The Best Beginner Mountain Bike Trails for Kids in Whistler

The best Whistler mountain bike trails for kids in Whistler, BC

Mountain Bike Trails for Kids in Whistler – Whistler, British Columbia is an amazing place for a family mountain biking vacation. It has trails for mountain bikers of every ability and experience level. Over the last 6 years, we have ridden many – but nowhere near all of the trails Whistler has to offer.

The best Whistler mountain bike trails for kids in Whistler, BC
This is a bridge on the trail, Tin Pants. It's part of Whistler's Lost Lake Trail System and a wonderful area for kids' beginner mountain bike trails.

Keep in mind that these trails are geared for young riders who are just getting started with mountain biking. Our kids started riding these trails on kids’ mountain bikes with 20 inch wheels and 24 inch wheel bikes. To ensure your children enjoy these trails safely, we strongly suggest you pre-ride them in order to properly gauge your young rider’s technical and endurance capabilities.

Whistler Valley Trail System

Lets start off with riding some pavement. The Whistler Valley Trail System is one of the many things that make Whistler amazing. Composed of over 23 miles (40 km) of paved trails and boardwalk, the Whistler Valley Bike Trails are perfect for commuting to and from the Whistler and Blackcomb villages, neighborhoods, scenic lakes, and nearby mountain bike trails. We love the fact that we don’t use our van for the entire time we are in Whistler. These mostly flat trails are a fun way to explore the area on bikes with your family.

This is the Whistler Valley Trail System
All paths lead to the Whistler Bike Park!
Close to Rainbow Park on the Whistler Valley Trail System
On the way to find some sweet Whistler single track.

VIEW A MAP of the Whistler Valley Trail System (p1)

The Whistler Valley trails connect five Whistler lakes: Lost Lake, Green Lake, Alta Lake, Nita Lake and Alpha Lake. For a fun family ride, try Rainbow Park at Alta Lake. To get there, ride the Valley Trail west from Whistler Village through toward the Whistler Golf Course then through Whistler Cay following the signs to Rainbow Park. There’s lots to do at the park. Kids will enjoy the playground. Bring a picnic lunch and swim in the lake.

The Lost Lake Trail System In Whistler, British Columbia

This is a network of gravel access roads intersected by beginner to intermediate single track trails. These trails are beautifully designed and well maintained. They include a mix of packed pea gravel, narrow dirt single track, roots, rock rolls and wood bridges.

VIEW A MAP of the Lost Lake Trail System (p2)

Tin Pants

1.9 Miles | Beginner Cross Country Loop

Tin Pants – The trail name comes from a name for the stiff pants soaked in paraffin for waterproofing historically worn by lumbermen. Riders of all abilities will enjoy this wide hard packed gravel trail that winds through beautiful lush forest and over lodgepole pine bridges. There are no technical sections to navigate on this trail which makes this an excellent introduction to mountain biking for true beginners. The climbs are steady but gradual. The descents are fun and flowy. Tin Pants is a multi-use trail with plenty of spots to pull over for other riders, runners or hikers. You may want to take a rest/snack break at the Rainbow Mountain viewpoint – our kids enjoy the decorated pine tree at that spot.

Climbing up the Molly Hogan Trail in Whistler
Father and son climbing the Molly Hogan trail in Whistler.
Why Johnny Can't Read - an intermediate mountain bike trail for kids
Tyge pulls off a steady descent on Why Johnny Can't Read
Pedaling up the beginner mountain bike trail for kids, Tin Pants
Pedaling up Tin Pants to earn some turns.
Grand Wazoo - Lost Lake Trail System. Whistler, BC
Here's mom demonstrating how to ride The Grand Wazoo.

Molly Hogan To Packard Goose To I’m Not Satisfied To Why Johnny Can’t Read To Grand Wazoo

About 2.0 miles | Beginner/Intermediate Cross Country Loop
Zappa Trail System at Lost Lake Area | All trails are named after Frank Zappa songs

Molly Hogan is another fun beginner trail in the Lost Lake area. Like Tin Pants, Molly Hogan is a wide and smooth compressed gravel trail. This beautifully crafted trail winds through thick forest along the East side of Lost Lake. This is the easiest trail on this loop. If you find this Molly Hogan to be enough of a challenge, you can make it an out and back – or drop down to the Lost Lake Loop trail and follow it back to your starting point.

The kids head up one of their favorite cross country trails in Whistler

Molly Hogan- Packard Goose – Why Johnny Can’t Read – Grand Wazoo

If you’re ready for some additional challenges, you can make this a fun loop by adding the following intermediate level blue/green trails. These natural dirt trails are narrower than Molly Hogan and feature beginner/intermediate difficulty root and rock obstacles. These trails are directly connected so that they seem like one longer trail. Excellent signage exists at each intersection to help you know when you finish one trail and start on the next.

Packard Goose

The first trail after Molly Hogan is Packard Goose. This short trail has some small rocks and roots to navigate. Packard Goose includes the steepest climb you’ll see on this loop. You’ll climb 52 feet in just over 600 feet of trail. Packard Goose is our kids’ least favorite part of this loop, so it’s nice that it is short. Next you’ll come to I’m Not Satisfied, another short trail (500 feet) that gradually climbs to the highest elevation of this loop.

