The Cairngorms National Park is a fantastic place to explore on a bike against a backdrop of amazing scenery and wildlife. These cycle routes all pass through villages where there are welcoming cafes, brilliant bike shops, a huge choice of accommodation and all sorts of other things to do.
The Cairngorms is a haven for wildlife and home to a quarter of Britain’s threatened species…so as you cycle around the Park you might be lucky enough to see some special birds and animals. These species include ospreys, the Scottish wildcat, golden eagle, red squirrel, snow bunting, lapwing, crested tit and dotterel. Travel quietly and you will be rewarded by nature.
Here we have highlighted a ride from each of the main villages, there are great bike routes from the doorsteps…so get on your bike and find your adventure…
Aviemore – An Sluggan and Doon the Spey. 30km
Thank you to Andy Toop at Backcountry.Scot bike shop for sharing this route with us.
This is a cracking wee route that takes a loop less travelled – ideal for those busier days where Loch an Eilein and Loch Morlich are super busy.
This is aimed at stretching the beginner or engaging the intermediate rider. At just shy of 30 km it has one meaningful climb towards the beginning and is mostly well surfaced. It’s a good sustainable wet weather option too!
The racing snakes amongst you will smash it out in just about an hour and a bit, or feel free to take your time and grab some lunch in Boat of Garten, maybe even a cheeky shandy at the Boat Hotel to fuel your sprackle along the Speyside Way to Aviemore.
This route has a couple of sections that jump out. You will leave Aviemore via Route 7 and then follow onto the Old Logging Way, meandering through the ancient Caledonian pine forest of Rothiemurchus and climbing all the way up to the Sluggan Pass. The descent from the sluggan winds its way down through beautiful forest on a vision blurring trail (read bumpy). You will then pop out on the B970 towards Street of Kincardine briefly, before nipping off to a sublime riverside track.
A quick spin along the quiet B970 and across the Spey Bridge into Boat of Garten will lead you home along the Speyside Way. This is a real jewel in the crown of this loop; the views towards the Cairngorms blow your mind as you ride the well surfaced line between the bonnie moor of purple heather.
The big sky views heading home along the Speyside way are my favourite. Even after 20+ years of riding it, I still find myself in awe!
The Boat Hotel can sort you out for food and drink, or just up the road is Anderson’s Restaurant that does a mean pizza from 4:30 to 9:00 Wednesday to Sunday – not forgetting the Gas House Cafe (check out their Facebook page for opening times) at Ride Scotland bike shop if they have cake left!!! The Boat Shop has all manner of picnic goodies, and there are some lovely spots down by the river, and you may even find a bench to rest your bones on…
This route gets most of its climbing done at the start, so pace yourself and bask in the glory later in the ride. After the short section of road (B970) the gate that leads you to the riverside trail is sometimes overgrown in summer, once through it you go down a small hill amongst bushes you then come across a wobbly bridge, take care pushing your bicycles across this. Also pay attention to the directions as you peel away from the river back onto the B970 – it’s easy to end up in what I can only assume is a bond villain’s lair: a large fortified looking house with a helipad!!!
Ballater – Muir of Dinnet Loop. 25km
Thank you to Dan from Bike Station Ballater for sharing this ride with us that takes around 2-3 hours……
For many, Ballater is most famous for its Royal connections – but for those of us who love life on two wheels, it is a starting point for some truly awesome biking adventures.
This route heads out from Station Square at The Old Railway Station. You will also find Bike Station Ballater here – come and check us out for all things bike related…including hire bikes and e bikes!
From Station Square head east on the Deeside Way – this is marked with wooden posts and its a fabulous ride out – take extra care crossing the A93.
You will pass a cafe or two, travelling onto Cambus O May woodland walks. This has the famous Cambus O May Cheese Factory (which crucially has a café too!) and Courie Courie (to the North of the Deeside Way) which has an in store bakery, perfect for stocking up on picnic essentials.
Stay on the Deeside way all the way to Dinnet, passing the historic Cambus O May suspension bridge. At Dinnet, you will cross the A93 North Deeside Road, and head up the A97 towards Tarland/Logie Coldstone for 600 meters.
Take the first left up a track into a particularly special spot – The Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve. Have your eyes peeled and your ears open for the wonderful Cairngorms wildlife – if you spot something special keep the pedals turning and enjoy it from afar.
