UK Mountain Biking Trails: The Definitive Guide
Britain offers the finest selection of mountain biking trails in the world.
From smooth and scenic XC trails in North Wales to the downright white-knuckle rides in Fort Williams, Britain has a vast number of trails fit for every mountain biking skill level.
But if you’re new to mountain biking, you will no doubt find heading to your local trails quite intimidating.
You’re probably wondering…
“Will I get in people’s way? Is this trail right for me? Will I get hurt?”
Normal worries for a biking newbie.
To help you get out on the trails with no delay, we’ve created this definitive guide to UK mountain biking trails.
Turning to our UK wide biking experts, we’ve asked our team to list three of the top mountain biking trails in each region of the UK.
Helping you check if the skill level of each trail is right for you, this guide will help you find the ideal trail for a weekend of biking. Don’t forget to wear a helmet!
North West England
Darwen Tower Trails (Intermediate)
Offering a mix of technical climbs and rewarding downhill sections, Darwen Tower Trails is something of a Northern jewel that we really shouldn’t be telling you about.
Start out at the Sunnyhurst Pub and climb up to the top using the twisting and winding single track. Our advice is to take it slow on the way back down. The trail can cause problems for even seasoned pro riders and should be treated with care.
Delamere Forest Park (Beginner)
Regarded as a family trail with miles and miles of green graded paths, Delamere forest is a perfect base for mountain bikers at a beginner to intermediate level.
If you’re a little more seasoned than a beginner, don’t be disheartened. The forest does have a skills area, short downhill runs and a 4x track with numerous dirt jumps.
Lee Quarry Mountain Biking Trails (Expert)
Built and maintained by Bacup locals, Lee Quarry trails are a mountain biker’s paradise.
Offering a mixture of rolling and twisting red track, and even some intense black tracks, you will definitely fall in love with Lee Quarry.
Open all year round, the trails are free to visit and have areas for each skill level.
Yorkshire & the Humber
Made up of a mixture of gravel single track and dirt forestry, Dalby forest contains variable terrain that is best reserved for experienced riders.
If you’re an experienced rider, start out on the red trails before heading over to the black. This should give you a little bit of experience on terrain before hitting the difficult tracks.
One downside is the £7 admission fee. However, the trails are drained each day, offering all year riding.
Newmillerdam Trails (Beginner)
Perfect for the beginners and intermediates looking for trails in Yorkshire, Newmillerdam is a family-friendly mountain biking trail set right in the heart of the county.
Covering 237 acres of woodland, Newmillerdam has a mixture of bridleways and good off-road trails to explore.
Grenoside Woods Mountain Bike Trails (Intermediate)
Yorkshire has no shortage of good mountain biking trails, so to make it into our top 3 - you know it’s decent.
One of the best in Yorkshire is Grenoside Woods. Consisting of three downhill trails and a fully surfaced mountain biking track, Grenoside has been a home for mountain bikers for as long as we can remember.
North East England
Hamsterley Forest Mountain Bike Trail Centre (All Abilities)
Featuring blue, red, and black trails, Hamsterley Trail centre has a little something for every mountain biker.
Set just outside the town of Witton-le Wear, Hamsterley is a mountain biker’s dream with a mix of XC trails in all grades. The centre itself has a bike hire service available, and you will also find a cafe, toilets and free parking.
Chopwell Woods Mountain Bike Trails (All Abilities)
Located on the edge of Gateshead, Chopwell Woods is a mix of red and blue trails as well fun as nature trails.
The woods has plenty of Northshore for you to test your balancing skills although you should pay attention for stray dogs and children.
Parking at Chopwell is available, but you should be aware that it can get busy at weekends and peak times during the week.
Kielder Mountain Bike Trail Centre (All Abilities)
Home to over one hundred miles of legendary biking trails, Kielder is one of the most extensive mountain biking centres in Europe.
With over 1000 miles of trail to play with, Kielder has both family-friendly blue/green trails along with a variety of terrifying black trails.
Based just outside Hexham, the centre has bike hire, bike wash and a cafe.
Featuring a 4x track, a dual slalom track, dirt jumps, freeride trails and XC trails, it’s fair to say that Chicksands is one of the best destinations for mountain biking in the UK.
You should be aware that there is a £5 entry fee per rider and you should be prepared to head down to the trails early to avoid the busy crowds.
Hamilton Hill Freeride Park (All Abilities)
Situated just outside of Market Rasen, Hamilton Hill Freeride Park is a community funded park that was built and maintained by members of the Rasen Area MTB park.
The park has north Shore, a 4X track as well as downhill and XC trails.
Please be aware that the park has an annual £15 maintenance fee.
Kitchener Trail (Expert)
Found just outside Nottingham, Kitchener trails is a flowing and twisting trail that links with the wider Sherwood Pines forest.
Kitchener trail is graded as a red for experts, although you will find blue and green trails on the outskirts.
The trail is 13 km long and you will find free parking, bike hire and an onsite cafe.
Cannock Chase Trail Centre (all abilities)
With trails to suit everyone from beginners to experts, Cannock Chase trail centre is the premier mountain biking destination in the West Midlands.
The trail started as a small community project but has quickly grown into a professional outfit with most trails now built by contractors.
Based just outside Rugely, the centre has bike hire, bike wash and a cafe.
Clent Hills County Park
For the best cross-country mountain biking that the West Midlands has to offer, look no further than Client Hill mountain bike trails.
Set across two hills, the park has over 400 acres of woodland for mountain bike riding and is a mix of rolling blues and sweet technical singletrack with plenty of challenging features.
