Bennachie Turnpike Mountain Bike Trail
The Bennachie Turnpike Trail circular is an intermediate mountain bike route, using for its first few miles part of the old Aberdeen to Inverness turnpike road. It is only 10 miles long, making it an ideal route for a summer evening mountain bike ride.
Being considered as an intermediate trail, it is best suited to the more experienced and fitter mountain biker. See our section on mountain bike trails suitable for children for info on some of the easier trails on Bennachie.
The circular mtb trail may only be 10 miles long but offers a huge variety of cycling; expect immaculately groomed way marked track (thanks to the Bailles of Bennachie), landrover track - some of which is quite gnarly, small sections of tarmac, single track and a couple of hundred meters of pushing/carrying your bike.
Turnpike Trail Description
The route starts from the Bennachie Visitor Centre. Follow the Turnpike Trail signs - you can not miss them!
It is a gentle start, on a well manicured path.
After the junction with the Colony Trail the path narrows to pedestrian width then soon opens into a vehicular width path following a low level route towards the Pittodrie Estate.
As you enter this wooded area there is a short, fairly steep downhill on loose rock/gravel leading to a longer fairly steep uphill on loose rock/gravel. A test of both your climbing prowess and ability to pick the best line through the brick sized rocks. This levels out, the rocks disappear and you continue to the rear gate to Pittodrie House Hotel on your right. Ignore it, and continue round to the left then swing round to the right ignoring the rocky uphill trail on the left.
The Turnpike trail again resumes its manicured appearance as it descends across the "Maiden Causeway" and onto a tractor track. Continue to join a rough and rocky vehicular width track that descends to a tarmac junction. This route continues straight ahead following the ancient Turnpike trail to the working farm of Horndoyne.
Here veer slightly right to take the bye-pass path around the side of the Horndoyne Farm steading buildings. After passing the farm buildings the trail is again vehicular width on a stoney tractor track which soon gives way to a grassy track running through scrubby woodland. Continue until you come to a tarmac road.
Turn left onto the tarmac road and follow it to the Back O'Bennachie car park. Continue uphill through the car park and take a left onto the forestry road. Follow this until it degenerates from a forestry road into a landy track before becoming a footpath all within a couple of hundred yards. This is the start of what is known locally as "The Big Hair Descent", a difficult downhill section.
Part way down, Big Hair Descent is joined from the right by another trail known as "Barnet Fair".
Take Barnet Fair, and be prepared to push/carry your bike for a few minutes. Some of the path is rideable depending on your strength, bike handling skills and determination. After a couple of hundred metres the path begins to flatten out and becomes rideable.
Continue on this access path as it widens and contours through the forest. It crosses a couple of more trails, including the Maiden Causeway. Ignore these and just continue straight.
Soon you will come to a small lochan. You are now on the "Pond Trail". It takes you round the lochan and descends over some rock slabs to rejoin the Turnpike.
On joining the Turnpike trail turn right and prepare to navigate the rock/gravel section you climbed on the way out. As you climb out of this section a forest road departs from the Turnpike on the right. Follow it for about 10 metres, looking out for a narrow width pedestrian path into the woods on the left. This narrow path provides some single track that runs parallel to the Turnpike before eventually rejoining it.
From here keep straight on to retrace your way back to the visitor centre.
Facilities at Bennachie and Nearby
local_parking £3 for all day parking at Bennachie Visitor centre, £2 at Back O'Bennachie.
wc At the visitor centre during daylight hours and at Back O'Bennachie car park
Drinks and snacks available at the visitor centre.
If you think we have missed something in our guide to the Bennachie Turnpike circular mountain bike trail then let us know. Contact details are on the link at the bottom of the page.
Getting to Bennachie
The best start place for this ride is the Bennachie Visitor Centre, however alternatives are the Back O'Bennachie car park which is about half way round the trail, or even the Rowantree car park.
Getting to Bennachie Visitor Centre
Bennachie Visitor Centre (Grid Ref. NJ660245) is open 10am to 5pm every day from Easter through to the end of October. Travel north from Inverurie on the A96. Approximately two miles beyond Inverurie take a road on the left sign posted to Chapel of Garioch. At Chapel of Garioch turn left (sign posted to the Bennachie Centre). Follow this road for two miles, and the Visitor Centre is sign posted to the right. AB51 5HY is the nearest postcode if you are using Sat Nav.
Getting to the Back O'Bennachie Car Park
Back O'Bennachie Car Park (Grid Ref. NJ661245) is open 24hrs a day, seven days a week. Travel north from Inverurie on the A96. Approximately seven miles beyond Inverurie, at the Oyne Fork, turn left onto the B9002 signposted to Insch. Follow this road through Oyne village for about 2 miles then turn left on a narrow road signposted "Back o' Bennachie Forest Walks". The car park is about 1 mile up this road. AB52 6RH is the nearest postcode if you are using Sat Nav.
Nearby Mountain Bike Trails
Pitfichie's MTB trails lead through varied forest and across open hill tops to provide exciting rides through real countryside. Challenging granite slabs and a downhill specific trail help make this one of the most popular mountain bike venues in Aberdeenshire.
Kirkhill Forest mountain bike fun park and cycle trails, are just a couple of miles out of Aberdeen, making them hugely popular.
Kirkhill offers a good variety of tracks to suit riders of all abilities and degrees of fitness, and even features as a venue in the national SXC series .
Ben Aigan in the heart of Whisky country offers an exposed circular mountain bike trail which provides superb views over parts of the Spey Valley. Tough climbing in parts and free flowing descents.
Tarland Trails is a small mountain bike centre, in the village of Tarland. The trails are short, about 3km in total, but suit a wide range of users from family to experienced and competent riders. There is a family trail, a technical run, a big jump run and a pump track.
Mountain Biking Books
Scotland Mountain Biking:
The Wild Trails
Above books available from Amazon