How To Find Bike Trails Near You

How To Find Bike Trails Near You

Taylor A Ritz

You selected your bicycle. You bought the essential gear. Maybe you even just learned to ride. Now you’re ready for the fun part: getting outside and seeing the world on two wheels. Now we just have to figure out where to go! 

One of the best things about cycling is the opportunity to view the world from a slower and more intentional viewpoint; to get outside, exercise, and find calm and tranquility in a fast-paced world. If you are just getting into cycling or have recently moved to a new area, it may be difficult to figure out just where to take your bike on an outing. 

Let’s discuss how to find bike trails near you.

What Kind Of Biking Are You Interested In?

First, what kind of biking are you interested in undertaking? In order to find a suitable bike trail, you must first have an idea of what kind of biking you’re interested in doing. Different types of cycling take place in different areas, on different surfaces, and information on each type can be found in a variety of places. Whether you’re planning to mountain bike through a deep forest or take a scenic ride around the city, you can find nearby bike routes no matter where you live.

Types of Bike Trails

Cycling is a sport of resistance. This means the activity doesn’t just burn fat, it builds muscle. Riding a bike focuses most on the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Muscle is leaner than fat and people with a higher percentage of muscle burn more calories. This means that when you ride a bike regularly and build up your muscles, you’ll begin to burn even calories, even when you aren’t moving.

What kind of bike trail to look for depends on your gear, experience, location, and desired activity. If you have a mountain bike with off-road-capable tires, you’ll probably have more fun finding a mountain bike trail than riding along a road. Likewise, if you have a road bike you will probably enjoy your day more on a bike path than trying to traverse a singletrack route full of ruts and rocks. 

Does this sound like another language? No problem! Though this is by no means an exhaustive list, let’s break down some of the types of bike trails. 

Bike Path: A bike path can be paved or unpaved (usually gravel or hard-packed dirt), but usually exists solely for bicyclists to use. They are often flat or have very little elevation changes. These paths are great for road or hybrid tires and all skill levels. Bike paths have the added bonus of having no motor vehicles, so you have one less thing to worry about on your bike ride.

Mountain Bike Trail: Trails designated for mountain biking are unpaved and usually exist in more secluded locations. Mountain bike trails often traverse wooded or other natural areas and are full of rocks, roots, and every other obstacle nature has to offer. They can be found in mountain biking parks as well. Trails in mountain biking parks often vary in difficulty from beginner to advanced and sometimes have similar designations to ski slopes (black diamond, double black diamond, etc). 

Singletrack: A singletrack bike trail is usually unpaved and can be comprised of dirt or rock. Singletrack can be flat or experience elevation changes. This type of trail is named for the fact that it is only wide enough for a single cyclist to travel over it at once. Singletrack can be compared to a doubletrack trail, which is wide enough for 2 cyclists to pass one another. Doubletrack trails tend to be less technical and difficult compared to singletrack.

Multi-Use Trail: Multi-use trails are not designated solely for the use of cyclists; they can usually be used by hikers, horseback riders, and most others using non-motorized transportation. Multi-use trails can be similar to bike paths, with flat even ground experiencing little to no elevation change. 
Bike Lane/ Road Shoulders: Some cycling “trails” aren’t really trails at all, but routes around an area that travel along roads using the road shoulder or a bike lane. These road routes can be a great way to see a more populated area such as a city or to use a road bike to explore a natural area without having to leave the pavement. 

Where To Find Bike Trails

Once you’ve decided what kind of bike trail you would like to experience and feel you are prepared for, it’s time to start researching. I hope you didn’t think there was an easy answer to finding a trail!

Alas, like with most things, research must be done and Google is your friend. The reward, however, will be a fantastic physical activity in a beautiful location. Here are a few ways to find bike trails near where you live.

Websites/Apps

One of the first things you should do when you’re looking for a bike trail near you is to Google “bike trails near _______,” inserting your location into the blank. In the internet age in which we find ourselves, there is a wealth of information available regarding outdoor recreation opportunities. Here are some other online resources besides Google:

Trail Link

Trail Link is a non-profit website with over 30,000 miles of bike trail maps organized by state. Head to your state’s page and see if there’s a trail near you that suits your experience level and gear.

All Trails

Though well-known as an app and website for hiking, All Trails also has information on bicycle touring, mountain biking, and road biking. Download the free app or visit the website and explore your local area for great cycling opportunities.

MTB Project

MTB Project (short for MounTain Biking) is part of REI’s initiative to get more people recreating outside. It is a website and mobile app that allows users to share not only routes and rides but additional information such as trail conditions and difficulty. They have mapped over 14,000 miles of mountain biking routes so far.

Bicycle Passport

If you live in or visit Colorado, Bicycle Passport gives you up-to-date information on the 41 highest passes in the state.

Books

Books may be less in vogue these days, but they can still be quite useful. Many popular biking areas have entire guidebooks written about available bike trails in the region. Check out books available online or in a local bookstore, or even take a trip to your local library.

Word of Mouth

As valuable as online research and books may be, nothing quite replaces the worth of talking to other cyclists. No one knows better cycling opportunities than the cyclists in your area. To tap into this wealth of knowledge, I suggest inquiring in your local bike shop or finding cycling groups or forums online. Look for Facebook groups or other online forums specifically geared towards your local area and areas nearby. Who knows, you may even find a cycling buddy in the process!

Find Your Trail and Get Outside

Don’t let a little research stand between you and getting outside. Put in the work looking for trails so that you can get started enjoying your time on your bicycle, exploring your local areas. There is nothing quite like viewing the world slowly from on two wheels; you often notice things you regularly miss from the comfort of a motor vehicle. So get looking and then get going.

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