Dalby Forest Cycling for families

Dalby Forest, in the heart of the North York Moors National Park. It’s over 8,500 acres in size and has everything you can want in a wonderful family day out. We visited in the warmer months with our at the time 5-year-old and 1-year-old to sample the cycle routes. I must add it’s an all-encompassing experience which is suitable for those with or without bikes.

From a cycling perspective, it’s geared towards all ability levels with over six cycling trails ranging from family (beginner) routes to advanced mountain biking trails (not for the faint-hearted)

There’s also a cycle skills area where those of varying ability levels can test their ability to determine which route is right for them. It’s great enjoyment for the kids too.

At the time of writing, we have visited Dalby Forest twice and given the expanse nature of this review, will be updated regularly with new information and pictures so stick with us!

We took the Adderstone cycle trail as this was the Green route (suitable for novice cyclists) which with a baby seat and a 5-year-old cycling solo felt like the correct route.

Where does the ride take me?

We really enjoyed both routes and would highly recommend them. It really depends on what route you take. There are 6 cycling routes in total all of varying levels of ability. Some of the routes aimed at experienced mountain bikers look incredible but also not for the faint-hearted.

The Adderstone trail however is Graded Green which is suitable for beginners or novice cyclists.

The short route is still 8 miles in length so it requires a degree of fitness. The longer route of the specific trail is actually 12 miles so with young ones this will take some time.

Our 5-year-old found the route relatively straightforward forward however it still required a number of snack and water breaks. Start the trail from Dixon’s Hollow car park located next to Adderstone field.

On our first visit to Dalby Forest, we actually took the Ellerburn trail which is aimed at children learning to cycle, walkers and wheelchair users. This is accessible from the Dalby Courtyard near the Visitor Centre.

This trail runs alongside Ellerburn Beck and the long route is just 2.8 miles in length. This is perfect for newbie cyclists. There’s plenty to see in the woods and it runs alongside a river so it’s a pretty route too. This route is great if you want to incentivise the kids with the play park afterwards as it’s a short ride back to the primary car park and the play park area.

What level of rider is it suitable for?

The Adderstone trail is more suited to kids who have cycled regularly; preferably of a moderate distance. If your child is new to cycling then the distance alone may be a little too far on this one.

The Ellerburn trail however is a fantastic starter trial. With two distances of 1.7 miles and 2.8 miles respectively it’s enough of a distance to give your young ones a good workout (before the play park) without it becoming a chore.

How much of it is traffic-free?

Dalby Forest is 8,500 acres of forest meaning it’s completely traffic free once parked up. It’s one of those places where you just feel safe to let your kids roam and it’s a fantastic base for them to become proficient cyclists.

Dalby Forest Traffic-Free Cycling paths

Would you recommend it?

100%. It’s one of the best traffic-free cycling bases we have enjoyed as a family. With a cafe, visitor centre and excellent play park it’s a must-visit location. Other than paying for parking it’s completely free to enter and enjoy the facilities meaning it’s a perfect place to visit as a family and spend the day. Other paid facilities are available (GoApe) in the surrounding forest but there’s more than enough to do for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cafe?:

Yes. The visitor centre (near the main car park) has a fantastic cafe serving a range of hot/cold foods and ice cream.

Are there any hills?:

It really depends on what route you take and your cycling proficiency. The Dalby Forest Cycle hub list all the trails available for you to assess.

The two routes we took had small inclines but nothing difficult for those with a base level of cycling.

What is your favourite part?:

Our favourite part was the ambience inside Dalby Forest. We visited both times in the Summer months and you get a real feeling of optimism as everyone is enjoying the great weather and outdoor play.

The kids LOVED the play park (as you can see from the photos). It’s very natural and suitable for kids of all ages.

Is it suitable for Dog walkers?

Yes. Dalby Forest is welcoming to Dog Walkers and there are 13 walking trails to enjoy!

How much is it to park?

Parking in peak seasons is on the expensive side at £10 for the day however Dalby Forest is completely free other than the parking. If you take your own bikes and picnic it’s an inexpensive day out for the entire family.

Off Peak parking is charged at £5 and covers the late Autumn/Winter months.

Pros & Cons


  • Cafe & toilet facilities
  • Suitable for children of all ability levels
  • A vast range of cycling trails
  • Brilliant play park
  • Family-friendly atmosphere


  • Parking in isolation is expensive.
  • Da
  • lby Forest is huge so can feel a little overwhelming.

Cycle enjoyment rating

Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Ryan

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