Famous for its hundreds of miles of singletrack through the Deschutes National Forest, Bend is one of the best stops in the West for mountain biking. Generally, the higher in the mountains you travel, the harder the routes get. But most of the lower trails are easier (look for the green routes) with low bumps and gentle turns for beginners. “We’re not that steep here, so you’re not going to have exposure [meaning that there is a fall away on one side of the trail],” says Kirin Stryker, co-owner of Cog Wild Bicycle Tours and Shuttles, which offers guided tours and rentals. “You can ride from your house. There’s more trail than any of us have days and hours in a day or energy in our bodies.” One that stands out is Phil’s Trail, a fairly easy 11-mile loop that starts uphill and ends downhill. If paved roads are more your speed, several routes along the Three Sisters Scenic Bikeway have been designated by the state, including the 36-mile Twin Bridges Loop, with just over 1,000 feet of vertical gain, a section through Tumalo State Park, and high desert scenery. When you’re done playing, cruise downtown Bend and take your pick of award-winning restaurants and breweries to refuel.
San Juan Islands, Washington
Sure, Seattle might rank high on most lists of the best biking cities, but have you ever tried touring the circumference of a cluster of islands? In Washington’s northwest corner, the San Juan Islands invite riders with their low traffic roads, multiple bike shops with electric and non-electric bike rentals, and quaint eateries in Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor. Interisland travel is free with your bicycle, and the local county park offers waterside campsites. “There aren't too many roads out here, so it’s pretty quick to figure out what the loop is,” says Matthew Metcalf, head mechanic at Meat Machine Cycles in Friday Harbor, Washington. In addition to marine scenery, delight in the ancient forests, historical landmarks and buildings, and diverse wildlife. The South End Lighthouse Route, a 20-mile stretch that starts in downtown Friday Harbor, offers oceanside views of the Olympic Mountain Range, Vancouver Island, and Victoria. There’s also the Roche Harbor Out and Back, a 22-mile ride to the main island’s northern tip, where there’s a grocery store to load up on snacks.