The descents are awesome - but what comes down must first go up, so there are some challenging climbs as well. Fortunately the climbs give you an excuse to sit down and take in the stunning views before enjoying 7.4km of singletrack.
The routes available are graded blue, red and black.
Riding distances depend on where you start from, but the main loop beginning at Achnabreac is 19km long.
Maps are also available free of charge from the leaflet dispenser in the Achnabreac car park; from Crinan Cycles in Lochgilphead and from the Forestry Commission office (9.00am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday). The office is in Lochgilphead, just around the corner from the Esso Filling Station on the Inverary Road.
There’s a choice of 3 starting points for the Fire Tower Trail:
1.Achnabreac. Park in the Forestry Commission Scotland car park (Grid ref NR852909) just off the A816 Oban-Lochgilphead road.
2.Kilmichael Glassary. Park in the village and cycle, or drive over the River Add bridge (700m past the village), then turn right onto the forest track and park at the far end (Grid ref NR866938).
3.Lochgilphead. Park in the town and cycle up to the Blarbuie Road end (Grid ref NR877 889) by the golf course.
Twisted Fire Starter and the Quarry Drop
Most riders choose to start from Achnabreac. From the car park there's a gentle climb along the fire road. After the road turns downhill for a short stretch, settle into the steady climb up to summit and the Twisted Fire Starter.
Foresters kept a canny eye out for fires from the fire watcher's tower that once stood on the summit. Given the view, it can’t have been an unpopular job - so take a few minutes to feast your eyes here.
The Twisted Fire Starter is for those with a developed (or developing!) sense of balance - a black-graded, short, technical circuit round the summit. The less expert can bypass this and head straight for the swooping, bermed descent to the steep, stone-pitched Quarry Drop. The drop is avoidable on the left, if you prefer to miss it.
After the Quarry Drop, turn right, back onto the fire road. A mixture of gentle climbs and descents culminates in a steep, red-graded singletrack section leading down to the start of Murder Hill.
Murder Hill, Tree Town, the jumps and the Water Splash
Murder Hill is the steepest climb of the trail, but you’re guaranteed to appreciate the views once you top out!
From here, a short descent and just as short a climb leads to the needle-covered Tree Town, where your tyres swish silently as you swing through the conifers, before the exhilarating descent through a series of jumps, where the brave can get some good air.
Turn left at the bottom of the descent after the jumps onto a short section of fire road and you’ll soon be sweeping your way down to the Water Splash. Ride or wade – it all depends on how much rain there’s been...
The Swamp Monster and North Shore
After the Water Splash, turn left onto the fire road again. The Swamp Monster is the next section of singletrack, where big swinging, bermed corners quickly drop you down to the raised woodwork of the North Shore section.
This is quite a civilised example of North Shore, with enough space to get a toe down on the track if needed, but if you don’t fancy it, there’s an easy option on solid ground to the right. This is the finale of the trail, and a few more minutes of fire road takes you back to the car park at Achnabreac.