The best family-friendly cycling routes in Cornwall

Penned on the 18th April 2024

The best family-friendly cycling routes in Cornwall

Picture this – you’re pedalling along an open path in a stunning natural landscape, the breeze in your hair, fresh air in your lungs, your family laughing as you race to the next bend where you’re stopping for a Cornish clotted cream ice cream… if this sounds like an idyllic day out, this blog is for you! 

Cornwall offers a brilliant variety of bike riding routes and terrains, from short and gentle cycles to more challenging longer journeys. Whether you love cruising along the coastline looking out for wildlife, discovering the past on heritage trails or winding your way through peaceful woodlands, there’s sure to be a cycling route to suit you and your family in this southwest county. We’ve gathered a list of our favourites to inspire your most magical two-wheel adventures yet. 

The Bissoe Trail (Coast To Coast)

A view of the Bissoe Trail with Carnon Viaduct in the distance

Distance: 11 miles

The Bissoe Trail, also known as the Coast To Coast, is one of Cornwall’s most popular routes for cyclists of all ages and experience levels. It runs for around 11 miles, almost traffic-free, from Devoran in the south of Cornwall to Portreath in the north – and as the name implies it’ll take you from one of Cornwall’s coastlines to the other! The route is part of the Mineral Tramways trails and follows an old railway track that would have been bustling with industry in a bygone time, so there are some interesting historical features to look out for along the way. Whilst the route is relatively level, the terrain is varied and there are some hilly parts – but the effort is well worth it for the picturesque scenery. 

Depending on where you’re starting and finishing, you could stop halfway for fish and chips by the seafront at The Atlantic Beach Café & Bar in Portreath or for a big chunk of homemade cake at St Piran Café in Devoran.


Lanhydrock Bike Trail

A view of the Lanhydrock estate, which is home to several bike trails of varying lengths

Distance: Mixed (from 0.3 miles to 1.8 miles)

Lanhydrock is a grand country estate surrounded by abundant parkland and woodland, managed by the National Trust – and it’s a wonderful place to enjoy a family bike ride amongst the trees. There are six different off-road trails to choose from for all abilities here, including green-grade easy routes (wide enough for trailers for little ones), blue-grade moderate mountain biking tracks for those with a little more experience, and a red-grade challenging downhill trail with exhilarating jumps and tight corners. There’s also a skills area and balance bike track that adventurous young cyclists will love! Take a look at the trail map here

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stop for a tasty bite to eat at one of the Estate’s eateries, The Park Café or Courtyard Café. 


The Camel Trail

A view of the Camel Trail with Padstow in the distance

Distance: 18 miles

Another of Cornwall’s most well-loved cycling routes, The Camel Trail follows a disused railway between Bodmin and Padstow, taking in scenic countryside and the beautiful Camel Estuary, a National Landscape (formerly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) that’s teeming with birdlife. The whole 18-mile trail is completely flat and gentle, so it’s an ideal choice for families or biking beginners – and if you don’t fancy riding the full distance you can easily choose any section.

There are plenty of places to stop for refreshments along the way, though we recommend a pitstop at the seaside town of Padstow so you can sample the delights in this foodie haven. For a special seafood lunch, you can’t beat Prawn on the Lawn.


The Clay Trails

A view of Lansalson Pit, which can be seen from the Clay Trails

Distance: Mixed (from 1.8 miles to 5 miles)

The Clay Trails wind their way through the unique and dramatic landscape of mid-Cornwall’s china clay mining area, alongside towering clay tips (known as the Cornish Alps!), turquoise dams and historical listed buildings and clay pits. There’s a network of nine different trails to choose from, varying from flat and accessible to steep and challenging – and they are all usually pretty quiet, making for a peaceful day’s cycling. The trails were first opened in 2005 as a part of a restoration programme to provide new habitats for flora and fauna, so there’s a wonderful array of wildlife to discover here too, from colourful wildflowers to soaring birds of prey. 

Several of the trails pass by The Eden Project so you can tie in your bike ride with a visit to the magnificent biomes, epic indoor rainforest and bustling sustainable café.


Penrose Estate

A view of the Loe Bar trail with a bank of thrift flowers in the foreground and the sea in the distance

Distance: 7.75 miles

Nestled between Helston and Porthleven on the south Cornish coast, Penrose is a gorgeous National Trust-managed estate with over 6.5 miles of smooth, tree-lined waterside trails to explore. The idyllic estate surrounds Loe Pool, Cornwall’s largest natural freshwater lake, separated from the open sea by a shingle bar – and it certainly provides a stunning backdrop for your bike ride! This circular route will take you all the way round the lake and back to your starting point in the car park.

Post-cycle, head along the coast to Porthleven for a potter around the picture-perfect harbour and a bite to eat. We love The Ship Inn, a 17th-century pub that’s perfect for classic pub grub and pints overlooking the bobbing boats below.


The Bodmin Beast Trail, Cardinham Woods

A cyclist on a path through Cardinham Woods with trees on both sides of her

Distance: 8 miles

Cardinham Woods is nestled in a gorgeous green valley near Bodmin. Its steep slopes offer some excellent off-road trails, perfect for adrenaline-seeking mountain biking families! The Bodmin Beast Trail is the main 8-mile route and it’s been described as one of the best singletrack trails in Cornwall. It features some tough climbs and exciting descents that snake through the forest – so this is definitely one for intermediate and proficient off-road cyclists. If you want to challenge yourself even more, there are two optional red-grade trails which loop off from the main track too.

