Got a long weekend ahead of you? Get out of town to one of these killer cycling spots.
When you only have two days to relax from a stressful work week, taking your bike on a road trip isn’t always in the cards. But when you have a three-day weekend to burn? It’s worth it to leave the city in search of a mini-adventure. Here are our favorite quick escapes from these major metros.
Philadelphia: Raystown Lake
The Allegrippis trail system at Raystown Lake—one of IMBA’s flagship riding destinations—is within a three-hour drive of a lot of major US cities, including Philadelphia, Cleveland, Baltimore, NYC, and Wash., D.C. With 32 miles of some of the nation’s flowiest mountain biking trails, Raystown is prime for all levels of mountain biking experience and mayhem. There’s plenty of camping in the area for the ultimate three-day outdoor ride escape. Better yet, rent a houseboat and park it in a cove at the foot of the trails. Check out the area’s site for more information about accessing and riding the trails.
Austin: Texas Hill Country Loop
The best part about this three-day (or more, if you have the time) touring loop is you don’t need a car—you can just begin and end your ride in Austin. Pedal through legendary Texas Hill Country on rollercoaster roads lined with wildflowers and state parks, with plenty of small town stops for services and overnights. You can ride the 213-mile route with the cutoff (averaging 71 miles a day for three days) or do the full 310-mile loop. Whatever you do, just don’t miss the event-filled town of Fredericksburg. For a few dollars, buy a digital GPS file of the route from Adventure Cycling Association, or make your own way from the details on their site.
Portland: Crater Lake
Of course you could do a short tour of the coast or Mount Hood, but why not use that extra day to get to one of the most iconic rides in Oregon—Crater Lake? Crater Lake National Park is about a four-hour drive from Portland and riding the 32-mile road around the caldera is often considered a bucket-list affair. Torture yourself with killer climbs, and then soak up the sweet views of the deep-blue lake as a reward. For one day a year, the main road around the lake is actually closed to cars. Register for free at ridetherim.com and enjoy full support and free admission to the park. If you’d prefer to stay closer to Portland and want to do a car-free loop out to the coast, follow this basic itinerary: Day 1: Portland to the coast via Nestucca River Road. Day 2: Ride the coast up to Astoria—a seaside town made famous by the Goonies. Day 3: Ride Astoria back to Portland via Vernonia Highway and Myst (staying off 30).
Los Angeles: Solvang
A two-and-a-half-hour drive north of LA, the quaint, Dutch-inspired town of Solvang is home to some of the best year-round cycling roads in the country, which is why so many winter cycling camps and tours are held there. But you can stay in the area and run your own long-weekend cycling camp on the idyllic roads around town. Ride Foxen Canyon Road for rolling climbs through the wineries and ranches of the Santa Ynez valley, or tackle Mt. Figueroa—described by Tejay Van Garderen as the hardest climb in the US. You can read about our Managing Editor Jen Sherry’s experience on the route here. It’s hard to go wrong when the cycling roads are this good.
Seattle: San Juan Islands
Just northwest of Seattle are the San Juan Islands—an archipelago that’s part of Washington state and includes four ferry-accessible islands that are stellar for cycling. Drive 90 or so miles from the city to Anacortes along I-5 and take your first ferry to Lopez island—the “Bicyclist’s Island”—with its relatively flat 37-mile loop. Next try Orcas Island, the largest island of the chain, where you’ll have the chance to tackle the archipelago’s high point, Mount Constitution. On your last day, take the ferry to San Juan Island for more relaxed touring up and down along the shoreline. Or do the whole tour in reverse—no matter where you start, you’ll find bike-friendly roads and breathtaking island vistas.
Denver: Crested Butte
If you’ve got three unfilled days in Denver and you’re looking for a little road trip, grab a mountain bike and take a sweet little vacation to Crested Butte. Just over four hours from the city, the trails are “megaclassics” that can get crowded on holiday weekends, but are worth riding for the immediate alpine access. Crested Butte has everything: flowy segments, rocky segments, and fantastic vistas. There’s even a great hostel nearby in Gunnison called the Wanderlust for travelers on a budget. Online Editor Lydia Tanner lays out her perfect Crested Butte itinerary: “I’d leave for Gunnison early, stay at the hostel, and ride Hartman Rocks or Snodgrass Friday afternoon,” she says. “Hartman is also a good bet if the weather’s bad up higher, it stays pretty dry. I’d ride 401 all day on Saturday, then sneak in a lap on the Monarch crest on my way home Sunday. (It’s a ~4hr shuttle) It might be a little ambitious, but you’ll get a good sampling of everything in the area.”
NYC: The Hudson River Valley
Take the Metro-North train station from NYC to Poughkeepsie to begin your ride through the incredible green lushness of the Hudson Valley. Ride north to Hyde Park, Clinton, and Elizaville, and return south to cross the Hudson River at Walkway over the Hudson, the longest, elevated pedestrian (and bicycle) bridge in the world. To get some ideas of routes of varying lengths up to 100 miles, check out Bike New York’s Discover Hudson Valley ride maps. If you’d like to add more mileage to your tour of the area, cross over to Catskill and continue up the west side of the river.
Atlanta: Chattahoochee National Forest Trails
Drive two hours north of Atlanta and you’ll hit the Chattahoochee National Forest near Dahlonega, home to the area’s best mountain bike riding. We particularly love the nearby Jake Mountain Trail System and Bull Mountain Trail System, with 36 miles of interconnected trails and plenty of stunning, bright-green scenery. If you want to shred a bunch of trail systems in the same weekend, the Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-Away is a great place to stay, with cabins and shuttles to tons of area trails, among other amenities. Not a big mountain biker? We recommend driving an hour and a half to Athens for a weekend of top-shelf road riding.