Quantcast

Best US location for year-round riding?

abseven

Chimp
Jun 10, 2013
10
0
Hi all-
Looking for a spot that fits all these criteria. I'm sure you all have some opinions on this! Would love the help, thanks!

- Weather makes for riding year-round possible
- Lots of sweet singletrack and also some road riding available
- Relatively accessible via airport (Say, less than 1.5hrs from an airport)
 

abseven

Chimp
Jun 10, 2013
10
0
OK I will clarify.

- Relatively warm/sunny weather where you don't have to worry about snow and rain.

Not making an argument that you can't ride year round in any weather, just asking where the best weather & trails are.
 

abseven

Chimp
Jun 10, 2013
10
0
There are constantly new trails opening up and/or getting overrun. A lot of the threads I have read are old. Thought it was worth opening it up again.
 

MTB_Rob_NC

What do I have to do to get you in this car TODAY?
Nov 15, 2002
3,430
0
Charlotte, NC
North Carolina/Upstate SC. Depending on your ability to earn a living or need access to a major city I would say:
Charlotte, NC: Biggest city on my list
Triad, NC area (Raleigh/Durham/Winston Salem)
Asheville, NC: best DIRECT access to riding. Asheville is only 2 hours from Charlotte and has a regional airport
Spartanuburg/Greenville, SC area

I moved to Charlotte in Dec of 2005 from FL and couldnt be happier about the move. The 1 or 2 days every other year it snows I just hide inside my house.
 

jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
54,550
4,108
media blackout
OK I will clarify.

- Relatively warm/sunny weather where you don't have to worry about snow and rain.

Not making an argument that you can't ride year round in any weather, just asking where the best weather & trails are.
sounds like you are a sissy then. winter is quickly becoming my favorite riding season. tons less people on the trails.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,643
397
NC
sounds like you are a sissy then. winter is quickly becoming my favorite riding season. tons less people on the trails.
Does it occur to you to maybe not be an asshat when a new user asks a simple question?


I'm near Raleigh NC and the issue I have is that winter riding is now much easier (vs. in NH when it was much more limited), but middle-of-summer riding is an exercise in trying not to drown in your own sweat. I think the western parts of the state a little more balanced in terms of weather. Asheville doesn't get much colder in the winter but doesn't have 2 months of the summer where you want to crawl into your freezer.
 

Jm_

Turbo Monkey
Jan 14, 2002
9,028
1,453
AK
Somewhere in the Rockies not in the heart of the mountains or SW (OR, CO, AZ, UT, NM) at moderate altitude (~5000'). Really that makes the snow pretty much a non issue, no crazy wet season/storms like the pacific, high altitude and higher nearby for escape in the summer, and usually lower/deserty terrain nearby that can be accessed in the winter on the few days where it would suck to ride right outside the door.

Durango, Prescott, GJ, Front Range, Bend, Santa Fe, etc...

Course these don't have the "best" trails IMO, but they have good trails, and more importantly balanced climates. Might even consider California coast like Mendicino, except that the winter time does get a lot of wet storms, still amazing forests and trails and won't be as wet as Washington.
 
Last edited:

Pesqueeb

bicycle in airplane hangar
Feb 2, 2007
26,890
3,402
Riding the baggage carousel.
Front Range
Front Range CO here. I would say this depends of the OP's definition of "Relatively warm/sunny weather where you don't have to worry about snow and rain."

Snow we get, though it doesn't usually last long, and weeks long temps of near or below freezing are not uncommon. I generally ride year round, but the suffer factor makes a pretty big bell curve Jan-March.
 

AngryMetalsmith

Business is good, thanks for asking
Jun 4, 2006
14,282
2,128
I have no idea where I am
North Carolina/Upstate SC. Depending on your ability to earn a living or need access to a major city I would say:
Charlotte, NC: Biggest city on my list
Triad, NC area (Raleigh/Durham/Winston Salem)
Asheville, NC: best DIRECT access to riding. Asheville is only 2 hours from Charlotte and has a regional airport
Spartanuburg/Greenville, SC area

I moved to Charlotte in Dec of 2005 from FL and couldnt be happier about the move. The 1 or 2 days every other year it snows I just hide inside my house.
Point of clarification Rob: The Triad is Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point. Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill is referred to as the Triangle.




