Highway To Hell – The World’s Most Treacherous Bike Trails

a person on a mountain bike in front of beautiful snowy mountains

If you’re a fair-weather cyclist who enjoys weekend jaunts in the countryside or along the great British coastline, then you may not have come across some of the world’s most treacherous cycling trails before. 

You know, the type of trails that are for the ultimate mountain bike adrenaline junkies, pushing their skill and ability to the limit in some of the most heart-in-your-mouth conditions?

Yet, whatever your cycling ability, there’s no doubt these cycle trails could be looked upon in awe. While the trails are often narrow, winding, and dangerous, thrill seekers are rewarded for all their efforts with breathtaking views and scenery like no other. So, let’s get into it and find out more about these extreme cycling trails.

5 Most Treacherous Mountain Bike Trails

two cyclists on a mountain trail

1. The ‘Death Road Cycle’, Bolivia

Gnarly by name, gnarly by nature. Situated in the South American country of Bolivia – the North Yungas Road or ‘Camino a los Yungas’, is more often referred to as the ‘Death Road Cycle’. But what is it that makes this road so dangerous? Well, for starters, the road itself is for the most part no wider than 3.2 metres (10ft), during the summer there are dust clouds to contend with and during wet weather it’s muddy, with loose rocks and reduced visibility thanks to fog most of the year.

Mountain bike enthusiasts can book with a tour operator to experience the ‘Death Road Cycle’ trail which takes riders on a descent of the 40-mile landscape that is the snow-capped Andea Peaks and follow the road, mainly downhill, to the hot Amazon jungle. It would certainly be a trip to remember.

Take a look at The Wall Street Journal’s video to find out more about what it’s like to cycle the infamous ‘death road cycle’.

red rock mountains

2. The White Line Trail, Arizona, USA

The clue to what to expect with the White Line trail in Arizona is very much in the name. For this isn’t so much of a trail as it’s literally a white line of sandstone that runs across an almost vertical red-rock cliff. 

The complexity of the trail was beautifully captured by a Polish mountain biker, Michal Kollbek back in 2019. Having never taken on the challenge before, Kollbek told his Instagram followers that the ride was “one of the scariest things I have done on a bike.”

a person on a bike looking out over beautiful mountain scenery

3. The Whole Enchilada, Moab, Utah, USA

Still in the United States of America, we’re over to Utah for this advanced-level downhill mountain bike trail – the world-renowned ‘Whole Enchilada’. A shuttle bus drops off cyclists up La Sal Mountain, where they will begin their descent down to the Colorado River, it’s an epic 7000 feet descent spanning over 27 miles. The full trail includes Burro Pass, Hazard County, Kokopelli, the upper and lower Porcupine Singletrack, and Porcupine Rim.

From top to bottom, you can expect fir and aspen trees, a lake, as well as plenty of red rock and sandstone along your journey. Riders looking to complete the Whole Enchilada have a relatively short window of opportunity to do so due to the weather conditions with the season open from mid-July through to September.

Get a feel for what makes the Whole Enchilada so special thanks to this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/Ana6az4zGvo presented by ENVE.

seaside mountain views

4. The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Now this is a bit of a rogue entry as it’s not a route typically associated with mountain bike riders – it’s a seriously dangerous path in Ireland spanning a mere 14km. At points, the trail narrows to just 4 inches wide with a steep 600ft drop down into the North Atlantic Ocean. Strong winds have also been known to sweep people off the rocky edges so we wouldn’t recommend that you give this a try.

Yet, in 2006, Hans Rey – an extreme mountain bike rider and former trails riding champion, decided to tackle the Cliffs of Moher. Fortunately, he made it across the cliffs, but riding along the trail isn’t advised.

mountain trail with the clouds draping it

5. Sichuan-Tibet Highway, China

While cyclists can expect stunning scenery and lots of mountain views this is by no means for the inexperienced rider. Joining a reputable tour provider, you’ll endure over 20 days of cycling across varying terrains day-to-day, including tarmac, gravel, dusty, and rocky. There’s also oxygen depletion when climbing through high altitude areas to contend with, as well as varying temperatures to contend with, making this no mean feat.

If you like the sound of this, take a look at what it’s like for those taking part in the Sichuan-Tibet challenge, an annual endurance event, presented by Giant Bicycles.

Bonus Ride:

We couldn’t share our top five hair-raising mountain bike trails in the world without mentioning a BONUS hellraiser of a ride.

Cyclist on their bike on top of a rock

Via Ferrata, The Dolomites, Italy

Via Ferrata, the Italian for Iron Path, are a series of climbing routes among the Dolomites of which the name was associated with the steel cables, runs or ladders that are affixed to rock where climbers are attached via a hardness to ensure safe passage.

The Dolomites themselves are a mountain range in the Northern Italia Alps, with 18 peaks that rise to above 3,000 meters. UNESCO describes the Dolomites as ‘featuring some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere.’

So let’s just say when Kilian Bron, a professional mountain bike rider, decided to ‘ride’ the iron path, as part of his ‘Mission’ series in 2019, it was a nail-biting five minutes! Take a look at his official video on his YouTube account: https://youtu.be/3IaY7a1D1sw, if you can manage to see through your hands that is!

It’s fair to say that extreme mountain bike trails aren’t for everyone, and our hearts are racing at just the thought of walking among some of these terrains let alone cycling them. However, you don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to enjoy beautiful landscapes and come across some challenging trails. But always do your research so that both you and your bike are appropriately prepared for the adventure ahead.

Furthermore, if you’re a cycling enthusiast it may be worth considering bicycle insurance. While preparation is key to any cycle expedition, accidents can happen, therefore, why not take a look at The Insurance Emporium’s cycling insurance with additional benefits including worldwide cover, should you feel the urge to pursue an adventure further afield?

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