Dark Side Stats
Grade: Orange - Extreme
Singletrack: 100% North Shore timber trail
The Dark Side offers one of the most severe tests for any mountain biker and is for experts only. Far from being a conventional cross-country trail, this circuit is made up mostly of North Shore timber trails – and they’re among the most technical to be found anywhere. We recommend that you walk sections of the Dark Side before riding it.
The trailbuilders have constructed a fiendishly difficult trail, featuring off-camber step-ups, drop-offs, skinnies, gap jumps and rock features. It’ll leave you physically exhausted and mentally drained – in a good way!
High and narrow
The North Shore ranges from 60cm at its widest point to a scary 10cm – which can look like it’s not much wider than your tyres. The trail climbs to 1m above the ground, and takes you through a gap jump, which at 4ft wide and an elevation of 7ft raises the stakes even further.
Head to the Dark Side
To reach the Dark Side, ride out of the car park and up into the forest passing the shop and the Forestry Commission offices. Follow the forest road up to the skills area and at post 11 head left up the forest road towards Lochbank Hill. Keep on the road, passing the entrance to the red-graded Contour Climb on your right at Post 23. Not long after this, you’ll come to the qualifier for the Dark Side on the left hand side. (If you reach Post 29, you’ve gone too far). Once you’re through the qualifier, the route takes you back onto forest road by the side of Lochaber Loch. Follow the forest road (part of the purple-graded Lochbank Loop) until post 58. Take a right here and stay on this road until post 66, again take another right and follow the road for a few hundred yards, until you come across a skinny piece of board rail and the caution signs – the start of the Dark Side!