The Beach At Arapahoe Basin Is Open for Skiing In June

The 2023/24 ski season will definitely go down as being one of the most bipolar in recent history. Besides Utah, nearly the entire continent of North America wasn’t spared the dry spell in the early season including Colorado. But the tides have turned from a Las Vegas ski resort that kept the lifts turning into May to Jay Peak keeping its streak alive for skiing into Mother’s Day. It’s been incredible! And here’s the latest twist – Arapahoe Basin has just announced they’re guaranteeing skiing through AT LEAST June.

Longest Season in Colorado

a snowy powder day on May 5th 2024 at Arapahoe Basin
Powder day on May 5th 2024! Image appears courtesy: Arapahoe Basin – Lucas Herbert

The state of Colorado is home to a long list of ski resorts that push the limit of what’s possible for a ski season. Take for instance Copper Mountain, which employs snow-farming techniques to maintain a park all summer long. Then there’s Keystone and Loveland which use snowmaking to attempt to be the first to open. Yet, none rival the scale of Arapahoe Basin, dominating both ends of the calendar. As one of Colorado’s top snowmaking powerhouses, they’re perennial contenders in the race for the earliest opening, often as early as October. That’s why for ski trip planning they’re on our list of the best bets to visit in the early season.

June Skiing is Normal for Arapahoe Basin

For late season skiing, the news of them staying open in June is a pleasant surprise but it isn’t out of the ordinary. Over the past decade, they’ve consistently remained open into June without fail. Remarkably, this streak even held strong during the tumultuous year of 2020, when they reopened in June amid the pandemic. There have even been occasions when they’ve extended their season into July.

How Often You Get To Ski On July 4th

Since it opened in 1946, A-Basin has celebrated the Fourth of July by remaining open five times, with a near miss in 2003 when they held out until July 2 but just couldn’t hold on. The most recent occurrence was in 2019. Their latest closing date on record was August 10th, 1995. Could this happen again? It’s highly unlikely. The original Lenawee Lift had a mid-station, allowing skiers to access the upper portion. And once at the top, you had to walk to the trail you wanted to ski. Nowadays, such a setup wouldn’t be feasible.

How is This Possible?

a snowy powder day on May 5th 2024 at Arapahoe Basin
Powder day on May 5th, 2024 – Image appears courtesy: Arapahoe Basin – Lucas Herbert

While a handful of resorts like Breckenridge and Loveland offer skiing into May, there’s one true legend for spring skiing in Colorado: Arapahoe Basin. Its lofty base elevation of 10,780’, coupled with extensive above-tree-line terrain, guarantees excellent conditions well into spring. What’s another aspect that sets it apart? April reigns as its snowiest month, ensuring a prolonged winter experience. And after a day on the slopes, unwind in the parking lot fondly dubbed the “Beach,” where you can enjoy the spectacle of others descending the mountain while you fire up the grill.

The post The Beach At Arapahoe Basin Is Open for Skiing In June appeared first on Local Freshies.

Surfs up! In The Mountains That Is…

Canadian Rockies behind the Alberta Cup 2019 river surfing the mountain wave on the Lower Kananaskis River

Over the past decade or so, surfing has transitioned from the coasts to the interior, deep in the mountains. How come? First thing, snowboarding is closely related to the lifestyle of surfing. Both cultures chase storms to find the best “wave”. So, it was only a matter of time before snowboarders would seek out places to get their summer “board” on, river surfing the water instead of the mountains.

9 River Surfing Spots in US & Canada + 1 Amazing Lake to Slash

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The Snake River may be where whitewater rafting was born, but it’s also in a class of its own when it comes to river surfing spots. The “Lunch Counter” rapid is one of the few natural phenomena on the list making it a white buffalo of river surfing. Conditions must be just right! The perfect combination of snow-melt and release of water from the Jackson Lake Dam is needed to create this wonder. When nature aligns and nearly 8,000 – 12,000 cubic feet/second of water is flowing, an epic mountain surfing spot is born.

Banff, Alberta

Surfer at Alberta Cup 2019 river surfing the mountain wave on the Lower Kananaskis River
Alberta Cup 2019 – Surfer: Tristan Gaudet Image appears courtesy: Alberta River Surfing Association – Photo by: Josh MacPhail

Halfway between the city of Calgary and the beautiful hamlet of Banff lies a “break” that river surfers have begun shredding. Known as the “Mountain Wave”, it was built by the pioneers “Surf Anywhere”, an organization dedicated to building river waves around the world. Located on the Lower Kananaskis River in Kananaskis Provincial Park, it’s adjacent to the Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre. The best part? The river is controlled by a dam meaning that the flow is pretty consistent allowing for fairly dependable surfing all season long. And if you’re in Calgary, don’t forget to check out their other creation – the 10th Street wave.

Trail, British Columbia

We have to give a nod to our Canadian brethren especially that this monster is another natural hit. Located deep in the heart of the Powder Highway not far from Red Mountain (Rossland, BC) is what they call the “Industrial Hole”. To catch this wave, you literally need the perfect storm. One part massive snow year and one part quick warm up will lead to the wave’s formation. With massive whirlpools and a long paddle out, this water-wonder is no joke.

