Experience the charm and history of the Otago Central Rail Trail from Clyde to Middlemarch on a 3 day Otago Rail Trail Express tour.
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Frequently off-road, cycling on a trail can sometimes blur the lines with MTB riding, but generally with fewer extremes and less technical skill needed and, as you might expect, tending to follow some sort of defined trail. Whilst definitely not road biking, some trails may wander onto quiet back roads or lanes for small sections between the rugged parts, or in more remote areas, can take place exclusively on terrain shared with the odd vehicle.
Trail riding can incorporate rail trails, the meandering, often flat, disused lines of trains that communities or organizations have nursed back to nature, with multi-users in mind, namely cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. Rail trails can be perfect for family cycling holidays in particular, due to their safe, off-road environment, many often being flat or with gently sloping terrain, and with numerous intervals along the way as you follow the old station stops.
Cycling a trail can mean a vast array of terrain, from 4WD tracks, to sealed paths, dirt roads, forestry tracks, farm and back country roads, fire breaks, bridleways, gravel trails, even sometimes sand. Adventure is high on the agenda, views are usually spectacular and the cycling is rewarding. As mentioned before, trail riding can sometimes also stray into mountain biking so there can be crossovers and fuzzy grey areas on some routes. Be sure to check the tour and route you select is offering the type of riding you are expecting as the genre can be a little loose in that regard.
For some adventurous trail riding in Australia, try the Tasmanian Trail, Munda Biddi in WA or the Mawson Trail in SA. In New Zealand, the magnificent Alps 2 Ocean trail and West Coast Wilderness trail on the South Island, Timber Trail, Motu trails and Mountains to Sea route on the North all reign supreme on the trail riding front. For epic distances and superb biking, the USA has you covered with rides like the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, Centennial trail in South Dakota and Underground Railroad Bicycle Route spanning the USA to Canada over 3310km (2057mi). In Europe, the Adige Cycle Path in Italy, the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain, and the Danube Cycle Path in Germany are fantastic options with scenery and biking to swoon over. Of course, there are a host of others worldwide, this being just a small selection to kick off and add to your bucket list.
Trail riding can mean winery cycle touring, with many delightful vineyard regions having signposted trails to pedal your way around welcoming cellar doors. Some trails focus on the landscape and natural sights, whilst others have a bounty of attractions to engage you along the path, proving beneficial for rest stops too. Some you may do in sections, others you might complete in one go. And so the category is vast and ranges from leisurely ambles to more energetic and challenging pursuits.
One reason to also love riding trails is the story behind the creation of the trail, be it of cultural or historical significance in some way (i.e. a gold trail, rail trails, smugglers route, old Roman road etc) or simply to traverse a scenic route via a planned path. Additionally, there is the distinct whiff of treasure hunting in the air as you cycle your way along a trail. Admittedly, you might not get the same sense if enjoying a fully guided tour, but following signposts (albeit usually extremely well-marked) can spark the joy of discovery and fulfilment as you reach each marker along the way for all riders. Of course, getting to the end of your planned route, be it a section of a long-distance trail or by completing the whole thing, brings a sensational sense of achievement along with the memories of a wonderful tour.
Popular ToursDiscover some of our most popular Trail Riding adventures:
Ride through an array of spectacular southern landscapes on a 5 day fully guided and supported e-bike only trip taking in both the Queenstown Trails and Otago Central Rail Trail.
Cycle the dedicated cycle trails of NZ's original great ride with a 5 day fully guided bicycle tour on the Otago Rail Trail.
Relax and recharge on this E-Bike West Coast Wilderness, with other like-minded e-bikers over 5 days on the South Island of New Zealand.
Bike the best sections of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail on a 3 day itinerary, letting you experience the highlights & most spectacular landscapes along the way.
Explore wild coast, lakes and rainforest –backed by the mighty Southern Alps over 5 days of trail riding in NZ.