Best national park mountain bike trails

Activity, Cycling, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Ed Roberts on 19th August 2021

Best National Park mountain bike trails

Mountain biking can be one of the most exhilarating solo sporting pursuits, and the UK’s National Parks are home to some superb trails.

Don your cycling gear, test your suspension, and head for the hills on your mountain trail bike (MTB). We give you the low down on the best official cycling trails in the UK’s National Parks, from the Yorkshire Dales to the Cairngorms, and Exmoor to the South Downs. Those starting out get your game on out on the green paths, and those who are lifers, test your limits on the double black trails. Experiencing nature on a mountain bike is unmissable.

Consider taking a beginners’ course if you’ve never been mountain biking before. Getting to grips with mountain biking is a challenge, but once you’ve been taught the mounting biking basics, you can hit the trails with confidence. It won’t be too long at all before you’ll be meeting those tougher trails head-on, conquering mountains, devastating downhills, and getting your shred on. All good riders know the etiquette when cycling in the wilds, but please refresh your knowledge before heading out; each destination in our list has a core of rules but there are location-dependent variations to consider. Read on to discover our top mountain bike trails around England, Scotland, and Wales.

Where to begin?

Already thinking about your next adventure? Escape on a mountain biking holiday in the UK today.

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Mountain bike trails in Wales

Mountain biking in Snowdonia National Park

Mountain biking in Snowdonia National Park

Wales is arguably the most popular holiday destination in the UK for mountain bikers. It’s easy to see why it’s favoured with its seemingly endless choice of rough tracks, high trails, and unspoiled miles on miles of hilly, mountainous countryside. Snowdonia National Park is iconic in itself, home to the highest mountain in Wales, it’s a legendary place to hit the tracks and give yourself and your bike a serious workout. From easy-going trails with the kids like Lon Las Menai to those that need sorcery to complete like Penmachno, Snowdonia is ideal.

Top Snowdonia mountain biking trails

Stay in Snowdonia National Park

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Mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons National Park

Mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons National Park  

Whether you’re new to mountain biking or you’re an expert rider, you will have an awesome time in the Brecon Beacons National Park, riding on one of the park’s 16 designated off-road bike paths. You can fight your way up steep hills, descend some challenging drops, meander through the pleasant countryside, or ride through the open forest. Whichever trail you pick, you will find the unique beauty of the Brecon Beacons utterly breathtaking and the MTB tracks addictive.

Top Brecon Beacons mountain biking trails

Stay in the Brecon Beacons National Park   

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Mountain bike trails in Scotland

Mountain biking in the Cairngorms National Park

Mountain biking in the Cairngorms National Park

Ever wanted to mountain bike on a snowy mountain? Then Mount Cairngorm is the perfect destination for you. The Cairngorms National Park is characterised by its deep wooded glens and wonderful wildlife and birdlife like deer and osprey; see how many you can spot on the trail. There are MTB routes for beginners and pros alike in the mountains, and outdoor activity providers in the area for lessons. Book a day out mountain biking with Ride in Peace Adventures

Top Cairngorms mountain biking trails

Stay in the Cairngorms National Park

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Mountain biking in Loch Lomond

Mountain biking in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is home to some of the best MTB routes in Scotland – ideal for challenging the adventurer in you. From discovering the thrill and excitement of biking in Scotland to braving some of the park’s challenging routes, every trip to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is a winner.

Top Loch Lomond mountain biking trails

Stay in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

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Mountain bike trails in the North of England

Mountain biking in the Lake District National Park

Mountain biking in the Lake District National Park

The Lake District National Park is an incredibly beautiful part of the northwest. Brimming with picture-perfect vistas around every single bend in the road and track, it’s a stunning holiday destination with no end of wild places to dominate on your mountain bike. Try the purpose-built Altura Trail in Whinlatter Forest, Helvellyn, or the Duddon Valley to name a few.  Cyclewise offers a cool crash course in mountain biking in the Lake District. 

Top Lake District mountain biking trails

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Mountain biking in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

Mountain biking in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

Enjoy a vast area of unspoilt Yorkshire wilderness to ride your mountain bike in peace. Take a challenge on Dodd Fell, Grinton Moor, Howgills, Ingleborough, and Kettlewell to get the full flavour of a mountain biking holiday in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. If you are a beginner and would like to join an instructor out in the wilds, there is a good choice of adventure schools to choose from in and around the Yorkshire Dales.

