Editor of the Visit Wales Mountain Bike portal MB Wales and all round mountain bike nut, Hannah Maia Taylor chooses some of her favourite mountain bike trails in Wales
Wales literally has it all when it comes to mountain biking. Spectacular all-weather singletrack trail centres, downhill tracks, freeride hot spots, skills parks and wild back country riding hidden within the beautifully rugged Welsh landscape. Mountain biking isn’t just for adrenaline freaks either – there really is something for everyone. We have over 11 green and blue trail centre routes scattered across the country and more to come in the pipeline.
Many of the trail centres have visitor centres with a range of facilities including bike shops, bike rental, changing areas and cafes to refuel on bacon butties, hot chocolates and cakes.
The new Minor Taur Blue route at Coed y Brenin is the perfect route for introducing the fun of mountain biking to as many people as possible. Two loops opened in 2011 and a third loop is due in stages between 2012-13. Within the few months it’s been open it’s proved to be a very popular route, outstripping even the most established of the forest park’s trails. Disabled visitors can also experience the MinorTaur by hiring an adaptive mountain bike from the “Challenge Your Boundaries” local community group.
Choosing my top four trails has been tricky and I reserve the right to swap and change my mind. But here goes…1. Black @ Coed Llandegla (Black)
This 21km route has always been a favourite of mine. It’s filled to the brim with swooping berms and grin inducing jumps. However it just keeps getting better because as of November 2011 a new section called B-Line has been opened which takes you on a true roller coaster ride presenting you with table tops, doubles, drops and surprise features. If you want to be inspired by how the pros ride it watch Neil Donoghue practically fly. Find out more
2. MinorTaur @ Coed y Brenin (Blue)It only opened in summer 2011 and is already the most popular trail at Coed y Brenin. It’s fun and rolling and I think I’ve pretty much covered it above. Find out more
3. Whites Level @ Afan (Red)
A fantastic route that stands the test of time. It begins with a challenging singletrack climb all the way to the top which keeps you concentrating. I could tell you more about the technical switch back descents but why not check out this great video filmed on a sunny day instead. Find out more
4. Syfydrin @ Nant yr Arian (Black)
A perfect mixture of trail centre riding with a wild cross-country adventure. It’s 35km and shouldn’t be under estimated but if you start early enough (and pedal hard) you could be back at the café for 2pm with a breath taking lakeside view of the Red Kites being fed their daily lunch. Find out more
Hard to believe as it’s already pretty awesome, but there are plenty of new developments in store.
Wales has always been a leader in the world of mountain biking ever since Dafydd Davies built the first purpose built mountain bike trail at Coed y Brenin back in the mid-1990’s. Since then the mountain biking scene in Wales has gone from strength to strength and development and investment keeps on coming.Here’s a round up of what you can expect in 2012-13:
1. Third and final loop of the Minor Taur Blue Trail at Coed y Brenin will be completed in 2012 bringing you 10km of beautiful trail ideal for introducing mountain bikers to ‘singletrack’ off road cycling and designed to enable adaptive bike users to enjoy the challenge of off road cycling.
2. New Skills Park at Coed y Brenin to be completed by the end of 2012 containing features that you can expect to find on the forest trails. It will be an ideal area for having a go, learning new skills and gaining confidence.
3. A new building at Coed y Brenin adding to the visitor centre, which will provide a conference room, a much bigger retail area for bike shop and bike hire and 24hr toilets.
4. Blaenau-Festiniog DH Centre in North Wales will be opening summer 2012 which will boost two black downhill trails, two freeride trails, two pump tracks, a jump site and a visitors centre. All together providing more doubles, table tops and berms than you can shake a stick at!
5. Developments on the Marin Trail can be expected with possible new trail sections and definite rebuild and repair work.
6. Developments at Afan Forest Park include a refurbished café, including the creation of an outdoor covered seating area.
7. A new Kids Skills Park & family friendly 5km green trail with optional 5km blue loop will also be coming to Afan Forest in 2012.
8. The Penhydd trail at Afan Forest Park is currently being rebuilt ready to be relaunched in 2013.
9. Cwm Carn is getting a bigger car park, some serious maintenance on the existing routes and brand new cross country and downhill trails by 2013.
10. An all new bike park in Gethin Woods near Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales will be opening autumn 2013 which will have Downhill, cross country, singletrack, an uplift service and a visitors centre.
See the MBWales website for more information about mountain biking in Wales
Prefer to get your kicks on water? Read: top spots in Wales for coasteering, kayaking and surfing
All photos © Crown copyright (2012) Visit Wales