Top 10 Series Inner Banner

The Top 10 Bike Parks in the World

The top 10 bike parks in the world

So how do you identify the top 10 bike parks...? I mean number one is obvious. Few people would argue that Whistler Bike Park leads the pack in probably every single metric you’d care to choose, from the number of trails to offering the best development programs for kids. But who is in the chasing pack?

First, we have to start by defining the basis for how we selected the top 10. We have to assume that when we talk about a “Top 10” we actually mean the "best" bike parks. But how exactly do you decide which bike park is better than another - what are your measures of performance? It can’t be personal opinion, although that will always affect your own top 10 no matter how much you don’t want to accept it! We fully admit that it has played a part in our decision making, but we have put together something of an ‘engineering’ approach in order to normalize the results and reduce the possibility for bias or opinion placing a bike park higher up the list than it should be.

To see exactly what we did, scroll to the end of the article. You might disagree with our method, so feel free to jump in and start a debate using the comments section below. Or go one step further and write a full bike park review! Otherwise, check out our final Top 10 with a countdown from #10 to #1. Honorable mentions must go to Silver Star, Trestle, Highland and Mountain Creek in North America, and Châtel in Europe. Only just outside the top 10 based on the numbers, but clearly with huge reputations that might make some question their absence. So let us know what you think...


#10: Mammoth Mountain, USA

Mammoth Mountain in California squeezes in to the top 10. For riders of a certain generation, Mammoth is legendary. Home of the Kamikaze, many will remember the days of Myles Rockwell and Missy Giove bombing down the fireroad on a classic Cannondale Super-V Downhill rig with clouds of dust billowing up behind them! And guess what - it’s back for 2013, with the Kamikaze Bike Games going off in September. Get there if you can.


#9: Sun Peaks, Canada

With nearly 2000ft of vertical, 35 trails ranging from flowing machine-made and world-class DH, to scenic All Mountain and expansive Cross Country, and one of the lower daily lift pass costs in North America for bike parks of a similar size, Sun Peaks does well across the board and is rewarded with the No.9 spot. It's just up the road from Kamloops in British Columbia - renowned for it's epic freeride terrain in the area thanks to numerous apperances in great mountain bike movies, so expect some influence from the locals on the progressive trails at the bike park.


#8: Tignes, France

Any park that is free to ride has got to be in with a shout. But the fact that Tignes Bike Park offers so much for so little, or rather for nothing, means that it’s a shoe-in for the top 10. With professionally developed trails by Yannick and the BikeSolutions gang, huge vertical, quiet lifts and generally stunning scenery, Tignes is a location with a steadily increasing reputation. They are also embracing the rapidly growing Enduro scene with a few dedicated trails to add to their DH portfolio. With relatively quiet lift queues and miles of awesome trails, Tignes has to potential to go even further.


#7: Northstar California Resort, USA

Sponsored by Giant, Northstar Tahoe might surprise a few by making the top 10 but the stats put it there! Joint 3rd in the total number of trails, there is also the vertical to back it up. The Northstar Bike Academy offers excellent programs for all bikers, brand new or seasoned, looking to improve their techniques and step up in riding ability. Set in stunning scenery on the shores of Lake Tahoe there can’t be many better places to hone your skills!


#6: Mont Sainte Anne, Canada

The only place in the world to have hosted the UCI World Championships twice, Mont Sainte Anne is also a regular on the UCI World Cup circuit. Pro riders rave about the DH race course, but there is much more to offer as a huge XC network keeps the other half of the MTB population happy. The biggest bike park on the East Coast and the 3rd best in North America.


#5: Kicking Horse, Canada

Kicking Horse is the dark horse! As they say themselves, “people don’t come to Kicking Horse Bike Park to ride the same old thing. They come for the differences...”. With huge vertical of over 3700ft, the trails are also super-progressive. You might remember the epic Mount Seven Psychosis race held on the other side of the valley - you’d be forgiven for thinking the trail building over there has influenced the bike park development to some degree. And that’s not a bad thing, just watch out for the bears!


#4: Åre, Sweden

Possibly a surprise to many this one, but the stats don’t lie! Åre Bike Park in Sweden has a lot going on and has landed 4th spot in the list. Synonymous with alpine skiing for a very long time, the bike park here is somewhat less well-known, but with over 30 trails and 3000ft of vertical Åre is rightly establishing itself as a very serious bike park. One of a number of excellent locations in Scandanavia, there's a huge road-trip just begging to be had over there as an alternative to the Alps or North America.


#3: Les Deux Alps, France

And so to the top 3 bike parks in the world. Placing highly in both total vertical and value for money, Les Deux Alps comes in third. When Crankworx came to Europe they chose Les Deux Alps, so that should tell you plenty about what you can find here! With a drop in altitude from 10,498ft on the glacier to 2362ft in the valley that's over 8,00ft vertical to play with. Plus the lifts run late so you’ll probably have to stop before they do!


