The route of the Six Dales Trail heads north out of Otley in Wharfedale. Starting from the Market Square, the trail crosses the River Wharfe before following Kell Beck up the hill, past the hospital and on into the open countryside. After passing through the hamlet of Clifton the route crosses into the Washburn Valley, eventually arriving at an ancient pack-horse bridge before continuing onto the reservoirs of Swinsty and Fewston. Once over the A59 trunk road, the trail proceeds through woodland to the edge of Thruscross Reservoir. Further fields and the small hamlet of Padside Green are experienced before the path drops down through woodland to the Nidd Valley, situated within the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The small town of Pateley Bridge, which is located almost halfway along the route, offers a range of facilities, including accommodation, cafes and local shops. From here, a disused railway track leads up to Gouthwaite Reservoir and then onwards to Bouthwaite. A steep climb up onto Fountains Earth Moor takes the walker onto open moorland and to splendid views. On a clear day, from the top of the moor, the White Horse at Kilburn is visible at a distance of some 24 miles to the east. Dropping down to the Roundhill and Leyton reservoirs, the track leaves the moor and passes through more fields.
The valley of Grimes Gill is traversed to reach Colsterdale and the Leeds Pals Memorial. From here the route continues on to Gollinglithfoot and then up another hill to the village of Ellingstring. After passing the Ice-cream parlour at High Jervaulx and the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey, the trail reaches the River Ure. It then follows the river bank to Cover Bridge, where the Ure meets the River Cover and arrives in Coverdale. The trail follows the Cover for a few miles before ascending the hill and affording a view into Wensleydale and the twelfth century Middleham Castle. The trail finishes in the Market Square at Middleham, a town well known for its long association with horse racing and home to a number of racehorse training establishments and to the Middleham Trainers Association.