For those who dare venture along the treacherous paths of a mountain biking trail, there is almost no greater adventure or sense of exhilaration than the winding turns and potential pitfalls that are but a taste of the very real dangers of the sport. Mountain bikers, practically by their very nature, seek out the most difficult trails that offer the greatest challenge, similar to skiers looking for the most challenging slopes along at a ski resort. But, how far do you need to go to find the extreme in mountain biking trails the world over? In some cases, they might actually be closer than you think.
Located in the Kitchener/Waterloo area of Ontario, Canada, the Hydrocut Trails are relatively simple for the experienced bikers, but still offer thrilling, fast rides through 25 kilometers of wooded area. Complimented by board walks, bridges, switchbacks and what they refer to as “armoured” walls, the Hydrocut rides fast on single lane trails in dry weather and even faster on slick clay surface after a generous rain. The only thing this trail misses are the heights and drops that might appeal to more extremist mountain bikers.
For those along the east coast of the United States, trekking to Wilkesboro, North Carolina might be worth the trip. Warrior Creek sports a scenic view of “out and back” North Carolina biking trails, including rock gardens and lake views. Similar to the Hydrocut, Warrior Creek also contains several bridge passes as well as in-slope turns to keep any mountain biker on their toes. Trail boss Jim Horton has dubbed it, “OVT on steroids.” And if the OVT on steroids isn’t enough for you, Warrior Creek is only a part of a more elaborate trail network that includes the OVT and Dark Mountain to round out the whole of Kerr Scott. And if that isn’t enough, the trail also hosts a 6-hour endurance challenge every year in the spring.
As if there weren’t enough reasons to visit the continent down under already, outside the city of Cairns lies the Smithfield Mountain Bike Park. One of the highest ranked rainforest trails in the world, Smithfield sports 60 kilometers of wilderness and technical riding that includes both short and long climbs as well as descents among a spread of over 700 kilometers of mountain biking trails around the city of Cairns in total. The trail was featured in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in both 2014 and 2016 as well as hosted the UCI World Mountain Bike Championship last year.
For one of the ultimate nature trails that offers a significant challenge, traveling to Benasque, Spain needs to be the hope of any enthusiastic mountain biker. El Gallinero is home to a 30 kilometer trail that features of natural sights to see, including high alpine trails and down-to-earth wooded areas. These trails include fast single track experiences as well as more technical areas with twists and turns to challenge even experienced bikers. Perhaps one of the more appealing long-term draws is that El Gallinero is also part of TrackMTB’s Big Montains Pyrenees Trip.