If you're a novice biker, cities and rural areas from coast to coast offer well-tended cycling paths where you can experience nature and get some exercise without needing to be a high-powered athlete. We're also including a few tougher treks, for those who want to take it up a notch.
1. Ashton to Tetonia Trail, Ashton, Idaho
Completed in 2010, this gravel trail is still the best-kept secret in Idaho. The converted rail bed, maintained by the state's Department of Parks and Recreation, covers almost 30 miles of breathtaking riding (you rise 800 feet between Ashton and Tetonia) and crosses three dramatic train trestles. Want unsurpassed views of the Tetons? Bring your camera; this trail's got them.
2. Cultural Trail, Indianapolis, Indiana
After 12 years of planning and construction, Indy celebrated the grand opening of its eight-mile urban bike trail last summer. It connects all six of the city's vibrant cultural districts and takes riders to the front door of the Capitol building, among other landmarks. Best of all, the trail is adorned with large-scale public art installations from local and global artists. (Soon it will be even easier to take advantage of the trail: Indianapolis has plans to begin a bike-share program in 2014.)
3. Deer Valley Trails, Park City, Utah
At Deer Valley, Utah's famed luxury ski resort, take a ski lift up the mountain and then cycle down through a variety of single-track trails. Some are best for super-advanced, technically skilled cyclists, but there are also beginner trails. Note that trails are open for biking only in the summer, and you'll need to buy a pass ($38 for a full day).
4. Mountain Drive Loop, Santa Barbara, California
The 23-mile loop starts in this iconic beach town and becomes a moderately hilly ride through foothills and along beaches. Beautiful, quiet roads showcase classic vistas of Montecito (where Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres have homes), Summerland (a tiny beach town with a mountain backdrop) and Carpinteria (home to October's California Avocado Festival). It's easy to shorten the loop if you prefer; you'll just need a map to strategize.
5. Timpoochee Trail, South Walton, Florida
Bikers on the 18-mile trail, which is wide and flat, pass three gulf-front state parks and the sugar-white beaches of the coastal towns nearby — offering countless spots for a picnic or relaxation. You can catch the golden flutter of little wings in the fall, when monarch butterflies migrate through northwest Florida, stopping to feed on their way to Mexico.
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