Manhandler

Top 10 Trails of 2022: Greg Heil's Favorite New MTB Rides

The 10 best new trails that Greg explored in 2022.

Mountain Biking Difficult, Severe, Extreme

Also in British Columbia, CanadaYukon, Canada

Manhandler
Manhandler Photo: Greg Heil

Description

I've spent my life crisscrossing North America and Europe in search of the best mountain bike trails. Despite dedicating over 18 years to this quest, the list of trails to ride only seems to keep growing ever longer!

2022 saw my fiancee Christine and I truly become migratory animals, covering tens of thousands of miles in our camper van in search of the best hiking and mountain biking trails. We celebrated the beginning of the year along the US/Mexico border in Big Bend, Texas. Over the next seven months, we slowly journeyed 4,000 miles north to Fairbanks, Alaska, exploring hiking and mountain biking trails all along the way.

Then, we turned around and headed back south again, charting a circuitous path through the mountains of Western Canada and the Western USA, visiting new destinations and old favorites alike. Eventually, we ended the year back in Arizona, almost as far south as we had begun.

While I rode mountain bike trails all across this massive swath of North America, 2022 had one major focal point: British Columbia. Between the trip to Alaska and the trip back down, I spent about two and a half months in Canada riding almost daily. On this trip, I checked off dozens of epic trails in top-tier BC destinations, such as Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, North Vancouver, Cumberland, Burns Lake, and Smithers. The most notable stops included two weeks spent on Vancouver Island and finally getting to visit and ride the legendary trails on the North Shore!

After pedaling over 2,000 miles of mountain bike trails this year, culling my 2022 list down to just 10 trails was almost impossible, so you'll see a "runner's up" section after the main list. Finally, one quick reminder: these are my top 10 new favorite trails. Any re-rides of trails that I'd already ridden in years past don't qualify for the list. In 2022 I re-rode dozens of epic trails, including the Monarch Crest, the Whistler Bike Park, Porcupine Rim, Captain Ahab, Post Canyon, and so many more. Yeah, it was a pretty fantastic year on the mountain bike!

Top 10 Trails of 2022

While part of me wanted to create a better geographic dispersal for this list, I decided to rigorously analyze the caliber of the trails on an international scale. Due to this rigorous comparison, 7 of the top 10 trails on this list are found in BC. 2 of the top 10 are found in the Yukon Territory. And only 1 of the top 10 is from the USA: Utah.

  1. Fat Tug Loop, Pemberton, BC

Fat Tug wasn't the longest loop ride of the year, but damn this is a short but sweet, absolutely high-quality ride! With superb singletrack running through deep forest, entertaining trail features, beautiful views from the top, and a rushing river at the bottom, Fat Tug is a can't-miss trail.

  1. Eagle Mountain Figure-8: Manhandler and Eastbound and Down, Coquitlam, BC

I found the trail system on Eagle Mountain in Coquitlam to be extremely entertaining and filled with fantastic singletrack and high-quality features, with Manhandler as an epic highlight. Overall, I enjoyed these trails much more than the trails on Mount Seymour and Mount Fromme.

  1. Paradise Rim, St. George, UT

This ride is short, but it packs an incredible bang-for-your-buck punch! With fun climbing on slickrock slabs to impressive views over the city of St. George, even the uphill portion of the ride is fun. But when it comes time to rip downhill, the massive ledge drops, rock rolls, and choose-your-own-adventure feel are an absolute riot!

  1. Goats-> Grizzly Bear -> AK DNR, Carcross, YT

While I would love to include all of Montana Mountain on this list, if I had to narrow it down to just one trail, it would have to be Grizzly Bear. This steep, full-commitment descent alternates between loamy dirt, steep chutes, root webs, and slippery rock slabs. The marquee double slab roll feature is unbelievably aesthetic!

  1. Top 5 Cumberland Trails in 1 Ride, Cumberland, BC

It's impossible to hit all the best trails in Cumberland Forest in one ride, but this route does a pretty good job of trying! Cumberland is a truly spectacular mountain bike town that you definitely need to put on your bucket list if you haven't been yet.

  1. Out There Loop, Whistler, BC

While this is another short jaunt, the quality of the trail is exceptionally high! The hits never stop on this raucous descent, with superb rock slab rolls and sweet singletrack.

  1. Gnar Wall and Mother T Figure-8, Whitehorse, YT

Whitehorse was one of our favorite towns that we visited this year, and this figure-8 loop incorporating Mother T and Gnar Wall is a true gem of a ride. Mother T provides fast descending on loamy dirt, and Gnar Wall is brutally gnarly and absurdly exposed. The climb to the top is surprisingly entertaining and beautiful, too.

  1. Mount Seymour: C-Buster and Severed D Double Loop, North Vancouver, BC

It was tough to choose which trail on the North Shore I enjoyed the most, but you can't go wrong with some of the classics like Severed D and C-Buster. Riders in North Vancouver are so lucky to live there!

  1. Piper Down Shuttle, Smithers, BC

This was a tough one to choose because the nearby Backdoor shuttle is longer and arguably more epic. But the quality of the Piper Down trail is just so high it's impossible not to like it! This steep shuttle incorporates chunky high-speed singletrack, steep rock slab rides, and also visits a Piper plane crash... with the opportunity to hit a gap jump over the downed plane!

  1. Top of the World -> Creekside, Whistler, BC

I almost didn't put this one on my top 10 list, but this year was my first riding Top of the World in the Whistler bike park. I eventually decided to include it because the scale of this descent, served by a series of 3 chairlifts, is truly monumental! However, I do think that many people who write about Top of the World overstate its epicness. I can point to a dozen trails in Colorado alone with better high-alpine mountain biking than you'll find on the Top of the World. But still, if you get the chance, you gotta ride it.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Boer Mountain, BC

Boer Mountain was easily one of the coolest trail systems I rode in 2022, but of the trails I personally rode there, I couldn't pick one that would break into the top 10 list. I do think I missed a few gems, and I would love to go back! If I could pick an entire trail system to include, I would put Boer Mountain in the top 10, but as it is, Boer will have to settle for an honorable mention.

  1. Brown Pow, Bellingham, WA

What an absolute gem of a deep-forest loamy descent this is! This trail stayed on the top 10 list through a number of revisions, but, unfortunately didn't quite make the cut. Damn, guess I rode too many good trails in 2022!

  1. Jardine Juniper, Logan, UT

My ride on the Jardine Juniper trail was one of my favorite mountain bike experiences of the year, but objectively, the caliber of the trail isn't quite high enough to compete with the array of famous BC trails that I rode. Still, if you're passing through the region, you need to check out the incredible riding near Logan!

  1. Dark Crystal, Whistler, BC

Dark Crystal is a fantastic ride, but in my opinion, there wasn't one particular part of the ride that really stuck out and blew my mind. Its most attractive feature is how consistent, steep, and fast of a descent it is compared to some of the jankier pedal-accessed trails in Whistler. But if you compare Dark Crystal to numerous other trails across the province, it doesn't quite stand out enough.

  1. High Society Loop, Whistler, BC

Ok, what's the reason that High Society didn't make the list? Hmm, tough to quite put my finger on it, so... you should definitely go ride this one, too!

Routes included

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