Missoula, Montana

Not just one surfing break to catch but multiple options, this place isn’t becoming a hotbed… it already is for river surfing! Big snows happen all winter long in the peaks just west of town which translates in the spring and summer to big-volume rivers. LOTS of them. No matter how you look at it, this is the “mecca” of river surfing in North America. Here’s just a small sampling of some of the more legendary spots to catch a barrel.

Alberton Gorge Triple Bridges

surfer with cliff behind him on Alberton Gorge river surfing in Montana
Surfer Jason Shreder Cliffside II Wave at Alberton Gorge Triple Bridges – Image appears courtesy: Zoo Town Surfers

A great example of a spot that provides a slew of choices like a buffet is the Alberton Gorge Triple Bridges on the Clark Fork River. Its features have fun names like the Ice Box, Comp Hole, Fang, and Ralph’s Take Out just to name a few. The main break does well when the flow is above 3,000 cfs and the rest above 6,000 cfs. And once you’re done figuring out these play spots, consider heading a little further west to the Historic town of Wallace & grab a bite to eat.

Lochsa Pipeline

surfer wearing wetsuit taking on the Lochsa Pipeline near Lowell Idaho
Jason Shreder taking on the famous Lochsa Pipeline on one of the world’s best rivers for continuous whitewater – Image appears courtesy: Zoo Town Surfers

The indigenous Nez Pearce tribe got the name of this river spot-on when they called it “Lochsa.” Pronounced “Lock-saw”, it means rough water, and that’s exactly what it is. Not a single bit of this untamed river has a dam and its flow is unregulated. That’s why it’s considered the world’s best for continuous whitewater. With that being said, if the flow is big, get ready for one of the most ocean-like monsters to catch for river surfing. A big glassy left face with a breaking peak, you’ll swear you’re in the ocean… until you take in the surroundings.

Brennan’s Wave

surfer river surfing on Brennan's Wave in Missoula Montana
Surfer Matt Dillon enjoying Brennan’s Wave in downtown Missoula – Image appears courtesy: Zoo Town Surfers

Compared to the others on this list of Missoula’s tasty treats, this is the easiest, and it’s still challenging. Near the Higgins street bridge next to the Wilma Theatre in downtown Missoula, it’s also one of the easier ones to get to. Constructed in memory of world class kayaker Brennan Guth who died while paddling in Chile in 2001. The man-made wave transformed a dangerous water diversion weir into a safe place for river play. There’s even talks for another whitewater playground called the Max Wave to reconfigure the Flynn-Lowney Diversion next to the Ogren-Allegiance Park.

If this is your first time hopping onto a surf board or even a river break, we recommend stopping by Zoo Town Surfers in downtown Missoula. At a minimum, they’ll make sure they give you the beta to stay safe and have fun. They can also gear you up, or better yet, go for a river safari or just get a lesson.

Bend, Oregon

river surfing spots in US / Canada Bend Whitewater Park Oregon
Big ‘ole slash at the Bend Whitewater Park – Image taken by: Paul Telenko

In our past articles we’ve called Bend the Disneyland of Outdoor Recreation. And, this is yet another example of why you should visit if you love adventure. Open since 2015, with the support of a bond measure & the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, the Deschutes River, crossing through the center of town, created the Bend Whitewater Park. With something for everyone’s river adventure, the park includes three different channels: one for floating, one for whitewater, and one for natural “surf” habitat. So, the next time you’re in Bend, you might want to bring ALL your toys including your surfboard.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

river surfing spots in US / Canada Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park Aspen Colorado
Surfing the waves at the whitewater park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado – Image taken by: Craig Silberman Photography

Since 2008, the Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park has been home to the very popular “G-Wave”. The FIRST-ever manmade whitewater feature, it’s built across the ENTIRE length of the Colorado River. Within the park are two waves called “The Glove” and “The Right”. When the water levels are high, these transform like Voltron into one massive wave to slash. And the best part? After a long day surfing the mighty Colorado, you can head to the world famous Glenwood Hot Springs and soak those aches & pains away.

Boise, Idaho

river surfing in downtown Boise Whitewater Park
Photo courtesy of Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau – Photo by: Chad Case

If you haven’t noticed, this list contains A LOT of river park waves in the center of towns. Missoula has one. Calgary another. Of course, you can’t forget about Bend’s beauty. So, when we call Boise River Park’s one-of-a kind, there better be a good reason. Instead of just building a static feature, they went above and beyond expectations by adding a wave shaper. Depending on the day and the volume of the flow, you might see a relatively green face while on other days, it’ll look like a hole. This is all dependent on how the park folks are shaping it. Fortunately, there’s a set schedule. On Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, it’s all about shapes that surfers will like. On Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays, it’s setup for kayakers. In reality, no matter which day you come, you’ll see everyone enjoying both of the waves available.

