6 Best Mountain Biking Trails in Kentucky

Also known as the horse capital of the world, Kentucky is famous for bourbon, horse racing, tobacco, coal, moonshine, automobile manufacturing, and the magnificent state park of “My Old Kentucky Home,” bluegrass music, Louisville Slugger baseball bats, Kentucky colonel and the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Far from that, Kentucky it’s on its path to recognition for its top-notch mountain biking too. Be rest assured, this state is a perfect place to be a biker.

 Trails range from the Appalachian Mountains to green pastures and the metropolitan Louisville to acres of rolling stones. Whether you’re biking around the city center or taking in the Bluegrass States scenic vistas and natural wonders from the saddle, you’ll be baffled at how mountain biking-friendly Kentucky is. The awareness of the vast health benefits that come from working out with your mountain bike apart from the recreational purpose has led to many of the residents opting for this sport.

Mountain biking has not only helped many people in Kentucky keep fit physically and psychologically but has also helped keep the doctors away. This popular sports activity helps many release stress and wind from the hurdle and hassle of the busy city lifestyle. If you are new in Kentucky and wondering about the best mountain biking trails to explore, then worry no more! This piece will give you insights on where to visit.

Let’s get to it.

1. Skullbuster Mountain Bike Trail

Skullbuster Mountain Bike Trail

Situated just north of Lexington, the Skullbuster mountain bike trail is an incredible 12-mile ride. It features an adventurous terrain that is ideal for both intermediate and beginner mountain bike riders. To the left of the road, park on the grass, The KYMCA sticker is signposted for verification. Set up your bike to hit the road, proceed past the gate, and head towards the second trail situated on the west side entrance. 

The Green connector in the Skullbuster MTB, the singletrack trail, is rocky and rooty and will lead you to the Blue Loop main road. Once you are on the main road, turn right and follow the 4.5 miles beautiful singletrack that goes around the beautiful scenery such as the Big Sky Pond. This trail will eventually lead you to the Orange Connector, where you will turn right.

In the clockwise direction, the Orange Connector will lead to the Orange Loop. This loop trail has an exciting variety of obstacles, including planks, log rollovers, rocky switchbacks, and bridges. The obstacles are categorized depending on the areas and termed as Longville and Plankton.

The Skullbuster trail is fantastic for working out and interacting with new people. It is busier on weekends and during the holidays. Safety precautions are a must for those wishing to explore this trail. Biking without a helmet is not allowed. Additionally, bikers should put on safety gear to protect themselves in case of any accidents.

Following rains, the Skullbuster mountain bike trail may be closed for some days due to safety concerns. Biking during lousy weather is discouraged as it may cause unprecedented accidents and harm to people in the park. 

2. Canal Loop Mountain Bike Trail

Bike Race at LBL
©Kentucky Tourism

Situated near Kuttawa in Kentucky, the Canal Loop mountain bike trail is an exciting 16.1-kilometer ride. It features a lake and incredible sceneries and is rated as moderate; thus, it can accommodate a wide range of bikers all across the state. This trail offers an avenue for recreational and workout activities and is mostly used between March and November. Dogs are allowed but must be confined to the leashes.

The Canal Loop is a premier mountain bike trail that strategically located lakes. This loop trail consists of singletrack that stretches up to 11-mile and four connectors with another 3 miles of track. It provides many loops from a single mile and a full one with an 11-mile outer loop. You can access this loop trail via the Kentucky Lake Scenic Drive and the North Welcome Station.

This mountain bike trail receives many visitors on weekends, including hikers and bikers, as it provides a vast number of scenic overlooks such as Lake Barkley, Kentucky Lake, and the Canal. Once you explore this trail, there is no going back, and you will be tempted to visit it more often. The ambiance and the nourishing atmosphere as you bike along are why most people prefer the Canal Loop mountain biking trail. 

Once you are at the visitors’ center, proceed towards the main road to begin the trail. The Initial 4-5 miles are flowy and fast intermediate terrain, especially along the lakeshore. The difficulty level slightly increases after you pass under the canal bridge. There are a couple of obstacles and more challenging climbs on the west side of the trail. The most exciting part of the ride is the downhill ride at the start of the radio tower.

The Canal Loop mountain bike trail is managed by the Area Office of the Lakes National Rec and the USFC- Land. It is well maintained and clean.

3. Fort Duffield Historic Park Mountain Biking Trail

Fort Duffield Historic Park Mountain Biking Trail
©MTB Project

Situated near West Point in Kentucky, the Fort Duffield mountain biking trail is a remarkable 3.9-kilometer ride. It features entertaining views and wildlife. It is categorized as moderate, thus ideal for a vast number of bikers. It offers an opportunity for various social and sporting activities and is opened throughout the year. Dogs using this trail must be kept on a leash at all times.

This trail has hand-cut singletrack that is technical and with a lot of ups and downs. However, there are also dirt jump trails and free rides. The Fort Knox trail and the surrounding will give you a very remote feel that will make you forget the messy city life for a moment. The large creek that bisects the park will guide you back to the parking lot.

Once you are at the parking lot, you should proceed and pick your poison. On the trail, various scenic views are facing the Salt River in the back. Trails with a number of loop options are available in this park. There are three interesting blazes to watch for: that is Yellow, Red, and Blue.

The Yellow trail blaze has a quick downhill flow towards a big travel bike trail. It entails a number of gaps and jumps, and it’s more fun if you are also on an XC bike. The Red trail blaze entails a cross-country loop that goes around the park. One of the most enjoyable ways to catch the trail is via the front and out of the park as you climb the quarry. It is slightly technical and more ideal for experienced mountain bike riders.

