Where can you go mountain biking in Bristol?
© Dale Tidy / Red Bull Content Pool
The trail highlights, pumptracks and top pit stops – you can't go wrong with this guide to the best of Bristol mountain biking.
It’s a fact of life that city-dwellers often suffer from a shortage of trails, and usually they have to travel outside of their city to get their off-road two-wheeled fix. Bristol, however, is one of the exceptions to the rule.
It’s become a large hub for all things cycling, especially drawing in 9-to-5ers who still want to hit the trails at the weekend, as well as hosting a number of bike brands and shops across the city. Bristol is home to a wide array of trails and riding opportunities, despite it being a thriving and busy urban environment.
There are a variety of ways to get out on two wheels in the city, so whether you fancy some pumptrack action, want to get on the gravel bike trend or you’re a die-hard mountain biker, you’re guaranteed to find what you want.
Ashton Court - Nova
The epicentre of the majority of MTB trails in Bristol is at the Ashton Court Estate. Here you’ll find an MTB centre with a carpark, a coffee pit stop and Pedal Progression bike shop, where you can hire bikes and kit from. The closest trail setting off from Ashton Court is the 5-mile, blue graded trail, Nova. With a hard-packed terrain with plenty of rollers in the trail to gain momentum, Nova is a great trail for both beginners wishing to have their first rush of MTB adrenalin, as well as experienced riders to have a quick blast to stretch their legs. Nova features a few optional red graded trail sections throughout the route, and the terrain means it’s fun when both wet and dry; the perfect local winter training ground.
Leigh Woods - Yer Tiz
Situated just a couple minutes north of Nova on the other side of the A369 is the shorter, but more technically challenging track “Yer Tiz”. At 2.5 miles, Yer Tiz is half the distance than that of Nova but features a number of more technical obstacles integrated throughout the trail. One of the main features is “Rock Shore”, a British twist on a typical North Shore ladder bridge, but instead of wood planks, it’s made out of rocks for extra laughs. At the top of the trails, there is also a small skills area boasting a variety of obstacles with varying levels of difficulty. Whether you’re fresh to MTB and want to build your confidence, or just fancy a quick play whilst reinstating some foundational skills, then Yer Tiz is a great little whiz.
50 Acre Trail
Just west of Ashton Court Estate is the 50 Acre Trail, the smallest loop of them all but certainly not the easiest. Although not officially graded, 50 Acre Trail is a two-mile, all-natural terrain trail with plenty of rocks and roots to tackle, along with a few optional drops. It also features some technical climbing sections with a number of logs to pedal over to ensure you get a full body workout on the climb, as well as the descent. Although fun in the dry, this natural trail will feel like a whole new track in the wet as you battle with mud and slippery, wet roots.
Ashton Court Plantation - Belmont
Ten minutes south of Ashton Court and starting from Ashton Hill Woods carpark is a one-mile cross country loop, as well as a number of downhill jump tracks. The trail at Belmont is all-natural terrain with no hardpack, meaning that there are plenty of technical challenges to keep you on your toes. The downhill tracks, although short, are fun and playful. The trails have countless berms and singletrack, with the addition of numerous jumps, ranging from small tabletops, all the way up to a 15ft road gap, along with a number of hips jumps and drops. Belmont is better ridden when dry as it can be very slick when wet, and the trail erosion that occurs when riding in the mud and slop makes for difficult riding conditions.
This area is maintained by a local bunch of volunteers called the Belmont Riders Association, so, if you head there to ride and enjoy Belmont tracks, then check out their Facebook page for information and dig days to help keep it running in its prime.
Perfect Pit Stops
After all that riding and exploring, you may need a little pick me up. Whether it be a small little refuel with a hit of caffeine and a slice of your favourite cake, or whether you fancy relaxing with some good old British pub food after your ride, there are plenty of options around the trails.
Just under a mile North from the car park for the Belmont trails is the Failand Inn, offering traditional British pub food.
Or if you fancy something more British seaside, then there is Piccolo's Fish and Chip shop just south of Ashton Court.
Just a little more central from Ashton Court is TinCan coffee shop, offering breakfast and brunch, along with numerous sweet treats.
For small bike lovers, there are countless pumptracks and BMX tracks around the city to keep you occupied.
Patchway BMX track has been running since the early '80s and has undergone numerous improvements over the years, keeping the scene alive. Bristol BMX Club have been holding regular races and events at the track and have an eight-person start gate, perfect for getting you ready to race. The address is Water Side Dr, Patchway, Bristol BS34 5JT.
Brunel Way Pump Track
If you prefer something less race orientated and still want to jump around on the little bikes, then Brunel Way is a wonderfully central pump track just under the flyover, making it an ideal spot for a lunch or post-work spin. It's located at Brunel Way (funnily enough), BS3 2LE.
Arno's Park Pump Track
This mini track is tonnes of pump-fun, with rollers, small jumps, doubles and berms. All you need is a BMX, a jump bike or even a hardtail mountain bike to make the most of this track, plus it was built by Architrail so you know it's good quality. You can find it on Bath Road, BS30 6HP.
As well as a number of trails and pump tracks, one of the best things about living in an urban area is the endless opportunities for street riding. With no waymarkers or set route, street riding forces you to get creative with line choices and scope for tricks. So get out there and test your street skills!