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Mountain biking in Afan Forest Park

Located minutes from the M4, Afan Forest Park is one of the iconic mountain bike destinations in Great Britain

Mountain biker high up at Afan

What’s here

  • Mountain bike trails (graded from green to black)
  • Bike park (graded extreme)
  • Cycle way
  • Family skills area
  • Bike hire, sales and repairs
  • Two visitor centres

Introduction

The mountain bike trails have been carved out of hillsides once surrounded by coal mining, and the valley has been transformed into a rider’s heaven.

With a multitude of trails graded from green to black, Afan Forest Park offers some of the most exciting and progressive mountain biking in the country. The trails feature swooping descents, technical boardwalks and miles of singletrack that is twisty, rooty, rocky and, in places, wildly exposed.

More advanced riders can improve their skills in the Afan Bike Park which is an extreme graded bike park.

For newcomers to mountain biking, there is the easier green-graded Rookie and blue-graded Blue Scar trails plus a family skills area.

There is also a low level cycleway along the wide flat route of an old railway line which is ideal for families and for travelling between the two main visitor centres – Afan Forest Park and Glyncorrwg Ponds.

And there’s no need to bring a bike as they can be hired from both Afan Valley Bike Shed and Skyline Cycles

Which mountain bike trail is right for you?

The mountain biking trails at Afan Forest Park are graded to give you an indication of their difficulty.

To make sure that you pick a mountain bike trail you can handle:

  • see our mountain biking page
  • read the relevant onsite information before setting off on your ride 

Closures and diversions

Please note:

  • Sometimes we need to close or divert trails for your safety whilst we undertake maintenance work or forest operations
  • Occasionally we may have to close a site in extreme weather, such as high winds or snow and ice due to the risk of injury to visitors or staff
  • Please always follow any instructions onsite and make sure you follow any temporary diversion signs in place

Please see the MTB trail update for the latest information.

List of mountain biking trails

As well as a family skills area and the more advanced Afan Bike Park, there is a huge range of mountain biking trails in Afan Forest Park:

  • Low level cycle trail - Rheilffordd
  • Green (easy) family trail – Rookie (which includes the family skills area)
  • Blue (moderate) trail – Blue Scar
  • Red (difficult) trails – Penhydd; Y Wal; White’s Level; Blade; Skyline
  • Black (severe) trail – W2
  • Extreme (most severe) – Afan Bike Park

All of the mountain biking trails are waymarked.

Trails start from either the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre, Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre or Rhyslyn car park.

Family trails

Rheilffordd

Starting point: Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre or Rhyslyn

Length:

  • 22.5 kilometres (Pontrhydyfen to Blaengwynfi)
  • 22.5 kilometres (Glyncorrwg and back)
  • 16 kilometres (circular route Pontrhydyfen to Cymer and back)

Grade: forest road or similar

Rheilffordd MTB trail Afan PDFThe Rheilffordd is a low level cycle way along the wide flat route of the old railway lines that once carried passengers and coal the length of the valley.

As well as following disused railway tracks, the trail goes onto forest roads and winds through forest and open areas that were once railway sidings.

The former Cynonville station has been converted to a shelter and barbeque, and there are many benches and picnic tables along the route to stop and enjoy the view.

Green (easy) trail

Rookie

Starting point: Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre

Length:

  • 5.5 kilometres (green-graded trail)
  • 2.3 kilometres (optional blue-graded loop)

Grade: green (with optional extension onto a blue graded loop)

Rookie MTB trail Afan PDFThe Rookie trail is Afan Forest Park’s first green-graded trail and it offers a perfect route for newcomers or those looking for a relaxing ride.

It has been built in sections to allow riders to experience as much or as little as they want.

This is a wide trail with slightly sweeping descents and there is a family skills area along the way where riders can develop their skills too.

At the end of the green trail, there is an optional 2.3 kilometre blue-graded loop by the river. This provides a taster for those wishing to progress or looking for a bigger adventure.

Blue (moderate) trail

Blue Scar

Starting point: Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre

Length: 7 kilometres

Grade: blue

Blue Scar MTB Afan PDFThe Blue Scar mountain bike trail takes its name from the mining history of the valley and is designed for those who are very competent on green trails and want to try a more remote and challenging ride.

It climbs out of the visitor centre and rewards riders with some amazing views. The return down the other side of the valley has a few technical features.

This is a fantastic trail to improve riding skills and develop confidence.

Red (difficult) trails

Penhydd

Starting point: Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre

Length: 14 kilometres

Grade: red

Penhydd MTB Afan PDFThe Penhydd trail shares its first climb with the Blue Scar trail but, when the Blue Scar branches off, the Penhydd continues to climb.

The trail mixes the old with the new, combining forest road climbs with fantastic views, flowing singletrack descents and some new steeper sections looping back to the visitor centre. 