From here you follow the North Shore of Loch Kinord heading North West for 2km until you join the B9119 for about 50 meters. At the first junction the road takes a sharp right at Raebush, but take the small track to the left, and veer left again onto the footpath that is within the first 20 meters, crossing a very small stream.
The track is a gentle woodland climb of about 1 mile, keep going over the hill and join the land-rover track which will take you back down to the Cambus O May woodland walks. Rejoin the Deeside Way and retrace the first part of your journey back to Ballater heading, West to finish back in Station Square.
Kingussie – Gravel Ride for Coffee. 31km
Thank you to Cycle Friendly Kingussie for sharing this ride with us…..
This is an amazing route that mostly travels along the Speyside Way to Kincraig and back to Kingussie on quiet roads with spectacular views over Insh Marshes, the River Spey and the Monadhliath Mountains.
It is a route that is suitable for all, it will challenge the beginner with a couple of climbs (with very rewarding views at the end) and engage even the most experienced of riders. Well maintained tracks and quiet roads mean it is suitable for mountain, hybrid and e-bikes. Most fun will probably be had on a gravel bike.
Take your time, you could easily fill four hours with stops to take in the views, enjoy a picnic or call in for refreshments at Loch Insh Outdoor Centre or the award winning cycle friendly Old Post Office Cafe and Gallery in Kincraig. If you’re a speed king or on an ebike you could comfortably do it in 90 minutes.
In a slight diversion from the Speyside way up a challenging climb that may require a short push, the views from the top are spectacular looking over Loch Insh towards Glen Feshie and the Cairngorm Mountains, there is even a bench for a wee rest. A little further downhill is the best picnic spot on the ride with inspiring views over Uath Lochans.
In Kincraig Loch Insh Outdoor Centre and The Old Post Office Cafe make for great cake, coffee or lunch stops. In Kingussie the Duke of Gordon Hotel can be a great spot for a post ride local ale and bar food.
You can rent bikes (including e-bikes) from Bothy Bikes in Kingussie who are also on hand to make sure your own bike is running sweet and you have everything you need.
This route takes the rider through some of the most beautiful Caledonian pine forests in the Scotland, it is also home to many rare and endangered species. Particularly in April – August you will want to keep moving gently along listening to the sounds of the forest. We have suggested some of the most impressive places to stop and take in the splendor of the Cairngorms.
Laggan – Around Spey Dam & Garva Bridge. 19km
Thank you to Cristian at Laggan Wolftrax for sharing the route details with us….
An 11.6 mile round trip with just over half dirt road and 47% tarmac; this circuit provides amazing views and a fine example of Highlands remote scenery, rivers, lochs and quite impressive historical sites.
The route is relatively easy with some gentle climbs, mainly on the unpaved section, its a good match for everyone as it can be done in about 1 hour for the committed gravel rider, or it can be done as a half-day, perfect for beginners who want to take things a bit steadier, or those after a family adventure.
The route is best started at the Laggan Wolftrax Visitor Centre, where there is parking (£4 all day). From there you cycle across open land and woods, crossing the river Spey with lower views of the concrete structure of Spey Dam. This will lead to higher views of the reservoir with a fantastic backdrop of water, clusters of woodland and mountains.
Through the northern shores of Spey Dam the road will provide great views across the water. The road eventually gets you as far as Garva Bridge, an outstanding 18th century stone bridge built across the Spey, completed in 1732 by General Wade. This is a perfect spot for a picnic and a dip in the water on a hot day. This is also one of the two western gateways to the Cairngorms National Park.
The road north-west leads to the Corrieyairack Pass over to Fort Augustus (but that’s an adventure for the well-prepared cyclist – with a likely overnight wild-camping stay!). Crossing the Garva Bridge to the East will take you back via Garvamore and down to Glenshero Lodge.
Around the corner from the lodge, you will see some of the dyke structures that deviate the waters from the River Spey to the Lochaber aluminium smelter in Fort William. You can spot red deer along most sections of this route, it is definitely a great place to spot herds of these imposing animals.
The route carries on along the south shores of the reservoir, taking you back to the starting point.
This route can be done on any bike that copes well with unpaved dirt roads, which may include gravel bikes, hybrid and basic mountain bikes and a great adventure on an electric bike.
Facilities at the Laggan Wolfrax Visitor Centre include: a café, toilets and showers, tourist information and a bike shop with hire options including e-bikes and repairs. The café provides great food for most of the day and allegedly has one of the best coffees in the National Park!