Have you decided to try mountain biking but don’t really know where to ride? Mountain bike trails vary a lot in quality and level of difficulty, but it’s this variety that will keep you coming back for more. When you’re new to mountain biking the choices of where to ride can seem overwhelming; let us help you sort that out with these four best places to start mountain biking.

Trail centres

Trail centres are to mountain biking what ski areas are to skiers: dedicated, well-cared-for trail systems that are marked according to difficulty, and which feature facilities for mountain bikers, like a bike wash station and a bike repair area. Because they cater exclusively to mountain bikers, trail centres might actually rank as the best places to start mountain biking. Make one of the UK’s many trail centres a weekend destination for honing your skills and boosting your fitness in an environment created specifically for you.

Moredirt.com has made it easy to find trail centres through its user-ranked trail centre listings.

The National Cycle Network

This UK-wide network of signed walking and cycling paths connects cities and towns to the countryside with an extensive network of mixed surface byways. If you’re not only a beginner to mountain biking, but to cycling in general, it’s easy to find a route to suit your budding abilities.

Bridle paths 

These shared-use paths lace the UK countryside and are available to cyclists, horses and riders, and walkers. There’s probably one not too far away from you now. What’s especially attractive about these unsurfaced pathways is that they are reasonably level without sharp ups and downs, something that makes them perfect for beginning mountain bikers.

Permissive paths

If you’re the daring type, permissive paths bear a slight risk since they are only open at the discretion of the landowner. They can be designated as a single-use path for cyclists (or horses and riders, or walkers) but they must be marked to indicate user restrictions. Permissive paths may not show up on any maps, so it helps to know where they are in your area before you ride.

When it comes to finding a place to start mountain biking, you’ve got lots of options. What makes a good mountain bike trail is one where you feel like you can challenge yourself without being scared away from the sport, and that is something that’s sure to keep you inspired and motivated to keep riding.