Just a handful of years ago the choice of bike parks – gravity-focused riding centres with an uplift back to the top of the hill – was quite limited. Now more and more ski resorts and regional areas known for mountain bike trails around the world are recognising the potential for revenues and beginning to market their wares as destinations to visit in the summer – or in some cases all year round.
Away from the big mountains, smaller bike parks with vehicle-and-trailer uplift are also springing up all over the place. This has given rise to longer MTB seasons (ski resorts typically only open lifts for a short summer season) and more diverse terrain.
Here's our pick of some of the best established bike parks and mountain bike trail destinations on the planet:
Season: May – October
There's nowhere else quite like Whistler. The original and still the best, the British Columbia resort has a huge range of trails for absolutely every level and style of rider, all accessed by fast, modern lifts and ending in a dreamy town, where evenings are spent at the skatepark, indoor airbag, jumps or on a trail ride into the wilderness.
Located just two hours north of Vancouver, the mountain town offers over 1,507 metres of lift-serviced bike trails. From classic jump trails like A-Line, Dirt Merchant, and Crank It Up, to technical legends like Schleyer, Angry Pirate, and Clown Shoes, the resort has a huge range of trails for absolutely every level and style of rider.
Sound of Speed: Kade Edwards and Kaos Seagrave in Whistler
Young pretenders Kade Edwards and Kaos Seagrave go huge on the legendary Dirt Merchant trail at Whistler Bike Park.
On top of Whistler Mountain Bike Park's world-class trail network, the resort is the birthplace of the global Crankworx mountain bike festivals and where slopestyle contest Red Bull Joyride takes place.
Season: June – September (opening dates differ per resort)
The absolute classic of European resort riding, Portes du Soleil is the name of a huge area of interlinked towns and bike parks, including Châtel, Les Gets, Morzine-Avoriaz, Morgins and Champéry, spread across France and Switzerland. In total, the Portes du Soleil area in total has 650km of marked bike trails with 22 chairlifts to get you to where you need to be.
The most impressive development is in Châtel, where a full-time trail team regularly shape and maintain dozens of tracks and trails. The bike park there is home to one of the most famous bike park trails in the world in the Vink Line. Cultivated by pro rider Nico Vink, the Vink Line is a downhill track that is made up of innumerable huge jumps, monster berms and massive hucks.
We go on a trip to Châtel, France, where the boys spend a week riding one of the best bike parks in the world.
For classic downhill tracks and the best after-ride vibes, Morzine is the place to hang out. The standout trail in Les Gets is the Tomahawk trail, which is a super-flowy track that has banked turns, quite a few tables and consistently-sized jump kickers.
For a northern European bike park experience, there's nowhere quite like Åre Bike Park. Its sizeable Swedish hills slope gently into lakes and forests on all sides – a stunning setting, especially in the golden light of a long Scandi summer’s evening.
The mountain biking element is like a mini-Whistler. There are 34 trails with a vertical drop of 853m. The tracks are superbly built, with enormous banked turns and fun, safe jumps on the machine-made trails, while there are also plenty more natural options for those looking for an out-of-park adventure.
Whip It Good is one of Åre Bike Festival's highlights
Get to know what's good about Sweden's Åre Bike Festival
The people behind Åre recently developed their own XC Arena that has man-made trails ranging from easy to more challenging blues and reds. The perfect entry-level trails if you're new to the sport or have a young family.
Known for its tax-reduced bargains, the small state of Andorra, located among pristine Pyrenean peaks, has always been a big draw for mountain tourism. In terms of mountain biking, Andorra's really been put on the map by its annual World Cup downhill and cross-country races and the fact that major mountain bike brand and manufacturer Commencal are based here.
Vallnord is the country’s main bike park (there’s also Soldeu a short drive away). Its 40km of downhill freeride tracks and enduro trails, as well as a pump track, a 4X track and kids’ ride area, which make it a fantastic destination for all gravity-centric riders. It boasts cheap accommodation and food, favourable weather, and a long season to round off the package.
New Zealand’s outdoor capital boasts all sorts of mountain and water-based pursuits, not least a healthy mountain bike offering. Development of the Queenstown Bike Park has gone through the roof in recent years, and with it so too has the popularity of this must-visit off-season destination. The park has 30 downhill trails totalling over 30km of riding.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Martin Söderström and Emil Johansson spend a week in the Queenstown area riding and fooling around.
When the Northern Hemisphere is deep in winter, many of the world’s pro riders head to Queenstown for some downhill laps, shuttle trails, heli drops, XC and road riding and evenings by the lake. All this is set in stunning landscapes, hemmed in by Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, Coronet and Crown mountain ranges.
