For such a small country, Scotland packs in a lot, from the infamous drama of the Scottish Highlands to the epic singletrack curving through the lowland forests. It is not just the riding that sets Scotland apart; Scotland has epic craft beers, wild venison, beef, seafood, and of course, a wee dram of whisky to wash it all down after a long day of riding.
While the weather can be ‘mixed,’ most of the best trail centres listed here can be ridden all year ’round and in all conditions. Besides, those Highland views need a bit of dark cloud to create that classic moody drama. Scottish riding is world-renowned for its open mountain paths and steep, wet, and rooty lines through green misty forests that will test the best of riders and bikes. If you can ride fast here, you’ll have the skills to ride anywhere.
Kirroughtree is hard to pronounce and hard to reach, but it’s well worth the effort. After a scenic drive to the far southwest corner of Scotland, the misty forest clears to showcase the classic McMoab rock slabs. It feels like you reached the middle of nowhere, but keep going and you’ll reach this MTB haven. Epic rocky and rooty singletrack lies hidden between the pine trees.
Kirroughtree is one of the 7Stanes mountain biking destinations that are dotted across southern Scotland, but it stands apart as probably the most unique. On the way here you’ll probably pass Dalbeattie and Mabie forests, both well worth a detour as well.
Kirroughtree is home to one of the longest black-graded loops in Scotland called Black Craig. Hold on tight if you can through fast, flowing singletrack and rocky technical features to test all your mountain bike skills.
A real highlight is the epic ‘McMoab’ slabs at the outer reaches of the black run. While the name and painted directional arrows are based on its Utah cousin, it’s fair to say the climate and scenery are pretty different here in Scotland!
Even before hitting the trails, the drive north to BikeGlenlivet in Banffshire is almost worth the trip alone. Then there’s the famous whisky by the same name waiting to be tasted after the ride. Historically this is illicit whisky distilling country where smuggling was rife back in the day! Today, the whisky is world famous and the trails are a hidden gem nestled at the heart of Glenlivet Estate.
There are two fantastic trail loops where the majority of the singletrack is smooth and flows like melted butter through the woods. Even the climbs are sweet. The views of the surrounding area are totally stunning and make the climbs fade from memory. These trails are perfect for a mixed-ability group, since most technical sections are optional and constructed to build riders’ confidence along the way.
The centre is on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park where a network of classic ancient paths open the floodgates for more adventurous trail riders. This is perfect bikepacking country for long-distance, backcountry riding.
The Glenlivet Estate has its own distillery, obviously, and is on the iconic Malt Whisky Trail. Glenlivet is one of the most famous Scottish whiskies, and riders will not be disappointed with the Glenlivet Bike Trails either.
Laggan Wolftrax, located in Inverness-shire, is a proper slice of highland magic! Billed as “mountain bike trails with bite,” riders will certainly find the nickname apt if they allow their concentration to drop!
Laggan is probably most famous for its intense and rocky black trail which includes a formidable slab called Ayres Rock. This section will definitely sort out the Bravehearts amongst riders!
The main red loop consists of upper and lower sections full of swooping loveliness, allowing riders to add on to their ride as they go. The configuration also allows an easy exit if it all gets to be too much.
A remote location on the road to Fort William, this is a perfect stop to warm up for the trails at the Fort. For whisky fans, It’s worth a detour to the nearby Dalwhinnie distillery, the highest in Scotland.
Back at the trail centre, Bothy Bikes has a small shop at hand for quick servicing, retail, and bike hire. The folks there can also lend local trail advice for those seeking hidden lines.
Comrie Croft in Perthshire has won multiple awards for its trails and unique on-site accommodations.
The trail network is small, but offers a perfectly-formed 12 mile network consisting of graded singletrack. The trails range from technical, rocky and rooty singletrack to possibly the best flowing, berm-filled trail in Scotland.
Comrie Croft is very much a place to ride with a family or mixed-ability group. There is a skills park and full-sized pump track. Mini DH runs with rock drops are also on site with a multitude of progressive features graded as either blue, red, or black.
A cozy café and a friendly bike shop are located on site. The Croft offers accommodations at the foot of the trails with the choice of hostel beds, camping, and Nordic katas.
Glentress – The Tweed Valley
Glentress is the busiest trail centre in the UK with over 300,00 visitors per year, and with good reason. The trail centre offers an extensive network of bike trails, covering every grade, with over 55 miles of sign-posted singletrack loops alone. And, it’s continuing to grow with 10 miles of new flow trails approved for 2018. Surrounded by a large and growing mountain biking community, the trail centre is buzzing.