Top Yorkshire Dales mountain biking trails

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Mountain biking in the North York Moors National Park

Mountain biking in the North York Moors National Park

The North York Moors National Park is an all-round great place for a cycling holiday, whether you're a family cyclist or a very experienced mountain biker. There are inspiring cycling routes all across the North York Moors and Howardian Hills with three dedicated cycling centres: Sutton Bank, for families and those new to mountain biking; Dalby Forest, for families right through to more experienced mountain bikers; and Great Fryup Dale for more experienced mountain bikers and road cyclists.

Top North York Moors mountain biking trails

Stay in the North York Moors National Park

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Mountain biking in Northumberland National Park

Mountain biking in Northumberland National Park  

Tackle the trails of Northumberland National Park during your holiday to this inspiring section of the North of England. Mountain biking is a popular pursuit in the Northumberland countryside as there are lots of empty spaces and woodlands throughout the region. Learn how to traverse the toughest of trails with a local outdoor sports specialist for biking lessons like Adventure Training North East.

Top Northumberland mountain biking trails

Stay in the Northumberland National Park

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Mountain bike trails in the South West

Mountain biking in Exmoor National Park

Mountain biking in Exmoor National Park

Recognised as one of the premier off-road biking destinations in the UK, Exmoor National Park in Devon lays down the best challenges for the experienced rider. Exmoor plays host to adventure racing events including downhill and cross-country contests throughout the calendar. Go mountain biking in Devon; hook up with Exmoor Adventures for a fun, yet serious introduction to some awesome MTB trails. You can hire one of their hardtail or full-suspension e-bikes and head off onto the moors to kick up some dirt from your tyres.

Top Exmoor mountain biking trails

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Mountain biking in Dartmoor National Park

Mountain biking in Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park is a wild place full of mysterious wide-open spaces where it is possible to leave civilisation far behind when you abandon the better-known paths across the area. Take on enticing trails like the Burrator Bone Shaker that incorporates South Hessary Tor and Nuns Cross, or the Nut Crackers Trail via Jay’s Graveyard and North Bovey. Looking to hire a bike or get some lessons? Seek out Tamar Trails in Gulworthy. 

Top Dartmoor mountain biking trails

Stay on Dartmoor

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Mountain bike trails on the South Coast

Mountain biking in the South Downs National Park

Mountain biking in the South Downs National Park

Mountain biking in the South Downs National Park is a real treat. The South Downs is the youngest of England’s National Parks, having been established in 2010, and it is home to diverse environments, from gentle trails for families along the South Downs Way to arduous and more challenging off-the-beaten-track adventures. You could ride along the ridge to reach Ditchling Beacon and enjoy the view or cycle along the Hampshire Hangers and single-track mountain bike trails at Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

Top South Downs mountain biking trails

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Mountain biking in the New Forest National Park

Mountain biking in the New Forest National Park

The New Forest National Park isn’t really known for its mountains and hills, however, there is much for a mountain biker to get their wheels into here. There are more than 100 miles of waymarked cycling tracks for traffic-free rides, but for mountain biking head to the Moors Valley Country Park near Ringwood and download the local cycle map to see where extreme mountain biking is permitted. If you fancy a lesson or two to get you flying, there are a number of course providers where you can hire a bike, like New Forest Mountain Biking

Top New Forest mountain biking trails

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Mountain bike trails in the Midlands

Mountain biking in the Peak District

Mountain biking in the Peak District National Park

Take an adventure on two wheels in the Peak District National Park, one of the hilliest regions in the UK. Known for its wild and remote tranches of countryside, the Peak District is virtually unrivalled for stunning places to conquer on your mountain bike. Walking and cycling trails crisscross the National Park, taking you to places where towns and cities seem to be an outlandish and distant concept. Take a course at one of the Peak District’s MTB schools.  

Top Peak District mountain biking trails

Stay in the Peak District

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Stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages

We have a fantastic range of holiday cottages across the UK close to each of the mountain biking trails in this article, from cosy countryside escapes for two to large houses for groups of friends and family for a special occasion. Where will you stay on your mountain biking holiday?

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.