Mountain Biking Trails in Kathmandu
Kathmandu is the bustling capital city of Nepal. Of the many images that come to mind when picturing Kathmandu - the busy streets, the diverse cultures, the historic architecture - mountain biking may not be among the most common. Yet Kathmandu is situated in the spectacular Kathmandu Valley, and there is plenty of excellent mountain biking that is easily accessible!
When visiting Kathmandu there are certainly many adventures to be had. Without a doubt, mountain biking should be one of them. Whether you’re a passionate mountain biker or a beginner just looking for an incredible experience, take the opportunity to go mountain biking in Kathmandu!
Mountain Biking in Kathmandu
The Kathmandu Valley offers mountain biking trails for riders of all abilities and interests. From gentler rides that are suitable for beginners to strenuous and challenging trails that will give the most experienced mountain bikers a thrilling day, there is something for everyone here. Whichever type of trail you choose, you’re guaranteed to find spectacular views and experience the valley’s astounding natural beauty.
In addition to natural wonders, mountain biking in the Kathmandu Valley also gives you a unique glimpse into the cultural diversity of the area. A variety of indigenous people groups call this region home, and people here represent several different religions. As you ride through the countryside, you’ll encounter statues, monuments, and temples, as well as colorful prayer flags. Along the way, you can learn about traditional cultures and get a taste of daily life. Kathmandu is an amazing place to go mountain biking!
Best Easy Mountain Biking Trail in Kathmandu
- Mudkhu to Tokha: This trail is a fun mix of adventure and cultural experience that’s quite suitable for beginners. Tokha is a popular tourist destination thanks to the spectacular Jhor waterfall and the Tokha Chandeshwori temple located there. You won’t climb any peaks, but as you leave Mudkhu there’s a viewing tower you can climb for an incredible panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley.
Best Family Mountain Biking Trail in Kathmandu
- Kirtipur Circuit: Kirtipur is great for families because it is a short loop trail that avoids steep mountain trails. The route leads through a number of villages where you can witness the culture and daily life of the indigenous Newar people. This route is not recommended for young children since it involves a stretch of highly-trafficked urban roads.
Best Challenging Mountain Biking Trail in Kathmandu
- Kakani Scar: The Kakani Scar trail will take you over 50 km through the Kathmandu Valley, with steep climbs and fast descents. This route is remote, leading you through Shivapuri National Park’s dense forests and past breathtaking waterfalls. The most challenging part of this ride is a 13 km ascent, gaining nearly 1,000 m as you climb from Tinpiple to Kakani.
Best Cultural Experience on a Mountain Biking Trail in Kathmandu
- Seto Gumba: The Seto Gumba trail is a moderately difficult trail leading to the hilltop Seto Gumba (or White Gumba) monastery, which is a Buddhist pilgrimage site. The route takes you past iconic buddhist statues, a Hindu temple, and a variety of monuments and religious structures. Experience the local culture and the blend of different religions that characterizes Nepal. Extend the ride past the monastery a short distance to visit the Gurung village of Kallaghari. If you’re not in a hurry to return to Kathmandu, spend the night in this village for an authentic experience of daily life, food, and culture in this region.
- Budhanilkantha to Tokha: The trail from Budhanilkantha to Tokha has a few sections that will get your adrenaline pumping. It’s a moderately difficult trail that passes by several cultural spots and remarkable temples. You’ll ride on various terrain from paved roads to single-tracks, and get a bit technical on some rocky terrain. The site not to be missed is the bazaar in Tokha—it’s at the top of a steep hill, but it’s worth the climb. Once you’re up there, grab a local treat, and enjoy your well-earned views.
- Lakuri Bhanjyang Ride: The Lakuri Bhanjyang trail leads you to the highest altitude in the Kathmandu Valley. It’s a long day, so pace yourself as you climb steep hills along jeep tracks. When you inevitably take breaks at the tea shops, you can enjoy a refreshment while admiring the phenomenal views. This trail is great for experienced riders to escape the bustling city and get their legs moving on a super challenging, but rewarding ride.
