If you’re ready to strap on a helmet and push the pedals hard over natural earth, there are hundreds of miles of mountain biking trails surrounding Columbus waiting for you!
Mountain biking can be a little tricky at first, as most of us expect smooth pavement when we go biking. But once you get used to the bumps, you might start to crave the jumps! Whether you’re just leaving pavement for the first time or seeking the next thrilling turn or ramp, there’s a trail for you in or near central Ohio. It’s easy to get pulled into the sport, and once you’re smitten by riding through the green tunnels you may just become a regular!
Best time to go:
Mountain biking can be messy. The summer and fall months offer dust and dirt, while the spring and winter almost guarantee mud. Some trails close during the spring and winter (it’s worth checking websites for trail status updates before you go). But no matter when you venture out for the thrills, the mess doesn’t matter as long as you’re prepared and safely having your own level of fun!
Mountain Biking Education/Safety:
Mountain Biking Destinations (in a general four-hour radius from Columbus, in order from near to far)
ALUM CREEK STATE PARK MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAILS
Located near Ohio's capital city, Alum Creek State Park is a popular boating and camping destination. There are many activities at Alum Creek State Park—mountain biking included. There are three mountain biking trails for all levels of mountain bikers: a 2-mile-long easy trail, a 5-mile moderate trail, and a 7-mile difficult trail.
Boating, camping, disc golf, dog park/dog swim area, fishing, hiking, walking, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, picnicking, swimming, winter recreation
CHESTNUT RIDGE MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAILS
The 9-mile Mountain Bike Trail (for mountain biking only) goes through the woods and provides a terrific workout for mountain bike enthusiasts of all abilities. The 12- to 18-inch-wide trail is on an all-natural surface and features a 230-foot change in elevation. The trail was designed and built by volunteers with the Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization (COMBO). There is also a Pump Track, a loop of dirt berms and rollers, and the trail is great for cyclists of all ages and abilities.
Fishing, mountain biking, pets, picnicking
MOHICAN MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAILS
The 25-mile Mohican Mountain Bike Trail, also open to hikers, loops the gorge and passes through both the state park and the state forest. It has been voted the #1 mountain bike trail in Ohio and is a “must ride” according to National Geographic Explorer Magazine.
Bridle trails, fishing, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, picnicking, winter recreation
CLEVELAND METROPARKS MOUNTAIN BIKING
Cleveland Metroparks has four designated natural surface mountain bike trails that are shared use with hikers. Mountain biking is not permitted within the park from one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise or when the trail is closed. The trails vary in length and are scattered throughout the park system. They include the 10-mile Bedford Single Track, the 10-mile Royalview Trail, a 2-mile beginner track in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation, and the West Creek Shared Use Mountain Bike Trails.
Hiking, mountain biking
BEACH RIDGE BIKE TRAIL
This is a new 12-mile single track trail for mountain bikes. With six bridges and unique obstacles, such as an optional teeter-totter bridge, this trail is unlike any other in the Metroparks. While designed for mountain biking, the trail is also available for hiking.
Mountain biking, hiking, archery, backpacking, bicycling, birding, camping, cross-country skiing, fishing, geocaching, hammocking, horse trails, ice skating, nature walks, outdoor skills, paddling sports, photography, playgrounds, running, sledding, snowshoeing, and summer camps
HAMPTON HILLS TOUR
There are 7 miles of mountain biking trails for riders of various skill levels. Additional advanced trails are being continually added, and there may be up to 16 total miles of trails in the future.
Archery, biking, paddling, camping, fishing, mountain biking, swimming, winter sports Resources:
There are many trails and over 9 miles of mountain biking trails at the Metroparks Mountain Biking area as a part of the Fiver Rivers Metroparks. The Tot Track, Hilltop Flow Trail, Twisted, and Voodoo trails are all for beginners. Mr. Zig Zag, Creekside, and Upper & Lower Stealth are all intermediate trails. Hawk’s Lair and The Talon are both advanced trails.
