Each of the last four years a Jackson WY event has grabbed the attention of riders throughout North America without any of them putting foot to pedal. What could be so important? The Annual Rider’s Choice Awards including BEST BIKE PARKS. What makes this award so special? The recipients are selected not by industry insiders or writers but by the riders themselves, the one who actually ride the trails.
Snowshoe Bike Park, West Virginia
West Virginia is famous for it’s mountainous terrain, deep gorges and rural setting. Just what a serious biker is looking for. Snowshoe offers it all. There are more than 40 downhill trails and a vertical drop of 1500 foot covering everything from roots to boulders. Although many of the regulars are die hard top-notch riders Snowshoe also offers excellent options for novices as well.
Thunder Mountain, Massachusetts
The Northeastern US is full of people, which means plenty of riders and those riders want quality places to ride. After a tight, hard fought race this year’s winner of Best Bike Park is Thunder Mountain. Although only in operation for a little over 2 years this park has already drawn a large and loyal following, as is obvious from its selection for this award. Both natural and man-made obstacles spread over 1000 ft in vertical elevation means visitor will experience one serious day on the trail which they will not soon forget.
Little Switzerland, Wisconsin
Despite being miles from anywhere, devoid of fancy amenities and only open on select weekends Little Switzerland has climbed to the top spot in a little over 2 years of operation. Statistically this little park does not seem like the thing of champions. There is only 10 trails covering 3 miles, the vertical elevation change is a mere 200 feet and there are little in the way of extras that the riders do not bring with them. So why is it so popular? The management has made up for what nature could not provide. Gaps, jumps and a variety of other manmade features not only add extra challenges, it also allows for changes at the park progresses.
Silver Mountain, South Dakota
Other than a few battle fields, National Parks and related historical sites South Dakota does not have a great deal to offer the average traveler. But mountain riders are not the average traveler and Silver Mountain is not your average park. After leaving the town of Kellogg in a gondola (which happens to be America’s longest) you find yourself 3400 ft above town where you can stay in lodges wtih commercial kitchen faucets installed. What you find in front of you, or beneath you as it may be, is a long downhill run over ever changing terrain. While you may be tempted to turn around and take the ride all the way back to the top for another run you should not overlook the blue trails. These shorter, easier trails may be designed for beginners, but they offer everyone the ability to experience short bursts of adrenaline multiple times per day.
Trestle Bike Park, Colorado
It should come as no surprise that the Region’s top pick is high atop the Rocky Mountains. What will surprise you is just how impressive the entire operation is. From manicured runs, jump lines, new trails and expanded lifts this is definitely worth a visit, even if you’ve been there before. Of course, being in the Rocky Mountains means extreme vertical elevations – 1700 ft to be exact.
A visit to any of these parks is well worth the trip and likely to be only the first of many to come.