Why Johnny Can’t Read

Up next is Why Johnny Can’t Read. This is where the fun begins. This trail has a few short rolling climbs but is mainly descending. You’ll experience several rock rolls and wood bridges. All of the obstacles are rollable, but nervous/novice riders will be able to safely walk any feature they choose not to ride.

Grand Wazoo

The grand finale of this loop is Grand Wazoo. Following a very short rolling section, you’ll end on a flowing and fun descent. There are several wood bridges over lovely little creeks and mossy forest views to enjoy in this section. You’ll finish the ride near the shore of Lost Lake.

Beginner Trails For Kids In The Whistler Bike Park

The world’s best bike park offers a variety of trails to thrill and challenge riders of all levels. Whether it’s your first time or 50th, the bike park promises an unforgettable experience. Here are our two picks for beginner level riders:

VIEW A MAP of the Whistler Bike Park

Kid riding EZ Does It in the Whistler Bike Park
Ripping down EZ Does It in the Whistler Bike Park is a fine time no matter how old you are.

EZ Does It

2.8 miles | Beginner Flow Trail

Located in the Fitzsimmons Zone, EZ Does It is the Whistler Bike Park’s signature beginner flow trail. This trail is the best bet for new riders to get comfortable with riding downhill. EZ Does It is a smooth machine-built trail that gently winds down the mountain for almost 3-miles. The high-banked corners are lots of fun. There are a few wood bridges that cross over some of the more advanced trails and a small tunnel.

EZ Does It is a good warm-up for intermediate riders and provides all day fun for novices. There are also occasional more-challenging short-cuts or optional lines to throw in if you’re looking for a little more challenge. Intermediate riders may find it too mild to enjoy more than once but it does connect to a few green and blue tech trails that are worth riding.

Del Boca Vista

0.2 miles | Beginner Technical Downhill Trail

Del Bocca Vista is a super fun green technical trail that winds its way along and across EZ Does It. This narrow single track trail has a nice playful feel and includes turns and berms and beginner level tech over and around roots and rocks. This trail will help beginners to build skills and confidence.

The trail is so well designed that more advanced riders often choose to ride it as a link between Dirt Merchant and A-Line. Remember that slower riders have the right of way on green trails. Although it can feel uncomfortable to be followed by faster riders, ride your line and don’t pull off the trail until there is a safe spot to do so.

Del Boca Vista will dump you back onto EZ Does It for a smooth and flowy finish.

Fitzsimmons Creek Skills Park

Located near Fitzsimmons Creek and the skate park on the edge of parking lot #3, the Fitzsimmons Creek Bike Park provides an opportunity to improve mountain bike skills and gain confidence riding obstacles and jumps. The park consists of dirt jumps, a pump track, beginner skills area and an intermediate skills area.

Beginner section of the Fitzsimmon's Creek Skills Park at Whistler
Young riders can build confidence here!
Even the Whistler dirt jumps offer options for beginner kids
Recognize anyone in this shot?
Whistler pump track
The pump track.
Mountain biking kid on the intermediate dirt jump line -Whistler, BC
Moving on to the intermediate jump line.

Beginner Skills Area – This area includes a series of small wooden rainbow bridges and little dirt features—perfect for kids to practice skills and build confidence.

Intermediate Skills Area – The intermediate skills area has more technical challenges including log skinnies, roots and rocks.

Pump Track – Located between the skatepark and the dirt jumps. This is a super fun area for kids to hone their cornering and bike handling skills.

Dirt Jumps – There are jumps for every level of rider at this area. Kids and beginner riders can roll the smallest jump line, slowly building the confidence to get some air under their tires. It is inspiring to watch the more skilled riders hit the big lines.

Note: Although the Whistler Skatepark looks like a fun place to bike, it’s also the only place for skateboarders to ride. If your kids choose to ride their bikes at the skatepark, you may feel the ire of those trying to skate. In the days when our kids really wanted to ride bikes at the skate park, we’d hit it first thing in the morning before the skateboarders arrived at the park and head back for breakfast when skaters showed up.

Downhill Bikes For Kids

The best downhill bikes for kids

First-generation mountain bikers are having families of their own and that has helped grow the demand for purpose-built mountain bikes. As a result, downhill bikes for kids are starting to become more popular. Several race events offer a junior downhill category on their tracks. A kid-sized downhill bike is a mandatory tool for the job when those 12 and under are ready to hit the gnar.

Take note – some of the downhill bikes in this article will also suffice as enduro bikes for kids.

Jump to: Downhill Bikes with 20 Inch Wheels | Downhill Bikes with 24 Inch Wheels | Downhill Bikes with 27.5 or 29 Inch Wheels

Downhill Bikes With 20 Inch Wheels

All of these downhill bikes for kids feature front and rear suspension with disc brakes. The forks for this group are limited to single-crown designs because kids in this category just don’t weight enough to warrant a dual-crown fork.

COMMENCAL CLASH 20 V2 PURE WHITE kids downhill bike

Commencal Clash 20 

The CLASH 20, equipped with 20-inch wheels and 125mm travel, is a great option for your young downhill rider. This full-suspension kids’ mountain bike features the Manitou Machete Junit Pro fork for comfort, complemented by a Super Deluxe Select shock with customizable adjustments. Moreover, the cockpit, designed by Protaper, caters specifically to smaller riders. Braking is efficiently managed by Hayes Dominion A2s. Additionally, the Sram GX 10-speed drivetrain ensures reliability throughout. With Spank Spike Spoon 28 wheels and Schwalbe Big Betty Super Ground tires, it guarantees both durability and grip.