#2: Alpe D’Huez, France

Possibly the most interesting position in the list - in second place is Alpe D’Huez. With over 8,500ft of vertical terrain (the top placed bike park for that metric), and the second cheapest day-pass of all the bike parks, Alpe D’Huez leads the way in Europe. Home of the famous Megavalanche, the bike park hosts nearly 2,500 riders during a single week of craziness every July - the largest mass-start mountain bike event in the world taking riders from the Pic Blanc Glacier at 10,925ft down 30km of non-stop downhill trails to Alllemont - a drop of 8,562ft!! And of course, any bike park that can boast 10x World Downhill Champion Nicolas Vouilloz as bike ambassador has got to be pretty damn good!


#1: Whistler, Canada

We all knew it was coming. There is just no arguing with Whistler Bike Park’s status as the biggest and best bike park in the world. With the largest number of trails, huge vertical, excellent training camps for all levels of riders, and events like Crankworx going off each year, it’s clear that Whistler is Number 1. Check out the Whistler Diaries blog this season. But if you call yourself a mountain biker then you should be making the pilgrimage at least once in your lifetime. You won’t believe just how good it is until you experience it for yourself.


MEASURES OF PERFORMANCE

Number of Trails

We started by listing the number of trails at each park. It seemed logical that the bike parks with the most trails might be the ‘best’ as they simply offer more options for riders. Note that these are named trails only, identified by the bike parks themselves. We did not take in to account trails outside of the bike park in the surrounding area. We accept that these will influence how one feels about a bike park, but we have not considered it here and have taken each bike park in isolation from other trails or proximity to nearby bike parks, at least for now. The list started with about 25 bike parks. Before moving on, we took a look at the list, or rather looked at what was not in the list, and identified bike parks we felt should be in the mix based on reputation. A good example is Leogang; not a large number of trails, but has hosted UCI World Cups events and a UCI World Championship. So we added a few more. It was important to do this (and to start with many more bike parks than 10), as it provided the opportunity for a bike park to climb in to the top 10 based on other factors, had it not made it purely on the number of trails.

Total Vertical

Then, we gathered the stats on bike park vertical - the altitude drop from the highest trail point to the lowest trail point. It stands to reason that the bike parks with the biggest difference between the top and the bottom of the trails should have more riding terrain and are therefore ‘better’.

Value for Money

Then there is cost. For each bike park, we added the price of a standard adult day pass to the table - regular season, no special offers or restrictions. Just show up, pay, and ride. But here’s where we realised a small problem. There is no point in ranking the bike parks according to cost - least expensive to most expensive. You cant penalize Whistler for having the most expensive day-pass when it clearly offers the most terrain and can justify the cost. There has to be a ‘value for money’ factor, so we calculated one. First we came up with a "Terrain Factor". We multiplied the number of trails at the bike park by the total vertical. Theoretically, the larger this number, the more the bike park has to offer in terms of riding, so the better it is. Then, we divided the terrain factor by the cost of the day-pass. The higher this final number, the more riding terrain is available per dollar spent, so it stands to reason that this must offer the most value for money. The bike parks were then ranked, highest to lowest.

Reputations

Finally, we added our own opinion. Looking at the whole list, what did we think the ranking should be? We based this on a bike park’s reputation, the exposure a bike park gets in the mountain bike community (magazines, websites etc), if it plays host to big MTB events (World Cups, Crankworx,), and so on... This is the one metric that will vary from person to person. Everyone will have their own opinion here, but the overall results will not be hugely affected as it one of four different measures of performance, and it’s difficult to argue with the raw numbers of the other three.

The final calculation

So, we defined these four categories giving four different ranking lists. At the top of each list sits the ‘best’ bike park in terms of:

  • Total number of trails
  • Attitude drop
  • Value for money
  • Reputation

If a bike park placed at positions 1, 2, 3 and 4 in each of those lists then the final total would be the sum of those positions, i.e. 1+2+3+4 = 10. The bike parks were then ranked for one final time based on this number - the lower the number then the higher up each respective list that park must have placed, so overall a ‘better’ bike park.


What we did not consider

Rider uplift capacity

The number of lifts at a bike park could be a useful statistic but might not tell the whole story. It’s the type of lift combined with the speed that’s important, essentially the rider/bike uplift capacity of the lift within a fixed timeframe, e.g. per hour. Getting this data is petty difficult and time consuming, so we left it out for now.

Season times

We could look at the number of days per year, and the number of hours per day. However, if Whistler’s season was only 6 weeks long it would still be better than a bike park with 10 trails and 1 drag lift that was open 365 days a year! Not many of us are lucky enough to spend a whole season at a bike park anyway, with most trips daily, a weekend, or maybe a week or two. Total season opening is a minor facto so we left this out as well in an attempt to represent quality only.


