Within and around the M25
Are you looking for the best place to mountain bike near London? You’ve come to the right place.
Even in the capital’s sprawling metropolis you’re only ever a few miles from a decent ride, so whether it’s flowing woodland trails or pump tracks that flick your switch you’ll find something to turn you on
London is famous for many things: culture, business, food, architecture, art — but not really mountain biking. The country’s capital won’t ever appear on a list of the UK’s top riding destinations, but look a bit closer through the urban sprawl and you’ll find some little gems hidden away.
Best place to mountain bike near London
In no particular order, here are seven great places to ride near London…
1. Epping Forest
Need to know: 45min ride from city centre. Twisting and weaving singletrack that makes good use of the available terrain and is rideable from the city centre.
While some trails put the ‘mountain’ into mountain biking, Epping Forest manages to make the most of very little altitude with miles upon miles of fast and twisting singletrack. It’s a small oasis in north-east London and does a surprisingly good impression of escaping the tentacles of the urban sprawl.
Navigation can be very difficult due to the maze of trails and most of them are unmapped. It’s really useful to follow a GPS route (see our route map below), or join a weekend club or shop ride.
It’s possible to head out with no map, as the forest is only 4km wide and 19km long, and hemmed in by roads at its perimeter. So get out and explore — you’re never far from a road or landmark.
The trails can notoriously transform into a bog after heavy rain and due to the heavy traffic (mountain bikers, runners and horses) the ground quickly gets churned up. Drainage isn’t good and it can take some time for the trails to dry out, so don’t forget your skinny mud tyres.
Ploughing through the mud will at least ensure a good workout and more than makes up for the lack of hills — the highest point is Pole Hill at 91 metres.
It’s easy to get to and there are several car parks located on the edge of the woods, plus residential streets that offer free weekend parking.
2. Lordship Loop
Need to know: 40min ride from city centre. Improve your skills on London’s brand new pump track, located close to the city centre.
Address: Broadwater Farm Community Centre, Adams Road,Tottenham, N17 6HE
Opened in late 2011, the new Lordship Loop is one of the most exciting developments to hit London. It’s a fairly typical pump track, similar to a BMX track but with smaller jumps, leaving the emphasis on momentum and smooth riding.
Nestled in a corner of Lordship Recreation Grounds in north-east London, overlooked by council flats and Alexandra Palace, it’s the ideal place to hone your jumping skills on a track that suits all ability levels. It was built by renowned trail sculptor Rowan Sorrell, so you know it’s going to be good.
It’s 391 metres long and makes good use of the space, and features berms, rollers, doubles and step-up jumps from start to finish. It’s rideable on any bike, but a hardtail is probably ideal. It’s a good place to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, and best of all, the skills you learn here can be transferred directly to the trails.
The Trax off-road cycling club has been set up to oversee the loop and runs regular rides throughout the year with youth training sessions at weekends. It’s completely free to ride and is open year round, and it’s easy to find from the centre of the city if you know your way around London.
3. Aston Hill
Need to know: 1hr train from city centre. North London’s nearest trail centre with a choice of XC and DH routes, including the new Surface to Air downhill track.
Address: HP22 5NQ
Just an hour north of London, Aston Hill is a well known dedicated riding spot and has been catering for riders of all abilities for many years. The park sits on the side of a steep hill and offers several downhill tracks of varying difficulty. There’s also a cross-country loop.
There’s a lot going on there at the moment, with a recently opened Surface to Air downhill track tripling the number of people visiting since it opened back in 2014. There’s also continual work going ahead to update the cross-country trail, as well as on some of the longer established downhill tracks, so there are plenty of reasons to visit.
There’s ample car parking, or Aston Hill can be reached by train or the Underground, but it costs £7 for a day permit to ride (£?6if bought online). More economical if you’re planning to ride there often is to become a member. This gives you full access for the year, as well as CTC third party insurance. Opening hours are 8.30am till 30 minutes before dusk.
Aston Hill trails
- Ricochet DH
- Red DH
- Black DH
- Surface To Air (aka S2A)
- Root Canal DH
- Cross Country loop
- Pump track
4. The Chilterns
Aston Hill is adjacent to the Chilterns. Download the route below and zap it into your GPS or smartphone and you’re away.
5. Hadleigh Park
Address: Hadleigh Park, Chapel Lane Car Park, Chapel Lane, Hadleigh, Essex, SS7 2PP
Putting London on the world mountain bike map, Hadleigh Park was the most talked-about mountain bike trail in 2012 due to the Olympics. The course designers produced a tough yet rewarding course — despite the lack of elevation (70m top to bottom) — and this delivered a thrilling race, even if the natural landscape didn’t promise much.
Hadleigh Park trails
- Olympic mountain bike course
- Blue trail
- Green trail
- All-ability trail
- Pump track
- Skills area
6. Swinley Forest
Address: RG12 7QW
Check out Swinley’s mountain bike trail maintainance team for all the latest updates on trail conditions and trail developments and changes.
Swinley Forest trails
- Blue loop
- Red loop
- Green loop
- Black and Freeride stuff under construction
7. Surrey Hills
There’s an incredible amount of riding on offer around Peaslake in the Surrey hills, but unless you know where you’re going, you’re going to miss out.
Ride Britain’s Best Singletrack around Peaslake and the Surrey Hills: download our free GPS route and head for the hills.
This route is perfect for the first timer and links together the official trails across Holmbury hill and Leith hill.