Stainburn Forest - Trail Guide

3 October 2013  |  

Stainburn forest in Yorkshire is the next trail to get the MoreDirt Trail Guide treatment this time from RiverRatJimmy. Enjoy our guide to this Yorkshire gem!

Stainburn forest has long been a Mecca for the mountain bikers of Yorkshire for quite sometime. But even with its location, nestled between the suburbs of Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate the trails never seem busy.


Location -

From the South. Take the B6451 out of Otley, past the reservoirs at Lindley. After 2 miles the car park is sign posted on your left.

From the North. Take the A59 from Harrogate towards Skipton. Take a left before Blubberhouse, on the B6451. After about 5 miles the car park is on your right.

There is no specified post code for the car park but LS21 2RA will get you near.

Facilities -

If you are planning on making a day of it, be sure to bring a packed lunch and be prepared to visit the bushes for any convenience stops as there is nothing regards facilities.

By taking a left from the car park, The Sun Inn is a couple of miles up the road, which caters for the many motor and road bikers that converge on the area. Serving quality pub grub and real ales.

Trails -

There are three manmade trails all starting from the car park and lots of natural trails in the woods on the other side of the road. Plus a small pump track, which was one of the UK's first.

Check out this video from Pro Ride Guides of the kind of trails that are on offer at Stainburn... It was shot back in 2011 but most of the riding is still relevant!

The routes from the car park consist of two short red loops and the black Warren Boulder trail (possibly Britains hardest black route?).

Its a good idea to start out on the 'lil' ole red loop, which is only 2km in length but packs in everything and more expected from its red grade, in its modest distance.


Follow the red arrows straight onto the singletrack, it leads round to the right where there is a steep, rooty section that could bite riders new to mountain biking. The trail leads towards the woods, with some technical rock features that are designed to be ridden but can be bypassed. Once at the top of the climb the 'Descent Line' comes in to view on the left. To continue on the loop, follow it round right where it drops away steadily but gathers speed through the trees. If hitting it hard the corners are fun taken at speed, but watch out for the table top that seems to be getting bigger with every visit.

On exciting the trees there are some skinnies to test your balance, before some more rock features and a couple of drops, (again all can be avoided) that lead back to the woods for the climb. At the top either repeat or head left for the 1.5km Descent Line.


As the name suggests the Descent Line drops to the lowest point in Stainburn. However this is not a DH run and can quite easily be ridden on the lightest of XC machines. But with plenty of jump and drop options, plus the infamous 4ft Boulder Drop half way down, a DH bike and gear doesn't look out of place. If riding hard, a full-suss AM bike would be perfect.

At the bottom there is either a push up path or if you have the legs, a trail winds its way up parallel back to the car park, that can be ridden.


Once you've sessioned what the red routes have to offer and have built up some confidence, then its time to head for the Warren Boulder trail . Graded double diamond black and in contention for the toughest, most technical route in the UK, the route demands respect. With steep, rooty, rocky sections to descend and climb as well 6ft high north shore and other wooden features, including a seesaw, it is advisable to walk some of the sections first.

Once familiar with this foreboding trail, riding some of the many features is highly rewarding and will lure you again and again.


There are trails to be discovered in the woods on the other side of the road at "Norwood Edge" Building is banned by the Forestry Commission, but they have opened it up for exploration by mountain bikers. It is worth a trip over on a dry day and following your nose/pushing up whatever trails you happen to spot.

Who's it Good For -

The trail builders never stop, the trails are constantly repaired and improved and is a credit to the volunteers at SingletrAction. The guys and gals have created trails that can be ridden in loops, for stamina training or sessioned to improve on skills. Making Stainburn ideal for all abilities and riding styles.

A donation is always welcome and they are very welcoming to anyone interested in helping out on a dig day.

Make a Weekend of It -

If travelling from further afield, it is possible to make a great weekend full of mountain biking. Either by heading to the natural rocky trails of the Yorkshire Dales, the singletrack of the North Yorkshire Moors or the excellent trail centres at Gisburn and Dalby.

There is plenty of accommodation nearby in Otley, Harrogate and Pateley Bridge from campsites to B&B's and hotels.

Useful Links -

Words: Andy Cole
Pictures: Aston Reardon

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