy riding. As you dip down a steep hill, you’ll find yourself at a parking lot. From here, head east onto Hickory Trail, the easiest trail in the loop and a great way to round out a long ride. Enjoy the lake views as you wind along the shore via a wide singletrack path.
Mohican Mountain Bike Trail
- Location: Loudonville, OH, in Mohican State Park, 76 miles northeast of Columbus
- Length: 23-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Intermediate/advanced
- Best For: A great ride mixed in to a weekend trip
Though the mountain bike trail here is the main draw, there are plenty of other things to do if you head to Mohican State Park for the weekend. The bike trail is an extremely popular and well-known loop, so despite its distance from a major metro area, it could still be a bit crowded. Though this incredible and flowy singletrack is a blast to zip along, it is open to both foot traffic and horses, so stay alert while riding and yield appropriately. This trail doesn’t have a ton of tech to contend with, but the ride earns its difficulty rating from the trail’s length and some of the rather punchy climbs. There are a few bailout points along the way, so if you’re worried about the length, you can cut the ride short via either side trails or roads.
From the parking area, head out under the bridge and back toward the campground entrance, through the parking area to the trailhead. Once on the trail, it is pretty easy to follow—just stay off the hiking trails. There are white PVC pipes marking junctions and trail mileage. Except for a couple of short stints of doubletrack and road riding, the trail is all singletrack that winds through a beautiful mixed forest. Keep an eye out for the forest gnomes early on in the trail. The climb around mile 9 is totally worth it for the newly rebuilt flowy, bermed descent that follows. A few miles after the covered bridge is a side trail that leads to a fire tower, from which you can soak up sights of the area. Finally, after about 20 miles of flowing singletrack, you reach some technical riding. Decent-sized rock gardens keep you on your toes as you wind around some large boulders. After a tough climb and a ripping descent, cross a wooden bridge to meet the road. Next, cross the river and and look for the trail sign on the other side of the road. This last mile is a riot, with rocks, mud and a nice jump to round out the ride.
- Location: Newport, OH, in Wayne National Forest, 113 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, PA
- Length: 34.8-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Advanced
- Best For: A workout of epic proportions
Starting from the Ohio River, this trail winds deep into the woods of the Wayne National Forest for a true backcountry experience. Due to its long length, remote location and lack of more accessible intermediate riding, this loop really is for the advanced and adventurous rider. You must be fully prepared with food, plenty of water, an extra layer and a basic first-aid kit (for both human and bike) as this loop will keep you out for most of the day (6 or more hours). There are a couple of escape routes should something happen while you’re out, but even with those it’s a long way to help. These trails are closed to biking, off-highway vehicles and horses from December 16 to April 14.
Park in the pullout on the edge of Highway 7 across the road from the trailhead for the Ohio View Trail. From here, the ride starts with arguably the hardest climb of the route, so be prepared for a grind with no real warm-up. There is a nice view from an overlook at the top before the route turns away and heads towards Jackson Run Trail. This trail drops you deeper into the woods and can feel quite long. Just as you start to think you’re on the wrong trail, you’ll find a sign for Archer’s Fork Loop Trail, which turns right. Follow this through multiple creek crossings, past outcrops and along bench-cut trails. Just past the metal gate on the a dirt-road section of Archer’s, look for 9 Bell Trail. You’ll be greeted by a wonderful, though short-lived, descent, as this trail soon begins to climb steeply. The 9 Bell Trail eases as you reach a road and parking area. Cross the road and jump onto Scenic River Trail. The Pioneer Trail/North Country Trail (NCT) heads to the right so be sure to not take that path. Once you reach the Greenwood Trail, you’re about 21 miles into the ride. You may be exhausted at this point, but this is where the going gets good. The next 7 miles are pure swooping downhill joy. Drop your seat and enjoy the ride! Once you hit the road, hang a left and follow the highway back to your car.
Bean Ridge/Bear Run Old School Classic
- Location: Newport, OH, in Wayne National Forest, 96 miles miles north of Charleston, WV
- Length: 14.4-mile round-trip loop
- Difficulty Rating: Advanced/expert
- Best For: A hearty ride to test your grit
Another option in Wayne National Forest in southern Ohio, this ride is not to be taken lightly. Though only comprised of roughly 60 percent singletrack (the other 40 percent is gravel road), this challenging ride is worth the effort. Tracing sections of beautiful, narrow gravel road plus sections of the Pioneer Trail/NCT, this ride makes for a stunning adventure. Though not as deep in the woods as the Wayne Forest Epic, this ride is long and follows some pretty rough trails, so you still need to be prepared with supplies. The trails in Wayne National Forest are closed to biking, off-highway vehicles and horses from December 16 to April 14, so get this loop in before winter rolls around.
Begin by climbing the dirt Brooks Road. It’s a gradual ridgeline ascent, and the trail skirts the edge of the Pioneer Trail/North Country Trail for several miles. At about 2.3 miles along Brooks Road, take the Pioneer Trail/North Country Trail: Bear Run Descent south and cross Township Road 94. Follow this for a bit to Bear Run Road and enjoy the respite—there isn’t too much elevation change in this section. Next, make a right onto the road and follow it for a ripping fast descent into Schley. A left onto County Nine Road back uphill and another left onto Township Road 381 takes you to the Pioneer Trail/North Country Trail: Pipeline segment. From here, the ride is all singletrack except for a few road crossings. There aren’t many other trails to worry about for most of this ride, so simply continue along the Pioneer Trail. The first downhill section can be pretty slick and the top is a high-speed run stunted by a sudden switchback. Stay on your toes! After you reach Bear Run Road, you have a short, steep climb (doable for the heroes among us), leading to the ridge. From here, a fast descent leads to some good old-fashioned pedaling until you cross the road and jump onto Pioneer Trail/North Country Trail: Bean Ridge, which leads to the main draw of the ride: the descent to Little Muskingum River. This is fast, steep and challenging, and the turns sneak up on you. Follow the water’s edge for a bit to a mandatory hike-a-bike section over a hill-slip. One last climb and a bomber downhill take you back to your car.