We ride year round here in NC. Western North Carolina has some of the most rugged and challenging trails in the US. Snow is a factor, but not like Colorado. It doesn't linger for too long.

If you are looking for an area where you can commute by bike, Asheville and Chapel Hill are the two most cycling friendly cities in NC.

I think this is a good thread topic as I'm interested in what else is out there (other than NC) as far as good riding. I've heard that the Pacific NW rocks, but it rains a lot in the winter. Supposedly Bend, OR gets a way more sun since its on the other side of the mountains and has a ton of trails.
 

abseven

Chimp
Jun 10, 2013
10
0
Hey all, thanks for the thoughtful responses.

My mind immediately went to SoCal when I first started researching this, but I've heard there are a lot of trail access issues and the general overpopulation is a little off-putting. What are your opinions on that? Also do you guys have specific SoCal areas that you think are good for riding? I know the Oxnard area is great for road riding, but I don't know about MTB there.

Santa Cruz looks pretty rad most of the year but there are some nasty, wet months for sure. I've done road riding in Morgan Hill/San Jose area, and some MTB, and it's excellent, and more dry than Santa Cruz. But I'm not sure about the depth and variety of MTB trails there.

Sacramento area is definitely warmer & drier but not sure about the quality of the riding. I've done some riding in the Auburn area but it was a little cold and wet in the winter time.

I've ridden in the Asheville area, and man it is a really cool place. But the snow in the winter is offputting. I'm really looking for something that could be reliably good in the winter time.

Thanks again!
 

SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
47,746
2,333
In a van.... down by the river
Hey all, thanks for the thoughtful responses.

My mind immediately went to SoCal when I first started researching this, but I've heard there are a lot of trail access issues and the general overpopulation is a little off-putting. What are your opinions on that?
I wouldn't go anywhere near SoCal. I f**king hate people. That said - it's the best place to meet your requirements. Why you think 22 million people live there?!?
 

SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
47,746
2,333
In a van.... down by the river
<snip>
I've ridden in the Asheville area, and man it is a really cool place. But the snow in the winter is offputting. I'm really looking for something that could be reliably good in the winter time.
You're really limiting your options with the winter-riding requirement. Maybe Phoenix? Live on the north side and bolt to Flag to ride during the summer...

Santa Fe NM might work for you as well.
 

vinny4130

Monkey
Jun 11, 2007
304
98
albuquerque
If you look at new mexico the only options are Santa Fe or Albuquerque(abq has the bigger int airport). Abq is hotter than SF most of the time, snow will linger in SF longer. The few times abq gets lots of snow it is gone in a day or two. I think the windy spring is harder to deal with than the cold of the winter. Abq and its surrounding areas have good 5-6" travel trails and dh if you meet the right people. SF has good trails too and the two city's are only 50mins apart with Angel Fire about 3hrs easy day trip. I do it all the time. Cost of living is kinda low but so is average pay, Sf is a bit more expensive. I like it here, but some hate it, calling it "land of entrapment" or "Gothom city" kinda high crime rate, its a weird place but home for me. That said I have enjoyed my time in san Luis Obispo and part of me wants to live there.
 

stoney

Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde
Jul 26, 2006
13,919
1,305
Colorado
Somewhere in the Rockies not in the heart of the mountains or SW (OR, CO, AZ, UT, NM) at moderate altitude (~5000'). Really that makes the snow pretty much a non issue, no crazy wet season/storms like the pacific, high altitude and higher nearby for escape in the summer, and usually lower/deserty terrain nearby that can be accessed in the winter on the few days where it would suck to ride right outside the door.

