As the UK’s first dedicated mountain bike trail centre, the excellent single track network at Coed Y Brenin has gradually evolved from natural forest trails, which were slowly armored to prevent erosion, to the extensive network of all weather routes which you can enjoy today.
The gradual refinement of trail construction techniques here, along with a stunning location and mix of broadleaf trees, means that the routes retain a very natural old school feel, which is unique to Coed y Brenin. This isn’t your average, gravel trail network, weaving through densely planted Sitka spruce.
Click on the colour coded tabs below to view guides to Coed y Brenin’s graded MTB trails:
Green = Novice Cyclist/Introductory (Very Easy)
Blue = Beginner Mountain Biker (Easy)
Red = Intermediate Mountain Biker (Moderately Difficult)
Black = Expert Mountain Biker (Very Difficult)
Trails are graded on a variety of factors including steepness, technical challenge, level of exposure, total distance and physical challenge.
In late summer of 2016, Bike Channel’s show Mountain Bike Adventures came to visit Coed y Brenin. The show can now be viewed online (in 2 parts) and provides a great introduction to Coed y Brenin and its trails.
Yr Ffowndri – The Foundry Skills and training area.
The Ffowndri skills area and bike park is a fantastic facility at Coed y Brenin. It’s ideal for beginners, just getting into the sport, right through to experienced, skilled riders. It’s split into 4 areas. Start off in the Training Zone to learn those core basic skills that will help you progress, give you confidence and make your riding more fun, then move on up through the progressively graded practice areas.
If you are unsure which of the 8 trails to ride, then head to the Singletrack Zone, where you’ll clearly see the difference between the graded trails and examples of what to expect on the trails out in the forest.
Graded Green 10.8km 1-3 hours
This trail is suitable for novices and family groups. Based on open forest roads and contouring the hillsides, it takes in the magnificent waterfalls on the Gain and Mawddach rivers and also and visits the old Gwynfynydd Gold mine, the last source of Welsh gold. There are a couple of downhill sections on forest roads, so younger riders will need to be able to control their speed.
Graded Blue 8km 0.5 – 1.5 Hours
The MinorTaur has quickly become the most popular trail at Coed y Brenin. It’s a great fun introduction to mountain biking for a wide range of ages and abilities and is unique, in that it is usable by riders with a disability on adaptive mountain bikes. The trail is built in 3 loops, which get progressively longer, so you can choose the distance you want to cover. There are plenty of fun features, including stone steps, tabletops and fantastic swoopy berms. Remember to treat with caution on your first ride, perhaps going back over the different sections to improve your skills.
Also, remember to look out for the shiny hoof prints which give you a clue that there’s a MinorTaur about!
Graded Red 11.2km 1.5 – 3 Hours
Mastered the MinorTaur? Want to move up to the next grade? Then this is the trail for you as it moves onto narrower, slightly more technical trails. The Cyflym Coch (Red Fox) strings together some of the best, fast flowing sections in Coed y Brenin, with relatively short climbs. With sections like DreamTime and Uncle Fester, it’s a real blast!
Graded Red 8.7km 0.5 – 1 Hour
A short route, giving riders a taste of what to expect from the more advanced riding in Coed y Brenin. It includes 5 sections of great singletrack, from extremely technical rock pitching, to fast flowing swooping curves through the trees, one main climb, up from the river Gain and over to the excellent Beginning of the End section of singletrack; a fun Friday afternoon prelude to a weekend’s riding in the forest.
Graded Red 31.1km 3-5 Hours
The Dragon’s Back is a classic, technical cross country mountain bike trail, which has matured well. Formerly the Karrimor trail, it has had some fine additions over the years. Challenging climbs, tight singletrack and long fast descents have made this ride into one of the most revered throughout Europe.
A long trail that takes you to the top of Moel Hafod Owen, for amazing views over the park and the mountains of Snowdonia, before dropping you down the Adam’s family; a series of descents that will have you whooping with delight! First, the swooping curves of Gomez, Morticia and Pugsley, then the stone pitched corkscrew of Lurch and finally the ballistic speed of Uncle Fester.
Graded Black 20.2km 1.5-3 Hours
The Tarw Du (say Taroo Dee – Black Bull), was not only the original trail built in Coed y Brenin, but it was also the first, purpose built mountain bike trail in the UK, and probably the world!
This is where it all started and the success of this trail is the reason why we have so many other great trail centres today. This is THE classic trail and still knocks spots off more modern offerings elsewhere. It’s rocky, it’s retro, it’s twisty, it’s technical, it’s fast and will really test your skills and fitness.
Graded Black 18.4km 1.5 – 3 Hours
A rocky, challenging, technical trail throughout, offering some sweeping descents, like ‘Bugsy’ and ’Pink Heifer’, as well as Coed y Brenin’s most demanding stone pitched sections, namely ‘Badger’ and ‘Beginning of the End’. It also boasts ‘Cain’, an outstanding natural section, as well as the rebuilt and modernised ‘Abel’, with a series of fly offs to test your skill.
‘Falseteeth’ has been given a makeover and been brought right up to date, with cutting edge design and quality construction. Now featuring the ‘Cavity’, the largest technical trail feature at Coed Y Brenin.
Beast of Brenin
Graded Black 38.2km 3 – Hours
A combination of the Dragon’s Back and MBr routes, the Beast of Brenin is a challenging but very rewarding route, which has a perfect balance of fast open riding and technical twisting descents. Stop at the Heron Forest Café for tea and cake (opening hours vary) before heading out onto Moel Hafod Owen for spectacular views of Snowdonia.
This route promises to be both mentally and physically demanding and should not be attempted unless fitness and skill levels allow. Go prepared with adequate fluids, food, clothing and bike spares. Expect to come back tired, muddy and exhilarated! Keep a look out for shorts cuts back to the centre, should the weather close in, or in case bike/body decide to capitulate.
Mountain Biking is not without it’s risks but you can take good care of yourself and others if you follow the advice in Natural Resource Wales’ Forest Cycle Code.
Forest Cycle Code
ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET (*Mandatory at Coed y Brenin) and follow the Forest Cycle Code :
- Consider wearing other protective clothing.
- Take the time before riding a trail to check out the trail head grading information.
- Are you confident about what the grading means?
- Do you really have enough experience for your choice of trail?
- Are there any detours?
- You want to get out and ride the trail, here’s a quick checklist:
- Do you have a trail/route map?
- Are you carrying spares – an extra inner-tube, for instance?
- Can you repair a bike on the trail if you need to?
- For longer rides you’ll need food and water.
- What about your fitness & stamina?
- Many accidents are caused through fatigue – don’t join that club!
- Think about the weather. Do you know the forecast? Bear in mind that the weather at the trailhead might be fine, but further up the hill, it could be colder.
- What about the trail conditions? Has it snowed or rained?