13 New Forest cycle routes you have to try

Cycling in the New Forest offers an immersive experience amidst ancient woodlands, heaths, charming villages, and more. Plus it’s the perfect addition to a Hampshire holiday! So, get ready to explore this beautiful location with loved ones…

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There are over 100 miles of car-free cycle trails to explore, but where do you even begin? With a variety of cycling options available, including mountain bikes, hybrids, and road bikes, there's something for every cyclist. Plus, there are different options and cycle routes to suit different age ranges. You don’t even have to worry if you don't have your own bike, as numerous places in the area offer bike rentals for any duration you need. You can even store them at the Sandy Balls holiday park during your stay, which is a short distance from all of these cycle routes. So, let’s get started! 

Hawkhill Trail image

Hawkhill Trail

Discover the intriguing features of Beaulieu Airfield on this traffic-free cycle route. The ride begins at Roundhill Campsite, which served as accommodation for RAF personnel during WWII and after the war.

North of the main airfield lies Hawkhill Inclosure, where the bomb storage and preparation areas were once hidden in the woods.

Start/Finish: Roundhill Campsite. Grid ref. SU332020. Postcode SO42 7QL

  • Roundhill Campsite Entrance: Park at Beaulieu Heath car park, cross the B3055 road with caution, then follow the gravel track.
  • To the railway bridge: Continue straight on the gravel track, passing through gates and crossing the railway bridge.
  • Pignal Inclosure: Follow the track around a right-hand bend, then continue straight at the crossroads.
  • Parkhill Inclosure: At the T-junction, turn right and follow the track, taking the right fork.
  • Hill: Go up the hill, through a gate, then turn right onto the tarmac road.
  • Perrywood Haseley: Cross the railway bridge, then turn left at the junction.
  • Frame Heath Inclosure: Turn right at the junction, then head down the hill through the gates.
  • Hawkhill Inclosure: Turn left at the crossroads, then continue up the hill, passing through gates.
  • Beaulieu Airfield: Cross the road carefully, then follow the old airfield perimeter track.
  • Beaulieu Airfield Hangar: Turn right at the gravel track, then left at the next junction.
  • Back to the start: Follow the tarmac road around the campsite back to the entrance.

Remember to be cautious of cars and standing water in wet conditions.

Length: 9.1 miles

The Old Railway image

The Old Railway

The old railway line, now part of the National Cycle Network, was dubbed the "Castleman's Corkscrew" due to its winding path across the New Forest. First proposed in 1844, the line connected Southampton and Dorchester, operating for over a century before its closure in the 1960s.

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The route begins in Brockenhurst, a charming New Forest village with great rail connections, allowing for car-free exploration of the area, so you can fully enjoy the outdoors.

Start: Brockenhurst Railway Station. Grid ref. SU301020. Postcode SO42 7DW

Finish: Burley Village. Grid ref. SU211031. Postcode BH24 4AB

  • Brockenhurst Railway Station: Start at the Brockenhurst Railway Station, exit through the ramp at the back of the car park onto Avenue Road.
  • Crossing the Railway: Follow Sway Road out of the village and over the railway line. At the T-junction, turn right onto the B3055.
  • Castleman's Corkscrew: As the road bends left, take the track to the right at waymarker 217. At waymarker 216, turn left past a low gate onto the old railway track. Continue through the middle of a campsite.
  • Holmsley Bound: As the track ends at a road, turn right at waymarker 191. Stay left at the triangle junction to join Burley Road.
  • Railway line: Cross under the A35, then immediately look for an off-road track on the opposite side to join the old railway line.
  • Crossing: Cross over Holmsley Passage at waymarkers 160 and 159, then continue along the old railway line.
  • Burbush: After crossing a bridge, take the small single track to the right into Burbush car park. Turn right at waymarker 157 onto Pound Lane.
  • Pound Lane: Follow Pound Lane into the centre of Burley Village.

