The best 20 mountain bike trails in the UK
Whether you’ve taken up cycling as a new hobby for 2020 or you’re already an avid cyclist looking to take your wheels out on new terrains, discovering new bike trails is both an essential and enjoyable part of the sport.
Perhaps some of the most invigorating, scenic and exciting bike trails are located in the mountains. These kinds of trails are ideal for those looking to fulfil their sense of adventure and provide an unforgettable biking experience every time.
British cyclists aiming to experience the thrill of the mountains are in the right place. We’ve come up with a list of the UK’s top 20 mountain bike trails, all of which offer something unique and have varying levels of difficulty.
Before you reach your destination, it’s important to know, or familiarise yourself with the colour-coded guide that shows the difficulty level of each trail you plan to tackle:
Green trails - some of the easiest trails available and suitable for beginners
Blue trails - a moderate level of difficulty, ideal for individuals with basic off-roading experience
Red trails - difficult and requiring high quality, reliable mountain bikes and a good level of fitness.
Black trails - the most severe and intense trails around. To enjoy these, you must be an expert mountain biker and specialist bikes are recommended.
1. Nan Bield Pass, Lake District
Located in the Lake District, this 22-mile trail combines intense cycling conditions with breathtaking views. Whilst it starts off gently, it quickly develops into some seriously hard riding!
From steep slopes to uneven ground and boulders, Nan Bield Pass is designed to test your skills as a mountain biker. You’ll no doubt feel a burn in your arms and legs after this technical ride but you will be rewarded with a great descent and stunning views.
2. The Dark Peak, Peak District
Next, we have the notorious Dark Peak. Nestled in the northern part of the Peak District, the 70km route is well-known for its rocky biking tracks that provide cyclists with an exhilarating ride.
This trail is ideal for those looking for a technically demanding ride whilst taking in the beautiful countryside views. A bucket list trail for all biking enthusiasts.
3. Dalby Forest, South Yorkshire
Dalby Forest offers a range of fantastic trails for cyclists of varying abilities. One of the things we love about this location is the shorter, two to six-mile green routes that are great for children and families - the perfect introductory route for budding mountain bikers.
For those looking for a more challenging ride, there are also daring red routes that feature sharp turns and uneven terrains that’ll see you weaving in and out of the forest’s tall trees.
4. Rhyd Ddu, Snowdon, Wales
This mountain bike trail takes you all the way to the top of Wales’ highest peak, providing a steep climb that’ll get your heart pumping. Once you reach the top, you can take in stunning views, then whizz down the single track.
We guarantee this will be a route you’ll never forget. The quality of the trails combined with the spectacular scenery makes it well worth the trip.
5. Cannock Chase, The Midlands
This purpose-built trail is home to some excellent red routes, from the seven-mile Follow the Dog to the 14-mile Monkey Trail. Cannock Chase is the ideal place to explore on your bike, especially after being dubbed an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty back in 1958.
With a bike trail that makes you feel at one with the forest, the flowing track sends you twisting and turning through pine trees that envelop your senses as you ride.
6. Torridon, Scotland
Ideal for the lone rider, the isolated trail of Torridon boasts some of the best views you’ll find in the UK. With a gradual and consistent ascent, this trail is rideable in all conditions due to its firm, stony path.
Offering a good amount of grip, the Torridon trail is suitable for a variety of riders - and you don’t need a specialist mountain bike to enjoy the circuit.
7. Ullswater, Lake District
This 8-mile route is a real workout. Taking you on a path that allows you to experience the natural wonder of the Lake District’s most stunning lake, you’ll soon find yourself exploring away from the beaten path.
Ullswater is perfect for adrenaline-seekers due to the thrill of a speedy descent from the head of the Boredale Valley.
8. Quantocks, Somerset
If you’re a fan of downhill trails, the Quantocks in Somerset is the ultimate classic trail for you. Test yourself on the technically demanding descents as you fly down the natural singletrack and experience a true rush of adrenaline.
This is a great trail to experience as a group, perfect for those who like to get competitive with their cycling and rise to the challenge.
9. Cut Gate Path, Peak District
This is a fantastic trail that is often missed out, as it can be hard to decide how to fit it into a loop. However, this classic and technically challenging natural trail is just waiting to be explored by experienced mountain bikers.
Cut Gate Path is one tough trail. In a remote, exposed setting, you’ll be pushed to your limits with rocky surfaces and technical climbs but the rewards are there for the taking.