Take it easy when you first enter the park. Families and children often walk the entry bridleways.
There is parking available, but it’s priced at £2.50 per day.
Leckhampton Hill Trails
Situated outside Cheltenham, Leckhampton Hill Trails is a popular spot for mountain biking in the West Midlands with everything a mountain biker could dream of.
The trails start out with easy dirt single track before then offering you some technical climbs, a series of swooping singletrack and even fun downhill tracks.
You will also find a range of dirt jumps available, although it can get quite busy with kids and teenagers.
East of England
Thetford Forest Mountain Bike Trails
Thetford Forest is England’s largest lowland forest and, as such, is home to hundreds of miles mountain biking trails.
The trails range from green to red and there four key mountain biking trails that should suit every mountain biking level.
First, you have the Shepherd Trail. This trail is labelled a green and is perfect families and young children.
Next is the Poacher Trai. This is a blue trail that offers a variety of swooping singletrack. This trail should offer a great day out for intermediate riders.
The two red trails at Thetford Forest are Beater Trail and the Lime Burner Trail.
Beater Trail is a difficult and taxing ride that weaves in and out of peaceful pine plantations.
The Lime Burner Trail is a little different. This trail was originally classified as a black trail, so you can imagine it offers a difficult ride.
If you want to avoid the busy tracks of Thetford Forest, then Sudbourne trails offer a fun alternative.
Run and managed by the Forestry Commission, Sudbourne Trails offer a variety of well-maintained dirt jumps and freeride trails.
It doesn’t have the same facilities that Thetford Forest offers, but since when did we let that get in the way of a good day mountain biking?
South East & London
Swinley Forest Mountain Bike Centre
Started a community project for families and kids, Swinley Forest has recently been developed into a formal, professional trail with a little something for every mountain biker.
All trails start from the lookout centre and there are green, blue and red trails to choose from.
Facilities now include free parking, toilets, bike wash and a cafe.
Rogate Downhill Mountain Bike Park
For an alternative to Swinley, check out Rogate Downhill track.
The trail isn’t the best for beginners, but has some delightful freeride and downhill trails if you have the skills to match.
If you are into the dirt jumping scene, then you will also find a set of doubles and a few table-tops for you to play around on.
Entry to the park is £5 per day.
Aston Hill Black Run
If you’re into the downhill mountain biking scene and you live in the South, then you will no doubt already be aware of the infamous Aston Hill Black Run.
Aston Hill is responsible for more broken bones than any other amateur mountain biking trail (this fact is not verified).
Are you up for it…?
South West England
If you have kids that love bikes and you want to get them involved in the mountain biking scene, then The Track is an amazing place to start.
The Track is the finest dirt jumping facility in the UK, and has a whole host of different trails for riders of all ages and abilities.
Your kids will make friends with others as soon as they arrive, and they will soon be addicted to biking for life.
Plus, the trails are well-maintained and even flood in winter for all-year riding.
Gawton Mountain Bike Trails
If you’re not into dirt jumping and you like the more traditional ‘point a bike down a hill and go’ type mountain biking, then you will love Gawton Mountain Biking trails.
No newbie trails here, at Gawton you will only find reds, blacks and even a double black trail.
Full face helmet and leg armour is a must.
Cann Woods Trails
Probably best reserved for the summer months, Cann Woods is a Forestry Commission Land trail that offers great mountain biking for beginners to intermediate skills sets.
Starting as a delightful, twisting and rolling singletrack, Cann Wood Trail is growing to offer visitors weaving downhill trail, jumps and a few super fun berms.
Definitely a trail worth checking out on a Sunday.
KirroughTree Trail Centre
Part of the 7Stanes Trail network, Kirroughtree trail centre should be renamed the fun centre with a capital F.
Situated just outside of Newton Stewart (south-west Scotland), Kirroughtree has a mix of trails suitable for all skill levels.
Start with Bagally Wood Trail if you are a beginner or biking with young kids.
If you’re looking for a smooth and rolling blue trail Kirroughtree offers you Larg Hill trail. This trail weaves in and out of the woods for an enjoyable day mountain biking.
Glentress Mountain Biking Trail Centre
If you’re looking for the best mountain biking centre in Scotland then, well done, you have found it.
Winning more awards than any other trail in Scotland, Glentree has multiple green, blue, red and black routers dotted across the park.
Situated in the town of Peebles, Glentress can be a little bit of a pain to visit from the south of Scotland.
Facilities include parking, bike hire, bike wash and a cafe.
Nevis Range Downhill Park
Home to the internationally acclaimed downhill track, Nevis range is probably the most advanced mountain biking park in the UK.
Starting in the car park, the specially adapted the gondolas will whisk you and your bike up to the top of the mountain. Then, well, you need to get back down.
The descent is over 2000ft of winding, rocky and whiteknuckle downhill trail. As with most downhill trails, you will need a full face helmet and body/leg armour.
Situated in the mountains of North Wales, Coed Llandegla Trail centre has the facilities and trails to compete with the very best mountain biking centres in the UK.
There is nearly 40 miles worth of mountain biking across the park and you will find routes suitable for all levels of fitness and skill.
Make sure to turn up early as the car can get very busy.
Antur Stiniog, Blaenau Ffestiniog
If you’re looking for more advanced trails, check out Antur Stiniog trail centre.
Primarily a downhill and freeride centre, Antur offers mountain bikers world-class trails set in the heart of the beautiful Snowdonia mountain range.
All four trails are now open to the public and the facilities include parking, toilet, showers, uplift service and a cafe.