Mountain Biking in Dartmoor National Park


Mountain biking is one of the most popular activities in Dartmoor National Park (Ar-li/Pixabay)

Stretching across south Devon and famed for its spectacular landscapes and challenging terrain, Dartmoor National Park is a region of remote rocky tors topping open moorland, undulating hills and wooded valleys dotted with eerie standing stones and cairn circles. And with its incredible array of around 40 trails for MTB riders of all abilities, it’s a joy to explore on two wheels for the stunning views from challenging ascents, and the adrenaline rush of steep descents and technical challenges. 

The Pitchup guide to the best mountain biking in Dartmoor National Park covers everything from MTB centres to our favourite mountain biking routes and equipment hire. Whether you’re a complete novice, a competent biker looking to improve, a hardcore off-roader or a family just wanting to have fun together on two wheels, we’ve put together all the details for you. 

MTB trail centres on Dartmoor

If you’re not quite confident enough of your navigational skills to go off-roading, Dartmoor’s MTB parks are the places to go: they're home to a variety of easy-to-follow, purpose-built routes for all levels of skill, while still offering plenty of thrills. And if you’re on holiday with family or a bunch of friends that are not all mad-keen bikers, both parks have alternative activities for anyone who doesn’t want to ride.

Sharpen your technical skills on trails at Haldon Forest Park (Pexels/Pixabay)

Haldon Forest Park

About 15 minutes’ drive east of Dartmoor National Park just off the A38, Haldon Forest Park is popular for its comprehensive network of graded trails suitable for all ages and abilities in 3,500 acres of woodland. Complete beginners can take easy first steps on the Discovery Trail, while intermediate bikers can head for Kiddens and Spicers. The demanding black-grade Ridge Ride Extreme is a technical loop that gives a good challenge for super-fit and expert mountain bike users. Guided bike rides through the steep terrain of Haldon Forest are also available.

Handy facilities at the park include mountain bike hire and Tramper off-road scooter hire for visitors with limited mobility (have a look at our accessible Dartmoor guide for more all-ability outdoor activities too). Non-biking activities available include orienteering and woodland walks (including the Gruffalo Party Trail for kids), plus treetop rope courses and zipwires at neighbouring Go Ape Haldon Forest. There’s also The Ridge Café where you can all draw breath and refuel after an afternoon of activity.

Dartmoor Bike Park

Pre-booking is essential at Dartmoor Bike Park, in the woods of River Dart Country Park, 10 minutes’ drive from Ashburton. The park provides a ‘progression pathway’ so everyone should find something to suit their ability on the four runs of varying difficulty, graded from blue to orange. There’s also a freeride area designed and built by ex-pro BMXer Kye Forte – a Devon lad himself. 

You can rent jump bikes, BMXs and helmets at the 90-acre park, which is also a fantastic hub for families with younger kids, as there are numerous woodland play areas. Pint-sized adrenaline junkies can also give climbing walls, zipwires and bouldering a go. 

Good to know: If you’re holidaying in the national park between April and September, you can just turn up for Monday evening sessions at the bike park. 

Top mountain biking trails in Dartmoor

Longing to go it alone around Dartmoor’s 368 square miles/954 square kilometres of solitude? These three rides will help you find your mojo on the singletrack. As back up, always have the informative (and waterproofed) cyclists’ map handy, and be sure always to stay on the established rights of way across the park – biking on open moorland and common land is only allowed on public bridleways or the designated routes highlighted on this map.

Bellever Circular 

Distance: 6.25 miles/10 kilometres
Difficulty: Suitable for all abilities
Start point: Bellever car park

The Bellever Circular follows a loop along forestry tracks with stunning panoramas over moorland; you also have the option to make a detour up to the landmark rock pile at Bellever Tor. Several other challenging routes are available and include an often-boggy circular ride to Dartmeet that requires advanced riding skills.

But Bellever is also generous to novice cyclists, with a network of gentle trails weaving through dense deciduous woodland for families on their first mountain-biking forays or disabled visitors on Trampers. Watch out for free-grazing Dartmoor ponies and kingfishers along the banks of the River Dart as you ride.

Gorgeous Bellever Forest is a joy to explore by bike (Daryuschandra/Pixabay)

Lyd Head and Rattlebrook Circular 

Distance: 7 miles/11 kilometres
Difficulty: Moderate
Start point: Fox and Hounds Cross car park

Once you’ve crossed the River Lyd, sweeping views over open moorland accompany this fairly strenuous route following sections of the disused Rattlebrook Peat Railway. You‘ll get a decent workout ascending the pudding-shaped slopes of dumpy Great Nodden, where there’s a Bronze Age stone circle, before descending again past the Dunna Goat tors and back to the pub for a welcome pint of Devon cider. 

