News: IMBA reveals 2014 Model Trail award winners

Find out where the world's best trails are and why they're so good


EPIC Australia

Australia’s 35-mile Alpine Epic Trail delivers a stunning journey through backcountry wild lands. Photo courtesy IMBA

2014 EPICS

IMBA has used the Epic designation for more than a decade. With the addition of new Model Trail classifications in recent years, IMBA has returned the Epics to the original intent of the designation — demanding, singletrack adventures in a natural setting. The current Epics celebrate true backcountry riding experiences that are technically and physically challenging, more than 80 percent singletrack and at least 20 miles in length. All of theses Epics offer amazing opportunities to interact with the natural world. (Text descriptions courtesy Mark Eller/IMBA.)

Built by the resort team at Mt. Buller, the country’s only Ride Center, this half- to full-day, 35-mile ride delivers a stunning journey through backcountry wild lands.

You’ll need all of your lung capacity, plus technical skills, on this alpine Epic with steep, high-altitude climbs and long, rugged downhill sections. This 26-mile ride in the Sierra Mountains is remote and can take anywhere from three hours to a full day to complete. Highlights include scenic Cannell Meadow, views of Mt. Whitney and “The Plunge,” a near-continuous descent of 5,000 feet. Shuttle the Cannell Trail and prepare for multiple changes in climate zones as you descend from 10,000 feet to 2,600 feet. (Read more about the Cannell Trail in our Ultimate Base Camp Series.)

EPIC Cannell

California’s 26-mile Cannell Trail in the Sierra Mountains is remote and can take anywhere from three hours to a full day to complete. Photo courtesy IMBA

The Goodwater Trail is a 26-mile loop around Lake Georgetown (near Austin) offering sweeping views of the lake as it weaves through cedar stands and cactus-strewn fields of limestone. The hills are minimal but the trail is very technical, with tire-shredding rock gardens and plenty of challenge. The route travels through five parks, three of which have water and camping available, and all of which have convenient trailheads, making this Epic supremely easy to access.

Prepare for solitude in the Tetons and an escape from the summer’s heat on this ride that begins and ends conveniently at the Grand Targhee Resort. The Grand Targhee Loop is 25 miles on 100-percent singletrack. It features a mix of smooth, intermediate-friendly trail with plenty of technical sections to keep skilled riders alert and excited. The route winds through alpine meadows blanketed in wildflowers, forests of pine and aspen trees and jaw-dropping views of the Tetons.

The Lake Ouachita Vista Trail, also known as “The LOViT”, offers 45 miles of singletrack along the southern shore of Lake Ouachita in west-central Arkansas. Each section of the trail has its own unique character, and riders of all skill levels are challenged by the heart-pumping ascents and long, rewarding descents of five mountains. The trail provides a deep woods experience that includes panoramic views of Lake Ouachita and its emerald islands, a long section through a high-canopy forest of ancient hardwood and pines and an array of wildflowers. The trail is easily accessed, featuring 13 trailheads, nine campgrounds and six lakeside resorts.

The Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike Trail offers about 40 miles of singletrack surrounding the highest point in the Ozark Mountains. This gem of Midwest riding laces around the headwaters of the Buffalo National River on a mixture of narrow, hand-built singletrack and machine-cut flow trails. The ride is extremely remote and offers stunning scenery past steep cliffs, turquoise waterfalls, abundant wildlife and old-growth hardwood forests.

Continue to Page 4 to see where the best Flow Trails are »

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.

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