Here in New England we are blessed with a growing number of excavated trails across several bike parks. While it is not easy to define “the best” trail out there, the following are some leaders that all riders can enjoy regardless of rider style or ability. One of the biggest benefits of an excavated trail is that it can bridge the gap between riding styles and appeal to everybody, thus strengthening and growing our sport. One of the biggest drawbacks of machine-built trails is that they are difficult and expensive to build and require constant maintenance.
So to start, how does one define a modern excavated trail? For all intensive purposes here we can begin with a few parameters: The trail must be exclusively machine-built from top to bottom, not broken into machine-built sections split by natural sections. The trail must be built for all abilities and include “B” lines and ride-around sections on certain features. And finally, the trail must be maintained to minimize erosion and keep things rolling smoothly. So let’s cut to the chase- who has the goods?
Trail 9 at Mount Snow Bike Park - Trail 9 is an intermediate to advanced excavated jump trail built by the Carinthia Parks crew. What separates Trail 9 from its competitors is its snow-induced build style. Instead of a straight hip or step-down, the features contort and camber across the hill to match the rider’s speed and weight shifts. At full-speed this is extremely fun to drift across the natural trail line and maximize each feature’s length and width. At rolling speed this is also great to manual and pump through each turn and grade.
Jester at Burke Bike Park - Jester is really two trails cleverly disguised as one. From start to finish you can ride any number of completely different lines, sometimes even separated by tree patches as if you are skiing a glade. One of the most fun ways to ride Jester is to find a reckless group of friends and charge down with each person taking a different line. You will inevitably encounter some close calls and be forced into a line or two you never noticed to avoid taking each other out. Burke Bike Park has some of the smoothest, rock-free dirt in the US, and Jester has loads of variable rolling features, lines, and speeds to keep any rider happy.
NE Style at Highland Mountain Bike Park - NE Style was one of the first trails built at Highland, winding its way in and out of the woods right under the chairlift. The original NE Style was one of the first machine-built trails in the US combining jumps, bridging, drops, and wooden features. In its quest for global domination, Highland re-built NE Style to meet modern demand and expectations starting last August. The new NE Style re-opened mere weeks ago and has quickly positioned itself as one of the premier excavated trails in the country. The “A” line is massive, fast, and requires no pedaling from top to bottom- just pop, pump, and hold on for the ride. The “B” line winds its way around the “A” line as a flurry of berms, jumps, and rolling features everybody can enjoy. The best part is that NE Style is currently only half way down the mountain and thus only half completed.
The hordes of riders tearing down these trails on a daily basis speaks reinforces the fact that this is where modern bike parks are heading. These trails are a mere sampling of the excavated terrain out there, which continues to grow at parks across the country on a daily basis. Check these three trails out and continue to support your local bike park so that we can all ride and build more flowy masterpieces.
What machine-built trails are you riding and which bike park do you think offers the best flow trails in north America? Be sure to check out our The 2013 Best Bike Parks in North America survey to cast your vote!
The MTBparks Pass makes its debut for the 2014 season with access to an unprecedented collection of some of North America’s Best Bike Parks.
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