Standover Height: 22 in
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MeekBoyz Beast - 20 inch downhill bike for kids

MeekBoyz Mini Beast

This is the ultimate downhill bike for kids with 20-inch wheels. A T700 carbon frame and Fox Kashima coated suspension would make a rider of any age eat their vegetables and get good grades in exchange for this bike. MeekBoyz also makes downhill bikes with 24-inch wheels and 26-inch wheels.

Standover Height: 20.47 in
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The best full face mtb helmets for kids

Full Face Helmets
Full face mtb helmets for kids are a necessity when jumping bikes or riding technical terrain.

Real cost bike calculator

Have A Good Laugh – Or Cry
Find out how much that mountain bike really cost you with our mountain bike real cost calculator

Downhill Bikes With 24 Inch Wheels

There are some nice looking options in this group because it’s where manufacturers can start to trim off the weight without sacrificing performance. If you have kids who actually need a 24 inch wheel downhill bike are young ninjas.

Marin Riftzone jr 24 inch wheel mountain bike for kids

Marin Rift Zone Jr.

Marin designed the Rift Zone Jr, to provide young shredders with a fun full-suspension bike. Built around Marin’s Multi-Trac suspension system, the Rift Zone Jr. is Marin’s most playful and fun youth full suspension bike to date. The bike’s light aluminum frame creates a snappy feel that is equally at home on rolling hills as it is on steep downhill singletrack. Firstly, the 120mm X-Fusion Velvet and X-Fusion O2 Pro rear shock provide a supple and smooth ride. Secondly, the Deore 1×11 drivetrain provides all the gears you need to make it up the steepest climbs.  Thirdly, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes provide incredible stopping power when descending those steep chutes. Finally, the bike is rounded out with Marin Tubeless Ready 24″ or 26-inch wheels for fewer flats and incredible traction.

Standover Height: Not Available
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commencal Clash 24 inch full suspension kids mountain bike

Commencal Clash 24

The CLASH 24 full suspension mountain bike has 24-inch wheels and 145mm travel, promising a playful biking experience. Notably, it features the Manitou Machete Junit Pro fork and Super Deluxe Select shock, ensuring both comfort and precision on the trails. The cockpit, designed by PROTAPER with a Junit combo, caters specifically to smaller riders. Additionally, Shimao’s two-piston Deore M6100 brakes deliver ample stopping power. Coupled with a Sram NX 11-speed drivetrain, shortened cranks, a KS Rage-I telescopic seat post, Spank Spike Spoon 28 wheels for solidity, and Schwalbe Big Betty Super Trail tires for enhanced grip, the CLASH 24  excels in both reliability and performance.

Standover Height: 25.5 in
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24 inch downhill bike for kids - Transition Ripcord

Transition Ripcord

The Ripcord has gone through a couple of designs since its arrival and it’s a great option for your gravity-minded wild child. A SRAM drivetrain and Maxxis tires are featured components. A RockShox suspension package tames the bumps and landings.

Standover Height: 26.57 in
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Rocky Mountain Reaper 24 - downhill bike for kids

Rocky Mountain Reaper

Depending on which size frame you choose, the Reaper can take 24-inch, 26-inch, and 27.5 inch wheels. This ensures your kid’s downhill bike can fit for as long as possible. See our review for the Rocky Mountain Reaper 26. We had a great time with this bike because it could handle technical terrain and it was a pleasant pedaler.

Standover Height:
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Trailcraft Maxwell 24

Trailcraft Maxwell 24

MTB With Kids has reviewed the Maxwell 24 as well. It’s by far the lightest bike in the category so when the lifts stop running, your family can still be riding. Several build options are available from this Ft. Collins, CO family run company.

Standover Height: 25 in
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Whistler's Lord Of The Squirrels

Go On A Family Bike Ride
What’s on your bucket list for family mountain bike rides? How about Whistler’s Lord Of The Squirrels?

Protective gear for kids

Protective Gear For Kids
Shop at BTO Sports, Backcountry, Jenson USA.

Downhill Bikes With 27.5 and 29 Inch Wheels

These are adult-size bikes available in either extra-small or small frame sizes. No limits here. All the kids downhill bikes in this list feature dual-crown forks for maximum suspension. Have fun on your shuttle laps and shredding park. All of these bikes are available in adult sizes. We list standover heights for the smallest size available.

Ibis Ripmo downhill mountain bike for taller kids

Ibis Ripmo

The Ibis Ripmo AF NGX build is an entry-level option packed with exceptional value, ideal for taller downhill mountain biking kids. Its aluminum frame, now featuring a universal hanger for easy replacements, ensures durability even on rugged trails. With the SRAM NX/GX drivetrain providing a reliable 12-speed system for tackling technical climbs and SRAM G2 R 4-piston brakes delivering ample stopping power in a lightweight design, downhill performance is assured. Equipped with the lightweight and durable Blackbird Send I/II 29er wheelset by Ibis, optimal performance is guaranteed on descents. Marzocchi Bomber suspension, including the Bomber Z1 Coil fork with 160mm of travel and the Bomber Air rear shock, offers quality performance at a competitive price, ensuring reliable traction on both climbs and descents, making it a solid choice for downhill mountain biking adventures.

