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Best Mountain Bike Festivals, Events, and Destinations 2022

Find fresh dirt in the new year! These are our favorite mountain bike events and destinations, from the Arizona desert to the forests of Maine and everything in between.

Written by: Spencer Powlison

Published on:

Posted in:Guides

Fresh terrain, different trail designs, unfamiliar dirt — traveling to a new destination is the best way to refresh your mountain biking stoke. So let’s make some plans for 2022! 

This list of top mountain bike events and destinations will have some surprises for even the most experienced riders. You don’t need to hear about Leadville or Moab for the umpteenth time. Instead, we’re highlighting some quality, independent events and under-the-radar destinations. 

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Best mountain bike events for 2022

Whiskey Off-Road 

Whiskey Off-Road
Photo courtesy Whiskey Off-Road

Prescott, Arizona: April 29-May 1
Described in three words: Climbing, sunshine, party
Difficulty rating: It goes down smooth with a kick in the end, hence the name.
Distance options: 15, 30, and 50 miles

Epic Rides has struck on a magic formula to satisfy everyone at the Whiskey Off-Road. From world champion pro racers to beginner riders, everyone has a good time. In part, that’s because the weekend is neatly divided with Saturday for the amateur riders and Sunday for the pro racers. Plus, Friday’s downtown fat tire crit is a sight to behold. Oh, and did we mention that there is live music all evening on Saturday? We’re so happy to see this classic event returning to Prescott, Arizona after a two-year hiatus.

With more than 7,000 feet of climbing on the 50-mile route, you’ll want to ride a pure cross-country bike, but full-suspension is ideal for the rough high desert terrain.

The right rig:

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Big Mountain Enduro Round 3 

Durango, Colorado: July 16-17
Described in three words: Rocky, aspens, bluebird
Difficulty rating: With some armor and ambition, you’ll be up to the challenge.

Purgatory Mountain, north of Durango, Colorado, is home to this round of North America’s premier enduro series. It’s hallowed ground. This is where the first UCI mountain bike world championships were held. Over the years it hosted numerous stops on the NORBA and national circuit. And the trails show it. This high-altitude venue has fearsomely steep and difficult tracks right off of the chairlift, plus miles of raw backcountry riding for those who aren’t racing.

Given how rough and steep these trails are, bigger is better when it comes to bike choice. Coil-sprung suspension isn’t a bad idea either to withstand those long descents.

The right rig:

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Shenandoah Mountain 100 

Shenandoah 100
Photo: Bill Schieken

Stokesville, Virginia: September 3-4
Described in three words: Lush, long, chunky
Difficulty rating: If the climbing doesn’t get you, the rough downhills will.
Distance options: 100km (62 miles), 100 miles

You want old school? How about a race that’s been running since the days of cantilever brakes and 26” tubed tires? Virginia’s Shenandoah 100 has been challenging mountain bikers since the late ‘90s with rugged backcountry singletrack in the Appalachian mountains near Harrisonburg. In keeping with the vintage vibes, everyone camps out before the race in a massive grassy field at the foot of the mountains. Fortunately, the race has modernized a bit in recent years, offering a 100-kilometer option for those who aren’t up for the 100-mile epic. 

How wonderful it is to live in the modern era of mountain bikes. You can take full advantage of the “downcountry” trend with a bike that’s just as efficient as a World Cup race machine with a little more travel and relaxed geometry for Shenandoah’s tough trails.

The right rig:

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Best mountain bike destinations for 2022

Not feeling competitive? No worries. Every region has sweet destinations rife with rad singletrack.

Bellingham riding
Photo: Jacob Lee

Bellingham, Washington

Described in three words: Rad, gnar, sick
Difficulty rating: It’d be a little weird if you didn’t wear a full-face helmet.
Best time to visit: Mid-late summer

Vancouver’s North Shore and Squamish, BC get a lot of attention but their American neighbor is an equally worthy destination for downhillers or anyone who wants to push their limits on the steepest, wildest trails. Galbraith Mountain is one of the most popular destinations with legal, purpose-built mountain bike trails littered with jumps, berms, and features.

Pacific Northwest riding is all about maximizing the fun on the way down. That means long travel, coil suspension, and aggressive geometry.

The right rig:

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Copper Harbor, Michigan

Described in three words: Undiscovered, remote, rocky
Difficulty rating: Something for everyone, but don’t assume it’s like the rest of Michigan.
Best time to visit: Summer

Mountain biking in Michigan, eh? Don’t act so surprised! We’re not talking about Motor City here, this is the Upper Penninsula (a.k.a. Da U.P.) Surrounded by Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, this remote stretch of land is home to Copper Harbor. And that town, built around the mining industry (ya know, “copper?”) now has a wealth of singletrack trails. On one hand, you have smashy, old-school cross-country riding — rocks galore. On the other, there’s new-school flowing trails with berms and jumps built by pro trailbuilders. You can even hire a shuttle for popular downhill runs like Overflow.

You could opt for a proper enduro bike to take on the U.P.’s chunky rocks, but a slightly shorter-travel trail bike might be best for the undulating trails.

The right rig:

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Carrabassett Valley, Maine

Described in three words: Old-school, rowdy, raw
Difficulty rating: There’s a trail somewhere beneath all those roots and rocks!
Best time to visit: Autumn

For the purists, New England riding revolves around the neverending challenges of roots, rocks, mud, and mountains. You’ll find plenty of that in the valley that’s home to Sugarloaf Mountain Resort. Fortunately, the riding around Carrabassett is evolving — and improving. With help from ex-pro and Olympian Adam Craig, new trails are getting cut. Some are a bit mellower for intermediate or beginner riders. And of course, some feature the new-school fun of jumps, berms, and features. 

Take advantage of modern tech like 29er wheels and advanced suspension designs to tame the old-school trails. Bonus points for riding a Giant, Craig’s longtime bike sponsor. 

The right rig:

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Ocala, Florida

Described in three words: Flow, fast, singlespeedy
Difficulty rating: Fun for anyone!
Best time to visit: Mid-late winter

Ocala might be Florida’s horse country, but the only ride you’ll want has two wheels. Yep, smack-dab in the middle of America’s big ol’ peninsula you’ll find the Santos trails. In total, there are about 80 miles of smooth, flowing singletrack through the Spanish moss-covered trees of the Cross Florida Greenway. The trail system even has a freeride and jump park in an old quarry called the Vortex Zone. 

If you spend all your time in the Vortex Zone, a proper full-suspension bike might be best. For most of the riding around Santos, however, nothing beats whipping around these fast trails on a hardtail.

The right rig:

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Of course, there isn’t enough room here to cover all the must-ride events and destinations. What’s on your calendar for 2022? Let us know in the comments.