This content was originally published on BikeExchange Australia
From ski resorts that transform into mountain bike mecha’s in the summer, to all year-round bike parks and dedicated trails snaking through National Parks, there’s no shortage of dirt to ride in New South Wales.
With the help of some of our dirt crazed mates, we’ve sat down and compiled the best mountain bike locations and trails in NSW.
Situated around two hours away from Sydney lies the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains. Peppered with some of Australia’s most exhilarating and scenic mountain bike trails, the Blue Mountain region features a host of trails suited to all ability levels from beginner through to advanced.
For beginners, or riders wanting an easy pedal amongst stunning scenery, the Faulconbridge Point ride is one of many Blue Mountains’ popular ridge top rides in the region. Following a narrow fire road, the trail clocks in at an easy 7km. Riders should allow an hour each way to account for time spent taking in the scenery.
Riders seeking an all-day adventure are encouraged to check out Anderson’s Fire Trail (Ando’s for short). A great test of fitness for intermediate riders, the route travels (mostly downhill) from Wentworth Falls to Woodford through the central wilderness of the Blue Mountains National Park. The course is 31km one way including a savage climb out at the end.
Once in Woodford, you’ll find the famous ‘Oaks Fire Trail’. A similar distance, yet easier gradients and terrain compared to Anderson’s, the Oaks is an extremely popular day out for beginner and intermediate riders.
Both Anderson’s and Oak’s can be joined to create either a 60km ride or a genuinely epic 120km with some serious climbing. If the latter sounds like too much, the train is your best method of getting up the hill before your ride, stopping at either Wentworth Falls or Woodford depending on exactly which ride you’re undertaking.
So whether you want beauty or adrenalin, the Blue Mountains bike tracks are hard to beat and certainly worth adding to your travel itinerary.
North Sydney Region
Manly Dam and Bantry Bay
Located just 16km from the Sydney CBD is Manly Dam. With an estimated 150,000 users per year, it’s not only Sydney’s most popular rides, but it’s also one of the most used trail networks in the entire country. The 10km loop is beginner friendly and consists of a mix of rocky single track, fire road and tarmac.
For those wanting a little more of a challenge, there several technical sections and route options sure to keep more capable riders satisfied.
The Bantry Bay trails located across the road from Manly Dam are groundbreaking, being the first purpose-built singletrack to be approved by NSW National Parks. These trails make use of the local sandstone to provide tight and technical trails, they’re certainly more challenging than a lap of Manly Dam.
Hornsby Old Man’s Valley
A purpose built trail network that offers a range of trails for various skills levels. This loop trail is fun regardless of whether you’re on a cross country, trail or Enduro bike.
St Ives and Duffys Forest
Beginner riders will surely have a great time riding the fire trails of Duffys Forrest. The Perimeter and Long trail offer comfortable riding and impressive scenery. These are shared-use trails, so be sure to give way to walkers and horse riders.
The South Coast of Sydney offers up a surprisingly good mix of trail for those not wanting to stray too far from the big smoke.
Royal National Park
Around an hours drive from both Sydney and Wollongong lies the Royal National Park. Featuring a mix of fire trail and single track, there’s a range of trail options on offer for all riders, regardless of skill level.
Lady Carrington Drive is perfect for a family group ride, or beginners wanting to get their wheels dirty. For intermediate riders, the Loftus Oval loop offers up a healthy mix of singletrack and fire trail over its 26km length.
Nowra and Currambene Forest
If you don’t mind a little bit more of a drive, around 20 km south of Nowra is where the Currambene and Nowra state forests’ converge and are littered with XC (cross country) trails and fire roads. Nowra itself is around 160km drive south of Sydney.
Some key trails in the area include Coondoo, which features a few short climbs and technical sections over the 10 km long loop. For those chasing more technical trail, Superbowl, located a further five minutes down the road should cater to your needs. Featuring a mix of technical sections, punchy climbs, and fast flowing downhill sections over a 6km lap, it’s definitely worth visiting.
