5 Best Mountain Bike Trails in California

Put these top 5 California MTB trails on your bike-it list... NOW!

Greg Heil


Dropping into a technical rock feature. Photo: dh Reno, via Flickr Creative Commons

Enjoying some buff singletrack. Photo: dh Reno, via Flickr Creative Commons

Tunnel Creek portion of the Flume Trail. Photo: Rick Cooper via Flickr Creative Commons

Rider: Marcel Slootheer

by Greg Heil

Rider: Marcel Slootheer

by Greg Heil

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Rider: Greg Heil

by Marcel Slootheer

Rider: Greg Heil

by Marcel Slootheer

0278e670-2248-4f74-b2ee-8fe36a371455 (1).jpeg

by Greg Heil

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California is widely regarded as the birthplace of mountain biking. While Colorado can also stake a claim to this title, the California contingent dominates the lore of mountain biking’s early years. Even today, California is still the home of the vast majority of the mountain bike industry. Again, Colorado is consistently chipping away at that pie, and Washington and British Columbia also make a bid. But any way you look at it, California is objectively a mecca for mountain biking.

From the dry hills of So Cal to the soaring mountain peaks of the Sierras; the deep, dark forests found closer to the coast; and the arid peaks further to the west, California is easily one of the most diverse states in the nation. Through it all, mountain bike trails twist and turn, allowing riders to enjoy this unbelievable landscape in a truly visceral way.

Granted, some parts of California do face significant mountain bike access issues, which sours the taste of the state in the mouths of many riders. But even despite some of the local access issues, it’s impossible to deny the incredible diversity and mountain bike trail access that you can find here in California.

In this guidebook, I’ve rounded up five of the very best rides across the state. Limiting the list to just five required an extreme act of willpower, but if you choose to ride one of these trails, you’ll know without any doubt that you’re riding one of the very best stretches of singletrack in the world!

Each and every single one of these trails belongs on your bike-it list. But why stop at just one? Might as well check off all five!


Downieville Downhill

A shuttle run of epic proportions, dropping thousands of feet from a mountain top down to a river bottom.

Demo Forest Flow Trail

One of the best flow trails in the nation rests beneath towering trees in Soquel Demonstration Forest

San Juan Trail

Arguably Southern California's most iconic mountain bike ride.

Cannell Trail

One of the most epic shuttles in California, if not the entire USA!