Last year the American Hiking Society reported a 200 percent increase in trail usage in U.S. cities than in 2019. It seems Americans are letting off their pandemic stress by discovering local hikes. And new trails are being built that will help accommodate the increased demand. We’ve rounded up some of the latest-to-launch routes across the country that have us excited to hike, run, and bike. Of course, recreating responsibly during these times is key, so remember to read up on local regulations, pack out what you pack in, and give space to others en route.
Long Canyon Trail, California
Visitors to Joshua Tree National Park will now be able explore a new 12-mile hiking route, the Long Canyon Trail, through the Coachella Valley. It starts in the city of Desert Hot Springs and winds through the park and Sand to Snow National Monument, a designated wilderness zone that’s one of the most biodiverse regions in Southern California, before ending in the town of Yucca Valley on the western edge of the park. Though the trail is currently open, signage and trail markers are coming soon.
Redhead Mountain Bike Park, Minnesota
Abandoned iron-ore mine pits in Minnesota’s Iron Range have been converted into a new trail system for mountain bikers and hikers. Dubbed the Redhead Mountain Bike Park, some 25 miles of new trails opened in 2020 after a ten-year land-reclamation effort, with more on the way. The trailhead starts at the Minnesota Discovery Center in the town of Chisholm and offers summertime biking for all levels, along with kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding in the park’s 400-foot-deep, water-filled mine pit.
Palisade Plunge, Colorado
One of the more anticipated new mountain-bike trails of the year, the 32-mile Palisade Plunge is primed to be one of the longest such singletrack downhill trails in the country when it’s finished in the summer of 2021. From the top of western Colorado’s Grand Mesa (elevation 10,719 feet), the route descends around 6,000 feet through lava fields and aspen forests to the town of Palisade.
Spruce Railroad Trail, Washington
In Olympic National Park, an upgraded ten-mile multipurpose trail along the north shore of Lake Crescent was completed in December and is now open to the public. The Spruce Railroad Trail, formerly a historic railroad, connects to existing trails on the east and west sides of the lake and is part of the 130-mile Olympic Discovery Trail, which, when it wraps up in a few years, will connect the Olympic Peninsula towns of Port Townsend, on Puget Sound, and La Push, on the Pacific Ocean.
Caliente Mountain Bike Trails, Nevada
Some 40 miles of new bike trails are expected to this year in southern Nevada near Caliente (about 150 miles north of Las Vegas), which is positioning itself as an up-and-coming mountain-cycling hub. Already open are 13 miles of singletrack in Barnes Canyon and 13 more miles and a downhill-only trail in Kershaw-Ryan State Park, as well as a kid-friendly skills park in town. A ten-mile trail linking the canyon and the park is slated to debut this year, and a 21-mile downhill trail from the top of 7,479-foot Ella Mountain is in the works for 2022.
Green Chile Flow Trail, New Mexico
If you’re a mountain biker, there’s so much to love about the new 3.5-mile Green Chile Flow Trail, which opened in July 2020 as Taos’s first purpose-built downhill trail. First, you can ride a lift there: Taos Ski Valley’s Lift 4 services this trail all summer long. Second, it’s an approachable flow trail (read: no mandatory 20-foot tabletops) that riders of most levels can enjoy. The views of the Sangre de Cristos on your way down are pretty nice, too. Additional local mountain-bike trails are being created by bike-park builders out of Whistler, British Columbia.
Crozet Tunnel Greenway, Virginia
Located about 30 minutes from Charlottesville in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the new Crozet Tunnel Greenway opened in November 2020 after nearly two decades of construction. The 2.25-mile trail includes a nearly mile-long former rail tunnel that was first built in the 1850s and once lauded as the longest railroad tunnel in North America. Efforts to restore the historic tunnel as a path for hikers, bikers, and history buffs began in 2001. Bring a headlamp—the tunnel isn’t lit.
Babbitt Ranch Singletrack, Arizona
If you’ve hiked the Arizona Trail between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, you had to travel a large section on ranch roads while crossing private land between Coconino and Kaibab National Forests. After many years of discussion, Babbitt Ranch finally allowed the Arizona Trail Association to build singletrack across its property, and the new 14-mile Babbitt Ranch Singletrack, completed in August 2020, cuts through juniper forest and affords views of the San Francisco Peaks. It’s a welcome new option for those thru-hiking the 800-mile Arizona Trail or anyone interested in just a day or overnight trip.
Lone Mountain Trail, Texas
If you’ve ever driven out to the Panther Junction Visitor Center in the northern corner of Texas’s Big Bend National Park in hopes of experiencing the immediate surrounding landscape on a bike or by foot, there hasn’t been a way to—yet. The upcoming Lone Mountain Trail will change that. The three-mile loop will pass through the Chihuahuan Desert and wend around the base of volcanic Lone Mountain. The National Park Service began planning for the trail back in 2010 and construction is expected to begin in 2022.
Lead Photo: Courtesy Minnesota Discovery Center