Lake Tahoe, California

lake surfing spot in Lake Tahoe
Tahoe Blues – Image taken by: Rick Pawlenty

Yup, Lake Tahoe has a group of diehard surfers. Compared to others on this list, this isn’t on a river but rather the lake. How? Well, surfing needs one major thing for “surf” to pop up… and that’s wind! Fortunately, the Sierra Nevada range has a TON of wind. Being the first natural barrier, storms slam into the peaks creating winds of 60-80+ mph while generating waves up to 6 feet tall. And, with the lake being ice-free even in the coldest months, surfers can hit up the “waves” all year long.

If this article has piqued your interest about river surfing, we highly recommend checking out River Break magazine. Being the first and only river surfing magazine, it’s a great source of info. If you’re looking for inspiration on other ways to have fun in the mountains during the warmer months, check out our full guide: Cool Off With Summer Fun In The Mountains.

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Our 9 Favorite MTN Bike Trails In South Lake Tahoe & Why

mountain biker on Armstrong Connector within Lake Tahoe Corral trail network

When we first moved to South Lake Tahoe, the idea of riding a mountain bike was terrifying. There is some big boy (and girl) terrain that can beat you into a bloody pulp as our friend can attest to. However, with over 78% of the area surrounding Lake Tahoe being public land, there are hundreds of miles of trails suitable for all skill levels, from first timers to experts like Danny MacAskill. Here’s our list of the top 9 mountain bike trails in South Lake Tahoe and why we love them.

For a comprehensive guide to ALL the mountain bike trails in Lake Tahoe and Truckee, don’t miss our article: Flume To Toads And Beyond – Lake Tahoe Mountain Bike Guide.

 

Valley View

Early and Late Season Fun
Trail difficulty: Intermediate (For easier descent take Tahoe Mountain-South trail)

Valley View Trail on Trailforks.com

For early-season riding, one of the prime spots to get our legs underneath us is Tahoe Mountain. It’s the small mountain just beyond the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe. Due to its lower elevation and boasting open, south-facing terrain, Tahoe Mountain tends to melt out early and hold off on snow longer than other areas. You’ll find about 19 miles of trails here with two main descent options on the south side: Tahoe Mountain South and Valley View. Valley View stands out as the most technical route in the network, featuring banked turns, three short rock gardens, and two optional log rides. Before you pick your descent, take a moment to soak in the breathtaking views of Mt. Tallac, Lake Tahoe, and the Angora burn area.

mountain biker going down Tahoe Mountain South Trail in late season
Jaime enjoying the south side of Tahoe Mountain during late season – Photo by Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

Great Late Season Too

Tahoe winters can be unpredictable, with each season bringing its own surprises. In those seasons when the snow is slow to arrive, you’ll find that mountain biking on Tahoe Mountain often surpasses skiing. In fact, we’ve enjoyed some of our best rides of the season on Christmas Eve!

Incense Cedar

Quick Out-and-Back From Town
Trail difficulty: Intermediate (due to climbing more than technical terrain)

Incense Cedar Trail on Trailforks.com

The Corral trail system is the beating heart of the South Lake Tahoe mountain biking scene. Corral is the star of the show with its banked turns, rock gardens, and an entire jump line for the bottom half. Mid-summer, this system can get quite popular since it’s easily shuttled via a paved access road. But our favorite in this area is Incense Cedar. Why? Because we can do this as a quick two-hour ride (or less) from town without making it a full day endeavor. And when Corral does get busy, it’s a great alternative if you want to go for a pedal pretty much by yourself.

 

How to Ride It

As an out-and-back you’ll enter via Powerline Road which is an unpaved access road. The lower section begins with a quick punchy set of switchbacks and then settles down to an easy climbing grade. Winding through a tall conifer forest, it provides a good deal of shade during the summer months. There’s one major obstacle for ascending – that’s a giant boulder more easily roll-able for the descent. Once you pass it, the trail continues its gradual climb with a mix of pump-track like rollers and some well sculpted berms, finishing up with a fun quick descent to Corral. From here you can either take Lower Corral and make it a large loop or turn around and enjoy all the hard work you’ve scoped out via Incense Cedar’s the flowy singletrack.

Mule Deer Connector

Our Litmus Test For Cardio
Trail difficulty: Intermediate (due to climbing more than technical terrain)

Mule Deer Connector Trail on Trailforks.com

There are trails perfect to test your limits and see where your cardio is at. Not so long that it becomes a full day affair but challenging enough to ensure you know how you stack up. This is the Mule Deer Connector. Not technical by any means, it starts off slowly teasing you with a few steep switchbacks, each one followed by a gradual climb. As you pedal closer to the top, you’re given a brief respite and when you think it’s over, it isn’t. Rather, the trail finishes off strong with two of the steepest switchbacks to get you to crest the top. As an out-and-back, you expect from the climb that its descent is fun and flowy. Once the Angora Lakes road opens, you can also do it as a shuttle.

 

Angora Ridge

Views, Spice and Everything Nice
Trail difficulty: Solid Intermediate

Lower Angora Ridge Trail on Trailforks.com

The cake after the steak and potatoes of Mule Deer Connector. The Angora Ridge trail is the Local Freshies Gal’s favorite trail in Tahoe. Built on a rocky glacial moraine ridgeline, while it doesn’t have the huge rock gardens like Cold Creek or Christmas Valley, it is relentlessly rocky at a moderate pitch. Not chicken heads but filled with enough rocks to keep you focused on where you need to navigate your front wheel. While you need to keep focused throughout, be sure to stop along the way and take in the jaw dropping views of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe. Fun as a downhill AND up.

