Cornwall is primed for active family breaks, whether it’s battling it out on surf boards, kayak racing or embracing life on two wheels through the Cornish countryside. In fact, there are miles of tracks to be explored from wild woodland to sweeping coastal tracks.
Whatever your level of pedal power, from paths perfect for tag-alongs to high-energy routes for family races, our top 10 cycle trails in Cornwall will give you plenty of inspiration to get on your bike!
Distance: 18 miles in total (Wadebridge to Padstow 5.5miles each way)
Bike hire: hire bikes in Padstow, Wadebridge and Bodmin
We love The Camel Trail for many reasons; the scenery is simply beautiful, it’s predominantly traffic free, largely flat, but you can also easily select a section depending how many miles you want to cover. Depending on where you start your journey, it’s worth noting that you’ll encounter pedestrians along the way, so be mindful on this multi-use track. Our favourite stint is Wadebridge to Padstow which is a gentle 5.5miles each way.
Arguably the best-known cycle trail in Cornwall, The Camel Trail stretches for almost 18 miles on a discarded railway between Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow.
Level: Moderate to difficult
Distance: 8 miles
Bike hire: Hire at Trail Munki, Bodmin
For off-road cycling, Cardinham Woods is one of the best in the county. While it may sound terrifying, the Bodmin Beast is a family-friendly mountain bike trail but we wouldn’t recommend it to first timers. With 8 miles of woodland wonders, explore the wooded slopes of the Cardinham Valley. On this trail you’ll be faced with some technical climbs and descents, while snaking some singletrack sections. There are quite a few tight corners to navigate, with some small obstacles of root and rock.
For thrill-seekers there are two further difficult routes named Hell’s Teeth and Dialled-In Dave.
Distance: 7 miles
Bike hire: Bike hire at Screech Owl Sanctuary
Opening in 2008, The Goss Moore trail was previously the A30, the main route through Cornwall and is now a wonderful cycleway and footpath across a 480-hectare National Nature Reserve. South-west of Bodmin, it’s the largest remaining area of mid-Cornwall moorland, the multi-use trail is a wonderful seven-mile circular track.
Mostly flat on easy surfaces, much of it is off road making it largely traffic free and brilliant for families, prepare to encounter some wandering livestock.
Level: Easy and moderate trails
Distance: Average trail is just over a mile
Bike hire: Cycle hire available
Family exploring the cycle trails at Lanhydrock, Cornwall ©National Trust Images James Dobson
You’ll find easy, moderate and difficult trails at the National Trust’s Lanhydrock, so there’s something to suit everyone. There are four moderate trails to choose from, ranging from shorter one mile stints to three mile stretches, which are popular choices with families.
If you’re very new to cycling there’s also a Lodge trail which is one-and-a-half miles. Suitable for trailers, tagalongs and disability bikes, this gentle ride on a wide well-surfaced path takes you through a mix of English woodland and conifer trees.
Distance: 11 miles (one way)
Bike hire: Bike hire at The Hub in Portreath
Starting in Portreath on the north coast and ending in Devoran on the south coast, cyclist will follow the line of two historic transport routes; the early horse-worked Portreath tramroad and the Redruth and Chasewater Railway. Predominantly traffic-free, cycle along the gravel tracks (there is the occasional roadside path and road terrain) on this gentle, but lengthy, trail. The route is challenging more for its length than its degree of difficulty, but there are various points along the route that you can pick it up.
Level: easy with some difficult trails
Distance: 3 miles
Bike hire: Bike hire at the centre
We’re slightly cheating here as the Tamar Trails straddles the Devon and Cornwall border, and starts at Tamar Trails Centre which is near Tavistock but it’s certainly accessible and one to have on your radar when in Cornwall. If you’re new to the mountain bike game, or are cycling with young children head for the Mineral Railway Trail, which heads north from the Centre for just over a mile or south for almost 2 miles. A wide track which is generally level, journeys through woodland and parts of the old mineral railway that once linked Devon Great Consols Mine with Morwellham Quay on the River Tamar.
Distance: 2 miles
Bike hire: No
Near Looe in a steep-sided, wooded valley between Hessenford and the coastal village of Seaton is the stunning Seaton Valley Countryside Park, which has a wonderful short circular trail perfect for families. Just two miles long, this flat route is popular with nature lovers as you’ll cycle by the sensory garden and nature reserve which is home to otters, kingfishers and butterflies. The route also includes a riverside stretch along the River Seaton.
Distance: 3.4 miles (one way)
Bike hire: Pentewan valley cycle hire
The Clay Trails are a network of nine short walking, cycling and horseriding trails through mid-Cornwall’s China Clay Country, with something to suit everyone. A popular choice with families is the Pentewan Valley trail. Less than three and a half miles long, the trail follows the old Pentewan railway between the coastal village of Pentewan and St Austell. Predominantly flat and traffic free, cycle through secluded woodland paths.
Distance: 4 miles (one way)
Bike hire: Penzance Bike Hire
The First and Last Trail is a challenging 25-mile route taking you from Land’s End to Hayle not for the faint hearted, however you can pick up a lovely section in the middle which is perfectly suited to an afternoon of family cycling. The section of the trail between Penzance and Marazion is off road, following the South West Coast Path. Four miles long, begin at Penzance and end at Marazion where you’ll see the breathtaking island of St Michael’s Mount.
Banner image credit: Family exploring the cycle trails at Lanhydrock, Cornwall. ©National Trust Images James Dobson