Durango, Prescott, GJ, Front Range, Bend, Santa Fe, etc...

Course these don't have the "best" trails IMO, but they have good trails, and more importantly balanced climates. Might even consider California coast like Mendicino, except that the winter time does get a lot of wet storms, still amazing forests and trails and won't be as wet as Washington.
I'm in Denver, and you can ride year round here. The North facing slopes tend and high country tend to freeze over until spring, but there is lots around Golden, Boulder, and Castle Rock that don't freeze over year round. Mind in the winter, it can be cold as ****, but it's still rideable. That being said, come winter, most people are skiing anyways. It really does make you into a two season sport person.
 

HAB

Chelsea from Seattle
Apr 28, 2007
10,489
839
Seattle
I wouldn't go anywhere near SoCal. I f**king hate people. That said - it's the best place to meet your requirements. Why you think 22 million people live there?!?
I lived there for a while, and :stupid:. The riding is great and does go year round, but I wouldn't move back for it.
 

stoney

Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde
Jul 26, 2006
13,919
1,305
Colorado
I need to parrot what the guys are saying about CA. SoCal has good trails but they are limited. They are very similar to one another based on composition, so they get kind of bland quickly.

I would avoid Sacramento like the plague. NEVER, EVER, EVER move to Sacto.

In NorCal, the Bay Area has tons of really good year round riding. You do have wet season riding, depending on where you ride. You can always find a clay/sand based trail in the bay area to ride when it's super wet outside. SC is rideable year-round, but you need to be cognizant of when to not ride the trails. Otherwise, it's year-round riding. Just know that Bay Area is very expensive.

From a people perspective, I've found that people in SoCal are pretty shallow in large scale. I grew up there, and my folks still live there. Maybe I am unable to meet non-shallow people in SoCal, but when I lived in SF, it was far less prevalent.

San Luis Obispo is the exception of the weather and the shallow people. Much harder to find work there though. It's a college town first. Great trails, generally great people (but younger) and great weather. If it was possible to have a real career and live in SLO, I would do it.
 

stoney

Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde
Jul 26, 2006
13,919
1,305
Colorado
What if you were just visiting? Would you want to do a riding vacation there?
You need to know locals. A lot of the really good trails for DH are illegal. For trail riding, there are really good, really long trails that spit you out in nowhere and you'll need a ride back. I grew up in OC and know a lot of the good trails there, but would not move back to SoCal for them. The worst trails in CO are generally better then the best trails in SoCal.
 

SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
47,746
2,333
In a van.... down by the river
I'm in Denver, and you can ride year round here.
Be advised - stoney hasn't lived here long enough to experience a harsh winter. Snow on the Front Range every now and again comes in November and doesn't leave until April. It's not "the norm"... but it happens.

And skiing - yes. I generally do a late season Moab trip in early November then hang the bike up 'cause goddammit, it's SKI SEASON.

 

Jm_

Turbo Monkey
Jan 14, 2002
9,028
1,453
AK
Hey all, thanks for the thoughtful responses.

My mind immediately went to SoCal when I first started researching this, but I've heard there are a lot of trail access issues and the general overpopulation is a little off-putting. What are your opinions on that? Also do you guys have specific SoCal areas that you think are good for riding? I know the Oxnard area is great for road riding, but I don't know about MTB there.

Santa Cruz looks pretty rad most of the year but there are some nasty, wet months for sure. I've done road riding in Morgan Hill/San Jose area, and some MTB, and it's excellent, and more dry than Santa Cruz. But I'm not sure about the depth and variety of MTB trails there.

Sacramento area is definitely warmer & drier but not sure about the quality of the riding. I've done some riding in the Auburn area but it was a little cold and wet in the winter time.

I've ridden in the Asheville area, and man it is a really cool place. But the snow in the winter is offputting. I'm really looking for something that could be reliably good in the winter time.