Brian Kelly mountain biking on Tahoe Mountain
Brian Kelly on a leisurely ride with his better half on Angora Ridge – Photo by: Local Freshies®

Christmas Valley

Testing My Limits
Trail difficulty: Expert

Christmas Valley Trail on Trailforks.com

If you’re a mountain biker wanting to test your mettle, equipment, and technique, Santa has a present for you: Christmas Valley. This trail is one of the iconic mountain bikes trails not just on the south shore but all of Lake Tahoe. From the top, the trail slowly turns up the volume. A few switchbacks. Minor rocks to roll over. And then you arrive to the 1st big rock garden. This is only the beginning of a long and relentless trail. Not so much scary (See Mr. Toad’s below for that) but just a continuous testing of technique. The focus seems to be on making sure you got the skills to pay the bills. Route finding. Pedal placement. Consistent speed. And yet throughout the trail if you’re a strong intermediate, you’ll feel as though you could ride it cleanly. Then suddenly an odd, placed rock makes you think otherwise.

mountain biker on Christmas Valley Trail in Lake Tahoe
Rider: Darin Haworth – Photo by: Local Freshies®

The Bite Is Back

Many grizzled locals say the re-routing a few years ago has taken its “bite” away and tamed it. Local mountain biking organization TAMBA took that to heart and has introduced a variety of optional routes throughout it to add a little more heat to the trail.

Cold Creek

Keeping It “Cool” In Summer
Trail difficulty: Varies (Upper is expert; lower section is great for intermediates and beginners)

Cold Creek Trail (Upper) on Trailforks.com

Due to it being located next to Cold Creek and under a deep forest canopy, even on the hottest summer days this trail offers a respite from the heat. Think of Cold Creek as two separate trails – upper and lower. The lower section is flowy and a great introduction into what makes mountain biking awesome. There are a few minor obstacles such as a tight weave through two tall pine trees and even some optional kickers and log rides to enjoy. But as you ascend higher just beyond the intersection of Powerline trail (a great introductory trail for first timer), the difficulty begins to slowly ratchet up.

Rider Darin Haworth at the beginning of the waterfall section on Cold Creek

Upper is for Experts

Don’t be fooled by its easy start. As you ascend in elevation, it will become more challenging. It offers a bit of everything: several minor creek crossings, a series of well-placed granite steps that wind their way down, and arguably one of the longest rock gardens in Tahoe. The highlight is a feature nicknamed the “waterfall” due to it looking like a waterfall. If you’re riding it as an out-and-back endeavor, you’ll likely need to hike-a-bike the “waterfall” section on the climb unless you’re Danny MacAskill.

 

Star Lake Connector

Our Favorite Summer Adventure
Trail difficulty: Intermediate

Star Lake Trail on Trailforks.com

Perched at 9,250’ above sea level, Star Lake stands as one of the most remote lakes in Tahoe. Its lofty elevation means the trail to it is usually one of the last to open and first to close due to snow. Perhaps this explains why Jaime and I make a point to visit at least once every summer. And the views… oh the views.

Bikes at Star Lake
The view from Star Lake is two bikes up – Photo by Local Freshies®

What To Expect

A perfect mix for a strong intermediate. Starting from the lake, it begins with a few weaving granite steps and boulders to navigate that quickly transitions to a fast flowy descent with swoopy turns. As the trail begins to level off, it becomes peppered with rocks and boulders that need to be navigated. Keep an eye out for one rock garden in particular that crosses a small creek. In the early season, it may become filled with water from snowmelt.

For a full immersion into what the experience is like, including different entry options and more, dive into our article: Biking To Star Lake Tahoe – Our Favorite Summer Adventure.

Bad News First…

Let’s bring up the brutal truth. There isn’t an easy way to get here. Regardless of where you start, the entrance to the trailhead is at a whopping 7,900’ that means A LOT of climbing before you get to it. The good news is all that pedaling up means 2,800’ of continuous downhill fun if you started at the High Meadows Road trailhead.

 

Lily Lake

Work of Art
Trail difficulty: Expert

Lily Lake Trail on Trailforks.com

When you gaze up from below, it’s hard to believe there’s a mountain bike trail snaking through that terrain. And yet it’s there, defying expectations. Out of any South Lake Tahoe bike trail, this one stands out as a marvel of trail construction. It would be what Frank Lloyd Wright would create if he was a mountain biker. Built in a way that serves both beauty and functionality without sacrificing anything. Along the way, you’ll encounter slickrock sections, boulder traverses, and all culminating with an expansive view of Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe, and the Desolation Wilderness, from the edge of a 75-foot cliff.

Saxon Creek

Check Your Ego at The Door
Trail difficulty: As expert as it comes. Bring the big bike and full protection

Saxon Creek Trail (Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) on Trailforks.com

Mountain bikers know this trail by another more famous name – Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. It’s the ultimate measuring stick to see just how good you REALLY are. This is the trail that says loudly to mountain bikers, “You think you’re good enough? Hold by my beer.” Even its official name, “Saxon,” evokes images of the fierce Germanic Vikings, coastal raiders who plundered the English shores. Just like those Saxons, only the best will survive or expect to be “plundered” by it.