White Tor and Two Bridges – hard

Distance: 14 miles/23 kilometres
Difficulty: Hard
Start point: Car park opposite Two Bridges Hotel

A wonderful combination of demanding terrain and spectacular landscapes, taking you through woodland, meadows and upland moors, this out-and-back ride is deemed hard for its tendency to get muddy after rain and its hard-going ascents. If you want some quiet time to yourself on Dartmoor, this is the place – there are often very few people to be encountered along this route. When you reach the scattered piles of stones at White Tor – thought to contain neolithic relics – you’ll be rewarded with spellbinding views over western Dartmoor and the Tavy Valley.

Good to know: This track passes through the Merrivale shooting range, which is inaccessible when red flags are raised. Check firing times online before you set off. 

Mountain bike services 

What follows is a short guide to who’s who for skills courses, guided tours and cycling camps, as well as mountain bike hire in Dartmoor National Park.

Mountain bike hire

Want to go mountain biking on Dartmoor but can’t bring a bike with you? You should have no problem finding somewhere to hire a suitable beast.

Dartmoor cycling camps

A couple of local businesses provide cycling camps for newcomers to mountain biking.

  • Moorland Hall – Residential summer camps aimed at encouraging younger visitors to Dartmoor to pick up a new skill or hobby; mountain biking, surfing and climbing are just three of the sports available.
  • Yurt Camp Devon – A family-friendly option with wild swimming and pony trekking on the menu as well as mountain biking.

Guided cycle tours

Test your biking skills on forest tracks (Axel Brunst/Unsplash)

If you’d like to head out with an expert guide to show you little-known spots on the moor, the following offer bespoke options. 

  • Beyonk offers day tours of the moor by mountain bike on routes graded from green to black. 

  • Marmalade MTB specialises in multi-day bike trips, with the ‘The Best of the South West’ taking in the beauty of Dartmoor, Exmoor and the Quantocks.

Skills courses

If you’re looking to brush up your mountain-biking skills, the following bike shops and cycling clubs will have you saddle-fit in no time.

  • AMBikeSkool – Sharpen your technical skills on courses led by MTB expert and journalist Dave Youngs. 

  • Adventure Okehampton – Among other options, these guys run courses for senior and advanced riders.

Local mountain biking events

Aside from the hugely popular annual Dartmoor Classic road race held in late June, and with the future of the tough Dartmoor Legend Ultra currently in doubt, there are a couple of dates for the diary of keen mountain bikers.

Devon Dirt Challenge Ride 

An off-road ride on the edge of Dartmoor that takes place in April/May, the Devon Dirt is designed as a chilled-out day of off-road mountain biking on often-muddy tracks and country lanes. With up to 400 riders taking part annually, it’s now part of Cycling UK’s Challenge Ride Series.

The 37-mile/60-km course (there’s a shorter 17-mile/27-km version) starts from Newton Abbot. The ride is designed to be a fun community event rather than a technical challenge, with families and even eMTB riders made welcome. While you’ll need to take along your own food and basic repair kits, there are several refreshment stops along the way with cold drinks and energy-giving cakes on offer. Limited medical support is also provided.

Devon Grit

While not actually on the moor itself, this annual gravel event for cyclo-cross, e-bikes and mountain bikes is held in late August. It starts in Exmouth and covers the lovely countryside of the East Devon National Landscape, taking in sections of the Exe Estuary, the stunning coastline around Beacon Hill and the heathland trails on Mutter’s Moor. If you’re camping on Dartmoor and keen to participate or spectate, you can reach Exmouth with a drive of half an hour or so from the edge of the national park.

From purpose-built and family-friendly bike parks to challenging off-road races, the mountain biking options in Dartmoor National Park are truly outstanding, challenging and – above all – spectacularly scenic. There are bike shops with repair and rental facilities throughout the park, and if you need up-to-the-minute info on off-roading in the park, the Cycling UK Forum is a good place to start. 


If you’re looking for accommodation around Dartmoor, there’s no shortage of options, from cosy hotels to hostels, while Pitchup has a number of cycle-friendly campsites throughout Devon; if you’re thinking about wild camping, our guide will keep you up to date with current rules. 

Need some final inspo? Have a look at Will’s Van Adventures on the moor or check out some local routes on AllTrails.