- Nagarkot Enduro: The Nagarkot Enduro is synonymous with variety—you will not be bored with the terrain on this ride. This challenging half-day trail will lead adventurers along ridges, up and down snake-like switchbacks, and over some huge drops. Things will get technical—experienced riders will have some fun on this trail, but it’s not suitable for absolute beginners. There’s a lot of elevation to gain quickly, so pause and take advantage of stopping among the agricultural lands, forests, and charming villages en route. It’s recommended to hire a ride to the starting point at Nagarkot View Tower for you and your bike.
- Markhu: Not for the faint-hearted, the Markhu trail is the ultimate challenge for experienced riders. On this ride, you’ll gain some severe elevation, totaling 4,834 m if you ride the trail in one long day. Wind through some paved roads to leave the city behind, and then you’ll be among the trees. Pack a mask for this one because things will get dusty halfway. Take breaks and enjoy the scenery as you begin to ascend gradually to Phakel village at 1,891 m. At 41 km from your starting point, you’ll reach Lake Indra Sarovar and the village of Markhu. Enjoy a big local meal in Markhu on this stunning humanmade lake—you’ve earned it! Choose to return the way you came for a big day, or spend the night nearby to stretch the trip over two days.
- The Helipad: Time to get technical on the Helipad ride. This half-day route passes over some gnarly terrain and narrow ridgelines, not suitable for beginners. You’ll reach some historic sites and epic viewpoints along the way: first, the mystical Kopan Monastery and later the extraordinary views from the helipad, which the trail is named after. Your climbing efforts will not go unrewarded: after some steep switchbacks and gnarly lines, you’ll hit an exhilarating downhill descent.
- The Marijuana Loop: The Marijuana Loop is a moderate trail that opens to some epic panoramic views of the Kathmandu Valley. Fingers crossed you ride this on a clear day because you’ll be able to see the Himalayas. This flowy trail heads south from Kathmandu and leads riders along single-tracks among the forest and some trails through lush farmlands. Iconic Bodhi trees are key trail markers—keep an eye out. You’ll enjoy some downhill terrain, but pace yourself because there’s plenty of ascents. Take a break in Kohkana and treat yourself to a well-deserved, authentic Newari meal.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO MOUNTAIN BIKING IN KATHMANDU?
Spring and fall are definitely the best seasons to go mountain biking in Kathmandu. Plan your trip during the months of March, April, May, September, October, or November for optimal weather and scenery. In the spring, you’ll find the valley lavishly decorated with blooming rhododendrons that will absolutely take your breath away. Fall is generally drier than spring, but both seasons offer consistent clear skies for taking in the spectacular views. Either season will allow you to experience traditional holiday celebrations if you plan your dates accordingly. Fall is considered peak season for tourists in Kathmandu.
Mountain biking is dangerous and not recommended during the summer monsoon season from June to August. Trails are muddy and unreliable. During the chilly winter months from December through February, it is less comfortable to visit Kathmandu and there is a possibility of snow and ice in the mountains preventing you from riding the best trails.
Other Outdoor Activities in Kathmandu
It’s no secret that, in addition to mountain biking, Kathmandu has some excellent hiking trails. Just like mountain biking, there is a hiking trail here for everyone. From short, simple trails to more challenging treks, hiking is another great way to explore the natural wonders of the Kathmandu Valley.
For an easy hike that only takes a few hours, you can’t beat the trail to the Bosan Danda viewpoint in Kathmandu’s southern outskirts. For an all-day experience on one of the Kathmandu Valley’s most beautiful hikes, take the challenging trail to Phulchowki, the “hill of flowers.” For even more great hiking options, check out our list of the 10 Best Hikes in Kathmandu.
