Mountain Biking in Argyll & the Isles

Scotland's Cycle Coast

Argyll & the Isles is fast becoming Scotland’s key destination for mountain biking.

With jagged peaks offering challenging ascents, breath-taking views and daredevil drops for a thrilling off-road experience. So thrilling that the prestigious Scottish Enduro Series recently listed Dunoon as one of its race locations.

Dunoon is also home to the Dunoon Project – an exciting and innovative community scheme to give easy access to the local hills and new tracks.

Across Argyll & the Isles, you can explore thousands of miles of trails, forest tracks, way-marked, mixed-use trails and even towpaths. There’s something for everyone from fun family rides to technically demanding trails, all set within dazzling scenery with an abundance of wildlife.

We’re proud to do mountain biking exceptionally well. Think good public transport via the new ScotRail Highland Explorer, ever-changing scenery, great access laws and plenty of space to escape the crowds.

And after a day off-road, you can enjoy fabulous locally sourced food plus a wee dram from one of our famous distilleries or a pint at one of our craft breweries.

Be sure to check Forestry and Land Scotland if bad weather affects routes.

Safety First

Mountain biking is a wonderful way to explore but it’s not without risk. Keep safe by following these safety tips.

  1. Keep your bike in good working order. Carry essential tools and spares.
  2. Check your lights are working and wear high-vis clothing.
  3. When cycling, wear a helmet.
  4. Know your navigation. Plan your route and carry a map and compass or GPS.
  5. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  6. Ride sensibly. Limit your speed and take your time.
  7. If you’re new to the area start with a short trip, preferably on an official trail.
  8. Ride within your skill level. Consider your fitness levels, the terrain, weather forecast etc.
  9. Don’t forget your mobile phone and a charged power bank.
  10. Pack a basic first aid and survival kit.
  11. Pack for all weathers. This is Scotland. Pack waterproofs and sun cream.

Mountain Biking Trails

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Ardnoe Mountain Bike Trail, Knapdale

Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty this route can be hilly in places but you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views over Loch Caol Scotnish, Loch Crinan and the Moine Mhor. The route starts at Druim-an-Duin car park on the B8025 between Tayvallich and Crinan.

Argyll Forest Park

Experience natural mountain biking thrills at Argyll Forest Park - one of the best places in Scotland for real cross-country biking and cycling.

The park has exciting trails and fabulous views stretching across much of Cowal, from Holy Loch at Dunoon to the jagged peaks of the Arrochar Alps.

Ardgartan offers exhilarating cross-country riding, as well as the opportunity to head off-road and blaze your own trail.

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Ardgarten Coilessan Glen Loop
Ardgarten Coilessan Glen Loop

This is a fairly easy trail that all the family can tackle. This route takes you along the shoreline and into woodland with a few climbs and descents. Start by following the trail south towards the farm at Coilessan and round by the loch shore – you might just glimpse otters here. Then it’s a climb in the shadow of Cnoc Coinnich before heading back down Coilessan Glen. The view over Loch Long towards the Clyde is a cracker!

Gentle | 11km | Allow 90 minutes

Ardgarten Cat Craig Loop
Ardgarten Cat Craig Loop

The 8km Cat Craig loop takes its name from the Scottish wildcat that was famed for roaming the forest. The route may be short, but it packs in some serious scenery. This route winds along five miles of forest path before opening up to reveal stunning views over Loch Long. On a clear day, you’ll even see Ben Lomond. On the return journey, you’ll be treated to spectacular views over Glen Croe and the Cobbler.

Gentle| 8km | Allow 1 hour

Ardgarten Peninsula Circuit
Ardgarten Peninsula Circuit

This grand tour requires serious stamina, but you'll be rewarded with amazing views of the Firth of Clyde and its surrounding mountains.

Demanding | 32km | Allow for 6 hours

Glenshellish Loop
Glenshellish Loop

The loop is a great gentle introduction to off-road biking and you can enjoy splashing through the ford at the head of the glen.

Gentle | 11km | Allow 90 minutes

Eck Loop
Eck Loop

A demanding ride through the forest roads fringing Loch Eck, which sits in a gully left over from the last ice age and is now the main water source for Dunoon. Start at Glenbranter to get the epic climb out of the way!