The black route is long and rough, but not too technical. It’s a great option for a sunny day because the views of the Tweed Valley are breathtaking.
For folks looking for less remote and more easily accessible bursts of fun, the GT Red and Blue trails are legendary. Spooky Woods is probably the most ridden trail in the country and the tabletops, drops, and pure speed riders can muster up is quite addictive.
Plenty of ‘natural’ unmarked trails exist within the forest, leftover race lines that allow riders to whet their Enduro appetite. The annual Tweedlove Bike Festival is an amazing time to be in the area, either to race or just soak up the atmosphere.
Combining the trails in Glentress with the wider riding in the Tweed Valley yields a true ‘mountain bike mecca.’ There are several forests with manmade and natural trails linking in every direction.
Located just 22 miles south of Scotland’s capital Edinburg, Glentress is really easy to access. Decent public transport links exist as well.
Innerleithen – The Tweed Valley
The mountain biking at Innerleithen is just a short spin along the Tweed Valley bike path from Glentress, but it’ll feel like you’ve rocked up in a different world.
The downhill trails at Innerleithen are regarded as some of the best in the UK, and after riding here you’ll soon realize why British riders kick ass on the more technical World Cup courses. In fact, you might well see current world champ Danny Hart in a speedy blur, as he often trains here.
Sun was shining on @adrenalinuplift on Saturday. It was great meeting the crew at the #weeknd I’d sure like to return sometime. . Photo is the newly revamped Gold Rush. It’s an incredible section of trail. . All photos are up on @rootsandrain . . . . . . ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: #mtb #mtblife #mtblove #mountainbike #mountainbiker #mountainbiking #picoftheday #mtboftheday #hopetech #bikelife #1dxmarkii #Enduro #FullEnduro #ridemoremtb #instapicoftheday #Endurolife #shotoncanon #liveliferidebikes #outsideisfree #doyouevendriftbro #mtbpictureoftheday #canon1dxmarkii #MyCanon #doyourideendurobro #jwdtphotography #mtn_bike_geek #canonphotography @pedalnorth_images @dialledinuk @pedalnorth_uk @derailed_uk
A rich history of trail building has resulted in a rabbit warren of ‘natural enduro’ and machine-built trails that drop steeply through the forests around town. The original DH tracks crafted by renowned local trail builder Dik Hamilton provide a stack of options for both riders and race organizers. Try your rubber on Cresta Run, a hand-built line in classic Innerleithen style: steep, rooty, tight, and twisty!
A brand new uplift service started in 2018 called Adrenalin Uplift, which operates Friday to Monday every week. Riders may find themselves sitting in the buses next to the growing group of word-class Enduro and DH riders that are based here.
Across the road is the infamous ‘Golfie,’ the worst kept local secret, having hosted EWS race stages in the past. Golfie is perfect for testing those bike skills on epic roots and steeps that are so much fun in the wet. In fact, some locals complain when it gets dusty!
Fort William is probably the most famous Scottish mountain biking destination, having hosted its first UCI DH World cup 16 years ago. Visiting when the World Cup is here is an awesome spectacle with over 20,000 fans and mountain bikers everywhere.
The town and the trails lie where the UK’s highest mountains reach the shores of the rugged west coast lochs. If you want drama, this riding location won’t disappoint. The weather will change as often as the trails, so expect the classic four seasons in a day.
The Nevis Range has gondola uplift to the world renowned DH tracks and a challenging red graded trail. At the base sprawls World Cup standard XC loops, family-friendly trails for all abilities, skill and jump lines, and hidden wild trails that regularly feature in Enduro races. Ask around in the local bike shops for more advice on finding the best trails.
The Rest of Scotland
This choice is a bit of a sneaky one. Though not technically a trail centre, all of Scotland is literally open for mountain biking. The country has one of the best, most progressive access rights in the world. You can ride anywhere, regardless of land ownership so long as you do so in a responsible way. That means sticking to well-designed paths and trails that don’t damage the land or conflict with other users of the land, be that farmers, hunters, or hikers. If you treat the land with respect, you’ll be welcome riding your bike anywhere.
This means the ancient network of highland paths can be ridden legally, however these aren’t places to get lost. If you’re not confident navigating in all conditions, then look up one of the many excellent mountain bike guiding companies that operate across Scotland. A guide ensures riders make the most of their time on the trails while soaking in some epic Scottish views.