by Dave Anderson
On the shores of Carlingford Lough, the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails powered by Chain Reaction Cycles offer some of the most challenging mountain biking in all of Ireland where efforts are rewarded with incredible coastal views and lightning quick singletrack descents. When you add not just one but two purpose-built downhill trails to the mix, there’s no denying it… Rostrevor is a mountain biker’s haven.
Singletrack article extract
Rostrevor is known for two things, big descents and bigger weather. Although this is a trail centre it feels like more of a proper big day out in the mountains, with a committing feel from the start.
…we pedal off up the mixed red/black route. That is, until we are stopped in our tracks by the view from the aptly named Kodak Corner, with views through gaps in the weather across the fjord (yes, Northern Ireland has fjords…) into the Republic and down into the ice cream coloured seaside towns below.
With a flick of the bars, we drop into the top of an epic 10km descent. Now this is not a typical Dafydd (Davis) trail. It feels familiar but it has quirks, too (besides the almost obscene length). Trees brush closer to shoulders than we are used to. Corners wind tighter than normal. Roots and rocks and mud, not dished up in separate helpings but ladled onto our plates all at once. This is an Irish interpretation of Dafydd’s instructions and it is excellent.
Cutting faster and steeper now, these trails drop you into the meat of the mountain. Boulders, slabs, steps; bars come moss-scrapingly close to the rocks that are still lurking on every corner. It’s utterly engrossing and a moment’s lack of concentration will result in a short, sharp stop.
Red Trail – 27km | 78% singletrack
Rostrevor’s red trail starts off with a lung-busting ascent to the heights of Slievemartin, where you can rest assured if the climb hasn’t taken your breath away, the fabulous #kodakcorner views over Carlingford Lough will take care of this for you. After all this climbing you can enjoy the fruits of your labour on some epic singletrack descents and fabulously long and winding sections of northshore unlike anywhere else in Ireland.
Black Trail – 19km | 76% singletrack
This invigorating black trail follows the same route as the red trail to the summit of Slievemartin and around Slievebane before splitting off at Rostrevor Forest. Those opting for this ‘boulderdash’ option will enjoy some heart-racing descents full of technically challenging rock gardens and some serious drops before meeting the return route ‘Home Run’ back to the trailhead. This trail is not for the faint-hearted.
Mega Mission – DH 1 | 98% singletrack
This jumps trail has been compared to Whistler’s A-Line and has been designed to knock the fun factor right off the richter scale. Starting on the southern slopes of Slievebane, this bermy DH trail will push your bike handling skills right to the limit with seriously big jumps, berms and secret booters waiting around every corner. If you looking for a DH trail with airtime then Mega Mission will hit the spot.
On the Pulse – DH 2 | 98% singletrack
On the Pulse is a more technically challenging DH trail with ‘proper’ boulder fields and some colossal drop offs. This trail is used for DH races regularly held in Rostrevor and so those of a racing persuasion should look out for the odd gap jump dotted along the trail.
There is a café, toilets, showers and bike wash located at the trailhead – Postcode: BT34 3AA. Official Trailhead Provider, East Coast Adventure, offer daily uplift and half day / full day bike hire, coaching and guiding on the trails.
Nearby Towns & MTB-Friendly Places to Stay
Rostrevor – 0.5 miles
Rostrevor is a small coastal village on the shores of Carlingford Lough. With narrow streets, independent cafes and traditional pubs it is hard not to get caught up in the whole village atmosphere in Rostrevor. Under a mile from the Rostrevor trailhead in Kilbroney Park, the village is an obvious choice for visiting mountain bikers.
Stay @ Rostrevor Holidays
These family-run self-catering cottages are owned by local mountain bikers and offer state of the art bike storage, washing and drying facilities as well as a bike wash on site. They also offer introductory MTB lessons on the trails for absolute beginners.
Warrenpoint – 2.3 miles
A little over 2 miles from the Rostrevor Trails, Warrenpoint is a lively town, popular with visiting mountain bikers looking for a wider choice of accommodation options, restaurants and pubs. Warrenpoint comes to life in the summer months with a whole host of festivals and community events including the renowned Guinness Blues on the Bay Festival in May.
Stay @ The Whistledown Hotel
Located on the seafront, this independently run hotel boasts two popular restaurants and two lively bars with full cocktail menus and Prosecco on tap! All guest rooms are en-suite with free use of an outdoor bike wash and secure overnight bike storage during your stay.
Distance to other trail centres in Northern Ireland
Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails – 18 miles
Barnett Demesne Trails & Jumps Park – 43 miles
Blessingbourne Trails – 61 miles
Davagh Forest Trails – 70 miles