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Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairngorms

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

This loop is a great opportunity to experience big mountain riding, epic views and a truly memorable descent - but is easily achieved in just a few hours!

Starting from the Cairngorm Ski Centre, it's a long 363m climb to the top of the ski tow. Thankfully the terrain is very well surfaced and straightforward to ride. The climb is never overly steep for long and is 100% rideable, but with considerable effort. If you're lucky you'll come across the Cairngorm reindeer on the way up.

Once you've pedalled or pushed your way to the top of the ski tow, you're rewarded with an epic view over Loch Morlich, the Monadhliath Mountains and Strathspey (on a clear day, that is).

From here, it's a relatively short but fast and technical rocky descent which meets up with the trail off the Fiacaill a' Choire Chais. Pick your own way to the west side of the ridge and pick up the rocky trail that leads in to the Coire an t-Sneachda.

The view into the coire from here is just ace and would probably justify the climb by itself. Follow the trail as it gently traverses deeper into the coire. The riding in this part is rocky but not particularly difficult.

As you get further into the coire, you'll likely have to get off and walk through some of the larger boulders, heading west a little bit until you reach the trail out of the coire and a conveniently large boulder with plenty seating! Mobile signal here is surprisingly excellent.

Drop your seatpost as it's time for a 3km descent to the ski centre!

Ahead of you lies challenging staircases, natural rock gardens as well as fast flowing stretches of well-surfaced open trail. These open sections of trail have the added bonus of the infamous Cairngorm water bars! Spaced every few metres, these drainage ditches keep the trail in great condition year-round. Time your rolling bunnyhops wrong and you risk the dreaded psssssssst as you puncture the rear tyre. But time them right and you'll be laughing all the way to the ski centre!

Whilst this loop can easily be done within a few hours, always pack for a full day out in the mountains. Ensure you have sufficient clothing, tools & spares, food & drink and emergency equipment. Snow can be present at higher levels well into spring (photos from rides done in May and June) and wind chill can be significant. Be confident in your navigation and whilst technology is awesome, always have a map and compass (and the skills to use them).

Perfect for: Experienced riders with extensive skills looking for a mountain experience but perhaps with a short time budget.

View on Komoot

Always let someone know your route and expected time back. Don't rely on the timings or difficulty gradings given on Komoot. All times, distances, elevations, terrain types, difficulties and descriptions on Komoot are provided by Komoot and not necessarily approved by Highland Bike Academy. The route has only been provided here to give you a map based overview of the route as inspiration for your own planning and preparations.

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