The Blue trail blaze is another XC trail. However, it is more technical as compared to the Red Loop.

During the Civil War, the Fort Duffield Historic Park mountain bike trail was a Union fort. Although the original fortification still exists, the rest of the park has been recreated.

4. England- Idlewild Mountain Biking Trail

England- Idlewild Mountain Biking Trail

Situated just a few minutes from Cincinnati, Ohio, in Burlington, Kentucky, the famous England-Idlewild mountain biking trail, also locally referred to as the El, is well-built well-planned singletrack. It consists of varying trail lengths, and the challenging part awaits you in the Southeast part of the forests. 

The England-Idle is ideal for the whole family for exercising and recreational purposes, especially on the weekends. The El is just a small portion of the more significant outdoor recreational complex. It features a 290-acre of three big picnic shelters with a water fountain, power, a 24-hole disc golf course, a grill, a dog park, three fishing ponds, a playground, a paved cycling and hiking trail loops with fitness stations as well as baseball/soccer fields and basketball courts.

The England – Idlewild Park was opened, and the mountain biking park was subsequently opened up in 2015.  They become favorite recreational destinations for locals and tourists alike. The local clubs for mountain biking maintain the trails. Thus, they are well taken care of.

The interesting part about El Park is that even though the mountain bike riders are never too far away from civilization, the amusing trails have backcountry and a remote feel, mostly the 17 miles as you proceed towards downtown Cincinnati. It is hard to get lost in the trail as the signpost are excellent and are marked at every intersection.

What the trail lacks is the elevation change as there are no vast descents and climbs. However, the course is amazingly well built, specially made by bikers for bikers. They range from twisty and tight, to flowy and fast, with a lot of obstacles and technicality. Ride through the dense hardwood forests the pop out into the creek, cross over the open meadows and the skinny wooden bridge and proceed into the woods.

Additionally, a mountain bike park has two pump tracks, some dirt jump lines, and a dual slalom course, ideal for proceeding to the next level, sharpening your mad skills, or just having fun with kids on the weekend.

5. Capitol View Park Mountain Biking Trail

Capitol View Park Mountain Biking Trail

Situated in Frankfurt in Central Kentucky, the Capitol View Park mountain biking trail is one of the best loop trails in the region. Located in a 150-acre, the park consists of soccer fields, softball fields, picnic areas, and a basketball court. The surrounding areas are suitable for experienced and novice riders. The trails majorly consist of twisty and tight singletrack, a fireroad, a few creek crossings, some jumps, a pair of whoop-de-do sinkholes, and a single downhill section.

The peak session for these trails is between May to October. During this period, it is jam-packed with runners, walkers, and mountain bike riders. Always remember to be cautious, alert, and respectful. The park holds a series of events across the year, such as finding the fridge cross country challenge in March, the Mountain Bike Games in the Bluegrass State in July, and the  12 hours Mountain  Bike Race in Capitol View every August.

The Capitol View Park mountain bike trail is an impressive 11 miles and extends beyond the boundaries to the state-owned property across Glens Creek Rd and next to the Archives and the Library. The trail’s main sections are marked with one or two orange triangle markers with the Capitol Symbol.

This trail is managed and maintained through the Frankfort Parks Department and the Bluegrass Chapter partnership. The Kentucky Mountain Bike associations are part and parcel of the Bluegrass Chapter.

Novice mountain bike riders find it easy to advance on these trails and quickly gain the confidence and skills required to progress to the intermediate tracks. Professional riders are also not left behind with the berms, doubles, jumps, and even a teeter-totter.  The trails are shorter in some sections; thus, rides of varying fitness and speeds can bike together. 

The trail may be closed after severe snow or rain. During the spring, you may enjoy the beautiful scenery of wildflowers blooming, and during summer, you could enjoy Kentucky’s greenery, lush, but can be humid and hot, brace yourself. Fall brings forth kaleidoscopic foliage and cooler temps. Winters are miss and hit; thus, it is possible to ride throughout the year, but be prepared for ice and snow.

The Capitol View Park is free of charge and is opened to the public.

6. Sugar Camp Mountain Biking Trailhead 

Sugar Camp Mountain Biking Trailhead 

Located deep within the Eastern Kentucky Mountains, the Sugarcamp Mountain biking trailhead is a multi-use for horses, hiking, and mountain biking facility. It was built through a joint effort by State Resort Park, Jenny Wiley, and the City of Prestonsburg. The trail consists of 6 miles of the machine-built rail trail, which is also horse-friendly and offers Dewey Lake fantastic sceneries and surroundings. Additionally, it entails 12 miles of single technical track that is hand-carved dedicated to hiking and mountain biking.

The difficulty levels of this trail vary and are signposted on all trailheads. However, you may have the intermediate mindset to easily navigate all the trails in the property with much ease. This trail gives you a chance to work out with fewer distractions and with peace of mind.

The Sugarcamp mountain biking trail is situated along the Sugarcamp Mountain Road, previously known as the Meff Road. It is near the Stonecrest Golf Course and offers access to the upper section of the trail without lengthy ascent proceeding towards the Arrowhead Point Trailhead. It is strategically situated along KY Route 3024 and is easily accessible from both Jenny Wiley State Resort Park and Prestonsburg.

This trailhead offers many connection options, including clockwise or counter-clockwise routes on a unique singletrack connection and the multi-use track with Escalator Trail. It would be best if you considered exploring the Sugarcamp Mountain Biking Trailhead for a breathtaking experience.

Bottom Line

Mountain biking sport has become popular in Kentucky due to its exciting recreational purposes and vast health benefits. Suppose you are new in Kentucky and wondering about some of the trails to visit. The above-mentioned mountain biking trails will be of much help.

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