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The IMBA Epics

Model Trails Update, Effective May, 2016

In 2016, IMBA's Model Trails program is on hold so we can consider how to reshape and improve it. We will not be accepting applications for Epics or Ride Centers, and all existing honorees will enjoy a grace year with no review required to uphold their current rankings. We apologize for this dark period, but it is imperative that we reformulate resources and outputs, so IMBA's Model Trails offerings can take a new step forward in 2017. The remainder of the info on this page is being left intact for reference. 

IMBA has returned the Epics to the original intent of the designation—demanding, mostly singletrack adventures in natural settings. The Epics designation denotes a true backcountry riding experience—one that is technically and physically challenging, more than 80 percent singletrack and at least 20 miles in length.

Here are the 2015 Epic trails—see the link at right to view the rest of the Epics.

  • Armstrong to Strawberry in California, 39 miles: This 90-percent singletrack route ranges from fast and flowing to technical and chunky. Soak in the views of Lake Tahoe and views of the southern Sierra. There are dramatic views of Strawberry Valley from the top of Lover's Leap, 1,100 feet above the deck, just before the final rip-roaring descent.
  • Black Canyon Trail in Arizona, 68 miles: Riding the BCT from north to south offers a long, gradually descending route with plenty of pedaling and backcountry flavor. The northern segments vary from open desert to tight canyons. The middle sections, from Bumble Bee to the Table Mesa trailhead, offer the most dramatic scenery and adventurous riding.
  • High Country Pathway in Michigan, 82 miles: From beautiful hill top vistas to dark, cool cedar swamps and pine plantations, the HCP provides an extended journey deep in the woods of Michigan. Home to the largest free range elk herd this side of the Mississippi, the route crosses through three counties with very little sign of civilization.
  • Laugavegur Route in Iceland, 54 miles: A mind-blowing, multi-day, overland route in the highlands of Iceland. On this point-to-point hut adventure you'll ride singletrack through a multitude of landscapes including geysers, multi-colored Rhyolite mountains, bubbling mud, endless lava fields and glaciated mountain vistas. The 54-mile trip is best tackled as three long days or five shorter rides. The last day from Þórsmörk to Skogafoss is truly epic and travels between two major glaciers, across the slopes of a cooling volcano.
  • Lake Ouachita NRA Arkansas, 108 miles: Newly opened to mountain bikes, this long-distance route explores remote sections of the Ouachita Mountains. Expect rugged trail surfaces and some hike-a-bike, but also rideable climbs and rowdy downhill sections. The trail also connects with the Womble Trail, another IMBA Epic in Montgomery County—string them together for a mega-Epic!
  • Surveyor's Ridge Loop in Oregon, 21 miles: One of the top trails in the state of Oregon, Surveyor's Ridge is a Pacific Northwest must-ride. This is a true ridgeline ride, with aggressive short climbs and descents to distract you from the gorgeous views of Mount Hood. Expect technical rocky sections, open alpine meadows and a mountainous vibe from start to finish.