There are so many options for the mountain biker in Snowdonia, spoilt for choice is an understatment. With numerous trail centres, including the original at Coed y Brenin, as well as the entire National Park’s bridlways to choose from, no wonder it’s so popular. Here’s a brief rundown of the main centres and a few off trail routes you can try out.
MTB Centres in Snowdonia
The MTB rider in Snowdonia is spoilt for choice with a number of different bases to start their rides. You can often get two rides in from different centres over a day, or tackle one of the true epic waymarked routes.
This is one for the family riders, with little or no challenge for the seasoned rider. However the views of the surrounding mountains is incredible and worth doing an hour or so on the trails as a leg loosener for that reason alone.
The original mountian biking centre, and arguably the best in Snowdonia. It boasts the Tarw Du, The MBR and The epic Beast of Brenin. There are also options for those looking for shorter but challenging routes such as the Cyflym Coch. While beginners are also catered for with the Temtiwr, and can also try their skills on the bike park’s taster loop to see how their abilities match up to the mountain biking grades.
While these are two different centres, wtih the Gwydir Forest run by NRW and Penmachno by a local socical enterprise, they’re close enough to be grouped together. You can easily base yourself in Penmachno, Betws-y-coed or Llanrwst for both these areas.
Downhill Centres in Snowdonia
While Coed y Brenin is arguably the best trail centre, Antur Stiniog provides the best downhill options with around 14 lines at last count.
Non-waymarked Mountain Biking in Snowdonia
This has to be the ultimate mountain biking challenge in Snowdonia (and for quite a distance around, that’s for sure!) The official route suggested is up the Llanberis Path and down the Snowdon Ranger, with a new easy trail linking the latter path with a bridleway to return to Llanberis. There are other bridleways on Snowdon, with the Rhyd Ddu path being a bridleway up until the narrow ridge of Bwlch Main. The Miner’s Track is also a bridleway as far as Glaslyn.
MTB on Snowdon and the Voluntary Agreement.
While there are plenty of physical challenges and hazards on the mountain, it’s people that pose the biggest problem. The Llanberis Path sees hundreds of thousands of walkers climb the mountain every year. Most of these have never walked up a mountain before and as such pose a formidable obstacle for more savvy mountain users. These range from those who lack the basic fitness to be on the mountain, to challenge walkers in huge packs that take up the entire width of the path.
Cader Idris by Mountain Bike
The ‘other’ major challenge for the serious mountain biker in Snowdonia is Cader Idris in the south of the park.
The recommended mountain bike route up Cader Idris is from Llanfiganfel y Pennant.
Other Off Trail Mountain Biking Routes in Snowdonia
There are a few other options for those looking for decent off trail routes outside the centres.
The Carneddau is criss crossed by a number of decent bridleways, notably across Bwlch y Ddeufaen in the north and along Llyn Cowlyd in the south. It’s possible to cycle around the mountains using those routes and the Lon Las Ogwen to join them.
Cwm Pennant is another interesting option, with a good bridleway joining this valley with the Beddgelert Forest. Any circuit will require a return along country lanes, but will invovle the most decent Drws y Coed pass which is a popular route for road cyclists.
The south also boasts a number of bridleways that can be ridden at varying levels of difficulty. This includes those on Cader Idris and the old Coach Road from Bontddu over towards Llanbedr. We’ll be adding more detailed routes to the site in due course.
Easier Cycle Trails in Snowdonia
There are a number of easier trails that can be cycled, with the area being well served in that respect. These are largely tarmaced, or at the very least have a hard packed surface suitable for most bikes.
This route stretches from Bangor to Bethesda, and further on towards Ogwen. Unofficially it continues to Capel Curig along the old coach road, which is more of a mountain biking trail than an easy trail.
This stretches from Caernarfon to Bangor with the Lon Las Fenai being more suitable for families as the Lon Adda trail follows a busy main road (pavement) and involves a tricky high speed road crossing at Faenol Roundabout.
This stretches from Caernarfon to Bryncir via Groeslon and Penygroes.
Not to be confused with the other Lon Gwyrfai in the Beddgelert Forest, this short route takes you along country lanes and a tarmaced bridleway from Caernarfon to Waunfawr. It was inteneded to join the other Lon Gwyrfai, but that remains to be seen. An excellent 16km route can be had by returning along a rough bridlway from Waunfawr to rejoin the Lon Gwyrfai.
This is a short one from Llanberis to Brynrefail and back again, and hardly worth getting the bikes out. One for families.
The jewel in Snowdonia’s family cycle tracks, the Mawddach Trail joins the towns of Dolgellau to Barmouth in the south of the national park. A two way trip is around 16km, and provides a leisurely day out if you stop for fish and chips at Barmouth and a refreshing drink at the George the Third at Penmaenpool.
Antur ‘stiniog not only involved in downhill MTB routes, but also developed this route around Llyn Trawsfynydd. Following the route of NCR 82 to the east of the lake, it follows country lanes and a purpose built trail on the western shore, returning via the decomissioned nuclear plant.