BikePark Innsbruck offers five trails, a jump line and a kids and beginners area. The names of the trails partly indicate their difficulty - The Simple One (family-friendly), The Chainless One (intermediate), The First One (intermediate), The Rough One (advanced) and The Wild One (advanced).
The Austrian city is, of course, a location for one of the global Crankworx mountain bike festivals and when that's in town the bike park is transformed into an arena for slopestyle, downhill, dual slalom and pump track action, with the best mountain bikers on the planet going toe-to-toe in competition. The dual slalom and pump track courses can be used by visitors.
BikePark Innsbruck's First One trail
Jump on board with Stefan Eberharter and Tom Öhler as they ride the First One trail at BikePark Innsbruck.
What makes Bikepark Innsbruck a great destination to visit is that there are additional trail networks around Innsbruck that can be visited. This includes the Innsbrucker Nordketten Bahnen, which is home to the Nordketten Single Trail, one of the steepest and most difficult in Europe, the Elferlifte and also Bikepark Tirol.
Ever since the Coastal Crew, a group of pro riders from British Columbia, opened the Coast Gravity Park, it's been a site of pilgrimage for any serious gravity rider visiting western Canada. The park's featured in countless videos and photoshoots for its perfectly smooth berms and textbook jumps, but there’s more to it than that.
Brandon Semenuk rips up the jump Line at Coastal Gravity Park
Follow Brandon Semenuk down a high-speed trail of tall berms with tricky rollers, hips, and gaps at Coastal Gravity Park in Canada
Sixteen official trails of varying difficulty and intent offer a little something for most riders. It features in this list of top resorts worldwide, not for its number of trails or its infrastructure, but because it shows what a year-round rider-created bike park can look like, removing gravity riding from a reliance on chairlifts (trucks take riders back up the hill) and pushing the limits of track construction at the same time.
Wales is full of great mountain biking – it has trail centres and bike parks all over the place. Revolution Bike Park, Black Mountains Cycle Centre and Antur Stiniog are impressive in their own right, but BikePark Wales is the country’s most rounded gravity-orientated destination.
Laurie Greenland – Wales
Downhill rider Laurie Greenland designs, oversees the build, and rides his dream line at BikePark Wales.
From easy, meandering and flowy singletrack, to massive jump lines and downhill tech, this diminutive hillside in the southern valleys provides options for just about every rider. Daily uplift services are popular and fill up quickly, so sometimes must be booked months in advance (there’s a climbing trail and push-up track, too).
Järvsö Bergscykelpark is a favourite among riders in Scandinavia and northern Europe, both because of its proximity to Sweden's capital Stockholm and because of its well-built tracks. Even though the mountain, where Järvsö is situated, only reaches 370m above sea level, it has 17 tracks, most of which are designed by Tom Pro, the founder of Canadian trail-building company Gravity Logic.
The bike park is famous for its big and flowy jump trails like Barbro, Twist Twist and Lite för Liten. You might have seen them in edits like Sound of Speed with Martin Söderström and Emil Johansson.
Martin Söderström and Emil Johansson
See Martin Söderström and Emil Johansson put their style and excellency in focus at Järvsö, Sweden.
There are also several technical trails like the black-graded tracks Kristin and Itzy Bitzy - two of the most challenging, yet fun, trails to ride on the mountain. With plenty of rock drops, tight, steep corners and technical rock gardens they keep even the best riders on their toes. It's a park that suits every type of rider – kids and adults, beginners and experts. There's also a Velosolutions Pump Track next to the bike park.
Dyfi Bike Park, Wales
Season: Year-round (weather dependent)
Dyfi Bike Park near Machynlleth, Wales, is the masterpiece of mountain biking's most famous siblings, the Athertons, and more specifically the brainchild of Dan, the elder of the World Cup-winning trio. The bike park has had years of dedication and hard work put into its range of intermediate and expert-level trails by the Atherton family, their friends and colleagues, and Dyfi locals. Dyfi is also of course home to probably the best technical downhill track in the world in the Red Bull Hardline course.
The Athertons' perfect backyard
Gee, Rachel and Dan Atherton have become international MTB stars. Is their epic backyard setup the reason why?
The bike park opened to the public in 2019 with four black-graded (pro expert) trails only – 50 Hits, Original DH, Race Track and Slab Track. Since then two further black trails have been added in Fire in the Booth and the Oakley - Icon Way, as well three less difficult trails in Super Swoop, El Hippo and the Turns in the Ferns. A trailer shuttle can whisk riders to the top of the mountain in a matter of minutes. There's also a pump track on site and riding trails available close to Machynlleth not associated with Dyfi.