Back in 1965 Bob Dylan took the stage at the Newport Folk Festival, backed for the first time by an electric band. Some in the audience booed, and a couple critics labeled him a sellout, but all he did was follow that up Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. What I’m pointing out here isn’t that electrified Dylan was better than analog Dylan, but that the amped up version of Bob was awfully enjoyable. The same goes for mountain bikes. The increasing popularity of electric-assist mountain bikes (eMTBs) has skyrocketed, benefitting riders with more versions of dynamic mountain bikes than ever. The appeal isn’t difficult to see. Ride farther, climb faster, and get more of the fun part: descending.
These are 10 of our favorite eMTB-friendly trails in Utah. Please remember eMTBs aren’t allowed everywhere. Always follow existing regulations to ensure riding an eMTB (or any mountain bike, for that matter) is legal before you hit the trails. It’s crucial for maintaining good relationships with land managers, advocacy groups and others trail user groups to ensure access isn’t threatened. Use the e-bike filter on trailforks to check the latest.
These classic mountain bike rides near the Salt Lake Valley are perfect singletrack rippers for eMTB riders from mile-munching XC masochists to heavy-hitting enduro rippers.
The WOW is an epic awash in the beauty of the Wasatch Back. Riding it as an out and back on a traditional mountain bike is quite the grind with 2,400 feet of climbing from Wasatch Mountain State Park to the top of Pine Canyon Road. EMTB riders will appreciate the extra pep in their legs for the seemingly endless flowy downhill through pine, aspen and Gambel oak forest beneath Mount Timpanogos.
This gorgeous loop on the east side of 40 in Heber is a cross-country classic with challenging switchbacks, fast, rolling terrain and huge views. From the ridge at the top of the loop riders look down into stunning valleys to both the east and the west. The flowy descent with sweeping corners back to the parking lot is the stuff singletrack dreams are made of.
New school and old school meet in Dutch Hollow. The easily accessible trail system, allowing eMTBs, rolls throughout the foothills in Midway linking trails like the berm-filled New Boneyard and the tight, twisty turns of Boneyard Gulch, where riders will appreciate the extra watts to help pick up speed out of techy corners.
Cutting a steep line down the ridge high in Draper’s Corner Canyon, Jacobs Ladder’s rough, natural singletrack tests the limits of a bike’s grip and a rider’s mettle. Rocky ledges give way to steep rolls and swooping turns as riders descend beneath views of Lone Peak. The ascent via Peaks View is a tough spin where bikers will enjoy the spoils of some technological assistance.
Where Jacobs is loose and rough, Levitate is rapid with smooth, floaty jumps. Levitate is another gem in the eMTB-friendly Corner Canyon trail system, but with a more modern take on trail building. There’s a variety of gap jumps, step-ups, step-downs, drops, tables and hips. Some of the features have mandatory gaps without ride around options, so riders need to be ready for the challenge if they’re going to drop in.
These technical, rocky trails are rich in mountain biking history and take on a whole new life when ridden aboard an eMTB.
One of the most famous trails in the world, Slickrock in Moab, has received no shortage of attention over the years. Riding Slickrock on an eMTB helps riders conquer the lung-busting sandstone steeps and keep speed through the declivities and flats that will have onlookers in jeeps doing double takes. It’s a legendary trail that offers a different view from behind the bars with some electric assist.
The history of Moab mountain biking was written on Cliff Hanger, where pioneering riders climbed and descended sandstone ledges alongside high-clearance 4X4s. New singletrack built in the area may not be open to eMTBs, but Cliff Hanger still has plenty to offer with serious technical challenges like sequential rock steps on the way up and sizable drops on the way back down. The panoramic views of surrounding sandstone towers are pretty tough to beat as well.
Gooseberry Mesa is famous for packing as many technical challenges per mile as possible. The creatively built singletrack meanders and snakes through eroded sandstone features atop the mesa’s edge. Though there isn’t much elevation gain and loss by Utah standards, the riding at Gooseberry Mesa is extremely physically demanding with little sit and spin. The extra torque on an eMTB is a nice help.
Bring the full face and the big rig. Steep grades, nasty features and plenty of exposure will have you glad you packed every inch of suspension on your long travel eMTB.
The Gravity Well in Eagle Mountain has some flat out gnarly big-mountain style riding. Nicknamed Punisher Jr. after another rowdy trail the area, it features a ton of drops, a sea of rock gardens and some seriously steep desert style freeride features and stacked rock rolls. Even an eMTB won’t help you get up this one, so flip on the assist and cruise up the OHV trail to the top before getting rowdy on the downhill.
What was once an old mule track to access the top of the mesa back in the ghost town days, Grafton Mesa is a classic, challenging downhill trail. Incredible trail building has turned massive boulders into a succession of blind rolls and steep, chunky chutes. Though it’s most commonly done as a shuttle, riders on eMTBs can utilize electric assist to take the sting out of the long, meandering road climb to the top of the trail.
Did we miss any of your favorite eMTB trails? Let us know in the comments!