Trails and Ales: 7 Towns That Do it Right

Because bikes. Because beer.

We all love to toast to a good ride. Here are seven towns where singletrack and craft beer reign supreme.

Marquette, MI

Way up north on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the town of Marquette—home to Northern Michigan University—is known for its scenic vistas of Lake Superior and drastic seasonal contrast. What you might not know is that there are more than 50 miles of diverse trails accessible right from town and a couple of amazing craft breweries to satiate your post-ride thirst. And don’t write this town off during the winter. Marquette may be cold, but their extensive fat bike trail grooming will keep you warm and entertained no matter how much snow has fallen.

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Blackrocks 51K IPA | Photo: Steve Farr / Blackrocks Brewing

Spend a day exploring the Marquette South Trails and hit everything from the wide-open Down Dogger flow trail to more XC-oriented trails like the Blue loop and Carp eh Diem. After the ride, pedal right over to Black Rocks Brewing, which is not only an amazing brewery but one of the biggest funders of local trails—both in dollars and volunteer hours. If you’re in want of a second round, pedal a couple blocks south to Ore Dock Brewing, housed in a historic structure built from the very same sandstone you were loving on the trails.

Bend, OR

Bend’s skyline is dominated by Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters, and Broken Top Mountain, ancient volcanoes that tower prominently above the expansive high desert to the east and lush temperate forest to the west. Right outside of town, visitors will find the Phils Complex: a fun and flowy network of trails that’s great for riders of all interests and abilities. Farther from town, trails like Funner and Tiddlywinks offer more technical challenges with bike-specific features and rocky challenges.

Bend probably deserves a beer ‘n’ bikes article all to itself given a seemingly boundless list of amazing breweries (22, but who’s counting?). Because the epic riding will likely (read: hopefully) keep you from visiting every last taproom, why not try both ends of the spectrum? After a full day in the saddle, head over to the hip and humble Crux Fermentation Project where, if you go during “Sundowner Hour” (the 30 minutes directly before and after sunset each day), they’ll knock $1 off any of their eclectic draughts and $2 off any appetizer. If the big leagues of craft beer (oxymoron, much?) are more your style, reserve your spot on a tour of the massive Deschutes Brewing facility.

Asheville and Brevard, NC

Asheville is no stranger to “top city” lists, and with good reason. Pisgah National Forest, which is laced with some of the East Coast’s very best riding, sits just outside the city. On top of world-class riding and in addition to a roster of outstanding local microbreweries, big brewers like New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Oskar Blues have all set up shop in the area. After exploring trails right out of town at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, check out Sweeten Creek Brewery for a laid-back atmosphere with quality beer and food or Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium—a taproom dedicated solely to “funky” brews—for a unique mix of sours and barrel-aged one-offs.

Thirty-five miles southwest of the Asheville, also in Pisgah National Forest, is an expansive network of trails accessible directly from the smaller, more rural community of Brevard. Sample some of the world-famous Pisgah tech on trails, like Bennett Gap and Black Mountain, before dropping into a brewery tour and a CHUBburger at Oskar Blues‘ Brevard facility.

Durango, CO

This remote Colorado town boasts world-class backcountry access, tons of riding right from town, and—you guessed it—great beer. So, it’s no wonder retired pro riders like Ned Overend, Todd Wells, and Travis Brown have laid down roots here. Trails 2000, Durango’s nonprofit trail building organization, has been hard at work adding mileage to an already expansive network of in-town trails. Horse Gulch is the local after-work zone and is easily accessible by bike from downtown.

A summer-y twist on a Ska brewing favorite: Modus Mandarina | Photo: Ska Brewing

A summery twist on a Ska favorite: Modus Mandarina | Photo: Ska Brewing

Visit Ska Brewing‘s state of the art fermentation factory for an amazing post-ride beer. With so many brews to choose from, try two stand-outs among mountain bikers: the “smooth and sexy” True Blonde and the Modus Hoperandi IPA, a beer that “will remind you of the time you went on a vision quest and woke up in a pine-grove full of grapefruit trees.” Because you’ll need more than a day to truly experience Durango, be sure to also hit Steamworks Brewing for an excellent burger or fish and chips—both pair nicely with their Conductor IPA.

Hood River, OR

Positioned between Mt. Hood and the mighty Columbia River, and with easy access from Portlandia, Hood River is a happening little town surrounded by fruit orchards and classic PNW forest. Riding right from town, visitors will find everything from full-on jump trails to a family-oriented skills park, known as the “Family Man” area, at Post Canyon. A quick drive up the hill, the high country offers an even more extensive list of options. Don’t miss the natural beauty of Surveyors Ridge and Dog River

At the end of a fun day of riding, rehydrate with a pint of the aptly named Session Lager at Full Sail Brewing as you watch kiters and windsurfers tear it up on the river. If you prefer a lesser-known option, cozy up to the fire pit at Pfriem Family Brewers, a 15-barrell brewery putting a Pacific Northwest twist on an all Belgian-style beers. 

Photo courtesy Michelle Humphrey/pFriem

Photo courtesy Michelle Humphrey/pFriem

Tucson, AZ

As the 33rd largest city in the U.S., Tucson is a cultural melting pot coalesced with an arid Arizona landscape. The riding here is prime during much of North America’s “off season,” making it a great place to visit when the white stuff has put the kibosh on your riding. Head out for a rip around Mt. Lemmon or Tucson Mountain Park to get your fix of cacti and beautiful desert vistas enjoyed from a wide range of trails.

Epic views on the trails near Mt. Lemmon | Photo: Vernie Aikins

Epic views on the trails near Mt. Lemmon | Photo: Vernie Aikins

Perhaps more than anywhere else, a ride in the desert demands good beer. Pop over to local brewer Iron John’s, whose Geisha Coffee Saison is a unique but delicious combo, or Ten Fifty-Five, who offers a crisp and refreshing Citra Hop.

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