Standover Height: 27.7 in
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Trek session downhill mountain bike for kids

Trek Session

Session 8 is a downhill mountain bike with a burly alloy frame and high-pivot suspension design that keeps you nimble, planted, and blazing fast on even the most punishing runs. This bike includes a burly alloy frame, 200mm rear travel with a Marzocchi Bomber shock, 200mm RockShox Boxxer with plush DebonAir+ spring and Rush RC damper, powerful Code Bronze 4-piston brakes, and a SRAM GX DH 7-speed drivetrain. A burly alloy frame, 200mm rear travel with a Marzocchi Bomber shock, 200mm RockShox Boxxer with plush DebonAir+ spring and Rush RC damper, powerful Code Bronze 4-piston brakes, and a SRAM GX DH 7-speed drivetrain.

Standover Height: 30 in
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Norco sight kids mountain bike

Norco Sight C3 Mountain Bike

The Norco Sight C3 build blends budget-friendly components with high performance. It features a reliable Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain and an e*thirteen Vario chain guide to prevent chain drops. With 4-piston brakes and 29-inch wheels, it handles obstacles with ease. Equipped with a 160mm RockShox Lyrik Select fork and custom-tuned Super Deluxe Ultimate DH rear shock, the Sight C3 ensures confidence on challenging terrain. Whether exploring new trails or hitting the enduro scene, the Norco Sight C3 Shimano Mountain Bike excels in climbing and delivers thrilling descents. Check out our Norco Sight review here.

Standover Height: 26.8 in
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GT sensor kids downhill mountain bike

GT Sensor Comp Mountain Bike

The GT Sensor Comp Bike offers enhanced trail control with its lightweight and compliant design. Its aluminum frame features 130mm of rear travel and 140mm of front travel, along with Universal Derailleur Hanger compatibility, Boost hub spacing, internal cable routing, and integrated frame protection. Equipped with a SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain and Tektro M745 hydraulic disc brakes, it ensures smooth climbing and controlled descents. Paired with WTB ST i30 TCS rims and Maxxis tubeless tires, it delivers improved traction and fewer flats. The GT Dropkick Dropper Post allows quick saddle adjustments with a lever press.

Standover Height: 27.6 in
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Kids’ Mountain Bikes

Kids mountain bikes, featured image


The best mountain bike for your kid is going to be based on their size and your budget. We have assembled this list of categories to help you find a bike that will make both of you happy.

Kids mountain bikes by age group

Mountain Bikes For Kids By Age Group

A lot of new families are excited to start their children’s cycling adventures together as soon as possible. This requires a suitable balance bike. After the balance bike serves its purpose and children are ready to move on to a pedal bike, variants such as wheel size and standover height need to be factored in to your choice. And, as you kid gets older and more experienced, she/he can take advantage of all the options available on full-sized mountain bikes.

Balance bike for 1-3 year olds

Your kid’s first bike should be a balance bike. These bikes are easy to control and build confidence.

Here are options for your child’s first pedal bike with saddle heights 15 inches to 25 inches tall.

Mountain bikes for 4-5 year old kids

All these kids’ mountain bikes have 16 inch wheels. One option even has fancy hydraulic disc brakes.

Mountain bikes for kids 5-8 years old

The best 20 inch wheel kids’ mountain bikes are light and feature drivetrains with multiple gears.

Kids mountain bikes for 8-11 year olds

Choose from purpose built bikes suitable for cross-country, downhill and enduro mountain biking.

Mountain bikes for kids 11-14 years old

These bikes are the last stop before your kid gets their first hand-me-down bike from mom or dad.



Full-suspension mountain bikes for descending and climbing


Cross-country mountain bikes for jr. devo and high school racers


Full-suspension bikes designed to take a beating

Kids bike database


Our database of kids’ mountain bikes will allow you to get a glimpse of what’s available from manufacturers around the world. You can filter your search by wheel size, suspension options, cost, standover height and many other options. We have added hundreds of bikes so you can see the combinations of features which will help you choose the best trail bike for your child.

Mountain Biking Slickrock Trail with Kids in Moab, Utah

Riding Moab's Slickrock Trail with Kids

Overview of Moab’s Slickrock Trail

Considering taking your kids to ride Moab’s renowned Slickrock mountain biking trail? We’ve given it a shot! If your kids possess at least intermediate mountain biking skills and enjoy adventures, then you might find it enjoyable too. Many consider this trail one of the best globally. Despite its toughness, it’s not as technically challenging as some other trails with numerous roots and sharp turns.

The trail primarily traverses Navajo sandstone, which offers excellent grip for bike tires. It earned the name “slickrock” because people used to ride horses here with metal shoes! Your family will relish riding on the mesa, encountering some truly remarkable landscapes, unlike those of other biking destinations you’ve experienced.\

Here are some things to consider: negotiating the hills can be tricky. Watch out for cactus plants and be mindful of the elevation. It’s advisable for a proficient adult cyclist to test the trail first before deciding if it’s suitable for your kids.

