5 Great Places To Ride Electric Mountain Bikes

Road-trip-worthy destinations that allow eMTB access.

Shuttle Action Stefanie
South Mountain Park and Preserve, Phoenix, Arizona.Pivot Cycles

While discussion continues about how trail access will be affected by the Department of the Interior's recent order classifying ebikes as regular bicycles on trails and roads within DOI-managed lands, there are already a number of great riding destinations where electric mountain bikes are allowed. We're talking world-class, road-trip-worthy terrain in the Western United States. Some of the locations already cleared for eMTBing—in some cases, areas with a variety of trails designated for motorized use—might surprise you.

Slickrock Moab
Moab’s iconic Slickrock Trail.Aeon B. Jones/Utah.com

Moab, Utah

Now let’s be clear: It’s not open season for eMTBs in one of mountain biking’s most celebrated meccas. For instance, don’t think you can leisurely pedal your electric up to the top of Porcupine Rim and bomb down the world-famous descent.

But what about the iconic Slickrock Trail? Sure, go ahead. It’s legal for ebikes. Same with Poison Spider Mesa, Poison Spider Loop, White Rim Trail, Dead Horse State Park, Sovereign, and Fins & Things. Then there are the numerous 4x4 trails and scenic jeep roads throughout the region. You might not get the whole (enchilada) of the Moab mountain bike experience, but there’s plenty to keep legs spinning and motors whirring for a worthwhile stay.

If you don’t bring your own electric mountain bike, you can rent an eMTB from local bike shops including Poison Spider Bicycles, Moab Cyclery, and Double Down Bike Shop.

Also, many of Moab’s most popular mountain bike trails are on lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, which is under the Department of the Interior, so there could be more trails opened to electric mountain bikes in the near future.

Mammoth eMTB
Mammoth Mountain opened its mountain bike park to eMTBs in 2018.Mammoth Resorts

Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, California

Mammoth Mountain Bike Park opened its 80-plus miles of singletrack to Class 1 eMTBs (pedal assist up to 20 mph) for its summer 2018 season, and just wrapped up its second season in mid-September. The bike park has a fleet of rental electric mountain bikes from Trek, Haibike, and Rocky Mountain. Bike shops in the city of Mammoth Lakes also offer rental eMTBs.

Riders new to eMTBing—or to mountain biking in general—can get comfortable behind the handlebars riding the Discovery Zone learner’s area. Gabe Taylor, marketing manager for the bike park, also recommends the 4-mile trail Downtown that takes riders into Mammoth Lakes’ downtown village. “It’s got a couple climbs, so people can get used to the power of an ebike going uphill,” he said. Riders can return via the Uptown trail or, if they run out of battery, can hop on a shuttle from town back up to the bike park. Charging stations are also available in the downtown village to top off ebike batteries.

Near the close of its summer season in mid-September, Mammoth opened a new purpose-built eMTB trail, Electric Avenue, with sponsorship by Bosch eBike Systems. The 1-kilometer loop features berms, whoops, jumps, and wooden features for climbing. Be sure to check it out next season along with jump- and stunt-filled favorites like Flow, Twilight Zone, Chain Smoke, and Pipeline.

Shuttle Action Taylor
Class 1 and 2 eMTBs are allowed on all 70 miles of South Mountain’s trails.PIvot Cycles

South Mountain Park and Preserve, Phoenix, Arizona

Located at the southern edge of Phoenix, South Mountain Preserve is one of the largest urban parks in North America, at more than 16,000 acres. The park tops out at 2,300 feet of elevation at Dobbins Outlook, offering a panoramic view of Phoenix and its surrounding mountains. Trails wind through a rocky, moon-like landscape punctuated by giant saguaro cacti reaching toward the sky.

The park is home to several of the Phoenix metro area’s most popular mountain bike trails, from the steep, technical Holbert Trail (a double-black-diamond descent) to the moderately difficult National Trail with its oft-photographed waterfall section, and the mellow and cruise-y Desert Classic Trail. Class 1 (pedal assist up to 20 mph) and Class 2 (throttle assist up to 20 mph) ebikes are allowed on all 70 miles of the park’s trails—as are traditional bikes, hikers, and horses.

Other parks in the Phoenix area open to eMTBs include White Tank Mountain Regional Park, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, and Estrella Mountain Regional Park.

Sun Valley Greenhorn
Catch wildflower season in Sun Valley’s Greenhorn area.Visit Sun Valley

Sun Valley, Idaho

Southwestern Idaho is rich in singletrack and trails open to ebikes, plus many roads and areas designated for motorized use. Some can be accessed directly from the picturesque Rocky Mountain town of Ketchum.

Eve's Gulch, a 7½-mile point-to-point trail, can be ridden as out-and-back ride straight from town. Much of the trail was rerouted in 2009 following the Castle Rock fire. "You'll cross [Warm Springs Creek] many times (usually by skinny bridges), wander in and out of forests, meadows, and burn areas. Views are exceptional as you get higher," states a trail description on MTBProject.com.

The Greenhorn Gulch area southwest of Ketchum offers a high-desert riding experience overall, but riders can also climb up into coniferous forest. One epic route is to ride the Greenhorn Trail to Red Warrior and descend the high-speed, swoopy singletrack into Ketchum.

North of Greenhorn Gulch, the Sawtooth National Forest boasts rockier, more technical riding than many of the trails in Sun Valley. Right from Ketchum, you can climb Rooks Creek up to Osberg Ridgeline, a rolling, up-and-down backcountry singletrack that tops out at almost 10,000 feet of elevation and offers stunning views.

If you don’t want to travel to the area with your own eMTB, rentals are available from local bike retailers including Sturtevants, PK’s Bike Shop, and Formula Sports.

justoutstanding
Ride through the Manzanita tunnel on the Kernville-area trail Just Outstanding.KernRiverSierra.com

Kernville, California

Use an eMTB for a shuttle ride? Makes perfect sense on the ebike- and moto-legal Cannell Trail in California’s Southern Sierras. An IMBA Epic trail, Cannell starts at a lung-punishing 9,200 feet of elevation and remains above 7,000 feet for the first 17 of the trail’s 25.5 miles, so you’ll be glad you have some electric assist for the climbs and even the flat pedaling along the way. You’ll also be better rested for the trail’s final 8 miles, known as “The Plunge,” descending more than 4,000 feet to Kernville below.

Another eMTB-legal shuttle, Just Outstanding to Dutch Flat, is a 13-mile point-to-point ride. It starts by driving to the top of Just Outstanding and carving a flowy route through a cedar forest before heading through a tunnel of manzanitas. Dutch Creek, by contrast, is much more technical, rutted, and rocky—with 500 feet of climbing and 3,000 feet of total elevation loss over its 5.2 miles.

These two routes are the most popular among mountain bikers, but eMTBs can also be ridden on the scenic Kern River Trail (16.5 miles), Mill Creek Trail (7.9 miles), the Keyesville Classic race course (a 7.7-mile loop), and Granite Trail (a 1.75-mile alternate off of Just Outstanding).

To find out where eMTBs are currently legal to ride, visit the PeopleForBikes website and check out its Emountain Biking Map.