Although it's not an overly long route, I've graded this one as a hard fitness level as there is a 2km section in the middle where you will be off the bike, pushing or carrying due to the rough condition of the path. Unfortunately there is no avoiding this, you just have to get the head down and get through it.
I feel it's worth the effort though, as the finish is superb, with a technical descent that seems to have a bit of everything thrown in, which is why I've graded the route as a hard tech grade.
Starting from the car park on the A896, head west along the single track road towards Torridon village. This is all generally downhill, so it's a good easy start to get the legs warmed up for the rest of the route.
At the road junction at tag 1, turn off to the right and carry on along the shore through Torridon village, where the road eventually starts to climb away from the shore via a switchback. Continue to climb on the road, before a small descent where you arrive at tag 2. Turn right off the road onto the path that leads north east into the trees and on to Coire MhicNobaill. There's another car park here on your left, and there's a signpost and information board on the right where the path starts so you should see it easily enough.
Climb on the path along a fairly easy angled slope through some trees. The path is well compacted and quite smooth, so the going is not too difficult. You break out of the tree cover fairly quickly, and get the reward of some impressive views of Beinn Alligin to your left, and Beinn Dearg ahead of you as the path continues to climb, but the gradient gets less and less as you progress up the glen. The path is still well constructed here and offers no real difficulties other than the odd water bar which can easily be rolled at this point.
As you start to approach the bridge at tag 3 the gradient has lessened to an extent that you almost fail to notice that you are continually climbing. Once over the bridge, look out for the fork in the path at tag 4, and bear right to carry on into the coire.
From tag 4 to 5, the path starts to gradually deteriorate bit by bit. This is offset somewhat by the views you now have of the summit ridge of Liathach off to your right, and Beinn Eighe starting to loom large ahead of you at the head of the coire.
Round about tag 5 things get to a stage where you are pretty much reduced to pushing and carrying more than cycling. There is always a path to follow, but it's just so broken up by the occasional wet boggy section, or rocks and loose rubble here and there that it is basically unrideable. If you go through here after a wet spell, some of the boggy bits might be extensive enough to mean wet feet, but I did manage to get through here in February and keep dry, so it's obviously not always that bad.
The one good thing about this section is the the views surrounding you, as you have some incredible mountains practically on all sides to hopefully lift your spirits when you're thinking that it'll never end.
The good news is that it does end at tag 6, where very suddenly the path changes and you're back on your bike riding a good hard packed path with the odd bit of bedrock sticking out here and there.
The best bit of the route is just ahead of you now. At tag 7 you'll meet the path coming up out of Coire Dubh Mor, where the downhill to the finish really gets going as you squeeze between the huge walls on either side of you that are Liathach and Beinn Eighe. For the first km or so it's flowing and easy angled, and fairly smooth, with the odd rock here and there providing the opportunity to get the bike off the ground if you want.
About halfway down it starts to get steeper, and more technical, with rock steps, drainage ditches to be jumped, the odd tight corner, and a whole host of natural opportunities to get some air if you wish. It just gets better and better, and makes the carrying you did earlier seem like a dim and distant memory. This descent lasts for about 4km in total, and takes you right back to the car par park where you started.
Local Trail Association
Trails in Route
Bike typeAM, XC
More Stats for Coire MhicNobaill mountain bike route
Altitude min14 ft
Altitude start292 ft
Altitude end291 ft
Distance climb7 miles
Distance down7 miles
Distance flat5,086 ft