Guidebook

Top 20 Trails of 2020: Greg's Favorite New MTB Rides

The 20 best mountain bike trails that Greg Heil explored in 2020.

Greg Heil

Description

I can't even begin to explain how incredibly "unprecedented" the year 2020 was. (And if I never have to hear that word again, I'll die a happy man.) But we all lived through it—we all have our own experiences to share from 2020 and the COVID 19 pandemic. We all had our plans for the year completely derailed.

So when you're faced with an utter shit storm of a year, what do you do? Focus on the few things that are within your control, and then make the most of them.

While international travel was off the table for 2020, thousands of miles of the world's best mountain bike trails are found right here in the good ole US of A. Instead of hopping on a plane I slid behind the wheel of my car, and the once-mighty interstate system of my dysfunctional country took me from Colorado to Arizona, Pennsylvania, Utah, Northeastern Oregon, California, Arizona again, more Colorado, a bigger dose of Utah, and a large helping of Southern Oregon to wrap things up.

Over the course of this chaotic year, I rode dozens of the nation's top trails and logged thousands of miles of pedaling. While I did re-ride a few perennial favorites, I spent most of the year exploring tons of new-to-me trails and destinations. Below, you'll find 20 of the very best trails that I rode for the first time in 2020.

Whittling the list down to 20 was a real challenge. Even just naming my favorites left me with a list of about 40, and I had to cut it in half. But the 20 that remain are all creme de la creme singletrack trails. All of these selections qualify as world-class mountain bike experiences, even if nobody has heard a few of these names

While this list is just an overview, I've penned dozens of guidebooks for FATMAP about these various destinations. So if anything here piques your interest, you can definitely dive deeper into each region and get more info.

Topping the list of my favorite trails of the year were a handful of routes in the Cascades. I don't know why this region doesn't get more ink, but flying down the loamy singletrack of the Cascade mountains is downright euphoric! O'Leary Mountain, Lawler, Eula Ridge, Heckletooth, and Rye Spur collectively convinced me of the supremacy of the dark black dirt in the Cascades.

Somehow I've reached the end of the year and I'm still only in mediocre shape—blame the shuttle runs. Apparently, 2020 was the year of the point-to-point shuttle for me. The Big Boulder IMBA Epic, Time Warp, WOW Trail, O'Leary Mountain, Lawler, Eula Ridge, Heckletooth, Classic Mt. Ashland Shuttle, Pauley Creek, Mills Peak, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Mrazek Trail, and 9k Trail all thoroughly impressed me... and that's only the highlights reel of the shuttles I rode this year.

By far the best overall mountain bike destination I explored for the first time in 2020 was Downieville. While I had briefly passed through Downieville in 2012, this was my first deep dive into the region, and I'll definitely be back! Mt. Elwell along with the Big Boulder IMBA Epic, Pauley Creek, and Mills Peak especially impressed me.

Early in the year, I spent a month living and riding in Northeastern Oregon, and two of my favorite rides from my time there were this loop at MERA and the Umatilla Rim Loop. For more on Northeastern Oregon, be sure to dig into this guidebook.

Finally, there are a few outliers that don't fit any of the above categories. While I've ridden almost every trail in Colorado's Arkansas Valley, this spring I had an absolute ball pedaling the brand-new Camp Elevation and Unchained trails. While Spence Mountain is technically in the Cascades, the dry dirt there is much more reminiscent of Bend, since it's on the eastern side of the mountains. The descent on North Ridge is also arguably one of the most technical trails in Oregon. Finally, while I spent a couple of weeks riding in the Sonoran desert this spring, only one of the rides there managed to earn a spot on this top 20 list: Golder Ranch.

Whether you live in the United States, Canada, Europe, or someplace further afield, each of our home regions offers many lifetimes worth of adventures to enjoy. While international travel is a life-changing experience that everyone should take full advantage of, don't let limiting factors outside of your control rob you of the joy of exploration. Sometimes, the best adventures are hiding right under our noses.

