Virginia Creeper Trail, Damascus
The Creeper Trail runs for 34 miles from Abingdon down through Damascus along the Whitetop Laurel River up to its highest point at Whitetop Station near the NC State Line. Bike rentals are widely available in Damascus, and you can be shuttled to the end of the trail in either direction and ride back into town. The ride from Abington to Damascus takes you through a number of cattle gates and hilly, golden farmland (shown above). There are a few uphill sections and itís definitely the tougher half of the trail. The journey from Whitetop Station to Damascus is almost entirely downhill and runs right along the river, offering riders several places to stop off and rest, have a picnic, or take photos. The Whitetop route is recommended for families and those simply looking to go for a bike ride in the woods as itís much easier and provides more shade than the Abington half. Regardless of which side you choose (we did both!), the Creeper Trail boasts 47 river-crossing trestles.
We told you about how you'll need a sweatshirt on the top of Haleakala, and the best way to warm up is to hop on a bike and cruise back down to sea level. You start above the clouds and zip down through switchbacks, feeling the temperature rise and shedding layers on the go. There are a lot of bike tour operators that can give you similar experiences, but we recommend this self-guided version because, unlike others, it allows you to ride down the mountain on your own and at your own pace.
Flume Trail, Lake Tahoe
The Flume Trail is Tahoe's flagship mountain biking route, taking you along scenic vistas and incredible overlooks of the lake. You don't have to be incredibly fit, but you should be comfortable on a bike to navigate this sometimes-narrow and dramatic trail (i.e. sharp cliffs shown above). Grab a shuttle to the top and enjoy the mostly downhill cruise as you wind through what is arguably the most scenic mountain bike trail in the country.
[Photo: Fitfunandforeveryoung/Jaunted/TripAdvisor/Tahoe South]