When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.
Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle, Scientific American, 1896
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle; I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride my bike; I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride it where I like…; I don’t believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman; All I wanna do is bicycle, bicycle, bicycle…
Freddie Mercury, Queen, 1978
I’ll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.
Susan B. Anthony, 1896
No less than world-famous writers, rockstars, and reformers have sung the ardent praises of the boundless pleasures of the humble bicycle.
And for good reason. Over the last ten years, among urban planners, outdoor tourism outfits, and the general public alike, there’s been a virtual renaissance of interest and enthusiasm for biking. “Bike friendly cities” are proudly promoted and celebrated as one of the most significant quality-of-life and ecologically friendly achievements of the New Urbanist movement; adventure companies from coast to coast now offer hundreds of different bike tours for all ages and skill levels; and community bike rides organized for the sheer pleasure of the pastime attract large crowds even in small cities.
If you count yourself among the growing number of bike enthusiasts and are looking to experience and explore some of the most beautiful places in the country, what follows are seven of the nation’s most scenic bike trails.
Cady Hill Forest, Stowe, VT
This 11-mile, all-skill-levels mountain ride through impossibly picturesque Vermont features multi-purpose trails (not just for biking but also for hiking and running) with single and double tracks winding through trees, over rocks, and around berms. (The trails are a combination of steep and fluid, technical and smooth.)
Virginia Creeper Trail, Abingdon, VA
A 34.3 mile, multi-use beginner trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail takes you mostly downhill past 47 trestle bridges and spectacular scenery, including lush forests, bubbling brooks, Virginia’s largest trout stream, open farmlands, charming towns, and a historic railroad depot.
Lehigh Gorge State Park Trail, Jim Thorpe, PA
26 miles of beginner trails take you gently downhill and along the river through the deep gorge of Lehigh Gorge State Park with its dense vegetation, striking rock formations, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife.
Greenville Health System, Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville, SC
If you enjoy a casual, leisurely ride through varied scenery dotted with attractive shops and enticing restaurants, this 19.5 mile road along the Reedy River is just your speed. And not to worry if you don’t have a bike and need to rent one; Reedy Rides, just one block from the trailhead, has got you covered.
Valmont Bike Park, Boulder, CO
Colorado’s big little boomtown (and newest Google campus) offers 42 acres of mountain trails for every skill level. The youngest riders can safely pedal around the tot track, while beginner-to-intermediate riders will relish the park’s Escape Route or Hot Lap trails. Looking for something more technical? Advanced riders will exult in the more technical Mesa Flow or Corkscrew routes.
Twin Bridges Loop, Bend, OR
This is 36 miles of intermediate-level riding through some of the most bike-friendly towns in the West! You’ll see majestic mountains, rimrock canyons, pine-scented deserts, cattle ranches, horse pastures, and even llama farms en route to the stunning Tumalo State Park.
Captain Ahab, Moab, UT
Located in the fabled, otherworldly Red Rock Country right outside the quaint, artsy town of Moab, the Captain Ahab ride continues to be named as the preeminent mountain biking trail in the world. It’s 4.3 miles of technically challenging routes through landscapes that could double as movie-sets for the planet Mars and that afford jaw-dropping views of the Colorado River and other distinctive geographical features found nowhere else on earth. To avoid the blistering summer heat (temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit), the best times to take on Ahab are March through May and September and October.
President John F. Kennedy once said, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.” Once you find yourself riding along any one of these seven trails, chances are, you’ll be echoing your heartfelt assent.