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Adventures in Scotland

Exploring Mountain Biking in the Cairngorms: A Rider’s Paradise

exploring cycling in the cairngorms

On June 19, 2024 By Rebecca Field

The Cairngorms National Park offers some of the most exhilarating mountain biking experiences in the UK. From expertly designed trail centres to expansive natural trails, the Cairngorms cater to riders of all skill levels. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie seeking challenging descents or a family looking for a leisurely ride through stunning landscapes, the Cairngorms have something for everyone. Let’s dive into the details of what makes this region a must-visit destination for mountain biking enthusiasts.

Trail Centres

The Cairngorms boast several well-developed trail centres that provide a variety of routes and facilities to ensure a fantastic biking experience. Here are some of the top trail centres you shouldn’t miss:

Laggan Wolftrax

Laggan Wolftrax is a premier trail centre known for its challenging routes and spectacular views. It offers trails ranging from green (easy) to black (expert), ensuring that every rider finds a suitable path. The trails are well-maintained and designed to provide a thrilling ride through the heart of the forest.

There are also some trails across the road where you can explore a hill fort too.


Glenlivet is another top destination for mountain bikers. It features flowing singletrack trails that cater to intermediate and advanced riders. The centre also offers bike hire, a café, and ample parking, making it a convenient and enjoyable stop for bikers.

Glenlivet now have a zip wire development too and are constantly adding and maintaining their tracks. It’s one of our favourite places to go, if we head to a trail centre.

MTB adventures

MTB trail riding at Glenlivet, Cairngorms National Park

Grantown Skills Park

For those looking to hone their skills, the Grantown Skills Park is the perfect place. It features a variety of obstacles and practice areas where riders can improve their technique. Whether you’re a beginner learning the basics or an experienced rider looking to perfect your jumps and turns, this skills park has something for you.

Boat of Garten Pump Track

The Boat of Garten Pump Track is ideal for riders of all ages and skill levels. This compact track is designed to help riders develop their balance and bike handling skills. It’s a great spot for a quick ride or for families to enjoy together.

The pump track is literally on our doorstep. If you’re looking for a wee practise cornering or pumping  your bike it’s a great place to go and all the locals are very friendly and hopeful if you’re after some tips.

Tarland Trails

Tarland Trails offers a mix of trails suitable for all abilities. From flowy singletracks to technical sections, it provides a diverse riding experience. The community-driven development of these trails ensures they are well-maintained and continuously improved.

High Burnside

High Burnside features a network of trails that wind through beautiful woodland. It’s known for its natural feel and varied terrain, offering a great mix of climbs and descents. This trail centre is perfect for those who enjoy riding in a more natural setting.

There are now plans to add a multi-million pound purpose built mountain biking trail centre near Loch Ness, which should complement what’s on offer already.

Natural Trails

For those who crave adventure beyond the structured trail centres, the Cairngorms’ natural trails offer virtually unlimited options. You can embark on epic journeys, cycling almost entirely off-road for over 100km in loops from the base in Boat of Garten. Here are some classic routes to consider:

The Burma Road

The Burma Road is a challenging route that rewards riders with stunning views of the Cairngorms. This trail features a mix of steep climbs and exhilarating descents, making it a favourite among experienced bikers.

Map of the Burma Road route.

Map of the Burma Road Route.

Gleann Einich

Gleann Einich is a picturesque route that takes you deep into the heart of the Cairngorms. The trail follows a glacial valley, offering breathtaking scenery and a sense of remote wilderness.

Abernethy Loop

The Abernethy Loop is a diverse trail that takes you through ancient Caledonian pine forests and open moorlands. It’s a fantastic way to experience the varied landscapes of the Cairngorms.

mountain biking

Tomintoul Section of the Cairngorm Circuit

This section of the Cairngorm Circuit is known for its challenging terrain and beautiful vistas. It’s a demanding ride that will test your endurance and technical skills, but the rewards are well worth the effort.


Glenfeshie offers a mix of technical singletrack and scenic forest trails. It’s a lesser-known gem that provides a peaceful and enjoyable ride away from the more crowded areas.

Recommended Maps

To make the most of your mountain biking adventure in the Cairngorms, it’s essential to have reliable maps. Trailmaps are highly recommended as they provide detailed information on the routes, including difficulty levels, elevation profiles, and points of interest. These maps are invaluable for planning your rides and ensuring you stay on track.


The Cairngorms are a mountain biker’s dream, offering a blend of well-developed trail centres and endless natural trails. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of expertly designed routes or the adventure of exploring rugged landscapes, the Cairngorms have it all. Pack your bike, grab your trail maps, and get ready for an unforgettable mountain biking experience in one of Scotland’s most stunning regions.

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