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Cave Hill, Antrim

Badger Rating 4.2/5
Lots of twisting single track descents, including several downhill trails, through the trees. Great descents off the summit to both north and south, including the fantastic "quarry trail", and some other cool stuff over on the zoo side too.

Getting There

Belfast Castle, on the lower eastern slopes of Cave Hill, is in North-West Belfast, signposted from the Antrim Road (between Glengormley and Belfast). Park in the car park at the Castle.  Alternatively access Cave Hill from the Cave Hill Country Park car park on the Hightown Road.

Trail Description

Lots of steep, twisting single track descents, bumps and jumps through the trees, dozens of options. Great descents off the summit to both north and south, including the fantastic "quarry trail".

Getting onto the quarry trail - summit Cave Hill, and look out over Belfast. To your right there is a single-track path that follows the ridge - follow it.  It follows to the right for a long way, and eventually you go through a stream, over a wee cattle grid and along a fence.  At this point, turn down the hill and turn left following the track, or look up the hill and you will see a faint path that will take you back to path from the Hightown Road carpark, back to the summit.

Another great option (but pretty technical at the top): just behind the Napoleon's Nose (view over Belfast) at the bottom of the steps, there is a black iron marker post. Head over the edge here, but be careful! You can pick your way down if you are confident and have good balance, and once things flatten out, stay to the right, and you are onto a fantastic twisting singletrack through the trees, pretty much the whole way down to the castle. Very rooty and a bit mucky when you get into the trees, so best in the dry.

Be careful on the lower slopes of Cave Hill on the obvious walking paths, as the area, particularly the low section just above Belfast Castle, is a popular place for families / walkers, so safety and courtesy are of the utmost importance.

There are also some fine trails on old former walking paths (now disused) close to the zoo, as shown on the marked map linked below.


Useful Maps & Links

Cave Hill Trails from the Zoo


trail head marker Trail Head

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Movies of Cave Hill, Antrim


Reviews for this trail

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  • Comments
  • 5 Badgers by the way!!!!
  • Went up for a blast this afternoon. Parked at the castle and headed left up the trail. really wet and had to carry my bike up quite a bit of the trail as the mud was choking up the tires. dried out toward the top though. Brilliant single track down to the trees headed down the steps and hit a couple of the jumps in the woods. couple of good technical sections will be brilliant when dry looking forward to the drier weather!!
  • Hi everyone, looking for someone to ride a bit of DH with over dec and Jan. Took up DH this year in Scotland so i dont know anyone back home in belfast to ride with. give us a shout ( if yer keen!
  • CommentsWhat a climb to the top! This is where you find out how fit you truly are. Definatly worth bringing a camera for when you reach the top. I took my Specialized Hardrock Sport and my mate took his CBoardman MTB Sport. Both performed really well and were more than capable for heading back to the bottom (Quarry Trail). Great run, not technical just fun! Would recommend to anyone.
  • As a kid i grew up in the north belfast and spent many of my saturdays and sundays on my bmx with my m8s rideing up the cavehill and across to the mcqillans quarry done all the routes down the moutain trew the castle grounds memorys u couldnt buy now i have bought a carera banshee x now im ready to do it all again with my son and some friends from work
  • hey guys me and a few mates just got into biking again afterr a few years and we went to old sites and theyre gone well almost anywere good for a bit of dirt jumping we`ve been to belvior forest ,mary peters and also been to foster greens anywere else u would recommend ?? cheers chrissy...
  • Good in all weather but unreal after a dry spell. The climb makes grown men wince but its oh so worth it. Definitely worth a visit, you will want to do the quarry run more than once.
  • Just ripped it on saturday afternoon and cavey was flawless, Major climbing but soooo worth the downhill. Highly recommend to anyone in the Belfast area. Nice and dry at the moment so go and enjoy.

  • Hey Guys
    Im Daves M8 I got a new bike aswell.
    were looking for some easy trails to get us started but also feel like a challenge. We have checked out cave hill and they seem pretty decent and good for us to begin on. would anyone recomend any other easy trails or even jumps that we could try out to get us into the swing of things? And alsoo Would yu please tell me a decent set of proper downhill tyres as the bike i ahve got has really rubbish ones on them and i need a good set
  • Hi Dave,
    Email us at and we'll see if we can help. Or, read the content of the site!
  • Hey guys i've just got a new Gt Chucker 13.5"

    Can anyone direct us to any good but not really hard trails? lol

  • Cavehill has got really good trails!
    Mid trail is a very good trail with a good step up, probably the best DH trail on Cavehill.
    Quarry trail is a brilliant fast trail with a great step up. Not technical at all and amazing for XC riders. Probably the most enjoyable trail on the Cavehill.
    Only down sides is there is a tough climb up to the top and trails can get really muddy especially under the trees.
  • great 4 an early sunday morning when its usually quite . check out new jump half way down the quarry trail, big air so hit hard .lol also other trail building around the hill itself
  • 4 Great Dh trails:
    Quarry trail - Not very steep or technical but extremely fun with a small step up.More XC orientated.
    Middle trail - Usually muddy but its a great trail with a fairly big step up. Parts of it quite steep.
    Zoo trail - Loads of steps and hair pins. Nothing really that hard.
    Rush/Ski jump trail - A few jumps inc;uding the ski jump (now a small stump) gets more rooty and rocky the further down you go.
    Climbing - Crap
  • Parked at the Cavehill Country Park. Firstly, don't be put off by the huge metal gate blocking the path up, though unless you are nearly 6ft, you might have trouble lifting your bike over on your own!

