While it's only a short drive away from the M4 motorway, Cwmcarn offers up some big views and some great riding too. There are two red-graded cross-country loops that offer some decent technical challenge as well as a solid serving of climb and descent, almost entirely on singletrack.
Despite being so easy to get to, once you're out on the trails it feels much more rugged and remote than you'd guess, with a wide variety of views and landscapes to drink in, plus nicely varied riding.
Bike wise, a short travel trail or cross-country bike is the way to go for the loops if you have a choice, but it's totally rideable on anything from an affordable hardtail to an enduro machine, though the former will find it fairly bumpy and the latter a bit draggy.
Gravity enthusiasts have lots to enjoy with Y Mynydd downhill tracks, which are served by the Cwmdown uplift service. They've got big jumps, drops and some serious technical challenge that suit long-travel trail bikes and full-on downhill rigs. The waymarked trails are all properly surfaced so they're fine to ride, no matter what the weather.
There's also a fair amount of technical off-piste riding if you know where to look for it - and if you're up to the quite serious challenge many of the tracks offer.
The visitor centre has a cafe with toilets and the PS Cycles shop on-site offers bike hire, spares and repairs. There are lots of (paid) parking on site too.
The visitor centre cafe does hot and cold meals and drinks, with a small picnic area outside too.
PS Cycles is on-site and can do bike repairs as well as sales. They also offer skills coaching and bike hire/mountain bike taster sessions.
Bike servicing, sales and repairs
If the on-site PS Cycles can't help you out, they also have another shop around seven minutes away. There's also Leisure Lakes in Newport, around a 15-minute drive away. The UK Fox Suspension Service Centre is also in nearby Risca (10-minute drive) if you have any Fox shock or fork related woes.
Food, drink and shops
There are some small shops in the village of Cwmcarn itself, but Risca has a couple of large supermarkets with petrol stations and the usual fast-food chain outlets. The Castle Lodge pub and chalet in Cwmcarn offers a Sunday roast as well as bar snacks and drinks.
Where to stay
There are a couple of small B&Bs in Cwmcarn and nearby Pontywaun, plus a Premier Inn hotel in Cwmbran (20-minute drive) and ibis hotel in Newport (also a 20-minute drive). There's a campsite right on the location for those that want to stay in tents or vans.
Perhaps you're looking for a ride off the beaten trail, or you want to mix your riding up with some nature walks. Be sure to check Komoot to uncover further adventures in this area.