Montana, home to over 100 ranges, has some of the best mountain biking trails in America. We talked to local bike shop owners, trail builders, and photographers to uncover the greatest routes, with the most beautiful lakes, open meadows and dazzling descents. From bike-packing adventures to bike parks, and perfect singletrack, here are the 15 best mountain biking trails in Montana.
1. Mount Helena Ridge Trail
Just upgraded by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) to one of 11 Silver Level Ride Centers in the world, Helena knows how to sweep a mountain biker off his feet. For one thing, the capital has a free summertime bike shuttle called The Trail Rider, which stops at various trailheads around the South Hills Trail System — comprising over 75 miles, all within a seven-mile radius of downtown. There’s a Bike Helena Shuttle Fest, in conjunction with a brewfest.
And then there’s the Mount Helena Ridge Trail. “It’s an iconic route with incredible ridgeline views of the expansive wilderness that surrounds Montana’s capital,” says Bike Helena’s Patrick Doyle. Take the shuttle or pedal five miles from town to reach the 7.9-mile singletrack route, where you may spot Prickly Pear Land Trust’sEmmett Purcell heading up the first 600-foot climb. “The trail has fast rolling sections along with some fun technical limestone rock sections,” says Purcell. No matter how many times you jet across the long, open straightaways and fly down the same line, you’ll never tire of seeing your silhouette chasing you off the mountain, daring you to do it again.