by Dave Anderson
Davagh Forest Trails powered by Chain Reaction Cycles are tucked away in the untouched rural landscape of the Sperrin Mountains and offer exhilarating XC trails that’ll tick everyone’s boxes. The family-friendly green trail is perfect for those giving mountain biking a go for the very first time whereas the easy going blue trail boasts some sections of more technical singletrack for those with a bit more experience. There is also a pump track and short skills course located at the trailhead however if you’re after a fast trail that’ll keep you on your toes then the Red Trail at Davagh Forest is for you.
Singletrack article extract
Blue and red loops wind their way through the forest, starting with an undulating stretch of singletrack through the trees to get you warmed up before punching you firmly in the gut with a three-mile forest road climb that puts Golspie to shame for its ability to gain height abruptly… known locally as The Widowmaker.
…The trail starts to open up and flow. Every corner links to another. No pedal strokes are needed. No brakes are covered as my big wheels push out to top speed as the corners keep coming, one after another. Grinning like a fool I am spat out onto the fire road and the equally stunned face of trip photographer Jenn confirms it: this is possibly the best bit of purpose-built trail we’ve ridden. Anywhere. It is rare that I am lost for words to describe a trail, but Wolf’s Hill is pure perfection.
Green Trail – 3km
Starting on wide forest roads, the green trail is the perfect way to get to know your mountain bike and get a feel for riding off-road trails in a forest environment. The second half of this beginner trail winds through woodland before crossing Davagh Water and following the meandering river back to the trailhead.
Blue Trail – 7.5km | 47% singletrack
This trail begins with a nice twisty ascent from the upper car park. Keep left at the fork junction on the forest road for an easy spin between woodland and open hillside. On the return leg, you can pick up more speed and put your bike handling skills to the test on some faster flowing singletrack with more technical rocky sections.
Red Trail – 16km |55% singletrack
This red trail accompanies the blue route on its winding ascent from the upper car park.
At the fork junction follow the red arrows on the right hand forest road for a long, steady climb up the slopes of Beleevnamore Mountain – The Widowmaker. At the top, you can just about catch your breath before it is stolen from you again on either optional descent; both of which offer heart-racing singletrack, berms, rock drops and extreme rock slab features.
Those searching for a trail that delivers high on the adrenaline scale should look no further.
There is a purpose-built changing area, toilets, fresh water tap and bike wash located at the trailhead – Postcode: BT79 8JH. Official trailhead provider, Outdoor Concepts, offers bike hire, tea, coffee, brownies and tubes.
Nearby Towns & MTB-Friendly Places to Stay
Draperstown – 8 miles
Draperstown is perfect for those looking for that authentic Northern Irish village atmosphere. There are number of local cafes where you can grab a full Ulster Fry before hitting the trails as well as a whole host of traditional pubs where an evening’s craic is always guaranteed.
Stay @ The Apparo
With a bike wash and secure bike storage, this boutique hotel is a great place to base yourself near the Davagh Forest Trails. The Apparo also boasts a renowned restaurant and will put together tasty packed lunches on request.
Cookstown – 14 miles
Cookstown is the largest town in the area and is the ideal choice for those who are looking for a bit of a buzz but still want to be close to the trails. Full of cosy cafes, renowned restaurants and welcoming pubs, Cookstown is a great place stay and relax after a long day on the trails.
Stay @ The Glenavon House Hotel
This large family owned hotel overlooks the Ballinderry River and boasts its own private leisure complex including swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna – a perfect way to ease weary legs after a long day on the Davagh Forest Trails. The Cellar Bar and Restaurant serve an extensive menu offering good hearty food 7 days a week.
Distance to other trail centres in Northern Ireland
Blessingbourne Trails – 40 miles
Barnett Demense Trails & Jumps Park – 60 miles
Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails – 64 miles
Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails – 70 miles