Riding Moab's Slickrock Trail with Kids

Getting To The Slickrock Trail In Moab: [1] Head east on E Center St toward S 100 E/S 1st E St (0.4 mi). [2] Turn right onto Fourth E St (0.4 mi) [3] Turn left onto Mill Creek Dr (0.5 mi) [3] Continue straight onto Sand Flats Rd (2.3 mi). There will be a toll booth. The parking lot for the Slickrock trailhead will be on your left.

Riding The Slickrock Trail With Kids

When our kids tackled this trail for the first time, our youngest rode a hefty 20-inch mountain bike with v-brakes, a heavy entry-level spring fork, and tires with tubes. His hands were as fatigued as his legs when we finished – but what an achievement!

Ascending the Slickrock Trail is genuinely enjoyable due to the rock’s grip. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised at how you can ascend climbs that appear too steep. The trick is to keep your front tire grounded and pedal smoothly. We taught the kids to zig-zag up the wider steeper slopes, and they managed almost every climb.

Slickrock Trail Practice Loop with Kids

The Slickrock Trail consists of numerous short, steep undulating climbs and descents. Furthermore, the trail is easy to follow, marked with white dots and arrows painted on the rock. The views are stunning. Approximately a quarter mile from the parking lot, you’ll encounter the 1.7-mile practice loop, serving as an excellent introduction to riding on sandstone. You can opt to ride just this loop or add it to the full Slickrock Trail, adding a mile and reconnecting with the main trail.

At 2 miles, you’ll reach the loop part of the lollipop. You can choose either direction, but we’ve only ridden it clockwise by taking a left at the fork.

Out And About On The Slickrock Trail With Family

Moab Slickrock Trail with Kids
Family Friendly Trails in Moab, Utah - Slickrock Trail

Along the way, there are optional short spurs leading to the cliff’s edge. These add minimally to the ride’s length but greatly enhance the trail experience. Additionally, we took breaks at each overlook.

There are a few places where you may need to ride or walk through sand. Also, there are numerous spots to take breaks and admire the view.

Watch out for sand-filled potholes and cacti. Once, our youngest fell into a pothole filled with cactus halfway through the trail. It was dreadful. After removing as many barbs as possible, he showed his resilience and completed the ride. He rode so slowly for a while that I feared we might not make it, but we did! Elmer’s school glue works well for removing cactus barbs, we learned.

Landscapes are big while mountain biking in Moab, Utah

Being Prepared For The Slickrock Trail

Depending on the time of year, ensure you have enough water, snacks, proper clothing, tools, sunscreen, and your camera! Your kids might need frequent breaks as there are several long climbs where both kids and adults may need to walk their bikes. Additionally, it can be quite windy. And, of course, check the weather forecast to avoid getting caught in a rainstorm miles from the trailhead.

As you plan this ride, consider the following tips:

  • Assess your kids’ biking skills to ensure they’re ready for the trail.
  • Start with the 1.7-mile practice loop to gauge their comfort level.
  • Bring plenty of snacks, water, and sunscreen to keep everyone energized and protected.
  • Dress in layers as weather conditions can change quickly.
  • Check your bike equipment before hitting the trail to prevent any mechanical issues.
  • Encourage breaks to enjoy the breathtaking views and rest tired legs.
  • Be cautious of sand-filled potholes and cacti, especially with younger riders.
  • Consider bringing Elmer’s school glue for removing cactus barbs, just in case.
  • Monitor weather forecasts and plan accordingly to avoid unexpected storms or extreme conditions.

By following these tips and being well-prepared, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable biking adventure for the whole family on the Slickrock Trail in Moab.

Finding the Best Trails for Family MTB Rides

choose trails wisely, little creek mesa

Best Trails for Family MTB Rides – Think of your best mountain bike ride ride ever. You were most likely in a mental state called “Flow”. Flow is the feeling or mental state when a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Flow is most likely to occur when one is wholeheartedly performing a task or activity for intrinsic purposes.

Three conditions are needed to achieve a flow state:

  • The activity has clear set of goals and progress
  • The task has clear and immediate feedback
  • Perceived challenges of the task should balance perceived skills

If you can find a trail that produces a flow state for your kids, you’ll have a good start in getting them hooked on mountain biking. Know the your kid’s physical ability and level of comfort with risk. Aim for trails that are right around their comfort zone. This may mean that you ride the same trail – over and over and over again. The more you ride with your kid, the easier it will become to pick the right mtb trail for their ability. Here are some important considerations when choosing a trail for your family mountain bike ride:

Choose the right distance/time

When you first start mountain biking it can be hard to determine the right distance and/or time on the trail for your kid. Our advice: less is more for beginners. You can always do another lap or extend the ride if you’re pleasantly surprised. Once you’ve found the sweet spot, increase slowly by no more that 10-20%.

Aim for the appropriate level of technical challenge

Start simple and fun! For many reasons, the technical level of a mountain bike trail is even more important that the distance. The more technical the trail, the more time you’ll spend walking/pushing your bikes. This can lead to frustration in the best-case scenario and in the worst-case scenario, you’ll end up with a crash and injury which can ruin the appeal of mountain biking for a long time.