Thanks again!
Sacramento sucks for riding, you have to travel way out of the city to do it, you also get pacific storms in the winter, so you get blasted by days on end of rain. Now, it's not all bad, there are some good places to ride without having to drive "too far", but this is not like living in Bend, or Durango, many Front Range places, and so on. To get to the real good stuff in Tahoe is quite a drive and fight on highways 50 and 80. Downieville is cool, but again, hours away. Sacramento is "central" between the Bay Area and the mountains, but it lacks the advantages of either IMO.

Same with SoCal, just worse. There are trails, good ones in fact, but this is a megaopolis where people live. Almost guarenteed that no matter where you live ,there will be millions of people between you and riding, and if you are lucky enough to live close to a riding area, you'll have to travel pretty far and get through traffic to get to a different one. Although there are absolutely good places to ride, you have to share everything with millions of human beings, it's one big continuous city for literally hundreds of square miles.

If you live in the Bay Area, you are pretty much locked in and won't get out of the Bay Area much due to excessive driving time and traffic. That's ok though, because there's a lot of great riding around the Bay Area and also not too far away like Mendecino and Santa Cruz. This is a lot better than SoCal IMO due to the actual bay, marine influence of weather and culture, much more pleasant weather more of the time, good public transportation network, etc. Although not my favorite city due to how it's kind of been neglected for 20 years or so, San Francisco still rates fairly high for me and millions of times better than pretty much any spot in SoCal. There are some isolated spots in SoCal that are nice, but few that are big AND nice IMO. Downside to the Bay Area is still a lot of people, high cost of living, traffic, wet pacific storms that can rain for days on end, even though it's not very cold temp wise, the humidity and fog really chill you to the bone, more than other places that might be "colder".

This is why many of us are trying to point you into the direction of the moderate-altitude drier climates. At high elevation snow and moisture sublimate very rapidly, and if it's not above about 7K in the SW, it doesn't tend to accumulate at all, in other words it will snow today, but be gone tomorrow. Occasionally cold fronts come in a drop the temps well below freezing, but that cold airmass moves away just as quickly and relatively warm temps return. The part that is cold is the nights, as they are usually quite cold and there isn't much that changes that in the winter.

If you want it all, you want to be close to or able to access some of the most epic trails in the entire nation. This means someplace like Durango (gets snow, but it's on the edge of the mountains and easy to escape to warmer climates nearby), because the trails are flipping awesome in the summer. It's kind of a "gateway" to the rockies.

Then there's Bend. Classic mountain biking town, also on the edge of the mountains and desert. Miles and miles of epic trails, great stuff nearby in both North and South Oregon. 'Nuff said.

I'd look closely at Santa Fe, there is a ton of great stuff going on up there. The ski resorts seem to really care about mountain biking, with several decent options, and of course Colorado isn't too far away at all. There's always Los Alamos, haha. Go look at a map sometime and see the huge "mega volcano" that exists just NW of Santa Fe, that creates some awesome summertime riding terrain and lots of heavily forested areas. There's a tendency to think that some of these places like AZ and NM are just dusty scrub, but these states have lots of high altitude terrain, and you get above 7K and it's all aspens and firs, just spectacular and just like Colorado.

Maybe think about the fact that riding on a couple of inches of snow in the sun, maybe a foot of snow as packed down by hikers, especially if it will be gone in a week or two, might be better than riding under overcast gray drizzle and frequent wet pacific storms. It's not all that bad in the Bay Area, but it can rain and rain and rain, so there's more than one type of "cold" to consider IMO.

In my previous area Prescott, AZ, kind of a compromise between Phoenix and Flagstaff, it would snow during the winter, the most with any storm would be a foot, but it would sublimate super fast and be gone the next day, if not the day after. Above 7K in the winter it would accumulate, but with the town at 5K and some trails lower there'd be plenty of riding all winter long with no snow to worry about. About 6.5K was variable and could get stopped up for a few weeks, but with a lot of open sandy areas there was always stuff to ride, and just a couple times I ventured out on some packed trails or right after 3" of fresh snow fell on a cold ground, which is super fun to ride in and not muddy. No fatbikes were necessary and there was lots of sun to be had. Again, most of the time, everything was clear to about 7K, and the mountains around town only went up to 8K, from the town at 5K. The "Dells" area is gaining popularity fast too, with lots of cool rock features, slickrock and tech-riding hacked into the granite. That area was almost always ridable in the winter.

