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Understanding Mountain Bike Trail Centre Grading

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Mountain Bike Trail Grading

Dedicated trail centres use a trail grading system to inform riders of the difficulty of the various trails on offer. You should always make sure the trail is within you abilities and fitness level before setting off. Bear in mind that trail surfaces can vary depending on weather conditions and can change over time through use. Bike parks run also run the same colour coded grading system but the grades tend to be more difficult than what you would see at a trail centre. For example a red graded trail at a bike park would be more difficult that a red trail at a trail centre.

GREEN (easy)

Suitable for beginner cyclists and families in good health with basic bike skills. The surface is generally compacted gravel but can be loose, muddy and uneven at time. The trails are mostly flat and wide with shallow climbs and descents and no challenging features and could sometimes include small singletrack sections. Most mountain bikes and hybrids are suitable.

Above Image: Typical green graded trail - Whinlatter Forest



Suitable for intermediate cyclists with basic mountain biking skills and a good fitness level. The surface is generally the same as green with specially made singletrack sections and could include the small obstacles such as rocks and roots. Most mountain bikes and hybrids are suitable.

Above Image: Blue graded trail at Leeds Urban Bike Park



Suitable for experienced mountain bikers with a good off road skill and higher fitness level and stamina. The trails are steeper and tougher and mostly singletrack with varying surfaces. Expect more technical sections including roots, rock, drops, boardwalks, water crossings and off camber sections. Quality mountain bikes are suitable.

Above Image: Red graded trail at Lee Quarry

BLACK (severe) Suitable for expert mountain bikers with advanced skills and technical ability. These trails can be physically demanding and requires a high level of fitness. The trails are similar to red but with larger unavoidable features such as bigger drops, rock gardens and can have greater distances. Quality mountain bikes are suitable.

Above Image: Black graded B-Line at Coed Llandegla Forest


(bike park)

Suitable for riders with an extremely high level of skill and technical ability. These trails can include large drops, jumps and gap jumps that are unavoidable.` These trails are high risk and should not be attempted unless confident to do so. Quality mountain bikes are suitable.

Above Image: Orange graded Leap of Faith at Gisburn Forest

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