Have a destination

When choosing the best trails for family MTB rides, have a “destination” whenever possible. A mountain-top, waterfall or beautiful view make natural destinations. For shorter rides, even arriving back at the car can be a destination, especially if there is a treat at the car, or a trip to get a snow cone after the ride. Unfortunately, there are many mountain bike trails that might not provide an interesting destination. In this case, you can make a destination by bringing a special snack or a picnic for the half-way point.

Take time to stop and smell the roses

We stop riding often to look at wild-flowers/bugs/rocks, take in the view and/or dig in the dirt. (Getting filthy is a fan favorite in our family). Look for rope swings. Build a fort in the woods. Take off your shoes and put your feet in the stream. Remember, this is supposed to be enjoyable for the kids.

*Secret weapon

End on a downhill! When at all possible, go uphill first. Ending on a long, smooth, flowy downhill can erase the memory of the hard climbing done to earn it. Always aim to leave them smiling!

Check out our reviewed trails at:

Go to: MTB with Kids Tip #6  Recognize hard work

How to Help Your Kid Learn to Like Mountain Biking

bearclaw poppy, st george, UT

How to Help Your Kid Learn to Like Mountain Biking – You love mountain biking!  You want to share the love with your kiddo, but it’s not always easy to do.  We reached out to mountain biking parents who have successfully raised kids who love mountain biking and asked for their tips and tricks.  Here are the best snippets of advice on the topic of how to help your kid learn to like mountain biking.

Let’s start with a little thought experiment: Imagine you’re on a ride with someone you admire and are anxious to impress. This person (let’s call him Bob) has years more riding experience than you and is much more fit. The ride is split between climbs that are too hard for you to complete despite pushing yourself to the brink, and ridiculously technical, sketchy descents that are definitely outside your comfort zone. Bob waits for you occasionally, but can barely stifle a sigh when you finally catch up. Bob asks you to “please hurry” and then leaves before you have a chance to catch your breath. You are physically and mentally exhausted – and emotionally demoralized before you reach the halfway point. Are you having fun yet? Want to do this again next weekend? This is what its like for your kids to ride with you when you make it your ride.

Here are some tips to help you get mentally ready make mountain biking with your kid(s) enjoyable for everyone:

Take care of yourself first!

Head out early for a hard 10-miles, go for a run, or get a solid ride on the trainer prior to heading out with the kids. If you are a little tired or sore you’ll be less likely to feel the need to change the planned 3-mile ride into the 9-mile loop. When our kids were smaller, we would spend much of our family rides hiking the uphills while pushing the adult bike with one hand and pushing the kid riding his bike with the other. This allows the kid to ride more of the trail and has the added bonus of being surprisingly difficult for the adult doing the pushing. If you spend a few miles pushing a kid on a bike while wheeling your own, you’ll definitely get your cardio for the day.

The key to happiness is low expectations

Unrealistic expectations always lead to disappointment. Make sure you have realistic expectations for yourself AND for the kid(s). Be clear about what you think the trail will be like, and what the destination is. An important part of realistic expectations is to know your kid. Some children are naturally more careful/nervous. Try not to compare your kids to the other kids on the trail (or the kids on you-tube). No matter what the difficulty of the trail is, your kid is doing better than those kids sitting on the couch and playing video games.

Proper pacing is critical

In our family, it often works best to let the kids set the pace. When possible, we try to let the kids go first. That way, you know they are riding in their comfort zone. It can be fun to roll behind your kid and yell “hey – slow down, you’re going too fast for your old mom to keep up!” If used sparingly, this always seems to encourage them to try to leave you in the dust! It is definitely more fun to be chased than to chase. (This is also an excellent opportunity to work on your deep breathing relaxation techniques and your balance.  Sometimes, when I want to scream “For the love, could you go any slower?!?” I take some deep breaths and try to feel grateful about this excellent opportunity to improve my patience and track standing ability.)

Be flexible

Even well planned mountain bike rides have to be altered from time to time. Be ready and willing to alter your plans when circumstances necessitate it. Weather, trail conditions, or how your child is feeling that day can be good reasons to make alterations to your plan.  Which leads us to …

Know when to quit

Weather, energy levels or mood can change a good family ride into an awful one. Having led our kids on some perceived death marches (and enduring the accompanying whining and sniveling), this one comes from hard won experience. It can be hard to throw in the towel, but it is usually better to call it off early than prolong the suffering.

Keep your eye on the prize

The point of these rides is to encourage a lifelong love of physical activity in your kids. Ideally, you can help your kid learn to like mountain biking. Each ride adds to your child’s fitness level, skills and confidence. Sometimes going slowly and spending all day on a 4-mile ride is painful, but remember, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. As with many other parts of parenting – mountain biking with kids often means putting your kid’s needs ahead of your own. On the bright side: if you do this right, you just might end up with kids who love the sport and can ride circles around you!

Go to: MTB with Kids Tip #4  Don’t get hangry

Don’t Get Hangry! Our Favorite MTB Snacks for Kids


Have you ever “hit the wall” on a mountain bike ride? If so, you know how you feel like you have no energy, that you cannot pedal any more – like a car running out of gas. This happens to kids, too – and it happens to kids earlier because they have less energy stores in their muscles. Providing snacks for mountain biking kids is important if you want to enjoy your family ride. Your child will run out of energy more quickly than you, especially if you have a good level of fitness.