The biggest downside to some of these is that you aren't always close to a big relatively nice metro area. I love Seattle, I like SanFran and living in the mountains of AZ it was nice to be able to get down to Phoenix rather easily, but if the choice was live in Sac or LA vs. the above riding destinations (Bend, Santa Fe, Durango) I'd choose the latter every day and Sunday. Those big mega-metropolis cities just choke you to death IMO. It makes it hard to get out and do everything, even if the riding doesn't seem "that far". It becomes more of a "weekend planning" thing requiring coordination and everything to come together right, rather than "hey, I'm just going to go hit some trails right now".
 
Last edited:

Jim Mac

MAKE ENDURO GREAT AGAIN
May 21, 2004
6,364
281
the middle east of NY
Is it me, or does it seem like you are looking for the impossible? Look to the DH pros- they essentially move across the continents to continue their riding season. From this, I would surmise that there is no one perfect place.
 

Colonel Angus

Monkey
Feb 15, 2005
566
14
land of the green chiles
This is why many of us are trying to point you into the direction of the moderate-altitude drier climates. At high elevation snow and moisture sublimate very rapidly, and if it's not above about 7K in the SW, it doesn't tend to accumulate at all, in other words it will snow today, but be gone tomorrow. Occasionally cold fronts come in a drop the temps well below freezing, but that cold airmass moves away just as quickly and relatively warm temps return. The part that is cold is the nights, as they are usually quite cold and there isn't much that changes that in the winter.

I'd look closely at Santa Fe, there is a ton of great stuff going on up there. The ski resorts seem to really care about mountain biking, with several decent options, and of course Colorado isn't too far away at all. There's always Los Alamos, haha. Go look at a map sometime and see the huge "mega volcano" that exists just NW of Santa Fe, that creates some awesome summertime riding terrain and lots of heavily forested areas. There's a tendency to think that some of these places like AZ and NM are just dusty scrub, but these states have lots of high altitude terrain, and you get above 7K and it's all aspens and firs, just spectacular and just like Colorado.

Maybe think about the fact that riding on a couple of inches of snow in the sun, maybe a foot of snow as packed down by hikers, especially if it will be gone in a week or two, might be better than riding under overcast gray drizzle and frequent wet pacific storms. It's not all that bad in the Bay Area, but it can rain and rain and rain, so there's more than one type of "cold" to consider IMO.

In my previous area Prescott, AZ, kind of a compromise between Phoenix and Flagstaff, it would snow during the winter, the most with any storm would be a foot, but it would sublimate super fast and be gone the next day, if not the day after. Above 7K in the winter it would accumulate, but with the town at 5K and some trails lower there'd be plenty of riding all winter long with no snow to worry about. About 6.5K was variable and could get stopped up for a few weeks, but with a lot of open sandy areas there was always stuff to ride, and just a couple times I ventured out on some packed trails or right after 3" of fresh snow fell on a cold ground, which is super fun to ride in and not muddy. No fatbikes were necessary and there was lots of sun to be had. Again, most of the time, everything was clear to about 7K, and the mountains around town only went up to 8K, from the town at 5K. The "Dells" area is gaining popularity fast too, with lots of cool rock features, slickrock and tech-riding hacked into the granite. That area was almost always ridable in the winter.

This.

I lived in Santa Fe for 16 years, now live in Los Alamos. Beautiful big-mountain riding all summer, starting at 7,000' and going up as far as you want. When there is snow on the ground in the winter, drive down to Albuquerque (1 hour) and ride all you want.

