Mountain Bike Trails: the Forest of Dean

the forest of deanA guest post by CSMA Club Retreats

I absolutely love mountain biking, and I think it’s the perfect activity for a staycation. After all, provided you head to the right destination there will be trails for people of all abilities, gorgeous scenery and endless opportunities to have a laugh with family and friends. In my opinion, the Forest of Dean is one of the ultimate places to go.

You see, this ancient woodland – which is in Gloucestershire – has everything you need to have a brilliant biking holiday. So, you can come here without essentials like bikes, safety gear and a knowledge of local trails and still get pedalling with ease. Personally, I always think it’s nice to book a log cabin in the Forest of Dean so you can be really close to the cycle centres and tracks. Of course, this kind of accommodation is also great for getting away from it all and offers a bit more of a sociable atmosphere than a hotel, since it’s easy to mingle with any family/friends you’re travelling with.

But before I distract myself with more talk of the Forest of Dean in general, let’s take a look at the top trails to tackle. I’ll start with the easiest and go from there! And, just in case you’re new to mountain biking, here’s how the tracks are classified:

  • Green – easy
  • Blue – moderate
  • Red – difficult
  • Black – severe
  • Orange – extreme

Forest of Dean Family Trail (Green)

This route is definitely one of my favourites, largely because it’s simply a lot of fun to ride. From its name and the fact that it’s a green trail you’ll probably have gathered that it’s an easy path that’s suitable for the whole family.

Spanning around 11 miles, it is actually the longest trail on my list, but its flat and gravelled surfaces mean it’s a breeze to tackle. It broadly follows the old Severn and Wye railway line, passing old coal mines along the way (you can see these at Foxes Bridge and Lightmoor, for example).

One of the great things about this trail – aside from the fact it’s both fun and pretty! – is that it’s very clearly marked, making it a doddle to follow. Just keep your eyes peeled for the tall posts with the yellow arrows.

log cabin

Verderer’s Trail (Blue)

Next on my list is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting trails in the forest. The Verderer’s Trail is a 7-mile circuit that’s often described as one of the best in Britain, and is a must for any intermediate or experienced cyclists who fancy testing their skills and having a serious amount of fun.

With fast corners, humps, berms and rollovers, the trail definitely has some challenging elements that make this blue route all the more thrilling. It starts out with an uphill climb before flattening out and ending in a high-speed red descent.

The Freeminer Trail (Red)

If you’ve got plenty of mountain biking experience, try hitting the Freeminer Trail. At just over 2.5 miles long, it is the shortest route on my list, but also the hardest. This single-track trail is really varied and challenging, incorporating hairpin bends and switchback climbs that are only suitable for experienced riders.

If you’ve done a fair bit of biking in the past but never tackled any official mountain biking trails, I recommend bearing in mind that the red trails really are tricky. A few years back I – somewhat unwisely – decided to dive straight into a red route and had to stop pretty sharpish after nearly catapulting myself into some trees! So, if this is your first time trying out official tracks, it’s worth starting with a little bit of caution; after all, you can always try harder trails if you find green and blue routes too easy.

Disclosure: A guest post hosted by Mari’s World as I think the tips for mountain bikes in the Forest of Dean are very useful, who knows you may get me cycling yet?

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