 

What to Expect

Prepare yourself for giant rock gardens that seemed to have been built by trolls, mandatory 6+ foot drops, and one-of-a-kind features like “the steps” that you need to see to believe. Will I ever ride this entire trail cleanly? Not in my lifetime and I’m ok with that. For those wondering what it’s REALLY like, be sure to read our personal experience of hitting Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Honorable Mention – The Flume Trail

summer activities in lake tahoe flume trail mountain biking
Mountain biking on the Flume Trail; Photo by Local Freshies®

Although it’s not one of the MTN bike trails in South Lake Tahoe, we had to at least mention the Flume Trail. When we have friends or family visit that aren’t really mountain bikers, this trail specifically is our go to. While the riding isn’t particularly tough, you go for the views. Personally, it has the BEST views of Lake Tahoe. Every time we hit it, we’re blown away. Here’s what to expect on the Tahoe Flume Trail.

The post Our 9 Favorite MTN Bike Trails In South Lake Tahoe & Why appeared first on Local Freshies.

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Jay Peak Skiing In May

skier enjoying spring skiing at Jay Peak Resort

May has been a blast for skiers and snowboarders! Some powder turns to be had in places like Montana, Utah, and Tahoe. Even a Las Vegas ski resort kept the lifts turning into May. And there’s another ski resort to add to the list for skiing in May. This time it’s out East – Jay Peak.

Killington Might Be King, But Jay Is A Prince Of Spring

Killington reigns supreme as the East’s King of Spring, constantly pushing boundaries. Some years, it extends into June. Thanks to its monstrous snowmaking, which beefs up the Superstar trail’s snowpack to nearly three-stories in depth. Meanwhile, Jay Peak also pushes the limits, relying more on natural snow and less on snowmaking.

What Makes Jay Different

a sunny winter's day of Jay Peak Resort
Image appears courtesy: Indy Pass – Jay Peak Resort

While the East is dubbed the ‘ice coast,’ it’s seen as more of a badge of honor than a derogatory term by East Coasters. Jay Peak, however, stands out as a rare powder haven in the area. Similar to renowned snow magnets like Alta and Baker, its location is key. The peak stands almost completely alone in a relatively flat area which allows the orographic effect to work its magic. As such, it creates its own microclimate famously known as the ‘Jay Cloud.’ With an average snowfall of 350 inches per year, it’s the epic winters that truly impress. In 2000-2001, the resort boasted over 571 inches of snow, followed by 417 inches in 2007-08.

May Skiing Is A Normal Thing For Jay

All ski areas love to inflate their numbers. Regardless if the claims are true or not, all that snow takes time to melt, and each winter they aim to stay open until the first Saturday in May. In fact, Jay Peak has been pretty reliable on that end with the exception of the 2019-2020 ski season. Some years, they’ve been able to stay open into Mid-May like this season!

Solid Finish To The Season

Entrance to Jay Peak Ski Area on the 1st weekend of May 2024
Image appears courtesy: Jay Peak Resort

While this season hasn’t been a banner winter, it was a decent one with Jay Peak recording 371 inches. Jay announced they will host one final hurrah and turn the lifts on Saturday May 11th and Sunday May 12th. The Jet Triple will access their intermediate and advanced terrain on the Jet Trail operating from 8:30 am to 4 pm.

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Good Vibes And The Best MTB Flat Pedals To Get You Anywhere

Tahoe Mountain biking trail using the best mountain bike chain lube to use in dry conditions

We’ve talked about the best mountain bike sunglasses. We delved deep into what to look for in mountain bike tires. Heck, we’ve even given you the run-down on all the best kicks to rock on your bike. And out of anything we’ve spent our hard earned dollars upgrading, the biggest bang for the buck were pedals. If you’ve just started out riding or looking for a quick and easy way to up your cycling game, here’s the scoop on what to look for and the best mtb flat pedals on the market.

 

Like Fighting A Greased Pig

I can tell you from personal experience that the generic pedals our bikes came with were garbage. Absolutely horrible. It was like standing on a beer-soaked dance floor. In mountain biking, traction is critical, and there was none to be had. It didn’t help we were wearing normal gym shoes as well. It wasn’t until our mountain biking coach and mentor showed us the light, and boy was he right!

Types Of Pedals

In the world of mountain biking, there are two types of pedals. Flat or platform pedals. Flats are the ones where you can stand on them with a regular shoe. And the second style are clipless pedals. These are the pedals where you need a special clipless mountain bike shoe that you “Click” into.

Why Are They Called Clipless?

Candy Brothers Exclusive 7 clipless bike pedal
Image appears courtesy: Backcountry.com

I know what you’re thinking. If you “clip” into a pedal, why would it be called “clipless?” To answer this question, we need to take the way back machine to when these were invented. When the 1st company who made them came out with their product, another innovation was already out there for bike pedals – toe clips. Toe clips are attached to the front of the pedal and work with straps to keep your foot locked in. To differentiate their product from the toe clips, they called theirs clipless.

