It really is an urban myth that you can’t enjoy mountain biking if you live in London. Sure, there’s not much in the very centre to warrant modern suspension and there’s hardly anywhere for an Urban Downhill, but hop on a short train ride or even pedal out a little, and there’s soon loads of options for riding.
Even if you don’t have your own mountain bike, a lot of trail centres around the city also offer bike hire, so you don’t have to fork out on your own chunky-tyred machine.
Here you’ll find a real variety of route suggestions around the capital city, from established trail centres like Swinley Forest to natural riding in Epping Forest, hand-built skills-centric loops like Lee Valley VeloPark, Downhill riding at Rogate, Cross-Country riding around Biggin Hill and even jump lines at Woburn. There really is something for every MTB discipline, and also every ability too, from green-rated family trails to pro lines frequented by pro riders like Brendan Fairclough and Sam Pilgrim!
All of these routes are accessible by train, although you might also be able to ride to those close to home too! You may need to book your bike onto the train so do check when you buy your ticket, and you won’t be able to take it on the London Underground.
Bear in mind that some of these trails rely on taking a fee for you to ride, which goes towards their maintenance and insurance, etc. You can usually get a day pass at a reasonable rate, or choose longer-term membership options if you fancy visiting more often. If you’d like to help give back a little, a lot of the volunteer-led trail centres have regular digging sessions that I’m sure they’d love help with.
One last tip is to check the weather when you’re planning your trip. Some trail centres like Rogate and Swinley ride well in the wet, whereas others might not be so forgiving and drain so well, for example Epping Forest is likely to get very muddy! Check the trail centre websites before you leave to make sure the trails you would like to ride are open.
Not far at all from Central London, the Surrey Hills are the weekend go-to for many urban riders seeking ace mountain biking trails. You'll find built, official trails on Holmbury, Pitch, Winterfold and Leith Hill, and there’s more than enough for a great day’s riding. Besides those, there’s also loads more natural riding, gravel tracks and linking bridleways to explore by mountain bike or even on a gravel bike if you prefer.
A real favourite for mountain bikers to the west of London, Swinley Forest is a brilliant trail centre a short distance from the city with a lot to offer. The work of Swinley Bike Hub and the force of trail volunteers, TrailTeam Swinley, what this area lacks in serious gradient it makes up for in a multitude of twisting trails and exhilaratingly fun berms.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Not far from the ‘new’ town of Milton Keynes, Woburn Bike Park is an easy train journey away from central London, which boasts not only blue and red built trails, …
An extensive network of natural trails rather than a carefully manicured bike park, Epping Forest is easily accessible from the north of London and also great for gravel and ‘cross bikes too. Take care when riding these trails, as they’re mostly shared use, rather than dedicated bike trails. This area also isn’t the best draining, so it’ll be great in the summer months, but be prepared to get pretty mucky when it’s been wet!
Although certainly not outside London, the brilliant series of mountain biking trails at Lee Valley Velopark make it a great place to head if you want to get some skills practice in, without jumping on a train or in the car. Within easy riding distance of Central London via a good network of canal or park cycle routes, you can either take your own mountain bike or hire one at the centre.
If Downhill is your thing, you’ll want to head to Rogate B1KEPARK. Thankfully it’s only 2.2 mies (3.5 km) from the train station in the lovely Hampshire village of Liss, …
This Tour to the south of London circles Biggin Hill airport on a series of tracks and bridleways that make for a perfect cross-country style ride. Choose a hardtail, rigid, …