The Starting List

Just so you know what we started with, here are the top 25 bike parks in terms of trail numbers, plus a few others added at our discretion...

POSITION BIKE PARK COUNTRY TRAILS
1 Whistler Canada 67
2 Mont Sainte Anne Canada 49
3 Mountain Creek USA 44
4 Northstar at Tahoe USA 44
5 Åre Sweden 39
6 Fernie Canada 37
7 Trestle USA 35
8 Sun Peaks Canada 35
9 Snowshoe USA 34
10 Killington USA 34
11 Alpe d'Huez France 32
12 Kicking Horse Canada 32
13 Tignes France 31
14 Keystone USA 31
15 Calpis Finland 28
16 Sunday River USA 27
17 Bromont Canada 24
18 Angel Fire USA 23
19 Silver Star Canada 22
20 Mammoth Mountain USA 22
21 Steamboat USA 22
22 Les Deux Alpes France 21
23 Blue Mountain Canada 21
24 Cimone Italy 20
25 Panorama USA 20
26 Les Gets France 19
27 Châtel France 19
28 Highland USA 17
29 Hafjell Norway 14
30 Saalbach-Hinterglemm Austria 12
31 Winterberg Germany 9
32 Leogang Austria 8

And that's it. Let us know what you think and we'll start to factor in other aspects of what might consititute a good bike park. And keep an eye out for the next in the series as we take a look at the best bike parks in Europe...

Back to articles

Comments (10)

You need to be logged in to make comments. Click here to login/register.


Monique 9 months ago

I have shred lots of British Columbia's bike parks and must say SIlver Star is ranked high here for myself and clients, pity it was not listed . It is easy top 10... cheers Q

David 9 months ago

Hey Monique - totally understand about Silver Star, getting a lot of feedback along those lines. If you check out the table, it's starting position based on number of trails was 19th. Altitude and value for money did not see it climb much higher (when compared to other parks). Whilst we actually rated it highly based on reputation it was not enough to outweigh the other 3 factors and climb in to the top 10. But there are so many ways this could have been achieved. There's no doubt Silver Star should be in the mix, it just didn't quite make it based on the criteria we used here.

Graham 9 months ago

i found Silver Star just isnt steep enough. interesting if you put Vancouver N Shore in the mix. Not technically a bike park but would still score high in your criteria. the riding there is better than whis imo

David 9 months ago

Cheers Graham - interesting point. So often that there are sick trails outside of the bike parks that warrant recognition. Maybe when we expand the website...!

Steve 9 months ago

I am a bit confused how Les Deux Alpes beat Morzine/Les Gets. Having ridden both resorts numerous times I can safely say Morzine/Les Gets wins hands down. The reason being you can ride Morzine, Les Gets, Chatel & Champery all in one day. Les Deux Alpes is great fun but all the trails are very similar, dry & dusty (except the glacier!). Morzine, Les Gets, Chatel & Champery are all accessible with the same lift pass with such a variety & 650km of marked trails it's the European mecca for trails. (From a hardcore downhiller!!!!)

David 9 months ago

Hey Steve. Fair point if you consider the Porte du Soleil as a whole. For this we decided to consider each in isolation. But it would be interesting so see where it would place in the list - with the huge increase in trail numbers, an increase in altitude due to the drop from Avoriaz all the way down to Morzine, the obvious value for money factor of an area lift pass, and overall reputation, if we rolled them all in to one and added a Porte du Soleil 'bike park' I suspect it would come out on top by a country mile!

Mark 9 months ago

I get the metric you used but this is a lazy way to write and article. I could sit down and write an equation to make any of these bike parks number #2. Where is the rider experience part, trail maintenance and quality, night life? I ride in BC and I've been to all the bike parks here(excluding Mt Washington. Hopefully it will open again one day). Poor Sun Peaks and Silver Star. In BC I rank them 2nd and 3rd(I can't decided which is which), most people who ride here would agree. To rank either under Kicking Horse is a travesty. Kick Horse has been a rutted under maintained mess each time I've ridden there, in fact we usually end up doing a few runs, hate it, then leave to shuttle Mount 7. Even Fernie or Pano is better. My opinion on KH isn't a to much Gnar thing either, I live on the shore. FIX THE LIST! Sun Peaks is using it in promotional material you robbed them they should be way higher just and no Silver Star WTF makes no sense.

Alli 9 months ago

I've biked at parks in New England, Quebec, and all over BC. Silver Star should absolutely be near the top of this list!

Steve 9 months ago

Mark, so much hate for Kicking Horse! When was the last time you visited?

Hogan 4 months ago

Angel Fire has more miles of trail than Winter Park. They could simply have upper mountain trail names and lower trail names to convert the 23 trails too 40+ trails, but they don't. The trails should be based on overall mileage, not quantity of trails.