Hitting the wall or bonking is a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which leads to sudden fatigue and loss of energy. In kids, hitting he wall can start with whining and quickly progress into a total meltdown. Proper nutritional timing is like putting gas into your tank. If you wait until the tank is empty, it is too late! The way to head this feeling off is to make sure to have enough snacks to sustain your kid’s glucose levels throughout the ride.

Healthy Snacks

We have learned (the hard way) to never leave for a mountain bike ride without kid friendly snacks. Fruit (fresh or dried), nuts, granola/energy bars and string cheese are healthier options. Break out the snacks at least once per hour. (Sooner if the trail is tough, or if you sense impending whining). Here are a few of our current favorites:

  • Trader Joe’s Dried Flattened Bananas – These look like peeled bananas that have been left out for too long. The first time I bought these, our kids were a bit put off by the looks. Once they braved a taste, the kids were hooked on these ultra sweet treats! Our kids enjoy rolling their own banana fruit roll ups when we hand out pieces on the trail.
  • Bare Natural Apple Chips – These yummy apple chips are thin, crunchy and flavorful. There are several varieties. Our kids loved them from the first bite. The only negative is that they are a bit pricey.
  • Stretch Island Fruit Leather – These fruit leathers are a family mountain bike staple. They are flat and packable with the added bonus of no artificial colors or flavoring. There are many flavor varieties, so kids can choose (although they taste relatively similar to me).
  • Our kids love the Honey Stinger Stinger Waffles – Since we only eat them on the trail, they retain their appeal.


CANDY! Although we generally try to limit the amount of sugar and candy our kids eat, we often make an exception for mountain bike rides. There is a lesson to be learned from the power of the treats that are given out after every kids’ soccer game – leave the kids with a “sweet” memory of the experience. You may want to have certain fun foods that you only eat on mountain bike rides. This keeps them special. Even better, let your kids pick out their own special snacks for mountain biking.

Picnic Lunch

For longer rides where there may not be an exciting “destination”, a picnic lunch can be just the ticket. Planning a mountain bike picnic lunch does not have to be difficult. A few sandwiches, fruit and a juice box and you have a destination right in your backpack.


Anytime children mountain bike in warm/hot weather, you’ll want to make sure they do not get dehydrated. Your kid will be more susceptible to dehydration in especially hot and/or humid weather, if he/she is overweight or unused to vigorous activity or isn’t well rested. You can help your kids by encouraging them to drink plenty of fluids before and during rides, and taking regular beverage breaks — even if they aren’t thirsty.

Go to: MTB with Kids Tip #5  Choose Trails Wisely

Parents Can Help Develop Kids’ Love of Mountain Biking

help kids develop love of mountain biking old rampage site, virgin UT

Parents who love mountain biking, hope to help our own kids love mountain biking. How do we do this?  When our kids were very young and just starting the sport, we never knew if we would finish the ride with our kids crying and complaining or laughing and asking to do it again. We did some research on encouragement and praise and started trying some of the recommendations that we found.  Here’s some of what we learned.

Parents are Powerful

Kids want to be recognized for their accomplishments and hard work – especially by their parents. In order to foster intrinsic enjoyment of mountain biking, it’s important to use the right language when praising our kids. Repeating a single phrase like “good job” is not effective and can backfire because repetitive praise can sound disingenuous. Here are some tips to show your kids that you noticed their mountain biking efforts and help them to recognize their improvement and accomplishments.

Praise The Process, Not The Person

Research shows that kids praised for their efforts rather than their abilities tend to choose tasks that are more challenging and are more interested in learning new ways to achieve success. Try to take note of what your kid does well on the trail and remark on the process.

Instead of “You are such a good climber”, say “You worked hard to get up that steep hill, nice climbing!”

Instead of “You are fast!” try “You’re riding faster around the corners today, you are gaining great bike control”

Emphasize Effort And Strategy While Your Kid Is Mountain Biking – Not The Outcome

Part of the fun of mountain biking is the effort and strategy involved. Each ride presents new challenges and kids have to figure out how to best handle them. If you can point out the ways that your kid is dealing with these mtb challenges, you can increase their confidence, which can encourage them to keep trying.

“I saw how you stood up to push to the top of that hard climb, good work!”

“You found a good way to steer around that root”

“I noticed that you’re getting off your bike to walk when you feel uncomfortable. Riding within your ability zone is very important – way to go!”

Non-Verbal Signs Of A Job Well Done

High fives and fist bumps demonstrate approval. You can even come up with your own special ways to celebrate successes – like a secret high five/knuckles combination that is only known by you and your kids.

Keep It Real

Don’t inflate praise – you kid will spot a false compliment a mile away. Recognition doesn’t need to be glowingly positive to work. You can completely leave out judgement on whether you think something is “good” and just let your kid know he/she has your attention. Using the phrases: “I noticed” or “I see” are two ways to do this.

“I noticed that you are riding right in the middle of the trail.”

“I see that you’re riding in a middle gear”

or “I saw you get your bike over that big rock”

Effective praise can help your child recognize his/her accomplishments and boost confidence on and off the bike! This is just one step to help our own kids love mountain biking.

