10 Midwest mountain bike trails that will shred you


When is a bike ride more than just a casual pedal around town? There are options, but the best ones involve dirt, rocks, jumps, beer, blood and some pain all mixed together. Technically, a paved walking trail is a trail, but we are in search of single track dirt. There are little tastes all over the place, but these 10 trails are all destination-worthy, either on their own or as part of a group. Pack the cooler and your helmet and go shred some dirt.

Landahl Park
Landahl is located about 40 minutes east of Kansas City, but it provides a full day of riding for those who want it, so it is well worth the trip. Beginners can find something to do too, but the technical stuff, as well as the sphincter clinching dirt jump play area, are for people who know what they're doing or don't mind finding out the hard way. Either way, it's worth trip as long as you pack some beer.

Blue River Park Trails


BuRP is what we call it but the trails in and around Minor Park that run along the Blue River are some of the best constructed trail systems the Kansas City area has to offer. You can ride flowy single track, technical rock, river side bluffs and even a new and in the works downhill/enduro jump and berm playground. If you get too big for your britches on some of the rock drops you might need a new pair of skivvies, but it's still a damn good time.

Slaughter Pen
While the name is daunting, the park itself is a helluva fun place to ride serious trails, as well as scare the crap out of yourself in the enduro park on jumps, rollers, pipes and a massive drop-off. There are some lung scorching climbs in store if you are in Northwest Arkansas, but the reward is that what goes up must come down, and you will come down FAST.

Wilson Lake State Park
Wilson is the kind of place that could convince you that you are in Utah or Western Colorado, or maybe even on Mars, except you are in Kansas. A former "epic" designation by the IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) reveals that you most certainly "aren't in Kansas anymore" when it comes to the type of terrain. I hate myself for making such a terrible Kansas joke, but when you're raised here it becomes a reflex. The elevation at Wilson is substantially higher than the closest big cities, so if you're coming from a major metro area, you'll need to pack your big boy lungs. It's worth it.

Swope Park
Swope is a gem packed right into the middle of Kansas City, Missouri. There is a dedicated downhill run, and miles of trails that are all interconnected so the directions and routes you can ride mean you'll never get stuck in the revolving door ride where it feels like you are riding the same thing over and over. Although some flowy single track is definitely beginner appropriate, there are trails that rival some of the most technical stuff you will find anywhere. If you truly want to enter the pain cave, try 8 Pin, named for the number of pins that had to be inserted in the ankle of one of the guys who built it after he found out the hard way that he isn't Superman.

Wyandotte County Lake Park
Wyco is like a prop out of a cheesy summer camp movie from the '80s, minus the wood paneled station wagons and knee high socks/short shorts combination. There are canoes, paddle boats, fishing boats and glorious flowing single track. One of Wyco's best features is how different each trail is based on proximity to the lake and exposure. There are times you'll feel like you're in the jungle, and times where you'll be screaming through the trees with sun shining through. There is also a dedicated jump/enduro section whose drop-in alone will make you question your purpose in life and whether or not you've lived a good one.

Berryman Trail

Flickr/EricMM

Berryman is a masochist's dream if you don't run full suspension and high volume tires. Even then, it will put your body and your legs through the wood chipper. Rocky stair steps, and the dreaded false flat climbs are two of Berryman's more ruthless features that you'll encounter on a regular day on the trail, or in any of the endurance races such as the Battle of Berryman that you choose to enter. Choose your times to visit wisely, as it gets hot in the Ozarks, and pack lots of water. Also, I "know a guy" who drank way too much whiskey the night before a race there and his legs seized up like rusty steel. Don't be that guy, it hurt.

Ouachita Vista
Ouachita is a current IMBA epic, and comes in at an insane 38 miles, with over 3,900 feet of climbing. That means you get over 4,000 feet of descent though, which will come in handy when you're gasping for air or your legs have turned to jelly. The trails are challenging enough to be fun but not easy, and the views at the top of climbs are postcard porn. There are also some great shuttle options that allow you to stay in cabins, take a shuttle to any of the trail heads for a small fee, then ride back to the cabins. Pretty sweet setup, and a good way to earn that beer.

Womble
In close proximity to Vista, Womble is another IMBA epic ride and is considered one of the best trails in the midwest as well as a destination trail for riders coming in from other parts of the country. Over 35 miles of trail featuring every type of terrain and feature you can expect, and the beauty of the Ozarks. It will feed your need for all day riding, but as the IMBA write up says, don't feed the bears.

Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be, but it's going to be fun no matter what. While many technical features can be bypassed, what the hell is the fun in that? Iron Mountain is one of the best maintained, fastest draining trails in the area, so it's almost always good to shred. Currently measuring in at just over 16 miles, it is a perfect place for a morning ride, beer lunch, afternoon in the opposite direction set of loops.

Drew tries to shred anything and everything he can get his tires on, and being based in Kansas City means the midwest is his mountain bike backyard.