Anything 4 A Ride MTB Club / Race Team
Graeme Spreadbury

Date of Visit:    31/10/09 (6 times previous to)

Distance:          25km

Time Taken:     02:05 (inc stops/punctures)

The Marin Trail @ Gwydyr is the 1st modern “Trial Centre” we ever rode way back in 2003 and we’ve been back a few time since but not recently, until now.

Due to our usual campsite in Betws-y-Coed closing for the winter, we camped out near Capel Curig and drove to the trail head. It was wet and damp out, but the rain was holding off.

We climbed out of the car park and onto the first bit of the main climb, this is a nice bit of climbable single track that gains height quickly, however soon after starting your are out onto a fireroad for the long climb to the top. Or so we though, we were all surprised at the speed we got up this climb. I remember this being one hell of a long slog, guess we’re fitter now or used to climbs in the Alps.

Into the first single track descent (“Pigs Might Fly”) and it was very sketchy. It took the start of this section for me to get my “trail legs” back, but by the end of it I was railing. After this there is another long fireroad climb up to regain some height, going past some old mines.

Next up is Pandora’s Rocks, which as the name suggests is a pretty rocky section, certainly gets the adrenalin flowing. This looked like a bit of a tyre shredder, but we all survived. Up hill a little again and into Cyffty Tube. Fly through this although have to be carefull at the end as it spits you straight out onto the road. Time for a Go Gel as we’d going for 50mins at this point without really letting off, well apart from the obligatory removal of jackets 5mins after the car park!

Up some fire road, most of the climbs are fireroad on this trail and into a short section called Sleepy Bear. Just after this is our favourite section; “Dragons Tail”. It’s a rocky ridge through some new forest that looks and feel like it should shred tyres. Hit it flat out and hold on, it doesn’t loose much height but is fast. You constantly crest rocks, cross sharp jagged rock and sweep the naturally bermed corners (run the rock edges). You don’t wanna come off on this bit as its straight onto the surrounding rocks if you do.

After this your into a short bit of single track called Pixies Paradise that dumps you onto a long bit of fireroad which is quite fast. Drafting each other along here @ 35mph+ seeing who can hold their bottle on the bends is great fun. You run parallel with the A5 on the other side of the valley for a little while and pass Swallow Falls below. At the end of this is a left turn out onto the tarmac road for a short but very steep section in Pont Banog (don’t miss the right hand turn eh Paul!).

This section is quite a long bit of single track and either contours or climbs the hill. You also have a bit of a hike a bike section up some steps after crossing a gorge. The next to sections, Endor and Stupdance are smooth and can be taken at speed again using the natural berms. I shredded a tyre through here so we had to stop for 5 to change it, oh and change the tube that broke its valve in the pump (one wheel almost got flung down the mountain).    

After some more fireroad you pass through a section called Croeso, which I had to take easily as I had a rear tyre that was patched with a toothpaste tube. More fire road after this then you cross the first fireroad climb and go into the final downhill section.

“Ride Fast Ride Free” feels like its downhill all the way (even though it contours a bit). Hold you nerve and watch for the switchbacks and its brilliant. Like it so much we have just climbed up to this section and just rode this after already doing a full loop. This time it the light was going so it made it even more of an adrenalin rush. Its certainly a good end to the ride and finishes you off into one of the car parks. Seeing as we’d parked by the start we still had “Gray Mares Wail” to tackle. With the rush of endorphins from the previous section, we hit this hard and fast, almost coming a cropper on the rock section you hit just before the end.

This used to be our fave trail, but maybe we viewed it through rose tints. Still rate it as an excellent track though. Seeing as there are other trails and the “feather in the cap” Snowdon nearby its defiantly worth a visit when coupled with these.

  • Excellent medium distance ride.
  • Rocky with no room for falling, makes it a definite adrenalin rush
  • No steep sections as such.
  • Beginners can tackle it and you don’t need a “big bike” (back in 2003 when we 1st rode it Paul was on a Raleigh Max Cromo (fully rigid, steely)
  • Nearby Betws-Y-Coed is a great base town, so is Capel Curig.