Go to: MTB with Kids Tip #7  Enjoy the Journey

Getting Kids Ready to Mountain Bike

bmx helps kids get ready to mountain bike

You can help your kids enjoy mountain biking by teaching them the skills they’ll need before they hit the trails. Here are a few tips for getting your kid ready to mountain bike.

Ride Often With Your Family

You’ll probably have much better luck introducing your kids to trail riding if they are comfortable on their bikes. Take advantage of opportunities to get on the bike. Whenever possible – ride your bikes to the park, friends’ houses, or around the block. The earlier you can start this the better! Trailer bikes can be fun for little kids (and will give you a great workout). Balance bikes are amazing. The Kids Ride Shotgun accessory is another great option for getting your children acquainted with bikes.

  • Go to a skate-park or pump track and let them roll the hills
  • Try BMX
  • Ride bikes around the neighborhood

While you’re out on your bikes, take time to teach and practice skills they will need on the trails before you hit the dirt.

Practice Braking

The way kids use their brakes riding around the neighborhood is different than the way they will need to use their brakes on a trail. On a descent, we use our brakes to control our speed – not just stop. This is a different skill and should be practiced. Find an easy slope and have your kid practice controlling the speed. You can make it a game similar to red light, green light – but add yellow to slow/control speed.

Trail MTB Helmets

Now that you have a bike, get a lid on that kid.

Trail Helmets For MTB Kids

Giro mountain biking gloves for kids

MTB Gloves For Kids

Protect your kids’ hands with comfortable mtb gloves.

MTB Gloves For Kids

G-Form knee pads for kids

Knee Pads For Kids

If you ride a bike, you’re gonna fall down. Just sayin’.

MTB Knee Pads for Kids

Stand Up On The Mountain Bike’s Pedals

Practice standing on the pedals while coasting and pedaling. And, keep the pedals level.

Turning And Steering The Bike

Practice riding around cones. Riding in a circle can be tricky. Can your biker ride the same circle clockwise and counter-clockwise? Set up an obstacle course to work on steering. Teach them to keep their head-up, and look ahead (not under the front tire). The bike will go where your kid is looking. Looking at a rock, tree, or trail edge, will probably ensure your kid hits it.

Start From A Stop

Mountain biking involves a lot of starts and stops. There is often a need to be able to start riding on a sight uphill. Ask you kid to straddle her bike. With the pedals in an upright position, have her step on the top pedal to start motion ands then get the other foot on the pedal to start riding. Start practicing on a flat or slight downhill and then move to a hill.

Begin To Take On The Bumps

Curbs might be the first experience with an obstacle. Practice riding down curbs first, then you can start riding up.

If you already get out and play around on bikes with your kid, you’re well on your way to getting your kid ready to mountain bike!

Go to: MTB with Kids Tip #2 Have the right bike and gear

How to Choose the Right Kid’s Mountain Bike and Gear

lost prospector, park city, UT,

We don’t believe that over-spending for a kids bike is the way to have a good experience. However, having proper kids mountain bike gear: a bike that works well, appropriate clothing for the weather and a helmet that fits properly is essential to helping your your rider build confidence and ride happy.

The Mountain Bike

Mountain bikes for kids have changed quite a lot over the last few years. For some sizes and builds, the options for your children’s bikes are almost as plentiful as bikes for mom and dad. Several manufacturers now make premium quality mountain bikes for kids that are full-suspension, lightweight, and feature top-of-the-line components.

Size –  Since kids are always growing, its hard to always keep them in the right bike size, but bike fit matters a lot when mountain biking. A comfortable stand-over and seat height is probably the most important for comfort and safety. If your kid can’t comfortable put his feet down when he/she needs to, it adds a level of fear to the ride that is unnecessary. When in doubt, err on a smaller bike. Remember that the larger the wheels the easier to roll over the bumps. Look for a bike with the biggest wheels available on a frame that will fit.

Weight – Kids bikes tend to be heavy. If your kids bike is half her weight, it will be understandably difficult to ride uphill. Can you even imagine riding a bike more than half your weight? When possible, choose a lighter bike with a good frame.

Components – Trigger shifters if possible. In our experience, Grip Shifters are difficult to twist while riding a dirt trail. Quick release skewers if possible. Disc brakes can make a huge difference.

Our kids mountain bike database allows you to filter kids’ mountain bikes by wheel size, manufacturer, cost, brake type, suspension options, standover height, shifter type, and other variants.

Mountain Biking Helmets

The helmet is a hugely important piece of kids mountain bike gear. The helmet should fit well and be comfortable. Like kid specific mountain bikes, kid’s bike helmets have improved and increased in number over the past few years. We recommend trying on several helmets to find one that  your kid will want to wear. Check out our Bell Super 2R review.

Appropriate Clothing

First Aid Kit

Check to make sure your first aid kit is kid friendly. Some insect repellents and sunscreens in first aid kits are too harsh for children’s skin. Supplement your kit with these items for kids:

  • Sunscreen
  • Children’s Tylenol and/or ibuprofen (ask your physician for sample packs)
  • Liquid antihistamine
  • A lot of adhesive bandages (many different sizes and colors)
  • Plenty of Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Epipen if your child has allergies


Wow, is it nice to have your kid be able to carry some of their own supplies.

Go to: MTB with Kids Tip #3  Prepare to ensure success