In addition to their deadly speed, downhill mountain bike parks and courses are often marvels of physics and engineering: racers moving at the right speed will clear narrow jumps that send them whizzing by tree limbs, or they will stay high on steeply banked walls, allowing them to turn a treacherous corner.
With the mixture of top-level riding, and creative architecture, these parks and courses turn wooded mountainsides into works of dangerously beautiful art.
As the sport of downhill mountain biking gains steam, resorts everywhere are opening their lifts and trails to downhill riders in the snow-free months and building incredible structures, and the occasional freestyle park.
We’ve showed you some of the best places to mountain bike, now check out these top downhill mountain biking parks and courses.
Whistler Mountain Bike Park – Whistler, B.C.
British Columbia is a downhill mountain bikers dream. The lush and rugged terrain has it all: steep and exposed mountainsides as well as the rocks and trees that make for excellent obstacles to whiz past.
The trails at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park pull together all those elements, and add the convenience of a network of ski lifts that allow riders to take on some of the park’s most vertical runs.
The park has 3,400-feet of downhill trails, ranging from beginner friendly tracks to ultra-narrow, experts-only single track that winds improbably through the mind-blowing mountainscape.
In addition to the thousands of feet of downhill tracks, Whistler offers an indoor freestyle park with a massive foam pit and obstacles galore for mountain bikers of every stripe.
Mammoth Mountain Bike Park – California, USA
Some people claim that downhill mountain bike racing started out on Mammoth mountain. That’s no bold statement, considering the history and features of its bike park.
In fact, Mammoth Mountain Bike Park was among the first to open in California. Today, it remains the flagship bike park, with its 80-mile-long dirt singletrack.
There is a lot of amazing scenery to enjoy as one descends down 3,000 feet of vertical elevation. What’s more, in the last three seasons, Mammoth Mountain Bike Park has added another seven trails, in addition to its already diverse terrain.
There’s a plethora of challenging tracks that will push the limits of experienced bikers. Still, beginners also have their designated areas, like the Discovery Zone.
The variety of rides allows for an all-encompassing mountain bike experience.
Åre Bike Park – Sweden
Aside from being the ultimate Scandinavian ski destination, Åre is a haven for mountain bikers. Since the mid-90s, biking has become increasingly popular in this small town, especially during summer.
Today, Åre Bike Park is the biggest bike park in Europe. It boasts 40 bike trails suitable for different bike types. On top of that, its valley has a trail network that ought to keep any rider entertained.
Interestingly enough, the Åre Bergcyklister bike club has an impressive 900 members. That is clear evidence of how popular mountain biking is among Åre’s denizens.
Still, the enchanting Åre bike park isn’t just limited to the town’s natives. In fact, Åre Bergcyklister organizes a mountain bike festival every year. People from different parts of Scandinavia flock to take part in different races and challenges.
Kicking Horse Resort – Canada
Canada’s fondness of mountain biking doesn’t stop at Coast Gravity Park. Located in Golden, B.C., the Kicking Horse Resort is another Canadian showpiece worth experiencing.
The resort stands out as it features gondola-accessed mountain biking trails. Beginners can enjoy practicing on the green trails. On the other hand, seasoned riders have the opportunity to take on challenging single tracks with many berms. Aside from that, the resort offers more than 120 jumps and drops.
Lush and vividly colored nature is the backdrop of every single ride. The resort offers a gradual contrast between the rocky terrain and the bushy green meadows. Here, variety is the name of the game, and there is lots of it.
Skyline – Queenstown, New Zealand
Skyline Queenstown is the best mountain bike park that New Zealand has to offer. Aside from being the first park in the country to feature gondolas, it boasts a variety of trails for riders of different levels.
For example, bikers can enjoy the smooth flow of the so-called “groomer” trails. The berms and jumps are pretty straightforward, albeit with a 1410-foot drop. Additionally, the terrain is suitable for different types of trail bikes, so both downhill and long-travel types won’t have any trouble navigating it.
Skyline Queenstown is a place where expert riders have been congregating for years. However, some of them may choose to stay longer, making Queenstown an off-season base.
The summer season treats riders to favorable temperatures. That makes the park an excellent place for both race training and freeriding. But the best thing about it is the duration of its open season — it starts in late September and ends in May.
Mount Stromlo – Canberra, Australia
This downhill course, located near Canberra, Australia, also makes the best of Australia’s moderately hilly terrain. Because of the arid climate, the tracks cover a lot of semi-open ground with few trees, so riders aren’t required to slow down for tight, technical sections.
Free to haul over the dusty landscape, the riders can take the terrain at higher speeds. In addition to the single-track trails, this spot offers man-made wallrides and ramps, as well as dirt jump sections to hone downhill riders’ freestyle technique.
Sun Peaks – Kamloops, BC
Ahh, yes, British Columbia. Yet another of the best downhill courses lurks in this mountain bike-friendly province of Canada. This time, it’s at Sun Peaks Resort, a few hundred miles northeast of Vancouver.
