Review Detail

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Trail Variety 
Skills Development 
Trail Quality  
Cannock Chase has two red routes, Follow the Dog and The Monkey Trail. Both are tremendous fun to ride, and aren't too tricky for most people who can handle a red route.

Follow the Dog is the main loop, and the easier of the two, coming in at around 6 miles or so. It's a fantastic trail for beginners too, as there's enough to challenge you if you want it to, but there's nothing major to put you off if you're new to mountain biking and all the tricky bits can be avoided or walked.

Right from the start of FTD, you're on singletrack until about 1/3rd of the way around when you'll hit the one and only fire road climb. Once you're at the top, it's back onto singletrack until you reach where the trail splits in two - and the Monkey starts (which I'll get to in a minute). Carrying on the Dog from the split, and about 2/3rds round, you'll reach the campsite (which has fresh water if you need it). From then, it's all the way back down the hill back to the car park. There's nothing overly challenging in terms of features, but add some speed and you can make it as tricky as you want.

The Monkey Trail starts mid-way around Follow the Dog, and if you choose to do it you'll miss out a very short section of the Dog. Where the trail splits in two, heading to the left will start you onto the Monkey, and starts off with a nice steep switchback descent down a hill to the railway crossing. Once you're over the railway line and road, you'll hit the Monkey. There's plenty of stuff to keep you busy here - short sharp climbs, fun flowing descents, several black sections, various berms, rock gardens, and some jumps. However, the fun comes when you reach Upper and Lower Cliff. These two sections have some fairly steep climbs, but the descents are awesome fun. Lower Cliff is by far my favourite, and there are several places where you can get some nice air if you want to! Plus, it doesn't take too long to ride back up each one if you want to do them again. Once you've done Lower Cliff, you head back over the road and rail crossing, back up the hill, and you'll rejoin Follow the Dog.

Traffic-wise, Cannock gets very busy during weekends, especially during summer. If you can make it out during the week it's a heck of a lot quieter, but during weekends expect to get stuck behind people who are slower than you sometimes! In addition, because of the amount of traffic the trails get, the surface tends to get a lot of braking bumps, so if you have a full suspension bike, you might want to bring it a long - but you can do everything perfectly well on a hardtail or even a rigid bike.

Facilities at the Chase are decent - to start with, it's only about 20 minutes ride up the hill from the railway stations at Rugeley, so it's easy to get to by train. The trail head has a large car park, bike shop, cafe, toilets, a GoApe, and is open every day (bike shop closes on Wednesdays). There's also a second cafe approx half-way around Follow the Dog, though it's not signposted that well and about 5 mins ride away from the trail.

Finally, there's unfortunately no skills area of any kind on the Chase. There are some little jumps scattered around remote areas which, if you know where they are, can be fun, but there's nothing to really practise and hone your skills on, sadly. You can always give Stile Cop a go, but it's more of a downhill park (with massive jumps and so on) and even the easiest of the routes is pretty steep.

User Review

Good Points
Long, but not too long. It's also quite flat. Great on-site facilities. Close to Rugeley railway station(s). Plenty of unmarked single-track if you know where to look.
Bad Points
No "skills area" of any kind. It's flat(ish). Trails suffer from a lot of traffic during summer. The blue route is all fire roads, and not worth doing.
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