Remember to be cautious of faster traffic on Burley Road.

Distance: 9 miles

Looping Lepe and Exbury image

Looping Lepe and Exbury

Take in this route's splendid sea views along the New Forest's charming coastline. While easy to ride in dry summer weather, the byways can be muddy and challenging in winter, so a mountain bike is recommended.

Lepe Country Park, where the New Forest meets the sea, offers fantastic views across the Solent and abundant wildlife.

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Nearby, the 200-acre Exbury Gardens are world-famous for the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, and rare plants.

Start/Finish: Lepe Country Park. Grid ref. SZ455985. Postcode SO45 1AD

  • Inchmery Lane: From Lepe Country Park, turn left and follow the coastal road towards Exbury, watching for cars.
  • Exbury Village: At the end of Inchmery Lane, turn right into Exbury village. To visit Exbury Gardens, continue straight instead.
  • Bridleway: As the road bends left, look for a crossroads with a gravel bridleway. Turn left here.
  • East End Farm: Continue on the bridleway, which can be muddy. Turn left at the bottom, then right uphill.
  • Lepe Road: Turn left onto Lepe Road towards Langley.
  • Langley: In Langley, turn right onto Mopley, then continue straight onto a gravel track.
  • Mopley Farm: At the end, take the bridleway on the far right, with wooden panels to lift your bike over.
  • Badminston Common: Go through the swing gate, continuing straight to avoid the steep hill down to Badminston Common.
  • Stanswood Road: Pass through another swing gate, then turn right onto Stanswood Road. Follow this back to Lepe Road and Lepe Country Park.

Be cautious of traffic, mud, and steep hills along the route.

Distance: 9.3 miles

Northern Forest Circular image

Northern Forest Circular

This cycle ride offers stunning panoramic views of the northern New Forest's rolling hills, heathland, and woodlands, so why not try one of the best New Forest cycle routes on your next holiday?

Start/Finish: Appleslade Bottom car park. Grid ref. SU183093. Postcode BH24 3QT

  • Exit car park: Exit the Appleslade Bottom car park and turn right onto the main road.
  • Red Shoot Inn: At waymarker 45, turn left towards Red Shoot Inn and Campsite. Follow the road down to the gravel track.
  • Left-hand fork: Take the left-hand fork in the gravel track.
  • Take the left fork: Continue straight at waymarker 44, then take the left fork at waymarker 43.
  • Low wooden gate: Turn left past the low wooden gate at waymarker 41.
  • Gates: Go through the gates at waymarkers 40 and 38.
  • Bend: Bear left at waymarker 37, then right around the bend at waymarker 36. Go through the gate and up the hill.
  • Minor Road: Follow the track as it opens up to heathland, then turn left onto the minor road.
  • Stoney Cross and Fritham: Turn left towards Stoney Cross and Fritham. Continue along the road, passing the old WWII airfield runway.
  • Fritham Village: Turn left into Fritham village, then left again by the barns.
  • Cycle network: At Fritham car park, go through the gate onto the cycle network.
  • Downhill: Follow the long downhill cycle track, passing waymarkers 13-11.
  • Caution: Steep uphill section at waymarker 10. Enjoy the views as the track opens to the heathland. Look for the WWII bomb crater and concrete aiming arrow.
  • Abbots Well Road: Continue on the track, then join Abbots Well Road, turning left down Blissford Hill.
  • Hyde and South Gorley: Through Hyde and South Gorley, cross the Ford by Moyles Court School.
  • Appleslade: Follow the road back through the valley to Appleslade car park.

Distance: 17.8 miles

Ashurst to Lyndhurst loop image

Ashurst to Lyndhurst loop

This predominantly on-road route takes you through some of the New Forest's most stunning open vistas, particularly impressive when the heather blooms in late summer.

Pass the Beaulieu River, which is privately owned by the local estate – a remnant of the area's monastic history and the nearby Buckler's Hard shipyard.