10. Snowdon Ranger Path, Wales
The Snowdon Ranger Path is one for the brave. There are some restrictions placed on cyclists on this lesser explored trail, meaning many riders end up tackling it in the winter when there are fewer walkers.
With that comes a high chance of gruelling weather, which makes the loose surfaces and tight switchbacks interesting. So, it’s an experience like no other but make sure you plan for every eventuality and ensure someone knows where you are.
11. Exmoor, Somerset
Ideal for those who cycle for fitness, this trail starts with a steep climb and then features even more punchy ascents. Starting in Porlock and dropping through Horner Wood, the track then opens to Moorland Brockwell.
This is the perfect wilderness location for people who want to lose themselves to hours of fresh air and exploration miles away from the stresses and strains of modern civilisation.
12. Helvellyn and Sticks Pass, Lake District
Whilst Helvellyn is the third highest peak in the Lake District, it is the most rewarding to ride. Starting off from a dramatic lakeside setting, you can gaze up into the peaks as you climb.
And then there’s the reward of descent down Sticks Pass, ensuring this trail is nothing short of glorious. It really does offer riders a fulfilling cycling experience.
13. Gunnerside Gill, Yorkshire Dales
Do not be fooled by the seemingly simple view of Gunnerside Gill. This trail, located on the flat tops of the moors, has an unrivalled severity. From steep climbs to journeys across thick contours, it's a track for the adventurous type.
Gunnerside Gill is just as much a journey as it is a cycle track. Make sure you dedicate enough time to finding your way across this route.
14. Kinlochleven Ciaran Path, Scotland
If you’re a fan of hurtling down rocky paths at high speeds, Kinlochleven Ciaran Path is a mountain trail you’ll want to check out. Located in the Scottish Highlands, this scenic route combines a technical ride with stunning surroundings.
This route is often quieter and less crowded than other trails, allowing for a more intimate experience with the rolling hills and a good dose of peace and quiet.
15. Howgill Fells, Cumbria
This classic looped trail sends you deep into the mountains of Cumbria, allowing you to experience a singletrack that rivals the views of some of the best Lakeland trails the UK has to offer.
This fairly inaccessible trail offers a more tranquil riding experience. However, there are no shortcuts, so be prepared to take on the whole thing or not at all.
16. Peaslake, Surrey Hills
There’s no wonder that Peaslake in the Surrey Hills is on every mountain biking enthusiast’s bucket list. The official Surrey Hills experience begins from the top of Holmbury Hill where you can experience one of the most popular trails: Barry Knows Best.
Ideal for those who have a lot of pent-up energy, you can take the fire road which brings you back round to the start for an extra lap.
17. Long Mynd, Shropshire
Long Mynd is one of the longest, fastest and most fun mountain bike trails in the UK. The lack of tree cover on this Shropshire route provides you with sprawling views for miles and no restrictions on exploring.
It is renowned for being a breezy route, so if you’re looking for a challenge, this is a great trail for you. But maybe wrap up.
18. Great Hograh Moor, Yorkshire
A prime six-mile stretch of singletrack, Great Hograh Moor offers mountain bikers an array of delights. With stunning views across the moors and technical climbs to tackle, it's one of the most popular trails in Yorkshire.
With a blue-rated difficulty level, this is a fantastic trail to visit with a cycling group and will get your blood pumping without being too strenuous.
19. Dunnerdale Fells, Lake District
The Dunnerdale Fells trail is a challenging yet rewarding mixture of climbing and navigation, making it a firm favourite with visitors and locals alike. Once you’ve pushed through the first half, the singletrack then eases in for a more gentle ride.
This Lake District trail is often referred to as a rollercoaster. So, if you aren’t afraid of some unpredictability, this may just be the perfect experience for you.
20. Doethie Valley, Wales
What do you get when you combine demanding climbs with some of the most epic views you’ve ever seen? The bike trail in Doethie Valley, Wales. The singletrack winds its way down the valley and offers a selection of rocky slabs to roll and jump.
The descent is certainly not for the faint-hearted, as roots and rocks make for the ultimate off-camber fun. But, if you’re up for that kind of thing, you’re in for a treat.
Are you ready for your next mountain biking adventure?
Now you know the best mountain bike trails in the UK, the ultimate question is which one will you visit first? No matter where you choose to go, make sure you’re kitted out with some athleisure essentials.
Are you in need of some inspiration for your mountain biking wardrobe? We have a wide range of comfortable, breathable and functional athleisure clothing ranging from joggers to mid layers that’ll see you through your mountainous rides.