Cycling Routes and Trails

Routes and trails are the central component of any bike tourism ecosystem for a destination. Each destination has natural land features that can be enhanced to improve the experience of the tourist.

Guides vs Self Guided?

Within a destination tourists can bike either self guided or guided.

  • self-guided – the tourist makes use of available information to ride a trail or route on their own
  • guided – the tourist is guided by a tour guide. The tour guide can provide a range of services from just their knowledge and time through to food, bikes, safety gear and lessons.

What makes a good route or trail?

  • safe travel paths separate from vehicles
  • interesting features
  • well sign posted
  • attractive landscapes
  • interesting places to stop
  • point-to-point options
  • round trip options
  • distance options
  • time options
  • difficulty options

Route Type

  • Point-to-point – the trail starts in point A and finishes in point B. The trail connects to destinations.
  • round trip – the trail starts and finishes at the same point.

Distance options

What are the correct distances for people to ride?

  • 0-5km – most novice and beginner rides can ride 5kms on flat terrain easily
  • 5km – 30km – most beginner to intermediate rides with average fitness can ride up to 30kms on flat terrain. A 30km bike ride will take between 1hr and 3hrs.
  • 30km – 60kms – more advanced or physically fit and active rides will handle more than 30kms in a day. Bike touring segments will usually be no more than 60kms as when bike touring the pace is slow and constant and will take between 4hrs and 6hrs of riding depending on terrain.
  • 60kms+ – more advance riders can cover 60kms in 1.5-2hrs depending on terrain. Advanced rides are very comfortable covering up to 200kms in a single riding session.

Time options

Distance to some respect drives time. However the terrain is an important factor when designing a trail or route. Generally the aim should be to design the trail for time for the begginer rider.

Difficulty options

We have tried to come up with a difficulty metric that covers all rides. I think this is still possible as long as difficulty covers the technical aspects of the ride. Distance and elevation will cover the fitness required to complete the route.

  • Novice – flat stable surface with no technical obstacles. Surfaces would include:
    • asphalte/bitchumen,
    • firm packed clay,
    • concrete, or
    • astroturf.
  • Beginner – stable surfaces with minor technical obstacles such as street gutters and ramps. Surfaces would include:
    • asphalte/bitchumen,
    • firm packed clay,
    • concrete,
    • astroturf,
    • grass,
    • hard-packed sand
  • Intermediate – stable and unstable surfaces with some technical obstacles
  • Difficult – any surface type, most obstacles
  • Expert – any surface type, any obstacles

This section needs a table so it is easier to compare surfaces and obstacles at the different levels.


  • another table or gallery of pictures for different surfaces


  • a gallery of pictures for different obstacles

What are the types of routes and trails?

  • sightseeing – routes within and around a destination that highlight the natural assets of that destination. the routes are generally suitable for novices and beginners and cater to the widest group of riders possible. Cater to riders side-by-side 2 or more abreast.
  • road riding – routes within, around or point-to-point rides that take in natural assets and terrain suitable for road riding. The routes are generally more suitable to more experienced cyclists who are more fit, looking for specific challenges. Cater for “bunchs” of riders or palletons.
  • mountain biking – multiple routes and trails within a specific location such as a mountain or forrest that provides a range of skills, features and terrain catering for begginers through the very skilled riders. Generally single trail allowing a single bike/rider at a time.
  • touring – bike touring is using the bike as transport between destinations. The bike may or may-not be used for the purposes of tourism in the destination. Bike touring is a very budget way of travel that will make use of road-riding and sightseeing infrastructure in a destination and between destinations. For councils that have mutiple towns within their area of concern, supporting the touring cyclist can be an important market.
  • rail trails – a specific type of trail that makes use of disuse railway lines and associated infrastructure. Old railway lines don’t have a gradient of more than 3%. They are generally wide and flat making them perfect for sightseeing and touring. They cater to a very wide audience due to the flat and wide nature of the trail. Trails can range in length and for long trails, old railway stations can be modified to support the touring cyclist.

Sightseeing Routes and Trails

Different types of sightseeing

  • Attractive Routes Examples
    • Water – lakes, rivers and ocean
    • Forests
    • Mountains
  • Thematic Route Examples
    • Coffee
    • Markets
    • Arts and crafts
    • History
    • Commemorative

Sightseeing route best practice examples

Some examples of the best sight-seeing routes in the world and why they are good.

Need at least 10-20 examples here and we should include the EMBED from CycleLifeHQ.

Safe bike trails

here are some examples of safe trails

here are the better practices from these examples

Bike trail sign posting

here are examples of sign-posting

here are sign-posting better practices

Mountain Biking routes and trails

MTB route best practice examples

Need at least 10-20 examples here and we should include the EMBED from CycleLifeHQ.

MTB Trail Features

Building MTB trails is a text book I think in its own right.

  • Ascent / decent
  • jumps
  • berms
  • gaps
  • multi-path
  • rocks
  • drops
  • trees
  • bridges

MTB trail sign posting

here are examples of sign-posting

here are sign-posting better practices

MTB Lift Systems

Examples of lift systems


Better practices

Road riding routes and trails



What are the safe features of a road ride

  • wide road edge
  • signage warning motorists