Demanding | 35km | Allow 6 hours

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Bute Forest

Bute is home to some wonderful woodlands. Bute Forest, owned by the community, can be found at the north end of the island. It’s a fabulous place to explore on foot or by bike. Discover ancient sites, wildlife galore and some truly stunning views across the Kyles of Bute. You can roam free in the woodland, but there are also several excellent way-marked trails.

Find out more >


In recent years, Dunoon has become a magnet for savvy mountain bikers. Members of the Cowal Mountain Bike Club have been busy developing some awesome trails in Bishop’s Glen, a wooded, hilly area just behind Dunoon. The area has some tricky technical descents to test your downhill skills.

For a gentler ride, the Corlarach Loop starts at Bishop’s Glen and takes you through Corlarach Forest which is teeming with buzzards, kestrels and tawny owls. It has a couple of steep sections but is mostly rolling forest track – a great route for all the family.

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Fire Tower Trail

The Fire Tower Trail winds through Achnabreac Forest near Lochgilphead. A network of single-track sections linked by forest roads, you can make up your own route and do as much or as little as you like. Do it all and you’ll rack up 19kmh a couple of optional – and very challenging – black graded sections. With big climbs, thrilling descents and hairy drop-offs, this is a great place to test your bike-handling skills. You’ll also be treated to some awesome views of the islands of Jura, Scarba and the Gulf of Corryvreckan.

Red Trail | Difficult | 13km | Allow 90 mins – 2 hours
Black Trail | Severe |2km | Allow 20 mins

Forest of North Argyll

There are some excellent mountain biking trails in the forests of North Argyll near Oban. Fearnoch, a woodland near Taynuilt, is ideal and you’ll be treated to dramatic views to Ben Cruachan, Argyll’s highest mountain. Head deep into Glen Creran for an atmospheric woodland trail with waterfalls and wonderful views, as well as access to several long distance routes. Sutherland’s Grove has a host of enticing forest trails. Cycle into this lovely mixed woodland to find Glen Dubh reservoir and enjoy fantastic views over the Firth of Lorne and its islands

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Wee Toon Mountain Bike Trails

Head to Campbeltown in Kintyre to try the Wee Toon mountain bike trails. Campbeltown is overlooked by Beinn Ghuilean and it’s here that you’ll find some excellent routes. Walkers are welcome on these trails too, so exercise caution. The 2.5km Blue Trail is an unsurfaced forest track with easy climbs and descents which make it ideal for a family ride. The Red Trail is more challenging with a narrow track and technical sections. Climbs and descents will test your skills and lead into boardwalks, moderate steps, drop-offs and cambers. You can pick up a trail map from Aqualibrium Leisure Centre in Campbeltown.

Connecting with other mountain bikers

Cowal Mountain Bike Club - Riding in Dunoon and surrounding areas and promoting responsible riding whilst improving developing and building new routes.

Mid Argyll Triathlon and Cycle Club – A small but growing membership of all abilities.

Share your mountain biking experiences

We love to see people mountain biking in Argyll and the Isles. Share your photos with us on social media and inspire others by tagging us @wildaboutargyll.

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Mountain Biking FAQs

What is gravel biking?

Gravel biking uses a drop-bar bike on all types of terrain including gravel and tarmac, dirt trails and forest paths. In simple terms, a gravel bike is somewhere between a road bike and a mountain bike. Despite its name, it’s not just for riding on gravel!

Why try gravel biking?

Because a gravel bike is suited to all types of terrain, you can start right outside your door. It’s suitable for both beginners and experts, solo riders or groups. Gravel bikes tend to be lighter and are designed for greater comfort when exploring off-the-beaten-track.

Can I hire gravel bikes in Argyll & the Isles?

There are a number of places to hire gravel bikes in Argyll & the Isles. We recommend you book well in advance at peak periods. You can also hire bikes in Glasgow and bring the bike on the train.

What equipment do I need?

For a short trip on a planned route, you just need a gravel bike, helmet, high vis clothing, map and compass / GPS and plenty of water. For a longer trip, it would be useful to have a basic bicycle repair and first aid kit, sun cream and a waterproof jacket (it is unpredictable Scotland!), insect repellent and plenty to eat and drink. Always carry cash as cards may not be accepted in remote places.

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Explore all the places to visit in Argyll & the Isles

3700km of coastline, 23 inhabited islands, major towns and villages are all waiting for you.

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