THE SOUTHWEST HAS MILD WEATHER & SPICY TRAILS
Sometime during the next couple of months, many of us who live in places who truly get a winter will open the front door and stand there letting the cold blast drain us of all motivation, thinking, “Where can I go that’s not here?”
If you fall prey to a case of Januaries this winter, we’ve got a few ideas to keep you from burrowing back into the blankets until late April. Before the protesting starts, we’ll admit this is hardly a complete list. Winter riding is possible in many places, but, in places like Pisgah or Bentonville, it’s not always, shall we say, mild. So consider these incredible singletrack experiences in places you definitely WANT to visit in the bleak midwinter and not, for example, in July. Sweet riding, jaw-dropping views, higher temperatures, good food. We’ll start with Arizona.
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: The traffic in Sedona can be almost more epic than the riding you’re trying to get to, so know that before you go and time your visit for midweek if possible. If you cannot face even the possibility of serious gridlock, you might consider some other destinations like the ones below that haven’t reached their zenith of fame just yet. OK. Now on to the fun stuff: Sedona is south of Flagstaff and hands-down incredible. Every view from basically every vantage point belongs on a cheesy postcard. You know from your own experience or from your buddies’ endless stories that the riding is off the hook. And builders down there make new trails as fast as jackrabbits make more jackrabbits, so even if you’ve been before, there’s probably something there now that you haven’t ridden.
It’s not just for visiting grandma anymore. In fact, these trails will have you feeling young and spry. From pedally XC lung busters to flow trails to rock gardens, drops and DH, there are literally hundreds of miles of singletrack here. (Hey – grandma’s been busy.)
Just a couple hours’ drive south from Phoenix, Tuscon is a slightly lesser-known mecca for mountain biking, which immediately counts as a vote in its favor. From buffed out race-course trails at McKenzie Ranch to the epic Full Lemmon Drop (a 9,000-ft. beast of a ride stretching from high mountain to desert), in Tuscon, everyone wins.
Not unlike Sedona, Moab has been described in every way possible and there’s not a lot anyone can add except — If you’ve never ridden here, what on earth are you waiting for?
Moab does get cold, and even gets snow. Not a ton, though, and if it does accumulate up high to make areas like Hazard County and Fisher Mesa unrideable, you can still have a blast lower down in areas like Navajo Rocks, Amasa Back and Slickrock.
Every kind of riding. Every level. Like a mini Moab tucked into the foothills at the entrance of Zion National Park, this zone is one to explore. The town of Hurricane (ask a local how to pronounce it correctly, please) sits just below the great riding and camping of Gooseberry Mesa, which stretches east toward Zion’s cliffs.
Because food matters almost as much as trail quality to many mountain bikers, Austin should be a top pick for a winter riding getaways. Spend your days burning up calories on punchy, rocky climbs and riverside singletrack so you can wolf down the deliciousness in town when you’re done. The riding is flavorful, too – from mild and buttery to blow-your-mind spicy, Austin’s menu covers it all.