Hard off-road mountain bike riders, beginners, and those at the in-between riding stage will love the Forest of Dean for a day out of exciting, downhill cycling amongst the greenery and woodlands.
Sitting in the heart of Gloucestershire amongst some amazing and huge forest landscapes, it’s hard not to find an MTB forest trail or two you won’t love here.
In this post we’ve highlighted some of the top and most exciting trails and tracks here at the popular Cannop Cycle Centre:
The Family trail route is graded ‘green’ and consists of 17km of a traffic-free smooth surface. A well-waymarked circular route, it runs on old railway lines and is dotted with exits to pretty villages and picnic areas when you can all have a sit down together and enjoy a breather along with a snack or two.
It’s possible to get on The Family Trail from a variety of locations around the Forest. As well as the Cannop Centre, there are entrances at Mallards Pike Lake and Beechenhurst.
A shorter family route is the five-mile Hicksters Way Loop. Start at the Cannop Cycle Centre or Beechenhurst. Again, this is well marked with clear directions.
The Verderers trail is ‘blue’ and is 11km of winding up-and-down routes amongst narrow trees. It’s been recently resurfaced and is good for kids as well as adults. So popular is this trail that it received the accolade of ‘One of the Best Blue Trails in England’ by Mountain Biking UK magazine this year.
And no wonder. It has everything for the intermediate and advanced rider. It’s a gentle uphill climb through the forest and with a flourishing finish, aptly named the Dragon’s Tail.
The Freeminers trail is ‘red’ and 7km long. It’s an exciting single-track route, which has also received recent resurfacing work so if you haven’t been for a while it’s worth a revisit. The route still contains twists, root-laden hairpin bends, two steep climbs and a rock garden, making it best for advanced riders. Go during the winter months and it can also get very wet and muddy.
For those who aren’t particularly keen on endurance trails and prefer their MTB cycling short, sharp and scary, there are several quick, downhill rides at the Cannop Centre. These are all graded from one (easiest) to 10 (most difficult). All take just four minutes maximum to get down so it’s perfectly possible to do all 10 within an hour.
If you don’t have your own MTB bike, no need to worry. That’s because the Pedalabikeaway Centre provides cycles for hire. There’s also a workshop here for quick repairs.
Owner Ian Officer remarked that he was pleased with the number of women who have taken up off-road biking. But then, he’s been promoting the sport’s popularity by offering child-friendly facilities and stocking female – as well as male – riding kits for some time now.
@pedalabikeaway: “We’ve seen a huge increase in female riders at the Forest of Dean, and this isn’t by accident. We work hard to promote mountain biking to women, and it’s an ongoing priority that we believe in.”
Let’s see more women getting on their bikes in the Forest of Dean.