Family cycling

Riding the gravel trails with a tag-along

Tag Along Mountain Biking - It is possible!

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published May 2014; updated May 2023.

It is possible to do some easy mountain biking with a tag along trailer on the back. There are some draw backs of course...

The sun is shining (yay!). Time to take the kids mounting biking...with a tag along! (Yikes!)

Ready for the off, with tag-along on the bike

Ready for the off, with tag-along on the bike

I love cycling.

Mountain biking and road racing. I've been a fan of races like the Tour De France long before it became 'trendy'. Even as far back as the final time trial between Greg Lemondeand and Laurent Fignon.

The problem is cycling is one of the many things I don't get as much time to do as I like, like with a busy family and jobs.

My bike is now woefully old. I've had to stick that many replacement bits on it over the years; it's not exactly the same bike it started out to be.


Since writing this, I correct the lack of cycling and having an old bike by doing this mad coast-to-coast mountain biking event.

And with all our camping gear, trailer, and canoeing equipment, and the fact that there are 6 bikes in our little garage, getting my bike out can be a challenge.

But with the warmest day predicted this year and we weren't off camping or doing something else (although only two of our kids were available), I decided it was time to get the kids out for a bit of mountain biking.

Taking a Tag Along Trailer

Our youngest (aged 5) still isn't riding his bike completely unaided. This is something I kick myself for on the inside regularly. We're such an active family, yet he's not getting around by himself yet.

That's part of the problem of course, we're too busy with work (I'm away a lot), we're off at the weekends, and weeknights are filled with homework and after-school clubs.  But he'll get there (he's nearly got it now).

But even if he were peddling on his own, taking his bike wouldn't be an option for the ground and distance we were covering, so the tag-long trailer, which is now almost a permanent fixture to my bike, had to come along.

An Easy Mountain Biking Route

We're lucky where we live in that there's a good area to mountain bike on Haughmond Hill.

This is a Forestry Commission area, but it is much smaller than their larger visitor centres and doesn't have the 'red' and 'black' runs you can find elsewhere. Instead, there are just lots of trails for bikes, and most aren't too technical.

I've been biking on Haughmond Hill for decades. When I was young, getting there used to be down narrow grass tracks, and there were only a few trails around the back of the hill that few people knew about.

Now there's a good bike route from Shrewsbury that connects with the town's cycle paths, so we could get there without worrying about roads.

Peddling through the woods

Peddling through the woods

It was fantastic to see so many people, from real mountain biking enthusiasts to families, out for a ride, enjoying a day out in the saddle and sunshine.

Rather than go up the hill (and there are now a great many trails that go up and down the hill), we went on the trail around the side, which still had a few challenges.

Mountain Biking with a Tag Along

I've taken all our kids mounting biking on the tag-along trailer.

Of course, this puts a great limit on what you can actually do, but it does work for off-road trails and gets them used to mountain biking from a young age.

The first challenge is the weight. Uphill becomes a challenge (despite pleas from me for our little lad to help with the pedalling), and downhill control is also difficult.

Particularly troublesome was ploughing through deep mud in a dip. Just as you want to pedal up the slope on the other side, you have to pedal extra hard to drag out the tag along that's still in the mud behind!

Then, of course, there's the manoeuvrability. Tight turns are very difficult, and you must ensure your little passenger doesn't get caught on anything as you pass through narrow gaps.

And balance isn't good too. Forget fine bike control when someone on the back keeps leaning the wrong way.

But despite all those challenges, you can use a tag long for a bit of off-road family biking.  And the kids really enjoyed it, which is what it was all about, anyway.

A picnic halfway around was a welcome relief for us. We were hot, covered in mud, scratched by brambles, and stung by nettles....but having a great day out.

Grabbing a drink when hot and scratched.