Ohio may not have the mountain biking pedigree of other states in the U.S., but it still offers some enviable trail systems.
The state’s trails are located in the northeastern part of the state with many of the best known within close proximity to Cleveland. This includes the popular Mohican State Park, which features Ohio’s longest MTB trail and its sole IMBA Epic.
The state features classic cross-country trails that will take you into the backwoods of Ohio including Mohican, Bean Ridge/Bear Run, and Wayne National Forest. These make up the state’s older trails.
The state’s newer additions adhere to the current mountain biking trend of flow trails. This includes the recently renovated Horn’s Hill and the new Oak Openings system.
Ohio is also home to one of the most innovative trail parks with Ray’s Indoor Mountain Biking park in Cleveland, which is an impressive system entirely indoors, a real plus in a state that sees harsh winter weather.
Given the city’s location in the midwest, not all of Ohio’s trails are usable year-round due to snowfall. In fact, trails like Bean Ridge/Bear Ridge are only open from May through September, so plan accordingly.
Here are 8 of the best mountain bike trails in Ohio.
1. Wayne National Forest, New Matamoras
Wayne National Forest in the southeast corner of the state offers a pure cross-country mountain-biking experience. This nearly 36-mile loop links together multiple trails in the backwoods of the Wayne National Forest.
Traversing this loop, you’ll pedal through thick woods, past huge rock faces, and through streams while taking in multiple scenic views. There are more than 3,200 feet of climbing on this trek with some steep grades.
2. Mohican MTB Trail, Loudonville
Ohio’s longest singletrack mountain biking trail also happens to be its sole IMBA Epic trail.
The Mohican is a nice mix of backwoods cross-county and flow as it weaves its way through tall pines and hardwoods amid a fern-covered forest floor.
The first half is almost entirely climbing with a few brief downhill respites while the second half is mainly a fast and flowy downhill ride. The last few miles of Mohican are a little more technical with natural rock gardens and fast descents.
The last section inserts some strategically placed rock gardens to break up the flow, making for a great technical challenge.
3. Bedford Reservation, Bedford
Whether you’re a beginner looking to build your skills or an expert looking for a smooth trail to torch, Bedford Reservation offers well-maintained smooth singletrack for both.
The trails here are flowy with terrain that can best be described as hard-packed dirt. There are few roots and rocks to worry about here. The trail is well maintained with well-worn trails, thoughtfully placed bridges, bench cut trails, and banked turns.
Elevation changes are minimal, but enough to keep the trail fun and flowy. There is little in the way of technical riding here with trails ranging from beginner to intermediate, but experts will enjoy this fast ride.
4. Chestnut Ridge, Lithopolis
An excellent ride just outside the Cleveland metro area, Chestnut ridge offers some excellent flow with moderate technical challenges.
Begin with a gradual three-mile ascent to the trail’s highpoint, which is marked by an old apple barn, then begin a fast and furious five-mile descent that is mostly flow with a few technical challenges in the form of rocky and rooty sections.
Plenty of jumps and drop-offs are sprinkled throughout the course. Bridges over creeks and streams and timely berms, including a giant wooden berm, keep this trail fast.
Chestnut Ridge also features a pump track and skills area for working on your bike handling.
5. Bean Ridge/Bear Run Old School Classic, Newport
This isn’t your classic mountain-biking trail, per se.
It’s what you would now refer to as more adventure biking than mountain biking. That’s because nearly half of this trail is gravel surface while the other half is a single track.
It makes this list because of its epic feel and stunning scenery. It travels over a ridgeline and along the Muskingham River, at one point passing a waterfall and the remains of 200 plus-year-old structures.
In terms of terrain, this route includes a challenging ridgeline ascent followed by an insanely fast descent before continuing on with all single track to the end.
6. Vulture’s Knob, Wooster
Considered by many to be the best mountain biking trail in the state, Vulture’s Knob is a true must ride for Ohio mountain biking.
The trail is largely flow on hard-packed narrow single track. It weaves and winds through lush woodlands and overgrown meadows. Most of the trail is fast flow, with some windy and washed out technical sections to negotiate in the middle.
Optional skinny bridges and jumps offer challenges you can choose to take or skip. Wood structures are timely and well made with a fun arching bridge in the first half and a long suspension bridge that leads to a rock garden near the end of the trail.
7. Dow Lake Loop
Rough and rugged cross-country style singletrack best describes this loop at Dow Lake in Strouds Run State Park located in the southeastern part of the state.
This loop, which incorporates several different trails, features a mix of technical single track and fast and flowy trails. Rooty and rocky terrain will challenge your bike handling skills while fast and flowy downhills offer thrills.
The scenery is a highlight on this trail as you pedal around giant rock outcroppings and meander through beautiful hardwood forests.
This is a well-maintained trail with clear adherence to IMBA standards. Bridges are well places and trails are well-groomed.
8. Oak Openings
This unassuming singletrack located in Toledo near the shores of Lake Eerie packs a lot into a little. The 11 miles of trail at Beach Ridge is flat and mostly flow with an extensive amount of wood structures.
Features include long boardwalks, a ladder-style bridge that takes you 10 feet into the air, a lengthy boardwalk that winds over marshland and another that is constructed with whoop dee dos and ramps.
Other features include teeter-totters and wooden berms. The terrain is mostly sandy soil through coastal woodlands and open meadows.
Oak Openings also includes a FitPark this new part features 21 man-made obstacles.