Keep it rolling! The valley of Kathmandu is surrounded by hills on all sides, with river streams gushing in and out of the valley.
Kathmandu and its outskirts offer some of the most exciting and adventurous cycling trails for you to conquer. In the last few years, riding has become incredibly popular in Kathmandu. With a dramatic increase in youths riding bicycles owing to fuel shortages and price hikes, most people are turning to cycle as a sustainable energy choice. Cycling also has numerous health benefits, such as stress reduction because it helps with the release of chemicals like endorphins. Regardless, cycling is something for everyone to enjoy.
But where exactly are the best spots to go pedaling around Kathmandu? Below are some of the best cycling trails that can be fit for the novice commuter, the veteran adventure cyclist, and anyone in-between.
Temple Trail (Level: Easy)
Located on the northeast hill of Swayambhunath, the White Gumba is a Buddhist pilgrimage site with an elevation of 1500 meters, just outside the main ring road.
The 4-km ascent to the Gumba is challenging, but the fresh air and the chanting of Buddhist monks are well worth the challenge. Paved and gravel roads are mixed together in this cycling route. The serene ambiance, breathtaking valley vista, and magnificent architecture of White Gumba make this trip from core Kathmandu to White Gumba the ultimate cycling experience. It is the ideal ride for beginners to test their strength and endurance as they ascend, but remember to stop frequently and hydrate often.
Tens of thousands of prayer flags, together with Buddhist monuments and structures, will start to appear as you move closer to White Gumba. Keep in mind that there might be crowds because the White Gumba is only open on Saturdays, but the tranquil ambiance more than makes up for it. On days other than Saturdays, the route is still thrilling even though the Gumba is closed. To take in the magnificent views of the Kathmandu Valley, stop at the rest spot halfway up the hike to White Gumba.
Shivapuri Trail (Level: Moderate)
At the northern edge of the Kathmandu Valley is where you’ll find the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, which is around 12 kilometers from the city’s center. The trail contains several long stretches that run through lush forests and waterfalls; you must pay an admission fee to go this way, but it leads to a more remote atmosphere.
Even if you’re just getting into mountain biking, this trail is perfect for all levels of riders. This section of road serves as the north exit to the valley and a lover’s retreat with many shady rest areas. Expect to go on long, arduous, fantastic, and exhilarating mountain bike rides. Do not be afraid to question nearby residents and army officials for the necessary information because the paths may be confusing for a beginner.
Towards the direction of Nagi Gompa, take the single-track steep trail that skirts the edge of the valley. This national park is one of the best spots for bird watching, and it also offers sweeping vistas of the Himalayas. While, the cyclist gets to completely experience nature while on the bike, one can find this course a tad bit challenging and daring. The trail has a few little waterfalls that keep you cool and at ease. If you’re riding during the summer, stop for some of nature’s treats like wild berries.
Nagarkot Trail (Level: Challenging)
Nagarkot is 32 kilometers west of Kathmandu and has an elevation of 2175 meters. One of the most fascinating places to ride and explore the countryside, with a variety of mountains around the skyline inspiring the riders. Nagarkot is a well-known downhill and enduro destination and is also a location for the Asian Enduro Series.
However, Nagarkot offers a variety of paths that are suitable for cyclists of all ability levels and not just downhill bikers. The Kathmandu to Nagarkot cycling route is well-liked by cyclists because it leads to the most well-known hillside sitting around the valley with vista views of the great Himalayan ranges from Everest to Ganesh Himal and enables them to tour the old temples and palaces of the city, including the Changunarayan temple and Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It is a challenging mountain bike route where one can feel the thrill of adventure while surrounded by amazing mountains and landscapes with ancient culture and customs. A 20 km natural ascent through a pine forest and opportunities for bird observation make up this tranquil route.
Mountain bike riding in Nagarkot is an exhilarating experience. But do note that due to poor maintenance, the roads can become muddy during the monsoon and dusty throughout the drier seasons.
Phulchowki Tower Trail (Level: Difficult)
This is a trail with scenic portions and pump tracks on a well-liked single-track enduro in the Kathmandu Valley. It is equally liked for hiking and mountain biking. The Phulchowki Tower trail in Godawari, which is practically at the summit of the Phulchowki hill, has to be one the more difficult trails in the Kathmandu Valley due to the numerous steeps, loose portions, seesaws, jumps, gap jumps, drops, stairs, and skinnies that it has. Beginners are not advised to ride this trail alone because there won’t be many other riders around in case something goes wrong.
A challenging 6.8-km point-to-point trail near Godawari takes around 4 hours to complete. The single track that runs through Phulchowki’s deep forest is well-liked by mountain bikers in Nepal. The trail here is a series of sharp switchbacks and will test your endurance. Make sure to bring lots of water for the drive as well as your lunch.
The Marijuana Loop (Level: Demanding)
The Magical Marijuana Trail was developed by Nirakar Yakthumba, frontman of a beloved Nepali rock band, 1974 AD, and an avid cycling enthusiast. The Magical Marijuana Loop is a trail in the south of the valley and roughly a 25-km route with the ride’s highest point being somewhere around 1,370 m.
Although it is a simple trail, there is a potential that a rookie cyclist might fall on the single track. But don’t worry, it’s all part of the adventure.
Beginning with an urban bike ride to Bungamati, rapidly touring through the town, then continuing on singletracks behind Khokana, then riding through the suburbs surrounded by splendid landscapes.
The trail features urban trails, suburban trails, single tracks, as well as some cross-country, and especially downhill courses inside the two townships of Bungamati and Khokana. The area features typical Newari customs and culture, and people will wave at you and cheer you on as you pass. The old Newari town has a rich cultural past and is home to the modest Shree Rudrayani temple, which is situated in the heart of Khokana.
Despite the fact that the majority of the city was severely damaged by the 2015 earthquake, many portions of Khokana and Bungamati have undergone substantial restorations. Make a quick visit to this location and reward yourself in the end with a genuine Newari dinner.