 

Clipless Or Flat… The Never-Ending Story

Since LOOK came out with the clipless pedal, the argument of which is better has been a longstanding discussion between cyclists. Each have their pros and cons. Mountain bike flat pedals give you the opportunity to remove your feet whenever you feel like it. And you don’t need special shoes. On the flipside, clipless are more efficient from a pedaling perspective. And in rough terrain, you’re locked in so you continue to stay on the bike throughout complex obstacles. Like all things, it all comes down to matter of preference. Personally, we’re fans of flat pedals especially that we’re continually trying to improve our riding.

What To Look For

mountain biking on Van Sickle in Lake Tahoe
Photo by: Local Freshies®

Now that we’ve piqued your curiosity, we know what your next question is. What makes for the best mtb flat pedals? For some, it’s all about reduction in weight. Personally, our #1 priority after grip is durability. We beat the crap out of all our equipment. It needs to take rock strikes like a champ. Stand up to physical abuse and dusty conditions like Rocky Balboa. Be easy to swap out and clean parts like bearings and pins. Another feature to consider if you live in a region that gets lots of rain is how good are their mud shedding abilities. Are there open spaces in the pedals to easily let dirt and debris fly through?

Metal Or Composite?

With regards to engineering, there are two basic materials used in the best mtb flat pedals on the market for their pedal body – composite or metal. Composite are crafted with a various assortment of plastics and nylons. Metal ones, on the other hand, are typically made with aluminum or steel. Similar to snowboard bindings, picking which one to go with comes down to preference.

Race Face Chester covered in mud best mtb flat pedals for the price
Image appears courtesy: REI – The Race Face Chester’s a great composite option

Normally, composite pedals are budget friendly but still provide decent traction. Metal is the opposite and are pricier. They’re stiffer which leads to more power transfer. They’re more durable and can take a rock strike without getting gouged or scraped. Personally, we LOVE the metal ones over composites. They feel like you’re more part of the bike.

Go As Big As Possible

Some folks will tell you to not go too big. Not to go too small. Personally, we haven’t gotten a flat pedal yet that I’m like “oh, that’s too big.” The bigger the platform, the more area you can balance on. Jaime rides a size 9 women’s shoe and LOVES her Black Kat Deity Pedals which are known for their large platform. This helps her focus on the terrain and less on worrying about slipping off the pedal. With that being said, a few provide different sizes, so for those brands, pick one that fits your shoe size.

 

The Downside Of Too Big

Now on other side of the argument, we have friends that swear if you go too big, you’ll get hung up on obstacles. This hasn’t been an issue for us, but I could see that being a problem if you’re a person that hits features at Mach 10. I will admit though, if the pedal has too large a platform for your mountain bike shoes, you won’t take full advantage of all the pins on it. This will lead to a feeling of slippy-ness.

“Shapely” Pedals

Although they’re defined as “flat”, it may come as a shocker that some of them do have some shape. In fact, if you hop in any mountain biking forum, you’ll probably see a lively debate between flat versus concave. Based on research from the experts, the “shapely” concave are the best mtb flat pedals for traction. On the other hand, flat pedal fans love the lower center of gravity and added clearance of obstacles. Is one truly better than the other? It depends on what you’re looking for in a pedal. An example of the Flat/Slightly Convex shape is the OneUp Components Aluminum Pedal. For a concave version, check out the Deity T-Mac.

Cleats For Mountain Biking

Outdoor athletes that play sports like baseball, football, and soccer have cleats on the bottom of their shoes to provide traction. In that same vein, the best mtb flat pedals have traction pins in them that stick out. You want one with at least 10-12 pins on each side. Some come with molded pins for their grip, typically the budget friendly composites. While others, such as premium high-end pedals normally made of metal, have pins that you can replace AND adjust. This gives you the ability to fine-tune the grip of your pedals by lowering or raising each pin. We know riders that are fanatics about this and tweak them based on where the pin is on the pedal. Higher on the inside and lower on the outside.

Local Freshies® Tip: Be sure to check those pins every so often since they can break or fall off on a ride. We’ve had this happen a few times.

 

Pick A “Local” Brand

If you typically get your bike serviced by a local shop, consider picking a brand that they sell. For example, when one of our Black Kat Deity pedals got an uncontrollable squeak, they couldn’t fix it. The pedal bearings needed to be replaced and unfortunately required a special tool used only for Deity pedals. Luckily, Deity’s customer service is awesome so our bike shop could send them directly to the company and get it fixed in a jiffy.

The Lineup

mtb flat pedal manufacturersSome we’ve ridden and tested. Others, our friends own a pair. And a few in this list, our bike shop mechanic has heard good things about. This isn’t just a list of the best flat mtb pedals, but rather a guide to help YOU find the best mountain bike pedals for your riding.

