People did run >48 bitd, 48 is always the quoted Max for MTB though (to be fair you never really needed more for offroad so it was never offered.
They easily shift through unramped 24 to 48 setups.
The biggest problem comes with the rear mech, the long cages of old 10 tooth, cannot wrap enough chain with a 11-28 setup.
It's not far off, but you get slack chain on the low low... Edit scratch that not sure of longs, I can only remember the use the medium cage (aka m900)
A modern everyday gentle offroad/onroad, now called trekking, setup is 26/36/48 front and Max 11-36 at the rear (10speed)
If it is generally off road and canal path I would think that sort of setup is fine, road and slicks, you'll probably be fine. If you have them try it for a few days.
Typically a front mech can handle a 20t difference max. MTB mechs may struggle with anything bigger than 48 as the curve is wrong. Road front mechs are not compatible with indexed MTB shifters.