Book a Mountain Biking tour in Nepal
There’s more to mountain biking in Nepal than just exploring the terrain around Kathmandu. Check out these other bike tours in Nepal to get the full experience. And if you are already heading there, you can’t go to Nepal without checking out these incredible Nepal Trekking Tours!
TOP 10 MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAILS IN KATHMANDU
Best Mountain Biking Trails in Kathmandu
Kirtipur, 5.0 km southeast of Kathmandu, is a medieval town filled with impressive temples and houses attached to one another. The whole town sits atop a single piece of rock creating a fascinating image. Kirtipur provides visitors with a wonderful sense of time-worn grandeur. Although this trail avoids the mountain trails, it is a short and fun cultural trail where you get to witness the daily goings-on of the Newar people. You will pass through stunning villages and lush green fields throughout the entire route.
Budhanilkantha to Tokha
The ride from Budhanilkantha to Tokha is particularly enjoyable in terms of the diverse terrain and the opportunity to visit cultural heritage sites from the vantage of your mountain bike. Making this ride, you will get to check out the impressive Chandeshwari Temple in Tokha, experience technical, yet easy, single tracks, as well as interact with the locals in Tokha.
This is a massive day, biking one of the less-frequented routes around the Kathmandu Valley. You’ll get an authentic feel of the Nepali countryside as you mountain bike the Scar Route in Shivapuri National Park. This remote route features a fair amount of climbing followed by exhilarating descents with many sections leading you through dense forest to dazzling waterfalls all along the way.
Lakuri Bhanjyang Ride
A great ride, with a lot of climbing, however a very scenic mountain bike adventure leads you around the Kathmandu Valley, taking you out of the busy city and into nature as you ride your way to Lakuri Bhanjyang. Enjoy the stunning views from the many vantage points, including one that rests above the clouds at the highest altitude within the valley.
- Technical Difficulty
- Physical Difficulty
Mudkhu to Tokha
The trail from Mudkhu to Tokha is a fairly easy ride suitable for beginners with good endurance. Trails range from paved roads to winding single tracks, offering up the perfect balance of culture and adventure. Tokha is a small town on the northern outskirts of Kathmandu Valley where many people come to visit the Tokha Chandeshwori Temple and to see the renowned Jhor Waterfall. This mountain biking trail is perfect for riders who want a bit of physical activity and plenty of fun.
Feel like a king as you take on the ridges of Nagarkot hill and challenge yourself with its huge drops and sharp switchbacks. Delight in the variety of trails Nagarkot offers, from tiring ascents to wild downhills, all the while taking in the beautiful scene of quiet villages, terraced farmlands, and dense forests.
This is a massive day out exploring beyond the Kathmandu Valley. A small village, Markhu sits at the top of the Kulekhani reservoir, a massive hydroelectric. Markhu offers beautiful panoramic landscapes, complete with the tranquil Indra Sarovar Lake, a perfect spot to engage in fishing and boating.
White Gumba, or Seto Gumba, is a Buddhist pilgrimage site set on top of a hill just outside the main ring road, northeast of Swayambhunath. A massive structure, complete with soothing monk chants, offers a peaceful spot for contemplation. The calming ambience, amazing valley view, and beautiful structure of Seto Gumba are what makes this ride from Kathmandu to Seto Gumba a perfect mountain biking adventure. The climb up to the Gumba is fairly strenuous, though it’s a short ride over black-topped roads.
The Helipad Trail within Shivapuri National Park is probably one of the most interesting and winding trails around Kathmandu Valley. This is a technical, gnarly trail that follows a narrow ridge all the way to Kopan Monastery in the northern part of Kathmandu.
The Marijuana Loop
Developed by a rock star and mountain biking enthusiast, the Marijuana Loop is a trail within Kathmandu Valley. It has a bit of everything, from single tracks, cross-country, and suburban trails, as well as a few downhill options that start from Chobhar and end in Khokana.
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