Boating fishing, geocaching, mountain biking, picnicking, cycling, fitness, winter sports, hiking, paddling
MITCHELL MEMORIAL FOREST
Designed per International Mountain Biking Association standards, the challenging 8.1-mile mountain bike trail at Mitchell Memorial Forest was designed and constructed as a cooperative effort between Great Parks County and the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance (CORA). Trail A is an intermediate trail that is approximately 3.9 miles in length with moderate to steep terrain and some technical features. Trail B is an advanced trail that is approximately 4.2 miles in length with moderate to steep terrain, several technical features, and some sections of more difficult trail.
Mountain biking, fishing, hiking
There are 16 relatively short trails with various ratings that were created specifically for mountain biking.
Hiking and biking.
STROUDS RUN STATE PARK
There are 20 trails of various difficulty and length in this state park located just outside of Athens, Ohio.
Boating, bridle trails, camping, fishing, hiking trails, hunting, picnicking, mountain biking, swimming, and winter recreation
WAYNE NATIONAL FOREST EPIC TRAIL
This is an awesome backcountry experience which includes many scenic rock outcroppings, creek crossings, a natural land bridge, and a super fun, flowing 7.0-mile descent near the end. This loop includes some intermediate level sections, but overall, it's definitely an advanced loop that will challenge riders. None of the segments by themselves are overly difficult, but the length and consecutive trails make for a long day. There are currently 142 miles of single track trails in The Wayne National Forest. This park also allows mountain bikes on 148.5 miles of off-highway vehicle trails.
Bicycling, camping, climbing, fishing, hiking, horse riding, hunting, OHV Riding, picnicking, water activities
FORT CUSTER RECREATIONAL AREA
Fort Custer State Recreation Area is a 3,033-acre park located between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. The park features three lakes, the Kalamazoo River, a modern equestrian campground, a swimming beach, boat rentals, more than 40 miles of trails, paddling and fishing opportunities, second-growth forests, and remnant areas of prairie. The trail system is popular with mountain bikers, equestrians, hikers, and dog sledders. There are several mountain bike trails for bikers of several skill levels.
Boating, cross-country skiing, dogsledding, equestrian, fishing, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, snowshoeing, swimming
The Potawatomi Trail is the longest trail located in the Pinckney Recreation Area, as it stretches 17.4 miles through the marshes and wetlands of the area. The trail is a great mix of fast and flowy terrain that includes technical climbs and descents. If the length of the trail seems daunting to you, you can also take a shortcut that shortens the route by 3 miles. The trailhead can be found in the parking area near Silver Lake, and travelers must travel clockwise around the trail to keep all travelers safe.
Mountain biking, hiking and cross-country skiing
CANAAN MOUNTAIN BACKCOUNTRY
There is a road that runs through this area that is good for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Canaan Mountain is a high elevation plateau of semi-primitive terrain. The Allegheny Trail is the best connector trail between Blackwater State Park and Canaan Valley State Park. Mountain biking is allowed on all trails, but use discretion when trails are wet to avoid environmental damage.
Bicycling, camping, climbing, fishing, hiking, horse riding, hunting, OHV riding, picnicking, water activities, winter sports
OHIOPYLE STATE PARK
This park in Pennsylvania is home to many acres of forest, and many mountain biking opportunities. There are 25.2 miles of trails that are open to mountain biking, including the Sugarloaf Trail System, Pressley Ridge Trail, McCune Trail, Baughman Trail, Jonathan Run Trail, and Sugar Run Trail.
Hiking, picnicking, camping, backpacking, whitewater, fishing, hunting, horse riding, rock climbing, sledding, XC skiing, snowmobiling
For the past 20 years, the River Valley Mountain Bike Association has worked hard to create what is now an impressive 50-mile trail system - - nearly 30 miles of which are open to mountain bikers. The trails range in difficulty from novice to advanced, and the signage and infrastructure are all well-maintained and top-notch. Check out MTB Project’s 22.4-mile loop to get the ultimate Tour de Mountwood. The hard-packed dirt keeps you flowing fast whether you’re climbing ridges or ripping downhill. You’ll cross bridges, open meadows, and historic ruins on this loop and with ample opportunities to lengthen or shorten your ride. What’s not to love?
Archery, biking, birdwatching, disc golf, dog park, fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking