11 best cycle routes and bike rides in Gloucestershire

For some wheelie good fun in the great outdoors, SoGlos has found 11 of the best places to get on your bike that are perfect for family adventures and leisurely rides in Gloucestershire.

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
With scenic cycle routes and trails for all abilities, saddle up and head to one of the best places to ride your bike in Gloucestershire.

From family-friendly rides along gentler cycling routes to tackling more challenging terrain, you’ll find plenty of places to get pedalling in the Forest of Dean, the Cotswolds and across Gloucestershire.

While the cycling opportunities are endless in the county — and blessed with everything from ease of access to stunning beauty — SoGlos has handpicked 11 of the best cycle routes and biking spots in Gloucestershire to get you started on your own two-wheeled adventures.

Cycling along the Colliers Trail in the Forest of Dean

A fantastic way to explore the Forest of Dean, the Colliers Trail — formerly the Family Cycle Trail — spans nine miles along the area’s historic railway lines, with access points at the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre, Beechenhurst and Mallards Pike.

It’s super child-friendly, benefiting from specially surfaced paths, gentle slopes and only two road crossings; plus, a series of picnic spots to discover along the way. For littler legs, the Hicksters Way loop cuts the route short, offering a five-mile option from the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre or Beechenhurst.

Bike hire is available from Pedalabikeaway at the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre, where there’s also a cafe for those all-important pit stops.

Cycling along the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal

With glorious waterside views, the promise of wildlife spotting and plenty of history, the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal towpath is a great place to get on your bike.

Boasting 16 miles of well-kept pathways and flat routes, cyclists can whizz through Gloucester Docks, the Severn Estuary and parts of the Cotswolds; passing by Slimbridge Wetland Centre and the Purton Ships’ Graveyard, too.

Cycling in Cotswold Water Park

Soaking up wrap-around views of the lakes at South Cerney, cyclists can choose from plenty of routes for a flat bike ride around Cotswold Water Park. There’s on-site bike hire available from several locations, too.

Leading from the lakes down picture-perfect country lanes, it’s a wonderful place to explore the Cotswold countryside on two wheels, with opportunities to spot water-loving wildlife like voles and beavers along the way.

Cycling at Pittville Park in Cheltenham

For a safe family ride, look no further than Cheltenham’s picturesque Pittville Park — offering generous green space to explore and plenty of paths to pedal along, with grown-ups and kids able to take a leisurely and largely flat bike ride around the lakes.

There’s even a skatepark at Pittville Park suitable for scooters and BMXs, for those feeling a bit more adventurous.

Cycling along the Verderers Trail in the Forest of Dean

Featuring an uphill climb through the forest with some obstacles and trickier challenges along the way, the Verderers Trail is a seven-mile circular route that more experienced riders can access from the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre.

Voted the Best Blue Trail in England by Mountain Biking UK in 2021, it’s described as suitable for healthy riders with moderate off-road riding skills, who are comfortable with single-track sections and rockier ground.

Cycling along the Stroud Valleys Trail

Free from traffic for stress-free riding, the Stroud Valley Trail follows an old railway line from Stonehouse to Nailsworth, taking cyclists past the River Frome, Stroudwater Canal and Nailsworth Stream; with wonderful views of the Cotswold countryside on the way.

As a bonus, Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons are accessible from the trail and, while the uphill ride is pretty gnarly, the views from the top are well worth the challenge for more experienced cyclists.

Cycling at Flyup 417 Bike Park near Gloucester

If family trails and flat roads are too tame for you, then head to Flyup 417 Bike Park on Crickley Hill for the ultimate thrill.

With downhill trails for all levels of ability, bikers can take on devilishly deep drops and impressive jumps; while smaller riders can test their nerve on the dedicated kids’ track, which has a reasonably flat surface to practice on before hitting the blue trails.

Cycling along the River Severn in Tewkesbury

With a handful of rolling hills but mostly flat terrain, Tewkesbury is a popular destination for road cyclists. Bikers can also pedal alongside the River Severn, where they’ll spot Tewkesbury Abbey towering over the market town, with plenty of places to stop for a rest to admire the views.

Cycling at the Miserden Estate near Stroud

Take in the stunning lake, woodland and farm with a bike ride through the impressive Miserden Estate near Stroud, which welcomes cyclists on its public bridleways.

Boasting glorious views of the Golden Valley, bike riders can even enjoy a well-earned break at The Glasshouse Cafe — reopening for the season on Thursday 28 March 2024.

Cycling in Bourton-on-the-Water and the Slaughters

Starting off in the Cotswold hotspot of Bourton-on-the-Water, take in the chocolate-box cottages and explore quaint villages along the way on a stunning, self-guided cycle ride that also passes through the nearby villages of Upper Slaughter and Guiting Power.

Cycling along the Symonds Yat Rock Cycle Trail

The Symonds Yat Rock Cycle Trail is a shorter route, at around three miles long, but takes cyclists on a scenic journey through the woodlands high above the Wye Valley. Ideal for new riders and families, it's an accessible trail with just one steep section at the halfway point.

Up for a longer ride? Pick up the Peregrine Path from the Saracens Head Inn, which traces the River Wye all the way to Monmouth.  

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