That said, I'd move to Prescott in a heartbeat if there was a job for me there. WAY more riding options. Flagstaff in the summer, Phoenix in the winter, and Sedona almost all year.
 
Last edited:

Jm_

Turbo Monkey
Jan 14, 2002
9,028
1,453
AK
This.

I lived in Santa Fe for 16 years, now live in Los Alamos. Beautiful big-mountain riding all summer, starting at 7,000' and going up as far as you want. When there is snow on the ground in the winter, drive down to Albuquerque (1 hour) and ride all you want.

That said, I'd move to Prescott in a heartbeat if there was a job for me there. WAY more riding options. Flagstaff in the summer, Phoenix in the winter, and Sedona almost all year.
Yep, hundreds of miles of trails starting from the edge of the city too, except for the Dells nothing very "downhill", despite some big descents all around town (Mingus Mtn nearby is so-so), but that's easily solved going to Flagstaff, Sunrise or Phoenix. You could always ride in the Summer in Prescott due to the more moderate temps, I'd still want to live a little higher though to be optimal IMO, it's a fine line between that and the snow in the winter, but again, it doesn't really stick around in open sunny areas.
 
Last edited:

OGRipper

Turbo Monkey
Feb 3, 2004
9,703
139
NORCAL is the hizzle
Whatever you do, stay the fvck away from the Bay Area. :D

Seriously, JM makes a good point about dry vs. wet winters. On the rare occasion it hits, the nastiest weather in the Bay Area is pretty miserable. Think upper 30- and lower 40-degree temps and hard rain with high winds. Pretty much impossible to stay dry, and only tools ride the trails in those conditions. I would definitely rather be out on a 25-30 degree day with a dusting of dry snow around. However, there are great trails less than an hour from the middle of SF (North, South, and East), and if you go further you also have Santa Cruz, Tahoe, Downieville, and other Sierra riding. It's not right out your back door, but there is incredible variety around. If you can afford to live here and still have time for your fun, it's a pretty great place.
 

abseven

Chimp
Jun 10, 2013
10
0
Wow - so much good info!
I never explained the background of my Q, so everyone's starting to wonder why I'm looking for the perfect/probably unobtainable spot. Y'all just assumed I was looking for a place to move. :) I have NO problem riding in the winter myself. But I'm just kicking around an idea to start a business that caters to mountain bikers and cyclists, and am trying to find that perfect spot where they'd want to ride all year round. While myself I wouldn't mind riding in dry, cold weather or doing some snow riding (yeah even cold and wet, I do that plenty), people aren't interested in traveling across the country to go somewhere where the weather isn't top notch.
Maybe I could make something work in Arizona, since Tucson (good for winter riding) and Prescott/Flag aren't that far for summer.
Thanks guys-
AB
 

-BB-

I broke all the rules, but somehow still became mo
Sep 6, 2001
4,257
28
Livin it up in the O.C.
Hey all, thanks for the thoughtful responses.

My mind immediately went to SoCal when I first started researching this, but I've heard there are a lot of trail access issues and the general overpopulation is a little off-putting. What are your opinions on that? Also do you guys have specific SoCal areas that you think are good for riding? I know the Oxnard area is great for road riding, but I don't know about MTB there.

Santa Cruz looks pretty rad most of the year but there are some nasty, wet months for sure. I've done road riding in Morgan Hill/San Jose area, and some MTB, and it's excellent, and more dry than Santa Cruz. But I'm not sure about the depth and variety of MTB trails there.

Sacramento area is definitely warmer & drier but not sure about the quality of the riding. I've done some riding in the Auburn area but it was a little cold and wet in the winter time.

I've ridden in the Asheville area, and man it is a really cool place. But the snow in the winter is offputting. I'm really looking for something that could be reliably good in the winter time.

Thanks again!
Everything you mention above is really more NorCal than SoCal. If you are talking SoCal, then:
Santa Barbara
Orange County
San Diego