Penmachno trails mountain biking

Never having ridden the Penmachno Trails before, we headed over at the weekend to give it a go. I had heard great things, so expectations were high. Penmachno is only about an hour from our holiday cottage so it was not a massive hassle to get there (if you are looking for a place to stay while on a mountain biking holiday in North Wales, take a look as it is in a great spot for reaching some awesome trails).

Penmachno Trails Map
I particularly like the ethos behind the Penmachno Trails. Basically, the trails are managed by a local community group and to ride you just leave a donation which is then used to maintain the trails. So don’t expect all the facilities you have at MTB centres like Llandegla or Coed y Brenin. Because there aren’t any – just a car park (there toilets in the village if you feel the need). However, what you will get at Penmachno is some fantastic riding….
There are two trails at Penmachno, Dolen Machno (Loop 1) which is 19km and Dolen Eryri (Loop 2) which is 11km. Both are rated red trails. You can ride them in one mega loop if you wish. I had my kids with me, so we decided on the shorter of the two trails. We found the car park and assumed both trails would start from there. However looking at the map only Dolen Machno starts from the car park. Finding the start of Dolen Eryri ended up being a bit of a challenge. Perhaps my map reading skills were not quite up to it on the day – but we found it eventually.

Directions to park at Dolen Eryri:

  • Drive into Penmachno village along the B4406

  • Go over the bridge

  • Take the road to the right of the Eagles Pub, (signposted Ty Mawr)

  • Keep going on this road until you see another road going uphill to the right (signposted National Trust)

  • Keep going up that road, then you will see signs for the trails

  • We then parked on the right and hopped on the trails at Pen Top

Directions to park at Dolen Machno:

  • Drive into Penmachno village along the B4406

  • Go over the bridge

  • Turn left at the Eagles Pub

  • Follow the road, then you will see the parking on the right

The riding was awesome. It had been raining a lot in the days before we went and there were some very deep puddles on parts of the trails. Needless to say we were soaked at the end of the day – but that added to the fun (well the kids fun, I am too old to get excited about getting wet).
If you have not ridden it before, it is highly recommended. Some great views, great natural feeling and quite wild in places. It is also not that far from some other great trails in the area (such as the Marin Trail) so if you are feeling up to it you could easily do a couple of different rides in a day.

Good points

  • Great natural trails.

  • Free to park.

  • Donation to ride (don’t be a cheapskate – leave some cash at the main car park).

  • Not busy (we shared the trail with one other rider the Sunday we went).

  • Very remote which I like.

Bad points

  • A bit overgrown in places – mainly gorse. So just added to the challenge having to dodge it. Not as bad as some people say on forums. Perhaps it had been cut recently.

  • Some deep puddles in places i.e. above your chain ring deep.


  • No phone reception.

  • Nearest toilets in the village – remember your 20p to get in.

  • Nearest food Betws-y-Coed.

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