Mountain biking in Wales is as challenging as you want it to be. Tough ascents and descents, gentle off-roading, or purpose-built blue or black trails. It’s all there, but make sure you go prepared…

Essential gear to cycle in Wales

You will need a well-maintained mountain bike! And if you don’t want to take on too many hilly challenges, ride an electric mountain bike to give you extra push.

Essential gear includes a well-fitted helmet. And you don’t want to be stranded halfway down a trail so pack spare tubes, a tyre lever, and a tyre pump. Always carry a fully charged phone for navigating using the GPS, especially when the weather closes in as it can do in Wales. And accidents do happen, so a phone could mean you are located sooner rather than later. Mountain Rescue are on hand to bring down stricken visitors when needed.

Once you’re ready to go these Welsh locations can give you as much of a challenge as you need…

Snowdon: Wales’ highest peak

Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa as the National Park Authority renamed it in 2022, is the second-highest mountain in the UK. The Snowdon Ranger is one of its mountain bike challenges, technically tougher than the popular Llanberis Path which winds its way to the summit. The Snowdon Ranger route has a lot of steep riding over large rocks and features plenty of switchbacks. And, as a bonus, the Ranger route avoids the hordes of walkers who use the Llanberis Path so riders can properly attack it.

Cycling the Llanberis Path is less challenging with its gentler gradient, although its popularity as a walking route makes the biking ascent and descent a challenge in different ways. Indeed, because of this, when cycling on Snowdon be aware of restrictions that come into play during the summer months.

Brecon Beacons National Park

The Brecon Beacons offers some of Wales’ best mountain biking. Pick from fast descents, tests of skill, or gentler off-road trails. Many of the villages and towns ­– such as Brecon, Crickhowell, and Talgarth – are geared to accommodate cyclists who flock to the area.

Family-friendly off-roading can be enjoyed at Crychan Forest but for harder biking, Pontsticill Crossover is a figure of 8 route that involves a 400m ascent over 34km. The area’s toughest test though is the Black Mountain Blitz. This 55km route with a 2,000km ascent is for advanced riders only. The route starts in Crickhowell and has mega climbs, gruelling descents, and single-track sections. It travels the heart of the Black Mountains range and offers spectacular views of the National Park.

Coed y Brenin Forest Park

In 1997, Coed y Brenin in Snowdonia was the first UK forest to be developed for mountain biking. Today the centre is still developing its network of all-weather trails. The blue graded MinorTaur is a great introduction to mountain biking for younger cyclists. But more experienced riders aspire to the black-graded The Beast. Expect loose rocky climbs, gnarly descents, and stone fly offs.

Indeed, six of the eight purpose-built trails are graded red or black, so experienced riders shouldn’t think they’re on an easy street. There’s also a bike shop and a skills area where techniques can be mastered. And for the saddle sore, there are walking trails and a welcoming cafe.