Breathtaking U.S. Bike Rides for Summer

by  Jill K. Robinson | Jul 14, 2014
Bike / zozzzzo/iStock

There's no time like a warm summer to hop on your bike and see how far you can go. When you're exploring a new city, cycling is also a great way to cover more ground and getting a bit of exercise to boot. Here are seven great trails with fantastic views to add to your next itinerary:

Haleakala Crater -- Maui, HI (25 miles)
Ever wanted to ride down the world’s largest dormant volcano? Sure you do. It’s downhill. Join up with Maui Easy Riders for the 25-mile, scenic ride that starts at 6,600 feet above sea level and ends at the beach. On the way, you’ll stop in Makawao, which is notable for two things: a fun-sounding name and Maui’s cowboy town. Take a photo with a paniolo,then saddle back up for the rest of the ride.

McKenzie River Trail -- Eugene, OR (26.5 miles)
Meandering through the diverse scenery of the Cascade Mountains, McKenzie River Trail has great a single track that's manageable for beginners but still fun for experts. Get your kicks climbing through lava fields and lush forest, zip past bright blue pools and hot springs, then descend along a mountain river lined with waterfalls. When you get overheated, just take advantage of the waterfall mist.

American River -- Sacramento, CA (32 miles)
This shady, two-lane trail starts in Discovery Park in Old Sacramento and ends at Folsom Lake. The American River Trail is a favorite of many, so this isn’t the place to find solitude, but the route is well-marked (and even has water fountains and restrooms along the way). It’s easy to take a break for a picnic in the park or lunch at a restaurant, then dive into the lake for a swim at the final stop.

Tahoe Rim Trail -- Lake Tahoe, CA/NV (165 miles)
Ringing Lake Tahoe, the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail provides some of the greatest singletrack views in the United States. More than 80 miles of the trail are open to mountain bikes, and the 21.8-mile strip running between Tahoe Meadows and Spooner Summit highlights the best of the sport: dizzying heights, stunning scenery, speedy descents, and lung-busting climbs. Zip past wildflowers, forest, and ridge -- though if you have an issue with heights, perhaps save that scenery gazing for the end.

Foodie New Orleans -- New Orleans, LA (6 miles)
Most visitors don't exactly put biking on their New Orleans itineraries, considering the myriad diversions here, but riding in the Big Easy is quite easy. There are no hills. Mix up a visit twith a progressive dinner on wheels with Confederacy of Cruisers, whose cruise bikes have baskets for stashing cocktails and other essentials. Sure, loads of jambalaya, po-boys, and gumbo are bound to count on the calorie side, but hey, you’re exercising. Plus, biking is a great way to beat the fierce summer heat.

Springwater Corridor -- Portland to Boring, OR (40 miles)
This great road ride runs through the city along the Willamette River and over the famous double-lift Steel Bridge to the town of Boring. A former rail corridor, the Springwater Corridor may eventually link to the Pacific Crest Trail. The ride crosses Johnson Creek -- one of the last free-flowing streams in Portland's urban area -- a handful of times on the way to Boring. And it’s far more fun than the town’s name may lead you to think.

LAMB Ride -- Green Mountains, VT (132 miles)
Hardcore cyclists looking for a challenge should consider the LAMB (which stands for Lincoln, Appalachian, Middlebury and Brandon-- the names of local mountain pass “gaps”). These four mountain pass roads crisscross the spine of the Green Mountains. Strung together, do they make you work. We suggest taking a few breaks amid the gut-busting and rewarding yourself with the great scenery.

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