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The Marin Trail - Cycle1st Trail Reviews
Marin Trail - Ridden & Reviewed by Cycle1st
Updated November 11th 2007

GWYDYR FOREST better known as the MARIN TRAIL. North Wales.
Kevin Humprhies starts the Marin Trail

The Marin Trail
is approximately 28 Km in length with 860 metres of climbing in all. It offers the rider an excellent mix of climbing, single track, fast descents, flowing roller-coaster descents and good technical challenges without being too extreme.
John Williams on the first climb of the day
First Climb an early tester!
Marin trail Alternative Start

The Pay & Display Machine now operating. Monies received go towards the upkeep of the trails.

Best £1 you could ever spend. A new information board was also on show detailing the trail itself and various options for riders.

No jetwash facilities exist to
clean your bike after the ride.

It isnít too unforgiving, as opposed to those intensely demanding, testosterone-driven, total focus trails where, if you lose your confidence at the start of the ride then you feel as if you should vacuum yourself off the face of the Earth, along with losing the will to live and the feeling that you should go back to riding Canal towpaths. Iím sure everyone has had those bad-day experiences, always exaggerated by an awesome trail.

The Marin however is almost guaranteed to give everyone something.The Trail starts from a reasonably sized car park, just outside of Llanrwst, a few miles to the North of Betwys-y-coed, in North Wales. The car park is situated just off the B5106, almost opposite the Gwydyr Uchaf Chapel and it is worth noting that the car park gets pretty full at weekends and Bank holidays in the Summer.

To start the ride, once set up on the bike, we had to contend with a long and demanding climb. This has now been upgraded, so that the beginning section covers an ascending and winding single track which hugs the contour of the hill.

This new narrow track then took us through two barriers (which we could ride through) before opening out onto the original fire road a little further along its travel.. As we were on fire road the grip was good which made the climb much easier. Once reaching the top of the first section the views are engaging and we were off to the right for some lovely sweeping single track, which ends at a short section of fire-road.

This sets out the template for most of the ride and as such it has been well thought through with quick flowing single track and then short climbs on fire-road.

The second descent has been repaired, as have many worn and erroded areas, and is not quite as bad as it used to be as exposed rocks have been packed with earth. No doubt these areas will become worn again, this is due to certain difficulties incurred in constructing the trail at the outset, we were informed by one of the Guys involved in itís construction.

A new, much better start to the trail brings you out at the base of the long fire road climb which goes on forever.

At the top finally

At the top finally, sweeping, fast
descents follow...then it gets tricky.
Recent repairs have made it much safer for first time riders.

Fast Sweeping descents
Beware the boulders
After this there are simply a collection of excellent descents through forest areas with the climbs in between. Breathtaking views can be had at many points along the Trail and recent tree-felling has improved many of the trail side views.

Certain parts of the trail have been cut through gullies with others built on rocky small escarpments with quite sharp stones sticking up, not a place to come off. There is a bench which has been placed almost half way along the trail, from which you get views across to Tryfan, Carneddau and SnowdonÖ.. on a clear day are magnificent.

Another section and you find yourself flying along a narrow, tight and rocky ridge. Keeping focused and not scrubbing-off too much speed allows you to skip over the terrain whilst frequently sweeping from left to right and back again on these fast trails.
Certain single track sections are climbs but nothing too demanding and as long as you are fit, will pose no problem. With the mix of fire-road climbs and off road descent there is always time to catch your breath between sections but importantly there is not too much fire-road and where the fire-roads are there is usually a climb, including the final leg breaker that tests your stamina in the latter stages of the trail.

Towards the end, the trail really comes alive, with quicker and quicker sections over the repeating berns and tight twist and turns. We found ourselves storming down these latter parts with this trail providing the rider with the sort of flow which makes it so exceptional.
Fire Roads join technical sections
On the Fire Roads
Amazing views
Great views are the norm
By the time we got back to the car park where we started from, it was smiles all round. The trail is so good it makes you want to repeat it and some people do.

As with many of these purpose built trails we started and finished in the same place but without repeating any of the sections apart from crossing a climb which we had earlier covered.
During the Spring/Summer/Early Autumn the trail can be busy at weekends, but this usually occurs between about around 10.30 and 17.00. And anyway it doesnít detract from a fabulous day.

We understand that there are plans to create trails in the southern and eastern parts of the forest as well. All we can say is ďroll-onĒ!ÖÖÖ. Canít wait.

In conclusion, we recommend this trail for anyone around the intermediate level. Advanced riders will not be disappointed, itís just a matter of speed.

Those wishing to enjoy the course at a more leisurely pace have the option to do so. Reasonable fitness and bike skills, it goes without saying, are required. It isnít extreme but caution is of course needed. Warm-up before undertaking the first climb and donít be intimidated by the early descents, they mellow and just get better.


Travelling: From the North take the M6 to the M56 follow the signs for Chester/Queensferry/A55. Follow the A55 to Colwyn Bay then turn left onto the A470 to Gwydyr.

From the South and Midlands again up the M6 to the M56 follow the signs for Chester/Queensferry/A55 and follow the same as above.

Almost done


This is an area popular with tourists and the Welsh tourist board, TIC or Holidays Section all have comprehensive lists of reasonable places to stay. Betwys-y-coed TIC 01690 710426.
Also worth checking out the Wales Section of The Cycle Holidays Directory here


Allow up to 3 hours .

Time to beat 1 hr 50 mins.

The Cycle1st Team.

Addition : During Summer Months we have noticed an ever increasing number of walkers on the MTB trails which can be dangerous on some of the fast descents so be wary!

Llandegla Forest - Ridden & Reviewed

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