10 great mountain bike trails to try

Tommy Morrisroe

If 2017 is the year that you’re going to start mountain biking, there are plenty of great cycle trails right on your doorstep.

Most centres offer a range of trails which vary in difficulty, so whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting out, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Here are ten of our favourites from across the UK.

Cannock Chase, Staffordshire 

The trails at Cannock Chase include a series of short climbs, descents and technical features such as rollers, berms, drops and a rock garden. Optional challenging sections along the trails give you plenty of opportunities to test your skills.

There’s also a downhill zone – called the Stile Cop Bike Park – if you’re looking for an adrenaline fix.

Coed y Brenin, North Wales  

As the UK’s largest dedicated mountain bike trail centre, Coed y Brenin provides a perfect mix of trails for both experienced riders and beginners alike.

The seven mile Green trail is a lovely ride for family groups, taking in a series of waterfalls and the old Gwynfynydd Gold mine – the last source of Welsh gold! There are a couple of tricky downhill sections too if you’re feeling confident.

The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

The Forest of Dean is an extremely popular destination for mountain bikers, combining an excellent selection of cycle trails for all abilities. There are also a number of downhill tracks, an uplift service and a great trail hub with a cafe, shop, showers and toilet facilities.

The blue and red trails wind through the forest, both ending with a downhill rollercoaster of berms and rollers to test yourself on. Downhill tracks are graded to cater for all abilities, varying between rooty, natural tracks and built trails with tabletops and take-offs. Just make sure you get there early to secure a space in the car park!

Stainburn, Otley, Yorkshire  

The trails at Stainburn are slightly shorter than usual, but don’t let that put you off. The trails are designed to be ridden more than once, each time facing obstacles you missed the first time round!

The 4km Warren Boulder is a challenging man-made trail combining severe descents with the toughest of climbs. Highlights include The Slab, the infamous Coal Chute and other testing features including a seesaw. Remember to head for the ‘Don’t Push Me’ trail back up through the trees if you’re looking for a technical climb.

Gisburn Forest, Lancashire  

If you like your trail riding to have a more natural feel, Gisburn could be just what you’re after.

The trails manage to pack in a wide variety of styles, with the berm-riddled gully section one of our highlights.

If you’re looking for a challenge the Hope Line is a series of berms, drop-offs and jumps including the ‘leap of faith’. We’ll let you guess what that involves!

Dalby Forest, Yorkshire

The cycle trails in Dalby Forest lean more towards the cross-country end of the scale, but still provide plenty of technical features to hone your skills on.

The 23 mile red trail is perfect if you’re looking for a longer ride, while the two green trails offer a great point of entry for beginners looking to try their hand at the sport.

Whinlatter Forest Park

Whinlatter Forest Park is perched on a steep hillside overlooking the pretty market town of Keswick, sandwiched in between Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwent Water and surrounded by the imposing rocky fortresses of Skiddaw, Blencathra and Helvelyn.

A dramatic place to go riding your bike, the views rival those at any British trail centre – with a whole patchwork of villages, lakes and mountains opening up beneath you. Head for the Altura Trail through the mountains if you’re looking for a challenge.

Swinley Forset, Bracknell

Swinley Bike Hub is an independent, rider-owned hire centre and trail shop providing a great deal of local knowledge to ensure you have a great day out on the trails.

There are 24km of purpose-built trails on offer catering for all abilities, with the easy Green trail providing a fantastic introduction to singletrack riding in the forest.

Tamar Valley, Devon, Cornwall 

Attracting mountain bikers from across Devon and Cornwall, Tamar Trails Centre offers 25km of dedicated off-road riding through the picturesque Tamar Valley.

Head for the steep and narrow Bedford United Trail for a fascinating insight into 18th and 19th century mine working.

Glentress, Tweed Valley, Scotland 

Glentress is one of Scotland’s most popular cycle trails, set deep in the heart of the stunning Tweed Valley. You don’t have to be an experienced mountain biker to enjoy the trails as there are a wide range of routes to suit all abilities – and even a skills area for you to practice your technique in before heading out.

The legendary ‘Spooky Wood’ feature of the Red Route is a must if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, with the stunning 1.5kn singletrack descent a firm favourite of mountain bikers north of the border.