Mountain Biking in California
Big Bear Mountain Biking
The mountain biking scene at Big Bear in Southern California exploded into the arena in the 1990s, when Big Bear hosted several national mountain biking races. Decades later and Big Bear is still known for the fantastic downhill tracks. In 2021, new set-ups, turns, trails, and bridges were added, allowing all skill levels to ride these beautiful tracks.
Big Bear boasts over 100 miles of single-track riding, as well as cross-country and Service roads for all riders to enjoy. Both competitive and leisure riders love to take on these tracks.
One of the more popular biking trails at Big Bear is the Skyline Ridge trail, also known as 2N10. It crosses through Snow Summit and has a gorgeous view of Big Bear Lake! This view is not reserved for bikers and can be accessed by the Big Bear Scenic Sky Chair for those who prefer to relax, not ride. Additionally, bikers can ride beginner roads, intermediate routes, or advanced tracks, all in one place!
Northstar Mountain Biking
Northstar is located in Northern California, and currently holds the title of the biggest mountain bike park in the Northern California region. With summer mountain tracks and road biking, Northstar has something for all riders! They make it easy to access the top of the mountains with the only mountain bike skylift in Northern California!
Northstar Bike Park is planning to install interactive Go-Pro stands and tech along the tracks, so you can catch great footage of your rides, you and your friends having fun or tricks! Northstar is in a beautiful location, with stunning views of the mountains and sky.
Here you will find cross-country tracks, road biking, and downhill slope tracks. Northstar also has mountain bike rentals and a bike shop where you can get your bike serviced!
Downieville Mountain Biking
Mountain biking at Downieville is a great ride and a wonderful time. It has a classic mountain biking atmosphere, where you either drive your car or take a shuttle up to the top of the mountain. From there, the track starts immediately on singletrack. Make sure to look out for patches of snow until after the end of May!
Several trails lead into others and branch out into more, so you should make sure you know which trails are appropriate for your skill level and which ones you want to take. For example, the Sunrise track leads into the Butcher trail, which in turn leads to either the Third Divide Trail or the Second DIvide Trail.
One suggestion for Downieville is to bring two cars or go with a buddy in separate cars. One will take you to the top of the mountain, while the other should remain at the bottom to take you back once you finish your ride. There are shuttles, but some people prefer to take their cars so it is faster.
Mammoth Mountain Mountain Biking
Mammoth Mountain is a perfect place for families who have both beginners and experts! They have over 80 miles of singletrack trails with multiple trails for all skill levels! Mammoth Mountain has a perfect area for beginners called the Discovery Zone, where new riders can get a feel for the dirt under their wheels.
For folks who are on a higher skill level, there are plenty of pro-level downhill trails such as Skid Marks and Twilight Zone. There are jumps, berms, and tons of fun drops that are sure to make even the most experienced rider feel the adrenaline. If you happen to be pro-level or expert, make sure to check out the Derailed Zone, which only permits riders of the highest skill.
Mammoth Mountain is lift-operated for convenience and offers class 1 pedal-assist electric mountain bikes, which help you with electric pedaling when you need it. It helps you go the distance and do more.
Lake Tahoe Mountain Biking
A great spot for mountain biking in Lake Tahoe. With stunning views of the lake itself and fantastic forests and trails, this is a mountain biking experience that many love to explore. There are tons of trails to check out, but be sure that you are also biking in an area where mountain bikers are allowed.
One of the best trails to bike around Lake Tahoe is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, also known as Saxon Creek Trail. Perfect for more advanced riders, this trail is a long, steep downhill ride full of rocky terrain, banked turns, and great for riders who enjoy a focused ride.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride bikers will experience a descent of almost 1,500 feet and fascinating views of the surrounding nature.
NICA Mountain Biking
NICA stands for the National Interscholastic Cycling Association and is an association where student-athletes can compete, create friendships, and learn about inclusivity, respect, and the foundations of community.