    The route up to the summit is a wide gravel track, but don't be fooled into thinking it'll be easy going; this is Northern Ireland after all, and the hills tend to be on the steep side!

    From the top, I headed right, down the famous quarry run. And boy does it live up to it's reputation as some of the finest singletrack in NI. Fast, not too technical and dry (on a sunny day in April)

    From there on, turning left towards the zoo, things get a bit tricky, especially through the tree, and especially for a newbie XC rider such as myself. The route passes the castle and zoo, and ends up climbing back up to the summit on the northern side, but it is lung busting stuff!

    Once you get back to the top, don't be tempted to head straight down the gravel to the car park; hit the quarry trail again, until you reach a metal 'cattle' grid, turn right, up the hill a little, and you rejoin the main path, just above the car park.

    All in all, a fantastic ride, but I will mirror what others have written; on the suniest day of the year so far, it was very busy with walkers. Treat them with respect, put up with the banter on the climbs, and impress them on the downs!
  • Such a good track when your up for a bita mud. good for a day out riding for anyone at any level
  • OK for training in winter months, legendary for pinning it in summer!
  • This is a place i always go it is amasing and the trails never fail to give you an adrenaline rush
  • cavehill GREAT TRY IT OUT
  • Really nice in the dry weather. Real bugger of a climb but the descent is worth it.Bring plenty of inner tubes as getting all the way to the top then getting a puncture and not having a tube is not worth it- believe me!
  • Great location in the dry, but fairly exposed when the weather closes in. Some of the trails are truly fantstic when the sun is shining, fast, forgiving sweeps on the quarry trail, good technical twists on the zoo run. but be warned when the rains comes down you can't buy friction, and unless you're really good, you'll fall off loads, like I do. Still, super place with plenty of options and some nice grinding climbs.
  • A great place indeed and within the City limits. Lots of height to play with and several routes down provides pleanty of options but best choice is the Quarry Trail off the summit. Tough climb up from the castle will test the legs and the lungs.
    Easier access can be gained from round the back (Hightown Road).
  • Video Clip "Cave Hill MTB"

    Nice video, really well edited and cut together.
    I really liked the bit in the middle where he chickened out of going over the drop off.

  • Some proper DH trails here, and some proper climbs to get too them. If you're DH orientated, suffer the climbs and enjoy the downs.
  • No finer biking in the Belfast area in my eyes, The quarry trail descent can be stunning in dry conditions. Once you get to the summit (Napoleon's Nose/McArts Fort) there are several downhill options. Maybe the trailbadger could organise an epic to cover them all....
  • The only real elevation gain possible near belfast, so a big climb followed by some nice descents are possible. Some nice singletrack to be had, some steep techy stuff and lots of roots as usual. Be careful of walkers and random dogs...
  • Best trail location near Belfast in my opinion. It has the quintisential NI trails, steep climbs and steep descents. The quarry run is one of the best trails in the country, being fast, open and as technical as you want to make it. The run down to the zoo is also quite good, but watch out for the ruts at the bottom of the top section. By the time you see them, you tend to be going quite fast!

    It does get busy particularly early and mid afternoon on the weekends, so watch out for walkers. It can get muddy in amoung the trees, but out on the hill it seems to drain fairly quickly. In fact it's quite common to be climbing up in the sunshine, watching rain pour down on Belfast itself.

    Well worth a visit, just be considerate of other users and be prepared for the long climb. It's worth it though.

  • The quarry trail is class singletrack. Just above the castle gets far too slippy with roots in round the trees. Lots of bits of tracks everywhere, but unless you don't mind pushing your bike or pedalling leg-tearing climbs, it's maybe not for you.
  • With a fantastic backdrop of the City of Belfast, the Cavehill Country Park offers varied XC loops and DH runs, most starting on open moorland on the summit and finishing on tight twisting singletrack in the forest on the lower slopes.

    Due to it's close proximity to Belfast City, it can get very busy on the weekend with ramblers and families therefore it's best visited at off peak times.

    Also, the Park can get very muddy very quickly. So avoid if the weather has been crap for a few days.

NOTE: The trails on this site have been ridden before, but you should not interpret their inclusion as an indication that mountain-biking is officially sanctioned on them. Seeking permission from landowners is your own responsibility, as is conducting yourself in a manner that is courteous, respectful to the environment, and conscious of the safety of others.