im looking at getting the giant sedona or specialized expedition for my girlfriend. how well does this sort of bike handle on trails? im sure theyd be great for riding around on asphalt, which we'll be doing plenty of.. but i also want her to be able to keep up with me on light beginners trails, especially if she decides she really enjoys riding offroad and wants to do more of it.
I have a steel Sedona that I use for commuting. I tried some light/med trails with it once and had a small issue because of a low BB height (the full fenders collected alot of leaves and sticks, too! ), but it would be alright on a walking path.
Lower the bars as much as possible before hand. The very upright position, along with bar position relative to steering axis, makes these things all kinds of squirrelly on a trail or at any sort of speed. There is a huge rearward weight bias, so the front tire loses traction easily and the handling does not insppire conficence. They'd be ok on gravel paths or hardpack dirt, but anything with roots to go over or tight turns, or any sort of hill to climb, could be unnerving.
Have her make tight turns and go down curbs when she's test riding them, then try the same on something like a Specialized Hardrock. Consider a Hardrock with maybe a riser bar and suspension seatpost.
Don't forget though, get a bike that she'll be happy riding now. If a Hardrock or whatever isn't comfortable to cruise around on, she'll never advance to riding trails with you, so be sure she gets off on the right foot and has a great riding experience from the start.
The Crossroads (expedition with smoother tires) works fine in dirt and mud, water. With knobby tires it would probably be unstoppable, as good a mountain bike as I've ever had and I've had several including the hardrock circa 1989. The upright bars are not a huge problem. But I've got plenty of experience in all conditions so this might not translate to your gal who is just starting out. My girl has a traditional mountain bike with lower bars, it hurts her hands in that position so that may be an issue moreso than a loose front end.