Start/Finish: Ashurst Railway Station. Grid ref. SU333101. Postcode SO40 7AA

  • Exit the Ashurst Railway Station car park, turning left onto the busy A35. Turn left into Ashurst Campsite, continuing past the reception.
  • The railway: Follow the track past the river, crossing over the railway bridge. Turn right at the junctions, going through the double gates.
  • Deerleap: Travel through the open landscape to Deerleap car park, then turn right onto Deerleap Lane.
  • Ipley: Continue past the farmsteads, turning right at the T-junction towards Ipley.
  • Beaulieu Road: Climb the hill for a panoramic view, then turn right towards Beaulieu Road Station.
  • Denny Wood: Pass here, heading towards Lyndhurst.
  • Lyndhurst: Turn right onto the A35, using the cycle path along the road back to the station.

Be cautious of traffic, especially when crossing the A35 at the start and end.

Distance: 14 miles

Burley Hill Fort route image

Burley Hill Fort route

Popular in the New Forest, smuggling (or ‘free trading’ as it was once known) was popular due to cover from woodland and local routes, making it easier to evade capture. Take a journey through history with this New Forest cycle route.

Start/finish: Queens Head Pub. Grid ref. SU211030. Postcode BH24 4AB

  • Woods Corner: After passing Woods Corner car park, turn right onto Mill Lane. As the village gives way to an open forest, cross the two fords if needed.
  • Bennetts Lane: Turn left onto Bennetts Lane, passing the White Buck pub.
  • Holmsley Passage: Continue straight at the crossroads onto the scenic Holmsley Passage, crossing the main road with caution.
  • Old railway: Turn right onto the old railway line cycle path, then right into Burbush car park, exiting onto Pound Lane.
  • Castle Hill Lane: Turn left onto the off-road Castle Hill Lane, climbing up to the viewpoint at Castle Hill.
  • Burley: Descend the hill, turning right at the busy junction onto Ringwood Road into Burley.
  • Forest Road and Chapel Lane: Turn left onto Forest Road, crossing the Ford if needed. At the triangle, turn right onto Chapel Lane, back to the centre of Burley.

Distance: 9.3 miles

Rhinefield Ornamental Woodland image

Rhinefield Ornamental Woodland

Embarking from Brockenhurst, this cycle ride takes you through a part of the New Forest, rich in natural and historical wonders.

The Rhinefield area is home to the tallest trees in the New Forest, with some redwoods reaching up to 50 meters high, so this cycle route in the New Forest is perfect for all of you nature lovers!

Start: Brockenhurst Railway Station. Grid ref. SU301020. Postcode SO42 7DW

Finish: Burley Village. Grid ref. SU211031. Postcode BH24 4AB

  • Railway station: Head through the back car park gate, turn left onto Avenue Road, then left again onto Sway Road.
  • Culverley Green: Turn right through the school car park onto the gravel track. At Burley Road, turn left, then right to continue on the path.
  • Rhinefield Road: Turn left onto Rhinefield Road, passing Rhinefield House Hotel and its sharp bend.
  • Cycle track: Turn left onto the cycle track, crossing the potentially impassable ford if needed. Continue up the hill, crossing Rhinefield Road.
  • Crossroads: At the crossroads, turn left or optionally detour right for toilet facilities.
  • Deer Sanctuary: Continue through the gates, taking the right-hand fork at the next split.
  • Lymington River: Turn right at the T-junction, crossing the Lymington River.
  • Brockenhurst: Reach the minor road, turning left towards Brockenhurst. Cross the ford in the village centre, then right up to the railway car park.

Be cautious of uneven road edges, the ford, and traffic throughout the route.

Distance: 10.8 miles

Lyndhurst to Burley image

Lyndhurst to Burley

This stunning route between two wonderful New Forest villages allows you to pass through ancient woodlands and enjoy beautiful views along one of the best New Forest cycle routes!