NICA has been active since 2009 and has created programs to inspire young mountain bike athletes to be engaging in the community they are a part of. Their association values are fun, inclusivity, equity, respect, and community and they teach these ideals through their lively programs.
Yosemite Mountain Biking
Sadly, mountain biking is not allowed inside the land belonging to the national park, but there are plenty of spots to go biking near Yosemite and still enjoy the views and nature it provides. To enjoy nature near and around Yosemite, you will have to go to Mammoth Mountain, mentioned earlier, or Lake Tahoe also mentioned earlier.
Or, you could explore the California Highway 120 area which is home to several trails like the Buck Meadows-Lumsden Road Route with sections on the Main stretch and along the Upper Tuolumne River.
Snow Summit Mountain Biking
Snow Summit Bike Park is a great mountain biking locale in Southern California and is home to the only lift-operated bike park in SoCal. With a variety of trails like the Miracle Mile, Westridge Trails, and the Part Wave opening recently in 2014, you know the trails are exciting and modern.
Miracle Mile and Party Wave are both advanced-level bike trails and have exciting features like berms, bridges, steps-ups, and more! Westridge is geared more towards intermediate riders who are looking for a challenge to grow their skills.
Snow Summit is located near Big Bear Mountain and is host to beautiful views and great rides.
China Camp Mountain Biking
The China Camp State State Park Loop is a beautiful spot for beginner and intermediate level riders with a few advanced trails located in the bay area. Riders say that trails are well-maintained and the views of the bay are gorgeous. It is important to note that electric bikes are not permitted here.
The upper sections of the Bay View trail are typically occupied by only mountain bikers, but as you reach the last 3 miles of the ride, be sure to look out for hikers, walkers, and runners. The main trail has multiple branches with signage to make sure you find the trail you want, like the Shoreline Trail or the Ridge Trail.
Joshua Tree Mountain Biking
Like almost all other national parks, Joshua Tree does not permit mountain bikers to bike on national parkland. However, there are some mountain biking trails nearby Joshua Tree that are worth a trip.
In the surrounding area of Joshua Tree, you will find trails like the Sidewinder Descent, Long May You Run, and Django West which are all fairly difficult and recommended for advanced mountain bikers.
Other trails like Eastside Vista Descent, Chesters Descent, The Luge, Southridge, and Onaga Trail are intermediate to easy. Joshua Tree is a truly stunning natural area, and if you have the time, you should check some of these trails out.
Fort Ord Mountain Biking
Located in Monterey, Fort Ord National Monument has beautiful scenery and great biking trails. Fort Ord is home to over 142 miles of mountain bike tracks: 41 easy trails, 27 intermediate trails, and 4 difficult trails.
Trail 41 is a favorite of many visitors and locals alike and is also known as the Goat Trail. Fort Ord is a unique location because of its history and space, but is well worth the visit! Mountain bikers heading to Fort Ord can start on beginner trails and work their way up to more advanced tracks!
Kirkwood Mountain Biking
Kirkwood Bike Park, in Kirkwood California, is a beautiful, pine-tree and rocky mountain location for trail biking! Kirkwood Bike Park has 22 biking trails located in the valley and 12 more accessible by car or ski lift.
Kirkwood is known for having lots of terrain park features, such as pump track and log rides. As well as events in winter sports during their off-season! Kirkwood Bike Park is located about a 50-minute drive South of Lake Tahoe.
Vail Lake Mountain Biking
Vail Lake is where you will find a stunning 13-mile loop in Temecula, California. The biking trails of Vail Lake boast beautiful views of the nearby body of water and other mountain tops. This biking trail is not too busy, but it is considered to have a moderate number of riders per day.
The trail itself is not overly challenging for a rider with some experience and most mountain bikers would consider it intermediate. The best part about this trail is that it is open all year round and dogs are allowed! However, dogs must be kept on leash.
Joaquin Miller Mountain Biking
There are many trails here, all with different experience levels, so riders of all skills can come and enjoy this wonderful park!