Y Wal

Starting point: Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre or Rhyslyn

Length: 23 kilometres

Grade: red

Y Wal MTB Afan PDFY Wal mountain bike trail has some of the best singletrack descents in the UK.

It traverses the north side of the Afan Valley on singletrack which varies from fast, open and flowing to tight, technical and rooty.

There are great views of the valley and coastline and, in places, the steep-sided slopes can feel exposed.

Please note: The approach to the singletrack shares a section of the low level family cycleway and the disused railway line, so please ride with consideration for other forest users.

White’s Level

Starting point: Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre

Length: 17 kilometres

Grade: red

White's Level MTB Afan PDFWhite’s Level mountain bike trail is a very technical and progressive riding trail. It has an optional black-graded section with drops and step downs and long singletrack climbs.

The Energy section takes its name from its proximity to the Ffynnon Oer wind farm operated by RWE Innogy (formerly Npower Renewables). This new section demands energy, technical skill and confidence from riders. 

Blade

Starting point: Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre

Length: 24 kilometres

Grade: red

Blade MTB trailFunded by Vattenfall, a European energy company, the Blade mountain bike trail is a fantastic recent addition to the Afan Forest Park trail network.

The trail shares the same steep track climb from Glyncorrwg Ponds with White’s Level but takes riders out to higher and more remote areas.

It includes lots of great singletrack sections, some tough technical climbs and fast flowing descents.

Black (severe) trails

Skyline Loop

Starting point: Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre

Length: 24 kilometres

Grade: black

Overview

The Skyline Loop takes in some amazing views and riding. It is an additional loop to the Blade trail and concludes with a rocky, six kilometre singletrack descent back into Glyncorrwg.

There are stunning, skyline views of the Brecon Beacons, the Preselis, the Black Mountains and the South Wales coast.

W2 Links

Starting point: Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre or Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre or Rhyslyn car park

Length: 44 kilometres

Grade: black

W2 links MTB AfanThe W2 Links allow riders to devise their own trail by combining Y Wal and White’s Level (hence the name W2).

There are high level and low level links that connect these two trails, with some fantastic views of both the Afan and Neath Valleys, and two of the most demanding descents in the UK.

This trail can be started from either Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre or Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre. Each centre is an ideal halfway point for a break and refreshments.

Afan Bike Park

The Afan Bike Park is an extreme graded bike park for more advanced riders to improve their skills.

It has a circular cross country perimeter loop which encloses a series of different graded runs. Features include table tops, roller doubles, rollers, berms, rock features and log skinnies.

The closed loop system means you can push or ride the short distance back up to the top for another run.

The Afan Bike Park is situated at Gyfylchi close to the start of the final Zig Zag section on the Y Wal trail.

You can either pop in on your way round the Y Wal trail or you can drive up and park on site courtesy of Bryn Bettws Lodge, which provides accommodation.

There is another skills area on the Rookie trail near the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre for less experienced riders.

Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre

Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is run by Neath Port Talbot Council. It includes a café, shop, toilets and camping.

Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre

The Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre is the trailhead for the White’s Level, Blade and Skyline mountain biking trails. Both the W2 Links trails can also be started from here.

Facilities include:

  • bike shop for hire and retail (Skyline Cycles)
  • café
  • lounge area
  • open air deck
  • toilets (including accessible toilets)
  • changing/shower rooms
  • bike wash
  • coaching and guiding

There are also coarse and fly fishing lakes, a caravan and camp site and a number of waymarked walks.

Glyncorrwg is signposted from the A4107 in Cymer (the OS grid reference is SS 872 984).

Bike hire, repairs and sales

There are two bike shops in Afan Forest Park.

Afan Valley Bike Shed is adjacent to the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre.

Skyline Cycles is located under the café in the Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre.

Both shops offer a range of services including:

  • bike hire
  • repair and servicing
  • sale of bikes and parts
  • tours and events
  • coaching and guiding

See their websites for more details.

Other forests in Wales with mountain biking trails

With over 30 single-track trails, the forests of Wales offer everything a mountain biker could want.

See our mountain biking page for more information.

Cognation mtb trails South Wales

Natural Resources Wales is a member of the Cognation partnership.

The Cognation partnership has invested in mountain biking in South Wales to improve existing trails, build new trails, renovate facilities and create a new bike park in Merthyr Tydfil.

Contact us

Natural Resources Wales Mountain Bike Ranger

Tel: 0300 065 4720

Email: robert.campbell@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre (run by Neath Port Talbot Council)

Tel: 01639 850564

Email: afanforestpark@npt.gov.uk

Glyncorrwg Ponds Visitor Centre

Tel: 01639 851900

Email: glyncorrwgcampsite@hotmail.com

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