OneUp Components Aluminum

Platform Size: 115mm x 105mm

Weight: 355 grams (12.5 oz)

Pins: 10 pins per side

best mtb flat pedals OneUp Components aluminum pedals
Image appears courtesy: Backcountry.com

It was love at first sight when I saw the OneUp Components on someone’s bike. Their big platform (115mm x 105mm) and sleek profile were just sexy. The graphics are low key making it look as if it quietly murmurs “I’m confident in who I am and will let my work do the talking.” Sure enough, as soon as I stepped onto a pair, its 10 pins locked me in. If your idea of the best mtb flat pedals is lots of grip and a thin profile, you’ll love ‘em. For some, the longer pins may need to be replaced with shorter ones that are a bit less sharp.

Race Face Atlas

Platform Size: 115mm x 105mm

Weight: 355 grams (12.5 oz)

Pins: 10 pins per side

Race Face Atlas in Red
Image appears courtesy: REI

In the same category as the OneUp’s above, these are in the upper echelon of quality pedals. They have a big platform at a whopping 115mm x 105mm dimensions. And yet the slender profile and chamfered edges minimizes the amount of contact with obstacles. It may not have a square-ish profile like the OneUp, but don’t worry about traction. The Race Face Atlas are machined with a double concave profile ensuring your feet stay put in ANY conditions or terrain.

Race Face Chester

Platform Size: 110mm x 101mm

Weight: 360 grams (12.7 oz)

Pins: 8 pins per side

Race Face Chester bright pink best mtb flat pedals
Image appears courtesy: REI

Our good friend, that rides everything ever thrown at him including Mr. Toad’s, loves the Race Face Chester composite pedals for the price. The budget friendly option hits all the checkboxes and gives you decent grip. For starters, all the parts on the pedal such as the bearings are serviceable. You can replace and adjust the 8 pins as well. Are there grippier, lighter, and better pedals? Sure, but not at this price range. The only thing he doesn’t like is the hump in the middle where the spindle is housed. Sometimes you feel as though you lost a bit of traction. In summary, for the price this is a MUCH better option than what you normally get on a bike out of the factory.

Burgtec MK4 Composite

Platform Size: 92mm x 104mm

Weight: 376 grams (13.3 oz)

Pins: 8 pins per side

Burgtec MK4 Composite pedal in red

Depending on which website you look at, you may read that the platform size is 104mm x 105mm. The way these are designed the actual section that your flat pedal shoes sit on the MK4 composite flat is actually much smaller hence the difference. Even so these pedals keep your feet locked in due to the pins being relatively thinner compared to some of the other ones on market. For more than half the price of their Penthouse aluminum version, these are one of the best out there for the budget conscious consumer.

OneUp Components Composite

Platform Size: 115mm x 105mm

Weight: 355 grams (12.5 oz)

Pins: 10 pins per side

best mtb flat pedals OneUp Components composite pedals
Image appears courtesy: Backcountry.com

Speaking of composites, another option is to go with the OneUp Components Composite Option. It has the same basic platform size as the aluminum. You still can replace or service any of the critical pieces such as the bearing or pins. It’s all just at a fraction of the cost. So what’s different? First off, it’s a little bit thicker. 18.5mm versus 12mm in the alloy. As we highlighted above about composites, they aren’t as durable and with a bigger platform there’s a chance you’ll ding them. For us, we’d rather pay more for the metal version and have the security that they’ll take our beating and keep on pedaling.

Deity Black Kat

Platform Size: 100mm x 100mm

Weight: 402 grams (14.2 oz)

Pins: 8 pins per side

black kat deity pedals

Jaime, the other half of Local Freshies®, has been riding these for years and still thinks the Deity Black Kats are the best mtb flat pedals for her. Although it only has eight pins per side, the concave shape makes sure your foot stays where it needs to be. Even with a concave, Deity machines around the spindle in such a way that it’s seemingly undetectable. The slightly smaller shape compared to its sibling the T-Mac makes this a good option for those with a smaller foot.

Deity Deftrap

Platform Size: 113mm x 103mm

Weight: 391 grams (13.8 oz)

Pins: 8 pins per side

deity deftrap pedals
Image appears courtesy: Backcountry.com

I have to say the name itself got me interested into researching the Deity Deftrap pedal. These aren’t the BMX pedals from your childhood. Like all Deity’s products, their attention to detail with regards to traction, shape, and form is outstanding. I don’t know how you can make this statement, but they claim that the nylon material used in these is 28% stronger than their competitors. The only thing I don’t like is their bland look. But at a fraction of the cost of the aluminum varieties and giving you a whopping 10 pins on each side, these are a steal for composite flat pedals.

Crank Brothers Stamp 7

Platform Size: 100mm x 100 mm (SMALL) 114mm x 111mm (LARGE)

Weight: 345 grams (13.2 oz)

Pins: 10 pins per side

Crank Brothers Stamp 7 Exclusive Pedals
Image appears courtesy: Backcountry.com

When Crank Brothers came out with this model offering different size pedals for shoe size back in 2015, it set itself apart from its competitors. The small version of the Stamp 7 is designed for those with a size 5-10 shoe size. And the large variety are for those big foots out there with a shoe above a 10. Another differentiator is how flat these are compared to other brands. Most have some sort of shape to them either convex or concave. These bad boys have just a mild one that you can’t even notice. Due to this, you can have your foot ANYWHERE on the pedal and feel comfortable. And once you have your foot locked in, it’ll make sure that you hold on tight. Another big plus for Crank Brothers is that ALL their pedals come with a 5 year warranty.

