Wales is the birthplace of the modern trail centre, and the idea - purpose built trails of various grades and difficulty - has spawned many trail centres right across the country. Here we list the best places and trail centres to ride, its a list of our personal favourite Welsh trail centres, and ones we think you should tick off in 2019 if you haven’t already.
Why visit Wales? Because of the high quality of the riding, that’s why? Don’t believe us? Just sit back and watch this video then scroll down to read more about the trail centres.
The oldest trail centre, that one that sparked the growth of trail centres. Like a good wine, it has matured nicely over the years, and has grown to become a haven for mountain bikers, drawn to its very comfortable cafe at the start of the trails and a wide choice of routes to pick from.
There’s a skills centre to sharpen your riding technique, and then you can choose from green, blue, red and black trails to suit your experience level. They range in distance from 8km to 20km, so there’s really something for everyone.
Another oldie but a classic, as your dad would say. Closer to the M4 makes this a popular weekend destination for people as far away as London, so you’ll always find the place buzzing with riders.
There are now six high-quality trails ranging from 6km to 40km, including the demanding but iconic Y Wal trail coming in at 24km. White’s Level is another popular trail, with most of the climbing on purpose built tracks, and you can add extra distance with the Blade and Skyline loops. You can also link Y Wal and White’s Level with the W2 trail, making for a massive 44km loop.
Over on the other side of the valley is the Penhydd, reborn after a long stint of being hidden under felled trees. It’s a swoopy delight, with blue and red options to suit. Lastly, there’s the relatively new Bike Park at the top of hill, the ideal place to spend a few hours honing your jumping skills, and with several tracks to choose from there’s something for all appetites.
The Cwmcarn trail centre, very close to the M4 and an hour from the Severn Bridge, might not offer the extensive choice of trails of some centres, but what it does offer is a lot of natural singletrack and very testing climbs, with some hugely rewarding descents.
The legendary Twrch trail has been joined in recent years by the new Cafall trail which explores the opposite side of the valley. Both are red graded tracks and will test your stamina and riding technique in equal measure. There’s also a handful of downhill tracks with onsite uplift facilities.
Not so much a trail centre in the traditional sense, but a bike park with a huge choice of downhill focused trails and an excellent uplift service that needs booking many weeks in advance, so popular has it become in the few years it has been running.
There are a multitude of tracks to cater for a really wide range of abilities, from mellow blue tracks through testing reds and demanding blacks, and it’s easy to chop and change between the different grades as you progress down the hillside.
There’s a 4.6km singletrack or fireroad climb to the top where all the trails start from, or the uplift service which can provide up to 12 runs in a day. A well-stocked cafe and bike shop provide the ideal rest stop between adrenalin fuelled runs.
Now Brechfa doesn’t have a cosy cafe at the trail head like most of the other trail centres we’ve listed, but go prepared with a flask and sandwiches and you’ll be just fine. Because it’s worth the visit, the trails are really good. The trails feel very natural and there’s lots of flow, trail builder Rowan Sorrell (a man responsible for many of our fave trails) has worked his magic well here and uses the gradient and contours a treat. There’s a red and black to suit your riding level and both can be easily combined to create a massive 40km route.
Where else have you been riding in Wales lately? Let us know in the comments below....
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