O'Leary Mountain Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

O'Leary Mountain Shuttle

25.6 km
784 m
1,852 m
Shuttle on the little-known but highly-acclaimed O'Leary Mountain.
Difficult
Private
Big Boulder IMBA Epic
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Big Boulder IMBA Epic

Downieville
33.5 km
646 m
1,913 m
A longer, more difficult variant of the Downieville Classic.
Severe
Private
Lawler Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Lawler Shuttle

Oakridge
13.1 km
249 m
1,153 m
The deepest, darkest zone in Oakridge.
Difficult
Private
Time Warp -> Marty's -> BTI Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Time Warp -> Marty's -> BTI Shuttle

32.1 km
341 m
1,732 m
One of the best—and most technical—shuttle runs on the mountain.
Severe
Private
Eula Ridge Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Eula Ridge Shuttle

Oakridge
10.7 km
360 m
1,067 m
The steepest descent in Oakridge!
Severe
Private
WOW Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

WOW Trail

Park City and Deer Valley
16.8 km
131 m
808 m
The WOW trail connects Park City with Midway and Heber City, making for both a great shuttle run and a pedal-driven connection.
Moderate
Private
Heckletooth Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Heckletooth Loop

Oakridge
39.1 km
1,406 m
1,406 m
An overgrown but rewarding trail!
Severe
Private
Classic Mt. Ashland Jabberwocky Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Classic Mt. Ashland Jabberwocky Shuttle

27.6 km
314 m
1,705 m
The classic Mt. Ashland shuttle run still delivers the goods!
Difficult
Private
Spence Mountain: North Ridge Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Spence Mountain: North Ridge Loop

24.6 km
795 m
795 m
Head to Spence Mountain for a curated mountain bike-specific trail experience.
Extreme
Private
Rye Spur Figure-8 Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Rye Spur Figure-8 Loop

26.5 km
487 m
487 m
Mine some loam on a trail that time forgot.
Difficult
Private
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Lake Tahoe
14.1 km
434 m
833 m
South Lake Tahoe's classic, technical MTB descent.
Severe
Private
Pauley Creek -> Second Divide Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Pauley Creek -> Second Divide Shuttle

Downieville
33.0 km
555 m
1,821 m
A ride combination of lesser-ridden trails to keep you off the beaten path.
Severe
Private
Mt. Elwell Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mt. Elwell Loop

17.7 km
783 m
783 m
Ride your bike over a gnarly mountain peak!
Severe
Private
Mills Peak
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mills Peak

13.7 km
40 m
927 m
Epic tech shuttle with gorgeous views.
Severe
Private
Umatilla Rim Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Umatilla Rim Loop

34.6 km
902 m
902 m
Loop of the Umatilla Rim Trail with nearby dirt roads.
Moderate
Private
MERA: North Knob -> Caffeine Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

MERA: North Knob -> Caffeine Loop

23.9 km
851 m
851 m
Ride from the low point to the high point—and back!—of the MERA trail system.
Difficult
Private
Swampy -> Mrazek Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Swampy -> Mrazek Shuttle

41.9 km
587 m
1,252 m
One of the most rewarding mountain bike rides in Bend!
Difficult
Private
Best of Golder Ranch
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Best of Golder Ranch

21.3 km
461 m
461 m
This route links up the most entertaining segments in the Golder Ranch trail system for advanced or adventurous intermediate riders.
Severe
Private
Camp Elevation -> Unchained Lollipop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Camp Elevation -> Unchained Lollipop

Salida
28.3 km
539 m
539 m
Freshly-built tech-gnar constructed in 2019 that's sure to punish you.
Extreme
Private
9k -> Prospect Ridge Shuttle
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

9k -> Prospect Ridge Shuttle

Brighton and Solitude
15.2 km
218 m
957 m
Combine the old and the new on this top-to-bottom Park City shuttle.
Difficult
Private