Dark Side

Dark Side Stats

Grade: Orange - Extreme
Distance: 6.5Km Loop
Singletrack: 25% 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 (Vadar's Lair), the route takes you back onto forest road by the side of Lochaber Loch. Follow the forest road until you reach post 60 (the race track), consisting of singletrack, outcrops of very technical rock, Northshore and the famous Kona Gap jump.

The Trails view grading charts

Visitor Comments

When is the Darkside gonna be open again if ever? Traveled like 40 miles to ride it, started pushing my bike up the hill and saw a sign that broke my heart!
- reply
Hi Brad, we are unsure about the future of the Dark Side, however if you check out the weekly trail updates, they will keep you informed of what is open, closed or diverted, before you travel to the centres.
The Dark side is closed and has been for many, many months. Please don't travel from far or ride all the way round to the start from Mabie as you will be very disappointed!

All of the other routes and skills park are open as usual.
Robby I
A lot of it was closed off or blocked by fallen trees. I biked a few miles of fire road for nothing, which was quite annoying.

I would check what sections are open before going and be ready for a lot of fire road biking.
Done this trail about 5 weeks ago and split my head open defo need to wear a full face helmet next time lol
Oops forgot to add the rating! 5 stars!
Suspect you missed the main bit Richard and only did Vader's Lair (the warm up bit). There's a good 2k of ladder trails and rocks to ride round the corner from there, well worth a visit to test your balance!
The dark side is great, but I was under the impression there was a lot more to it, 200 yards of northshore 1 gap jump and about 3k of fire track
A lot easier than expected but still excellent fun! Leave your silly spd's at home and learn to ride properly!!
challenging but good
Stop moaning this ride is unique and a real test of skill, there was plenty of warning at the start. There are miles of the same old built track for you all over the uk and only one Dark Side!!! man up!

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Refreshments available at Mabie House Hotel.


  1. Car parking is available at the trail head and costs £3 per day.


Toilet facilities are on site, near the trail head.

Bike Hire

Gorsebank Bike Hire, Dalbeattie (15 miles away)
(Open 7 days a week)

01556 610174 or 07814 501214

www.gorsebank.com pre-booking advisable


Trail Conditions

Current at 9th Oct 2015

Trails: All open except from Mon 12th - Fri 16th Oct, Descender Bender on Red graded Phoenix Trail will be closed for forestry operations.  A diversion via the Elevator and the Blue trail to rejoin the Red Trail at Stans Pond will be signed.


Two sections of single track on the Darkside trail are closed: 'Vaders Lair' and 'The Race Track' .


Conditions: Good.


Diversions: see above.  


More Info:  Contact the district office by email on dumfries&borders@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

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