As usual, British Columbia’s lush forests and unending mountains hold thousands of vertical feet of incredible trails: 2,000 vertical feet to be exact. Sun Peaks is not as big as Whistler, but has many of the same obstacles that have made it world famous: roots, rocks, drops and tight turns.
Riders can weave among wildflowers, and as is becoming standard at the best downhill parks in the world, they can ride lifts up the mountains. Just watch out for the numerous black bears.
Killington Mountain Bike Park – Vermont, USA
Vermont’s Green Mountains aren’t very big, but they are packed with superior mountain biking opportunities. None is better than the 45 miles of lift-served trails at Killington Ski Resort. The smallish mountains host 1,700 vertical feet of downhill trails for mountain bikes.
It’s the best of the New England landscape: dense stands of trees, roots rocks and cliffs, and narrow gullies. The resort has single track as well as backcountry roads. It doesn’t hurt that the steep mountain bike park is accessed by the resort’s gondola.
Snowmass – Colorado, USA
As Colorado’s heavyweight of skiing and snowboarding, Snowmass is prime territory for a mind-blowing mountain bike park. Gondola’s, lifts, 50 miles of beginner and expert terrain – this resort has it all.
Beyond the natural Rocky Mountain terrain, Snowmass has created tabletops and a host of elaborate wooden ramps to add to the 1,400 vertical feet of riding, lost over 2-and-a-half miles.
Coast Gravity Park – Canada
Perhaps the biggest draw of this park is the fact that it’s the legacy of the world-renowned Coastal Crew. In its six years of existence, the park has become the Mecca of Canadian mountain biking.
Even though the park is the handiwork of experienced riders, bikers of all ages and levels are more than welcome to enjoy it. What’s more, its 12 trails are accessible all year round. That means there’s no limit to exploring its beautiful shoreline forest. In fact, its easy-to-use shuttle system makes the exploration all the more effortless.
The stunning natural world that inhabits the park welcomes many mountain bike photographers with open arms. It’s no wonder then that the park is a popular spot for numerous photo shoots and videos too.
Fernie Alpine Resort – Calgary, B.C.
Like Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Fernie Alpine Resort has so many of the ingredients that make downhill mountain biking in British Columbia one of the best locations in the world.
Located outside of Calgary, near the Montana border, Fernie has trails that descend through alpine grasslands into thick forests that blanket steep mountainsides. While winding through dense groves of trees, the trails navigate technical wooden ramps, rock obstacles and tight turns.
Les Deux Alpes Bike Park – France
Long before Les Gets rose to popularity, Les Deux Alpes was the crown jewel of French mountain biking, and all for a few good reasons.
One of its major attractions is the area called Easy 2 Ride. As the name suggests, it’s a family-friendly area. Still, many experienced riders use it to warm up before making their big jumps.
The extensive bike park features rolling tracks with plenty of jumps. Those who are looking for a challenge may want to descend down the 666 trail and its 800 meters of altitude difference.
Meanwhile, for those eager to record their moves, there is a pump track near the Bike Park Video Zone. Moreover, the section between Crêtes and Mont-de-Lans is a riding sanctuary because of its amazing flow.
Mont Sainte-Anne Bike Park – Quebec, Beaupré, Canada
Mont Sainte-Anne is the place of origin of Quebec mountain biking. In fact, it was among the first ski resorts that embraced the sport.
The bike park has one of the most astonishing trail networks in Eastern Canada. Downhill trails run for about 17 miles, while there are more than 80 miles of cross-country trails. The tracks vary from single to North shore and mini shore zones, with a four-cross course to boot.
Both beginners and experts can enjoy the diverse choice of tracks. Recently, the park added three new intermediate trails, with an additional five single tracks. Furthermore, the gondola rides offer a splendid view of the surrounding greenery, with a touch of excitement during the descent.
Portes du Soleil – France/Switzerland
The Franco-Swiss border offers a ride of a lifetime through the stunning territory. Indeed, the Alps are a magnificent place for mountain bikers.
The route winds down the Eastern-Alpine foothills, with signs leading the rider every step of the way. As for the main circuit, it covers a single track that descends through both paved and forest roads. Nine separate gondolas help the riders climb around 16000 feet, leaving very little elevation for climbing on their own.
In fact, more experienced mountain bikers can finish the entire circuit in just one day. However, they have to consider the closing times of the gondolas. Still, two days is the best option for those who want to absorb the beauty of the scenery and the surrounding villages.
Kuranda Downhill – Cairns, Australia
On the whole, Australia is a pretty flat continent. The mountain biking scene, however, makes the most of what mountains and hills are found there, and it has produced some of the best downhill mountain bike trails anywhere.
For experts and noobies alike, Kuranda Downhill in Cairns, Queensland, is among the premier destinations in the world. Aside from the killer terrain, this track is accessed by plenty of roads.
In places without resort-style lifts, accessing the trails can be a problem. But Kuranda offers easy access to vehicles, meaning more runs, more vertical feet of riding, more fun.