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Laggan - a classic trail centre, and much more.

Laggan is a classic Scottish riding destination. It is a trail centre, but its trails have quite a different character to places like Glentress, and have a timeless quality that keeps them relevant. Hear we find out about Laggan's origins, and how it will evolve into the future.

Chris laggan

Laggan's trails

Laggan was originally planned for a forest near Aviemore, but the discovery of the rare and protected capercaillie meant a new location was needed.

Laggan is a very small, quite remote village, but hidden in Strathmashie forest lay the foundations of some special trails - featuring the many rock slabs and spines.

This gave the original black and red trails their character and were probably ahead of their time when people only either rode cross country or downhill, but are perfect fit for modern trail bikes.

Laggan is also a great event venue, hosting regular XC and Enduro events - in fact Laggan has more useable Enduro trails that any other Scottish race venue (this is apparently a fact!). Also comprising of a fun flowy trail full of berms and jumps to keep kids or all ages happy, and a nice rolling green that takes in some great views, Laggan ticks a lot of boxes and is well worth a visit!

Laggan me


The trail designers memory of the original build - Paul Masson.

Summer 2004; after lot’s of ‘politicking’, meetings, heated discussions, site visits far and wide, grown up money stuff and some big boy decisions Laggan was go! I had decided to leave my job at Bothy Bikes, take the Highlands and Islands small business start up scheme and start my own trail design business called Cycletherapy. I had spent the previous year travelling through Wales visiting the new trails that were being built by Forestry Commission (F.C) Wales, working on the trail teams for ‘free’ but also working with the Upland Footpath guys up here in Northern Scotland - this was to be crucial! I had just built Pitfichie for the F.C. (now Forestry Land Scotland - FLS) and after a very steep learning curve on that job they decided to give me the Laggan contract.

Laggan was going to be tricky, what with bad soils, wet ground, steep unstable sideslopes, lots of rock outcrops and bogs. The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) ‘bible’ that I had seen followed to great effect in Wales wasn’t going to work too well here, so I took what I had learnt from the Cairngorm path builders to design a unique Scottish style trail centre.

What we had were stunning views and lots of rock outcrops, so initially I flagged the routes to incorporate as much of these positive design features as possible. When we then had to cross the less than ideal wet and boggy bits we dug out and quarried the local rocks to causeway our way across these problem areas. To minimise the amount of material we needed to ferry into the trails - especially when we started using helicopters (!) I deliberately kept the trails quite narrow. Also, where we worked across steep hillsides it was easier to use a small excavator on a narrower bench cut, this meant minimal tree clearing and a lot of extra hand building where the excavator just couldn’t move around much. All these factors meant that the trails were narrow, tight in amongst the trees, heavily rock armoured, natural feeling, technical and quite ‘singletracky’ in feel.

For many years I think Laggan was too hard for many trail centre users coming up from the tamer trail centres, but it's this that has, I think, kept Laggan (now Wolftrax) relevant in these modern ‘enduro’ days. With so many years since being spent building wide ‘flow’ trails, I think users find Laggan unique in its challenges and ride feel. The 18 year old trails have aged well and with ongoing ‘refreshing’ and maintenance by the FLS I can see them still being relevant well into their twenties!


Proper riding for families

Laggan jump

Crisp new jumps and berms on the orange

The managers vision of Laggan now and into the future - Cristian Pizarro, Laggan Forest Trust

The Laggan Forest Trust has been focusing on providing a great experience for visitors to the Laggan Wolftrax Mountain Biking Trails. Also, attention has been given to the promotion of alternative ways of biking in the area such as ebike, gravel and leisure routes. A new outdoor extension has been added to the centre providing good cover for visitors which will be complemented with interpretation panels shortly. We are really happy to see the bike shop reopened for 2022, Bike Bothy Laggan can supply hire bikes and spares to keep you on the trails, and is an exciting partnership for us with Bird bikes. Other new additions includes the full upgrade of the lower orange trail and a brand new skills area opposite to the centre and café.

The big news is The Trust has recently been developing plans towards a new blue trail. A concept design has been approved and will be shortly submitted to the planning authorities. The capital investment would be over £200k and will look to deliver a 3km plus blue grade trail, which will also include improvements to how our other trails are ridden, making the experience better for all visitors.

The trail will have at its heart fun, with many features to develop skills and complement adequate progression between the green and red trails; a great asset for families and many other less and more confident riders.

The planned development is designed to provide an intermediate introduction to the technical style of trails that gives Laggan its unique appeal.

We expect the project will transform the Laggan Wolftrax trail network to welcome a wider audience. The project has been widely supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Forestry and Land Scotland, and DMBinS who supported this proposal through the bike plan for Badenoch and Strathspey, trail designs and throughout the planning process.

Laggan skills

Freshened up skills trails

Clark Sutherland - Bike Bothy Laggan / Bird Bikes

Simply put, The motivation for our expansion to Laggan Wolftrax was decided upon because it’s my favourite trail centre in Scotland!

It boasts a black and red trail that would give most single track a run for it’s money along with combining the excellent facilities provided by LFTC, and recent (and proposed) development by CRC.

It goes without saying that it is a prime location set between Aviemore in the heart of the Cairngorms and the mighty Nevis Range

Laggan bike bothy

Newly opened Bike Bothy at Laggan

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