A short guide to trail centres in Wales
Cycling UK teamed up with ex-international rugby ace and endurance athlete Richard Parks to help create a new high-level cycle route heading south to north across Wales. Extreme Wales with Richard Parks airs on Monday 12 September on BBC1 Wales at 7:30pm and will be available on BBC iPlayer afterwards, in case you're out on your bike.
Cycling UK joined Richard as he cycled across some of the most beautiful valleys and mountains of Wales. His quest: to cover 165 miles of the highest trails in Wales in just four days. From the Brecon Beacons to the summit of Snowdon, this epic new multi-day cycle route (seen in green below) takes in some of the most picturesque scenery, terrain, and trail centres Wales has to offer.
I have had the privilege of performing in some of the planet’s most remote and hostile corners. Also some of the most beautiful too. Yet it never fails to amaze me just how magnificent Wales is. The Elan Valley really rocked me. It’s so beautiful. Even when the Welsh weather came in, it only made it feel more ethereal.”
Richard Parks, Extreme Wales TV presenter and former international rugby star
On his adventure, Richard met up with Cycling UK Ambassadors paralympic gold medallist Mark Colbourne MBE and former world downhill champion and enduro racer Tracy Moseley for some company in the saddle and to discuss what cycling means to them and to Wales.
As Richard picks up the conversation with Sian Roberts, local MTB star and founder of the Coed y Brenin, it becomes abundantly clear that Wales and its trail centres have so much more than just sweat, smiles and mud to offer any avid cycle adventurer.
We were made to be free as human beings, you know? And it's this environment that makes me feel accomplished.”
Mark Colbourne MBE, Cycling UK Ambassador
Find out more about Cycling UK's involvement in creating the new high-level route and what was discussed when Richard, Mark and Tracy were out on the trail.
Trail Centres in Wales
To make sure you don't miss your chance of an off-road cycle adventure, here are Mountain Bike Wales' pick of the best trail centres that the country has to offer. Whether you are a first-timer, or you are an experienced rider, you will be sure to find something to inspire you to cycle for years to come.
BikePark Wales is one of the UK’s premier mountain bike parks. The 1200 acre site has over 28 descending trails organised in a similar manner to a ski resort. Built in the heart of the South Wales Valleys, BikePark Wales offers mountain bike trails for intermediate to pro level riders. Not just for downhillers, this park is best enjoyed on a trail bike, where swooping blues and rocky, rooty red trails are a perfect step up for trail riders.
The park offers a minibus service which transports you and your bike up to the top in between rides, providing your legs with a little rest before your next descent. For those who wish to reach the top under their own steam a singletrack climb to the summit offers a human-powered option.
Afan offers a mountain biking experience second to none. Afan has it all from flowing singletrack threading through the forest to more exposed trails on wide open hills with amazing views and even a bike park. Natural Resources Wales’ Afan Forest Park is the fastest growing mountain bike area in Britain and located only minutes from the M4, it’s perfect for those wanting to reach a variety of fantastic riding without the hassle of long journeys. With six superb flowing trails ranging from 7km to over 40km and a bike park there is more all- weather singletrack than any other MBWales centre – you simply have to check it out!
The mountain bike trails here total over 130km and are supported by a continual programme of trail maintenance and development.
If it’s fun, adrenalin and muddy faces you are after, then look no further. As one of the UK’s leading mountain bike trail centres, Coed Llandegla has something for everyone, no matter what your experience or ability.
The gateway to your mountain biking experience in North Wales, OnePlanet Adventure, located in Coed Llandegla forest, has become well- known as the place to come for your mountain biking fix in the UK. Located just 20 minutes from Chester, it is the most accessible purpose built mountain bike centre in North Wales and no matter what your experience level, its sure to have you grinning from ear to ear. Whether you’re a first-timer, looking for a safe and fun introduction to the sport, or a regular weekend warrior wanting that next challenge and adrenalin fix, there is a range of trails to suit all abilities, from the picturesque Green Trail around the reservoir to the airtime-tastic B-Line trail and plenty in between.
Nant-yr-Arian Forest sits high on the mountains just inland from Aberystwyth, and offers stunning high-level wilderness riding. With trails heading out into the epic scenery of the Cambrian Mountains, this is a fantastic area for those who like their riding rugged. Just be prepared for everything from true mountain climbs to river crossings and technical rocky descents.
The Syfydrin trail combines the best of the ‘ Summit trail’ singletrack with backcountry mountain tracks for a 35km wilderness loop. The 16km Summit Bikes sponsored Summit trail and 9km Pendam trail use twisting all weather singletrack carved into the steep valleys and ridges of the forest to create shorter, but no less challenging route options.
While you might not see another soul in several days riding, the coastal university town of Aberystwyth is a hotspot of nightlife as well as excellent bike shops. If you want quieter places to eat and drink, there are plenty in the villages right on the doorstep of Nant-yr-Arian.
Antur Stiniog is an uplift assisted MTB centre located at Blaenau Ffestiniog in the heart of beautiful Snowdonia, North Wales. It offers the one of the best uplift services in the UK to access the MTB trails, along with a fantastic café serving locally-sourced food, downhill bike hire and skills coaching.
Antur Stiniog have six trails that range from blue grade to black grade and have had international acclaim from the MTB press and riders alike. All trails are accessed by our uplift service (we are an uplift facility only), which is regarded as the best uplift service in the UK.
The fastest way for southern based riders to get their fix of singletrack fun and downhill action, Cwmcarn is less than half an hour from the Severn Bridge and 10min from the M4.
The centre is home to the wild and more natural contouring singletrack of the Cognation-funded Cafall and legendary Twrch trail. Both red-graded trails will keep you firmly focused on your riding, but stop for a breather and look around and you’ll be looking out over the Bristol Channel. The Y Mynydd Downhill trail has been joined by the Cognation funded Pedalhounds DH trail giving another Extreme graded option for those joining the onsite uplift.
Cognation MTB trails South Wales was founded in 2010 and is investing in mountain biking across South Wales. It is a partnership project between Neath Port Talbot CBC, Caerphilly CBC, Merthyr Tydfil CBC and Forestry Commission Wales. It is part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, with match funding coming from the Welsh Government and partner organisations.
Coed y Brenin was the first forest to be developed for the sport of mountain biking and to this day retains its reputation as one of the sport's premier locations. A range of routes suitable for everyone from families and novices (Yr Afon) to rocky technical trails for expert riders radiate out from our stunning state of the art eco visitor centre.
Natural Resources Wales’ mountain bike mecca, Coed-y-Brenin Forest is home to an ever-increasing network of fantastic handbuilt all-weather singletrack including ‘Falseteeth’, which incorporates the biggest feature in the forest, ‘The Cavity’. Drop in and get spat out over the exit with as much style as you can muster! The technical roller coaster riding will have you grinning like a fool, with stunning mountain views of surrounding Snowdonia that’ll take your breath away. The MinorTaur is a blue graded development which complements the established red and black rides. Its specially adapted features make Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park the first truly inclusive mountain bike destination in the United Kingdom.
Our car parks and trails are open 24/7!