Our top 5 big mountain rides in Wales Wales played a pivotal role in the development of mountain biking in the UK, and the principality has remained at the forefront ever since. But there’s so much much more to riding in Wales than trail centres and bike parks: the mountains and valleys are home to…
“Snowdonia Rides nd Trails quote here
Snowdonia Rides and Trails
We know how good and varied the riding on our doorstep is. But perhaps others don’t. Read on for the low down on our favourite trails.
Snowdon – 21km/13 miles Red/Black Hard/Epic depending upon route
Don’t think of Snowdon as just a ride; think of it as an event. This is the highest mountain in Wales and even the most straightforward route involves around 1000m of ascent, a lot on un-rideable terrain. But it’s worth it – especially if you are half-tidy on the climbs or the descents (or both). The best route is a loop with the Llanberis Path, the Ranger Path and Telegraph Road, but there are plenty of other options. And the added complication is a voluntary curfew that runs through the summer, meaning pre-dawn starts or post-sunset finishes on all but the longest days.
Moel y Ci and the Slate Quarries – 19km/12 miles – Red/Blue Easy/Medium
A wonderful loop that links two fine circuits – both good short outings in their own right – via quiet lanes. The Moel y Ci section is typical North Wales mtbing – semi-technical to technical with great views over mountains and coast; and the quarries bring a whole new dimension to your riding as you rub shoulders with some amazing remnants of Snowdonia’s industrial past. The riding on the slate is enthralling too.
Betws y Coed and Sarn Helen – 20km/12 miles – Red Medium/Hard
This loop makes the most of two old roads – Sarn Offeiriad and Sarn Helen to hurdle the hills above Betws y Coed. It’s quite tough for its length and technical in places too – especially on the final drop into the Gwydir Forest, but some of these sections can be avoided if necessary. Fit riders may want to link in a few sections of the Marin Trail to finish it off.
Llyn Cowlyd – 27km/19 Miles Black Epic
A seriously tough and technical route that’s best suited to good fit, technical riders, that are happy roughing it in the high mountains. It’s about as far removed from the Trail Centre experience as you could possibly get, and in places it feels more like the Scottish Highlands than North Wales. The main highlight is the drop down the side of the remote Llyn Cowlyd: kilometre after kilometre of serpentine singletrack – technical in places, sweet and easy-rolling in others. But the grand finale from the pass down to Capel Curig is wonderful too – a rocky horror show that’s just about totally cleanable if you keep your momentum up. The climbs are steep but on tarmac, and there’s an incredible steep descent on tarmac too – sorry, unavoidable. There’s also a fair bit of pushing and carrying early on.
Conwy Mountain – Various routes from Black Epics to Red Cruises
The great thing about this patch is the variety of the riding. In a relatively small area there’s everything from full-on rocky horror shows, to heathery singletrack, to easy grassy lanes. And those with strong legs and lungs can link it to a ride-able 750m summit too. The views to the coast are just stupendous but you’ll want to stop to take them in. This is a great place to guide as we can always find something for everybody.
Pont Scethin – 19km/12 miles Red/Black Hard
This is quite a short outing but it’s also a tough one, and there won’t be many on the hunt for a few extra kilometres come the end. The scenery around Pont Scethin is awesome but the climb away is grim – even with the help of flagstones. The descent down the narrow ridge of Braich is superb though, as is the final one from Bwlch y Rhiwgyr – although there’s another steep climb to conquer first. It ends in a flurry of gravity assisted fun that’ll leave you wanting more if only your legs felt the same.
Coed y Brenin – All grades
The first British Trail Centre and the spark that lit the whole Trail Centre Revolution. It’s a brilliant place to ride with a real mix of trails of all grades and a great skills area too. The trails and their various stats are listed on various websites but the best thing about the riding here is the opportunity to mix and match trails to suit the mood/weather/whatever. A place to keep returning to.
Penmachno – Red
The Penmachno Trails are a little more ‘old school’ than the super graded Coed y Brenin ones and you quickly learn to expect the unexpected here. The valley is a lot more remote too, calling for a more cautious style of riding. But all those that come, love it, and it’s well worth the trip out from Betws y Coed if you’re in the area.
Gwydir Forest Marin Trail – Red
Another ‘old school’ trail but quit e different to Penmachno and Coed y Brenin, with some huge fire road climbs, some quite techie downhills and even a very short section where you need to carry… The waymarked trail is great but local knowledge means we can mix and match sections and even blend it in with a few non-waymarked trails for a bit of variety.