Start/Finish: Lyndhurst Car Park. Grid ref. SU299081. Postcode SO43 7NY

  • Lyndhurst car park: From the main car park, walk your bikes up the High Street and turn left at the top, joining two-way traffic. Head straight to the Swan Inn, then turn right towards Emery Down. Continue on this road past the New Forest Inn, bearing left towards Bolderwood.
  • Millyford Bridge to Bolderwood: At Millyford Bridge car park, pick up the off-road cycle network, turning right to post 103 and left to Bolderwood car park. You may see deer being fed by the ranger if you’re lucky!
  • To Highwood Lane: Head north past the Canadian War Memorial and under the A31, then follow the track to posts 61 and 63. Turn right and continue past the Red Shoot Inn and Appleslade car park, the road becoming Highwood Lane.
  • Burley: Turn left into Cowpitts Lane to Linford car park. Continue past post 71 to the A31 underpass, heading towards Burley. Here, you can explore the village and sample local cider and fudge.
  • Back to Lyndhurst: Take Chapel Lane out of Burley, picking up the off-road track back to Bolderwood. Follow the posts back to Millyford Bridge and Emery Down, ending in Lyndhurst.

Distance: 23 miles

Wiltshire to the New Forest image

Wiltshire to the New Forest

Starting in the historic Wiltshire village of Downton, on the edge of the New Forest National Park, you’ll end up in the charming Nomansland.

While the route includes a few hill climbs, a rewarding lunch in Nomansland awaits at the end of the journey so you’re refuelled for the rest of your New Forest holiday adventures.

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Start: Downton Village Centre. Grid ref. SU175215. Postcode SP5 3LZ

Finish: Nomansland Village. Grid ref. SU253173. Postcode SP5 2DB

  • Over the bridge: Starting in central Downton, head towards the bridge over the River Avon, then up the hill at the traffic lights following the cycle signs.
  • Up the hill: Continue up the narrow road at the top of the hill.
  • To Woodfalls: Head downhill, following the main road around the fork into Woodfalls.
  • Hale Ahead: At the T-junction, turn right onto Ridge Road through Hale.
  • To Lover: As the road bends left, take the first left down Whiteshoot Hill into Lover, continuing straight on School Road.
  • Byway bound: At the T-junction, turn right onto Black Lane, which becomes a gravel byway.
  • Blocks: At the concrete blocks, turn right to continue along the byway.
  • Lyburn Road: Turn right onto Lyburn Road, climbing the hill into Nomansland.

Distance: 6.8 miles

Hythe to Brockenhurst image

Hythe to Brockenhurst

Take the Hythe Ferry from Southampton to explore the New Forest's open heathland and woodland enclosures on this National Cycle Network Route 2.

Suitable for mountain bikes and hybrids but not road bikes.

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Start: Southampton Town Quay. Grid ref. SU418109. Postcode SO14 2AQ.

Finish: Brockenhurst Village. Grid ref. SU301019. Postcode SO42 7TW

  • Ferry time: Take the ferry from Southampton to Hythe.
  • Exit terminal: Follow the NCN 2 signs, turning right onto the contraflow cycle lane on Pylewell Lane.
  • Shared-use path: Cross the railway, turn right onto Southampton Road, then continue along the shared-use path.
  • Claypits Lane: Bear left onto Claypits Lane, crossing the roundabout carefully. Continue on the shared-use path.
  • Enter the New Forest: Use the crossing refuges to navigate the roundabout, then cross the cattle grid into the New Forest.
  • Ipley crossroads: Cross straight over Ipley crossroads, passing Yew Tree Heath.
  • Beaulieu Road bridge: Turn right over the Beaulieu Road bridge, then left into the campsite onto the cycle network.
  • Cycle network: Follow the signed gravel tracks, continuing straight at the waymarkers.
  • Brockenhurst: Turn right onto the main road, then left onto Mill Lane into Brockenhurst.

