There are some absolutely stunning mountain biking trails in Northern Ireland so we decided to head up and see what all the fuss is about. I love mountain biking in Ireland but this would be my first trip up north and I was incredibly excited to see the trails.

There are loads to choose from but we decided to check out Davagh Forest and spend the day learning the trails there and remembering how to mountain bike (it has been a few years!). Davagh Forest is a beautiful forest located about 6 miles from the lovely Cookstown in Tyrone. There you can find about 30km of MTB trails that weave in and out of the forest.

Also if you want to learn more about mountain biking in the Republic of Ireland, check out the website It is a fantastic resource jam packed full of trails, lessons, tours and trips!

If mountain biking isn’t your thing, don’t forget to check out our list of the Best Hikes in Ireland if you’re looking to keep active while exploring our lovely country!

Beginning the route

We arrived at sunrise and started warming up on the pump track and a skills area at the start of the trail. The pump track is a great place to practice your weight distribution and ‘pumping’ the bike. If you do it right you never have to pedal around the small track at all. The skill area mimics some of the terrain that you will encounter on the trails so is the perfect place to warm up a bit before you get started. I somehow managed to fall flat on my face on the skills track so naturally, I was off to a great start! There are also toilets, changing facilities and showers at the start of the trail.

There are 4 trails to check out, each offering some options along the way too so it’s not exactly the same if you decide to run it again. We decided to run through the blue trail (intermediate) and some of the red (advanced) trail just because why not!?

Wheel of the bike at the beginning of trail

Straight from the off, we were hooked. It was fast, it was exciting, there were twists and turns everywhere and we were loving it… And then we encountered the Widowmaker. The Widowmaker is a fairly long stretch of uphill that is aptly named! It was absolutely killer and I’d be lying if I said I stayed on my bike the whole way up. There were signs painted on the ground reminding us to ‘Keep her lit’ and that we were nearly there. They definitely kept us entertained the entire way up.

The advantage of a long uphill means that you have a whole load of downhill to play with so we were pretty excited when we got to the top. We headed down Wolf’s Hill and it was absolutely beautiful. Here’s what we were cycling through:

We had the whole place to ourselves and the entire forest is incredibly peaceful, it felt great roaring past it on the bikes.

After Wolf’s Hill, we headed down the Run Ragley Run route which offered a lot of speed and some nice twists and turns.

For a 15km route, I was surprised at the diversity of places we came across along the route. From being bathed in green earlier on, we soon came across this yellow pine trail beside a river:

There were also some open stretches and some thick, forested areas along the way.

It took us about an hour and a bit to get back to the car park, including plenty of photo stops and drone stops along the way. A seasoned biker could do it in a lot less I’m sure but it was also nice to know we could get a lot out of the course while being relatively inexperienced.

It may not look like it but I’m really having the time of my life here!

Oisin on his bike in Davagh Forest

Overall, we would highly recommend the trail and if you love mountain biking in Ireland then come on up to Northern Ireland to see what is on offer!

There are plenty of other amazing trails aside from Davagh Forest including Castlewellan and Rostrevor. I can’t wait to check out Rostrevor, the trail there looks incredible.

If you also want to do some 10km long runs while you’re in Northern Ireland, check out this guide.

General Tips When Mountain Biking

If you’re new to mountain biking and don’t know where to start here are some general tips to keep in mind that were provided to us by Ethan of Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland:

  • Don’t look in front of the wheel, try and keep your eyes up at what’s a bit further down the trail.
  • Don’t break too much going over an obstacle/drop – many of them you need a bit of speed to get over.
  • Don’t attempt any drops/obstacles you don’t feel comfortable with; everyone gets off and takes the bike round bits at the start
  • Don’t slam on the breaks. ‘Feathering’ is usually a good method to keep you right, basically just quick rapid taps of both front and back breaks. Sharper breaking use more of the back break.

You can rent your bikes from the folks over at Outdoor Concepts and it costs £150 to rent two amazing bikes, helmets and a roof rack for your car for 2 days.

Mountain Biking Northern Ireland

Directions to Davagh Forest

To get to Davagh Forest drive north through Cookstown then follow the road as the veers left. You’ll be driving on the Lissan road then after a few minutes, there will be a left turn onto Feegarron road. You’ll stay on that winding country road for until you come to a T-junction. Turn left there then immediately right and keep on going straight until you reach the forest.

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