When you’re ready to slow things down, stop off at Woods Café, a hidden gem in the middle of the woodlands serving hearty sandwiches and homemade soups that are sure to satisfy hungry tummies.


Goss Moor Cycle Trail

A view of foxgloves growing amid the greenery on Goss Moor

Distance: 7 miles

Goss Moor is a 480-hectare National Nature Reserve managed by Natural England, straddling the old A30 road between Roche and Indian Queens in mid Cornwall. What was once a bottlenecked road is now a tranquil area with plenty of rich heritage and rare plants and wildlife to explore – and what better way to do so than by bicycle? Goss Moor’s 7-mile circular multi-use trail here is largely flat and easy-going, making it a great choice for novice cyclists or those seeking a gentle ride in the open countryside.

Nature-loving families might like to stop off at Screech Owl Sanctuary on the edge of Goss Moor, where you can get up close to over 70 amazing owls from around the world, as well as lemurs, wallabies, meerkats and other charming creatures. 


Seaton Valley Countryside Park

The views at Seaton Valley Countryside Park. The cycle trail can be seen in the foreground with a hill covered in woodland behind

Distance: 2 miles

A former derelict caravan park, Seaton Valley Countryside Park sits on the coast near the picturesque fishing harbour town of Looe. You can take the circular walking and cycling path for a tour around the park, and at just 2 miles long it’s a great option for families with mini cyclists in tow. The trail follows the banks of the River Seaton before heading to Seaton Beach, where you can stop for a paddle or a swim in the sheltered waters before looping back around to your starting point. En route you’ll also find a sensory garden and a nature reserve with otters, kingfishers, dormice and butterflies. 

Once you’re ready for a rest, head to The Smuggler’s Inn, a family-friendly pub nearby that serves hearty food and plenty of local beverages to quench your thirst.


The Great Flat Lode Trail

A view of a gate on the Great Flat Lode cycling trail. Behind the gate there are rolling fields.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Set in the former industrial areas of Camborne and Redruth, The Great Flat Lode Trail forms part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. This 7.5-mile route offers a chance to explore a landscape filled with interesting relics and remains of the county’s mining heyday, from the tall chimneys of engine houses to tramways and the ‘miners dry’, a building where the workers would take a bath after their shift underground. Just make sure you stick to the pathways because these old buildings can be unstable.

The trail encircles the iconic Carn Brea hill too, so make sure you allow time to hop off your saddle and climb to the top for breathtaking panoramic views around Cornwall. And if the sun’s shining it’s a glorious spot for a picnic.


Tamar Trails

The Tamar Trail winding past a fence on the right hand side and through green countryside

Distance: 15.5 miles

Set in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Devon and Cornwall border, Tamar Trails offers a 15.5-mile network of off-road woodland routes perfect for exploring on two wheels. There are various grades of trails to choose from, with options suited to both complete beginners and experienced mountain bikers – though the Mineral Railway Trail is best for families, journeying through the woods on a mostly-level track. If you’ve still got some energy after your ride, there are plenty more outdoor activities here including canoeing, archery and Tree Surfing, a high rope course that children of all ages will love.  

The Beech Café is the perfect spot to refuel with views over the Valley. After all that exertion, why not treat yourself to a delicious afternoon tea?


Penzance Promenade

A view of Penzance promenade with the town in the in the distance

Distance: around 3 miles

If you’re looking for an easy cycle right beside the sea, head to Penzance in west Cornwall. The Penzance Promenade is the only Victorian promenade in Cornwall, dating back to the 1800s, and its smooth flat surface makes it an idyllic location for a gentle ride alongside the glittering waterfront. Starting at the iconic Jubilee Pool lido you can pedal your way along the promenade for just over a mile and a half to the fishing port town of Newlyn – if the sun’s out expect to weave your way around fellow rollers and revellers enjoying a stroll and an ice cream! On the way back you’ll get magical views across Mounts Bay to the majestic St Michael’s Mount too.

After your ride, refuel Cornwall-style with a freshly-made traditional pasty from local delicatessen, The Cornish Hen.


The Cornish Way

A view of the coastline at Land's End, looking out to see at golden hour.

Distance: 180 miles

The Cornish Way is a 180-mile cycle route that forms part of the National Cycle Network, running from Land’s End in the far west to Bude on the Devon border. Some of the routes we’ve covered in this guide are a part of The Cornish Way – but you can also choose any section you like and it’ll be well-signposted and away from major roads. The route is designed to take in the very best of Cornwall, passing through charming towns, quaint fishing villages and harbours, golden beaches, ancient woodland, unique heritage sites and wildlife-rich nature reserves. If you’re looking for a bike ride with spectacular scenery, The Cornish Way really does have it all. 


Staying in Cornwall

cabin with a hot tub surrounded by trees

Seeking a unique base for your cycling adventures? Then take a look at our collection of luxury hideaways in Cornwall. From handcrafted shepherd’s huts for two to spacious safari tents for five, we’ve got something to suit a mix of families and needs. 

And if you’re looking for inspiration for things to do out-of-the saddle, here are a few more of our guides to get you started:

The best pub walks in Cornwall

Sandy beaches in Cornwall

The best ways to see Cornwall’s wildlife

The best places to swim in Cornwall

The self-care guide to Cornwall

The best independent shops in Cornwall



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