Be cautious of traffic, especially at junctions and crossings.

Distance: Approximately 12.5 miles

Northern Forest image

Northern Forest

This cycle ride offers stunning panoramic views of the northern New Forest's rolling hills, heathland, and woodlands.

Along one of the best New Forest cycle routes, you'll pass the site of the "Grand Slam" bomb test at Ashley Walk Bombing Range, so discover a little bit of history yourself!

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Start/Finish: Appleslade Bottom car park. Grid ref: SU183093, Postcode BH24 3QT

  • Car park to gravel track: Exit Appleslade Bottom Car Park and turn right. At waymarker 45, turn left towards Red Shoot Inn, following the road downhill to a gravel track.
  • Left-hand fork: Take the left-hand fork in the gravel track, continuing past waymarkers 44 and 43.
  • Wooden gate: Turn left past the low wooden gate at waymarker 41, going through the gates at waymarkers 40 and 38.
  • Waymarkers: Bear left at waymarker 37, then right around the bend at waymarker 36, through the open gate, and up the hill.
  • Heathland opening: As the heathland opens, turn left onto the minor road at waymarker 52.
  • To Fritham: Turn left towards Stoney Cross and Fritham, then left again towards Fritham. Turn left onto the tarmac road into Fritham, being careful of the narrow downhill section. At Fritham car park, go through the gate onto the cycle network.
  • Downhill: Follow the long downhill cycle track, passing waymarkers 13 and 12. Caution: steep uphill section at waymarker 10, with a WWII bunker nearby. Continue on the cycle track, enjoying the views and looking for the WWII concrete aiming arrow.
  • Blissford Hill: Join Abbots Well Road, turning left down Blissford Hill. Turn left into Hyde, then right at the crossroads towards Gorley.
  • To the start: Through South Gorley, cross the Ford, then turn left at the T-junction. Follow the road back through the valley to Appleslade Car Park.

Distance: 17.8 miles

Redbridge to Lyndhurst image

Redbridge to Lyndhurst

Taking you straight from Southampton into the New Forest National Park, look for the well-signposted National Cycle Network 236 leading to Redbridge Causeway. Then, the blue cycleway signs display the National Park logo to Lyndhurst.

Start: Redbridge Roundabout. Grid ref. SU374136. Postcode SO15 0NF

Finish: Lyndhurst. Grid ref. SU301073. Postcode SO43

  • The roundabout: Begin at Redbridge roundabout, following the NCN 236 signs. Join the shared-use path over the River Test, continuing straight.
  • Left fork: Take the left fork, staying on the shared path beside the main road. Cross the A35 using the toucan crossing. Turn left, then right onto Rushington Lane, crossing the railway.
  • Buttercup Walk: Turn right onto Buttercup Walk, a shared-use path. Continue along the shared path, crossing Penhale Way and Surrey Close. Turn right, then rejoin the road at Foxhills. Continue straight, turn right onto Ashdene Road and Fir Road. Turn right onto the shared-use path alongside the A35, crossing Woodlands Road.
  • Lyndhurst: Follow the shared path to the outskirts of Lyndhurst, then dismount and walk up the High Street to the Visitor Information Centre.

Distance: 5 miles

Beaulieu to Brockenhurst loop image

Beaulieu to Brockenhurst loop

Embark on this scenic journey through expansive heathland offering panoramic views of the WWII airfield.

Commence your ride from historic Beaulieu Village, nestled at the head of the Beaulieu River, and on the way back, the route meanders through picturesque woodlands.

