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Being outside, the wind in my face, legs and lungs burning, speed, adrenalin, focus, overcoming fears, and amazing friendships are just a few reasons I love mountain biking.

I have been asked to write my proposed bucket list of trails to ride at least once in a lifetime. I have to begin by saying I haven’t even scratched the surface of trails in the world. My personal bucket list is to ride as many trails around the world with as many amazing people as possible. The joy and satisfaction I get from mountain biking, and now teaching mountain biking, would not be made possible without experiencing magical trails beneath my wheels.

Maybe I’m biased because I grew up in Oregon, but I believe it’s the perfect place for all levels of mountain biking. It has moist, mossy trails near rivers; freeride trails provide a place to progress and the high desert has long sections of fast flow, rollers and jumps that keep people coming back for more.

So without having ridden in Italy, New Zealand or the Gobi Desert, I present to you suggested North American trails to add to your list of must-rides.

Weeping Wall on N.U.T. by Russ Risdon

The North Umpqua River Trail - Oregon (namely Dread and Terror section)

I ride a lot of trails and I always go back to this section of trail as one of my all-time favorites. Don’t get me wrong; exploring all sections of the 70-plus mile trail that meanders along the beautiful Umpqua River is awesome! The unique thing about the “NUT” is that each section is vastly different from the one before it. Dread and Terror has fast, loamy downhills with just enough technical to satisfy your desire to work for it. You can see the tops of the steep punchy climbs that take every bit of effort to crest without tapping out. And the rock sections tend to have water flowing down the middle when the “weeping wall” of moss sheds tears of joy onto the trail. Bonus: The Umpqua hot springs are absolutely worth a dip.

Bend, Oregon

If you can get it when the dirt is tacky, Bend will blow your mind. If it’s dusty, you will still have fun going fast and getting loose. The trail network in Bend, Oregon is a massive spider web of singletrack with so many options to link trails together, it’s nearly impossible to count the ways. If you don't have the benefit of riding with a local, book a tour with Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours because their guides (sometimes I’m one of them) all shred and love to show off the trails to riders of all experience levels.

Beauty in Bend by Corie Spruill

My personal favorites include parking at Skyliners trailhead, heading out the Tumalo Creek trail and climbing up North Fork past seven waterfalls to Happy Valley to Flagline to South Fork. I also love Tiddlywinks flow trail, Tyler’s traverse flow trail and Whoops berm/jump trail. Bend is a cool town with a bonus of breweries galore, (Deschutes Brewery is a favorite) and is definitely worth a visit. September and October are the best months to come.

Group ride in Oakridge, Oregon by Seth Graham

Oakridge, Oregon

This quaint little logging town fell asleep for a while in the 80’s until mountain bike trails began populating the surrounding hills. Oakridge is nestled in the foothills of the Western Cascade Mountains, above the valley fog, and below the heavy snowfall. It was recognized by BIKE magazine as one of “America’s Five Best Mountain Biking Towns” because of the hundreds of miles of glorious single-track. I recommend calling Oregon Adventures to arrange a shuttle drop. Even with a shuttle drop, you will pedal plenty. The kicker about Oakridge is you can do a 3+ hour cross-country ride, and then get shuttled to a few of the many downhill options. For my birthday one year, we shuttled all day and didn’t ride the same downhill trail twice.

Learn more about Oakridge in this Vital MTB slideshow

Retallack Lodge and Heli Drop on Powerslave above Nelson, British Columbia

Retallack has a special magic about it. The cozy and inviting lodge is nestled in the heart of the Selkirk Mountains with steep, loamy trails that end at the front door. With a 15-minute shuttle to the top, the Lodge Trail never seems to get old. The best way to experience the area is to book a tour through Retallack. Stay in the lodge, eat amazing food, get a guided tour of their local trails and take a helicopter up to a trail called Powerslave that starts on a peak above Nelson. These particular trails are best on longer travel all-mountain bikes rather than small cross-country bikes.

You may have heard of Kirt Voreis. Kirt is Lindsey's husband and he's shredding Retallack with reckless abandon.

The Lodge at Retallack.

Copper Harbor, Michigan

Yes, Copper Harbor is off the beaten path but it’s sure worth a visit. This cute 4-by-10-block town sits on a peninsula that juts out into giant Lake Superior. It’s easy to find peace here. There is no cell service and the locals welcome you with open arms.


Brockway Mountain is covered in a web of exciting singletrack that spits you out a few blocks from town and Lake Superior. It is a must to end a ride and jump off the pier into the lake. The trails are zippy and playful. You can climb to the top of Brockway in 15-minutes via a paved road or singletrack, or shuttle up 5-minutes and do laps on any type of trail that meets your fancy. These trails are filled with jumps, long wood bridges, rocks, roots, flow, berms and rollers. Thanks to a large contribution from Bell helmets, local trail builder extraordinaire Aaron Rogers and his crew recently finished a World Cup-level downhill course. You can’t lose in Copper Harbor.

Riding photo by Benjamin Ciavola

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