If you live in, or are visiting, the UK’s capital, you may not have considered the possibility of London mountain biking. The lack of mountains and urban spread mean you need to leave the city to hit the trail, but the best places to MTB near London are still accessible.
Mountain bikes make good city rides. They’re tough, kerb duffing and hugely adaptable. Just lock the suspension, switch tyres and you’ve got a solid commuter. But it’s not what they were designed for – and every mountain bike deserves it’s day in the dirt!
If you live in the city you probably know that the capital’s not all urban sprawl. There are plenty of parks to pootle around, but they don’t contain the kind of trails most mountain bikers love. However, there are great spots to ride near London, you just need to know where to go.
If you are a mountain biker visiting the capital of the UK, you can easily fit some time on the trail around tours of the main London sites. Set a day aside, hop on the tube or train out of the city, hire a bike and hit the trails.
Below are a selection of great spots for London mountain biking:
North east of London there’s a forest filled with singletrack. At 19 km-long there’s enough room to discover without feeling confined, and at 4 km-wide you’re not squeezed either.
It’s not the easiest to navigate. So if you’re new to these parts start on the more established routes. Check out Epping Forest Killer Loop at 48 km (30 miles) it is a tough ride, however there are plenty of easier options. Access from Chingford, Epping or Loughton.
In the Surrey Hills you’ll find some of the best places to MTB near London with some of the best singletrack in the south of England. Surrey Hills is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) that is part of the North Downs.
There is a huge variety of riding in this area. Thick forests to the south, steep ridgelines to the north, chalky tracks and some serious mud-plugging. There are 80 miles of dedicated mountain biking trails split into five interlinked routes.
There are also plenty of bridle paths for more general riding. Look out for the climb to Leith Hill or Box Hill where there is a great National Trust cafe. Access from Dorking & Westhumble/Dorking Deepdene in the south, or from Epsom in the north.
Epsom downs is also one of the best places to MTB near London. Located on the edge of the Surrey Hills AONB it is not part of the 80km of Surrey Hills trails above, hence why it is added separately. There are relatively easy but fun trails through the woods and a jump track.
You can also easily ride off-road to trails in the Surrey Hills making it a popular spot for London Mountain biking. Tattenham Corner and the Epsom Downs Racecourse are usual starting points for rides in Epsom Downs.
During the 2012 London Olympics the mountain biking events were held at Hadleigh Park. Easily reached at Benfleet Station on the London to Southend line, it’s not surprising that it’s one of the best places to MTB near London.
The Olympic course has been adjusted to create three different trails: blue, red and black. So Hadleigh Park appeals to all levels of rider. There is also a pump track, skills area and a multi use green trail for those that just want to ride on non-technical cycle paths.
As of August 2018 the bike hire shop is currently closed. It is hoped this will reopen soon to open up London mountain biking at Hadleigh Park to visitors without their own bike.
Not as well publicised but still with routes to offer, Swinley Forest is south west of London. Part of the Windsor estate, it’s home to 1000 hectares of woodland, and a few tracks worth taking.
There’s three IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) trails to follow. Routes are green, blue and red so less testing than at Surrey Hills or Hadleigh Park. But the trails flow nicely and are well worth a visit. Access from Bagshot Station.
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