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Start/Finish: Beaulieu High Street. Grid ref. SU386021. Postcode SU387022

  • High Street in Beaulieu: From here find Fire Station Lane, leading to the Solent Way footpath. Follow the road turning into a gravel track towards Buckler’s Hard, being cautious of other users.
  • Baileys Hard: Keep straight as you approach Baileys Hard, passing New Forest Activities, and ascend the main track without turning left towards Bucklers Hard. Turn right onto the minor road at the top of the track.
  • East Boldre: Take a left onto Lodge Lane at the white signpost junction, heading towards East Boldre. Turn sharply right after the church bend on Lodge Lane. Take the second right onto East Boldre Road at the T-junction along Cripple Gate Lane. Turn left onto B3054 after following East Boldre Lane to the left.
  • Beaulieu Heath car park: Enter this car park from the second right off B3054. Take the first right at the gravel T-junction, avoiding the model plane car park, and follow the track to waymarker 321.
  • Old airfield: Follow the old airfield's paved section straight at waymarker 319, and be careful of any standing water after rain. Turn right where the tarmac becomes gravel at waymarker 318, passing a former hangar. Turn left at the junction at waymarker 317, ensuring not to miss it and avoiding an early left turn.
  • Waymarker 316, 315 & 314: Pass the campsite gate at waymarker 316 and continue alongside the campsite's outskirts. Proceed towards the reception, passing waymarkers 315 and 314.
  • With some steps in between you’ll carry on to the National Cycle Network 2 and continue onwards. The last steps follow Hatchet Lane down the hill and round the bend, taking a right onto Palace Lane/B3054 and back to the start.

Distance: 16.3 miles

Top tips for your cycle routes in the New Forest

Here are some top tips for the smoothest cycling holiday:

Need to hire a bike?

If you’re on holiday with no bike then fear not! Numerous cycle hire shops throughout the New Forest offer a variety of bikes, including mountain bikes, electric bikes, road bikes, and kids bikes.

Some also provide trailers for dogs and children, child seats, and even tandems. Jaunt-e Bikes in Milford on Sea offers great rentals.

Plus, you’ll find conveniently located shops include New Forest Cycling in Burley, Cyclexperience in Brockenhurst, and The Woods Cyclery in Lyndhurst, just to name a few.

Need some help along the way?

If you want help with your New Forest cycle routes, especially if you are unfamiliar with the areas, discover the New Forest on a guided cycling tour with expert guides from New Forest Cycling Tours and Wild New Forest. Follow them along forest tracks, pausing at historic sites and observing fascinating nature, all while learning new things.

Their guided bike rides happen regularly, so be sure to check their schedule and book your spot for the next adventure.

Want to attend New Forest cycling events?

When planning your holiday, keep an eye out for various cycling events in the New Forest, including the annual Cycling Festival.

Whether you prefer long-distance rides or leisurely outings, check an events calendar for top cycling happenings across the National Park.

Always follow the New Forest Cycling Code and general New Forest Code

It’s important to ensure both safety and fun while riding in the New Forest, so be sure to check out the New Forest Cycling Guide and the New Forest Code.

Take a look at related articles

New Forest cycle routes FAQs

Still want some questions answered? Here are the most frequently asked questions about the New Forest cycle routes…

What is the cycle route app for the New Forest?

Download Cyclexperience from your app store before your next cycling holiday. This will offer eight popular cycle routes in the New Forest National Park and the Isle of Purbeck.

Discover interactive maps with live GPS positioning for a smooth journey.

Discover on Google Play and the Apple Store.

Does Google Maps have cycle routes?

Yes, Google Maps has cycle routes. Click on this quick guide to learn how to use it.

Can you mountain bike in the New Forest?

Yes, you can mountain bike in the New Forest, but off-road cycling is restricted to specific routes. Download this cycle map before your visit to check where.

Is the New Forest good for cycling?

If this list isn’t enough, then yes, the New Forest is good for cycling – amazing even! Exploring the New Forest by bike allows you to immerse yourself in its diverse offerings and connect with its remarkable nature.

From ancient woodlands and picturesque villages to a hidden 40-mile coastline, cyclists can enjoy a range of experiences. Plus, there's plenty of cycle-friendly accommodation available to enhance your journey. So, why not book your next getaway today, so you can experience a number of the best New Forest cycle routes?

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