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Mountain Biking 'Hot' Spots

Year-round warm weather and magnificent mountain biking


Sometimes it doesn’t feel like summer where I live. Let me explain. Sure, the calendar says “June,” the ticks are waiting with baited breath on my local trails, and I’ve lovingly planted every imaginable seed into my garden knowing full well the grim outcome. Some days it just doesn’t feel like summer because the sun refuses to shine. And when the sun refuses to shine in June in northern New Hampshire, your neighbors will light their woodstove, leaving you to shiver in your bike shorts because you refuse to start a fire in summer. I mean, 59 degrees is a balmy 70 degrees warmer than the coldest day you experienced over the winter.

If you can convince yourself that 59 degrees is balmy, you need a vacation. And where better than a climate that stays warm year-round? Be it June or January, these places are known for their warm weather—and their magnificent mountain biking.

1. San Luis Obispo

Touted as the “happiest city in the United States,” San Luis Obispo is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco in California. Is it any surprise that the happy city is a cyclist’s dream? Cycling lanes, bike valets and parades galore! Mountain bikers will keep happy on the casual-paced 2.3-mile Johnson Ranch Trail, 10-miles of moderate Madonna Mountain singletrack, or Poly Canyon’s 8 mile fire road loop.

2. Hurricane Cliffs Trail Network

Designated an IMBA “Epic” ride, Hurricane Cliffs network of trails is located in Southwest Utah. While the area boasts a ton of mountain biking options, I am going to go ahead and label this a must-ride. 21 miles of pure fun and stunning panoramic views, it’ll put a grin on your face, for sure. Be sure to pack enough water and food for the ride, because it’s a long one. The sun is shining here at full force - something you may not be used to if your summer is anything like mine - so lather up on the sunscreen to avoid burning.

3. Gooseberry Mesa

A true gem in Southwest Utah, Gooseberry Mesa is situated at above 5,000 feet, keeping you cooler than other trails in the area, but certainly not too cool. For your technical enjoyment, you’ll ride on some slickrock, packed dirt and sand here. Some trails are located close to the cliff’s edge. Stay alert and on the trail at all times. Views of Zion National Park will take your breath away. Stop, and soak them in when you can!

4. Tortolita Preserve at Dove Mountain

Looking for more relaxation than riding? Check out the Tortolita Preserve at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona. The trail is calm enough for beginners or those who enjoy a more peaceful pace. You’ll pedal past amazing scenery and wind through an ironwood forest. Don’t forget your camera! Use the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain as your base camp, and you’ll never want to go home.

5. 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

Gorgeous scenery sets the stage for this ribbon of singletrack that snakes through the Sonoran Desert in Tucson, Arizona. As with all other rides in warm weather, be prepared by bringing along enough water to keep you hydrated and last your entire foray into the desert. This trail in particular can get extremely hot. You’ll want to bring along some food as well to keep your spirits up and energize you when you bonk. Oh, and you might want to practice riding as close to the center of the trail as possible before you go. You’ll find yourself up close and personal with cacti along the 17 mile ride. However, I am living proof that you can have a handful of cactus barbs pierce your skin and still have a good time.

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