Crank Brothers Stamp 3

Platform Size: 100mm x 100 mm (SMALL) 114mm x 111mm (LARGE)

Weight: 351 grams (12.4oz) (SMALL), 386 grams (13.6oz) (LARGE)

Pins: 10 pins per side

Crank Brothers Stamp 3 pedals
Image appears courtesy: Backcountry.com

This company understands that there’s no such thing as one pedal to rule them all. And so they came out with the Stamp 2 and Stamp 3 models. Still built on the tried and true chassis, these versions are focused on innovating the design of the their pedal by focusing on how it connects to the shoe. By taking the most popular mountain bike shoe brands and sizes, they figured out where weight was being applied and how the focal points of traction land on the pedal.

Shimano PD-M8140 Deore XT

Platform Size: 100mm x 105 mm (SMALL) 115mm x 110mm (LARGE)

Weight: 461 grams (SMALL), 505 grams (LARGE)

Pins: 10 pins per side

Shimano PD-M8140 Deore XT mtb pedals
Image appears courtesy: REI

What if you want to take a step up from the composites into metal but can’t swallow the price? Consider taking a look at the Shimano PD-M8140 Deore XT. Similar to Crank Brothers, they provide different platforms based on your shoe size. From there, that’s where they diverge. Colors? Only in battleship grey. Focused on trail and enduro riding, they offer decent grip within Shimano’s sturdy construction. One negative is that they give you two options in pin lengths and unfortunately provide you with the short ones inserted which are pretty much useless in most off-trail riding. Are they the best? Not by a long shot, but they’ll get the job done.

Chromag Dagga

Platform Size: 120mm x 115mm

Weight: 480 grams (1 lb 0.9 oz)

Pins: 12 pins per side

Chromag Dagga
Image appears courtesy: Backcountry.com

When I first laid eyes on these, the word that came to me was: AGGRESIVE. Its massively long pins poked out of its body making it resemble something like a bear trap. A whopping 12 pins on EACH side. The girthy body and the emboldened words DAGGA written on it let you know that they mean business. The traction pins are in fact taller. So much so, to accommodate their taller height, they redesigned the pin with a thinner tip and threaded bottom so it LOCKS your foot into the pedal. Focused on providing the most fun on the downhill segments, the platform is a bit wider. At a hefty price point, this should be reserved for those that are heading into some risky riding zones or competing in the Enduro World Series.

Chromag Scarab

Platform Size: 110mm x 108mm

Weight: 430 grams (15.2 oz)

Pins: 10 pins per side

Chromag Scarab
Image appears courtesy: Backcountry.com

For normal everyday riders, a better option from the Chromag product line would be the Scarab. It still has the beefy concave platform, and although it has “only” 10 pins that are more normal sized, it still provides plenty of grip. If you want to turn up the volume on grippy-ness, they come with spacers to allow you to raise the pins to a whole different level. A mid-wide platform allows you to plant yourself in a stance that you can take on any obstacle with confidence.

Nukeproof Horizon Pro

Platform Size: 100mm x 105mm

Weight: 426 grams

Pins: 10 pins per side

Born out of competition. Forged in the fires of the Enduro World Series. These are the pedals that were designed with five-time downhill world champion and three-time Enduro World Series champion Sam Hill.  Simple, direct, and focused on one thing – making your riding better. With 10 pins on each side, once you place your mountain bike shoe on it, don’t expect it to move. They’re so tacky to the point that it can be challenging to move your foot. Personally, that’s too much grip for me. I like the ability to make micro-adjustments on the fly. And at the premium price point, the design is a little too focused on function over form for my taste.

DMR Vault

Platform Size: 105mm x 105mm

Weight: 428 grams

Pins: 11 pins per side

DMR Vault
Image appears courtesy: Backcountry.com

If settling for the best or nothing is less your mantra then DMR would be near the top for the best mtb flat pedals on the market. They’ve been in the mountain biking game since Palmer was crushing it. 11 pins on each side makes sure your feet stay where you put them in any conditions. The alloy used in the construction of it are the definition of “Bomb-proof.” And if you do need to fix something, parts are easy to come by and repairs can be done yourself. On the other hand, they’re VERY pricey compared to others on our list and are quite a bit heavier than its compatriots. Are they worth it? If you look at the global market, they’ll say, “HELL YEA!” To this day, they’re still one of the best-selling flats on the market and have won multiple awards for their design.

You Get What You Pay For

In the mountain bike flat pedal world, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” rings VERY true. Your hands may steer the bike, but it’s your feet that are the connection to it. Invest in that link and make sure you get a set that will make you feel confident and truly one with your bike. You won’t regret it.

For more about gear, how to get started in mountain biking, or even some off-the-beaten-path mountain biking destinations, visit our homepage: The Down & Dirty On Mountain Biking.

Let us know what you’re riding and if there’s any pedals we should add to this list.

The post Good Vibes And The Best MTB Flat Pedals To Get You Anywhere appeared first on Local Freshies.