Other top-notch cycling can also be found down around Batemans Bay and Narooma, with action-packed trails also found in Morton and Murramarang National Park.
Situated in South Eastern NSW, the Snowy Mountain Region, in particular, Thredbo, is fast becoming a cycling mecha. The trails in the area have long been used for National-level competition over Australia’s mountain bike history.
Travelling to the region by car takes around five and a half hours from Sydney, two and a half hours from Canberra or seven hours from Melbourne. For those wanting a more direct route, Regional Express (REX) airlines offer flights from both Canberra and Sydney to nearby Cooma Airport, a short one hour drive from the region.
Thredbo offers NSW’s only chair-lift access mountain bike park, making accessing a host of purpose-built trails on Australia’s highest peak a cinch. Just like the winter months, a pass is required to access the lifts, but the cost is soon negated by how simple it makes traversing back up the slopes to bomb down another trail.
In recent years the trail network has been dramatically expanded, and there’s something for everyone. For downhill and gravity riders, the original Cannonball downhill trail offers an exhilarating ride. Featuring jumps, rock drops amongst other technical features, it’s the marquee trail in the region. For newer, less confident riders or lovers of speed, the Mount Kosciuszko Flow Track offers up 5.8km of smooth, fast flowing fun. The All Mountain Trail is well suited for those on Trail or Enduro bikes wanting to test their skills.
For riders wanting to take in the sights, the Thredbo valley trail is an undulating 16.2km ride that snakes its way through the Thredbo Valley. The dual-purpose hiking/XC (cross country) trail crosses several photogenic suspension bridges as it follows the river from Thredbo Alpine Village down to the historic Bullocks Hut.
Situated a quick 35km from Thredbo is Jindabyne. The small alpine town is quickly making a name for itself in the mountain biking world, continually adding to an expansive trail network that takes in some of the best riding that the region has to offer. The Tyrolean trail network consists of hand cut lines, purpose-built trail and shared walkways that snake from Jindabyne to Tyrolean village. The trail network is continually being updated and added too as works continue on the Mill Creek Trail.
Upon completion, the Mill Creek trail will clock in at over 75km in length. The trail is being constructed to link the communities around Lake Jindabyne together, making the area a perfect place for a weekend-long mountain bike adventure.
Hunter Valley Region
Starting from Newcastle and extending up through Muswellbrook, the picturesque [Hunter Valley] is well known as one of Australia’s premier wine regions. Along with what grows on the vine, the area is also home to a range of stellar mountain bike trails. Cessnock, the southern gateway to the Hunter Valley is situated two hours north of Sydney and serves as an excellent base for visitors to the area.
Werakata National Park
Situated a short drive from Cessnock is Deadman’s Loop in the Werakata National Park. The leisurely 8km loop serves as a great way to spend some two-wheeled time with the family admiring the scenery riding along the well-groomed gravel track.
Yengo National Park
For intermediate riders seeking something a little more technical, the 22 km Big Yango loop trail traverses through the Yengo and Wollemi wilderness areas in Yengo National Park. Featuring a mix of steep climbs, challenging descents and tight switchbacks, the Yango Loop has something for riders of all disciplines.
A little closer to Newcastle lies the Glenrock State Conservation Area which is home to over 34km of trails. With everything from beginner friendly, smooth and flowing fire trails, short, punchy climbs and technical single track, it’s no surprise that Glenrock is considered the home of mountain biking in Newcastle.
Although not technically in the Hunter Valley, Awaba mountain bike park is well worth bending the rules for. Situated a half hour drive from Newcastle (or an hour and a half from Sydney) on the edge of the Watagans National Park, Awaba mountain bike park is a maze of purpose-built trails ranging in difficulty from green (beginner friendly) through to black diamond (advanced). If you’re heading down in convoy, don’t despair, with room for 200 cars in the parking lot, Awaba is a perfect spot to spend the day shredding the trails.
Highlights of the park include a 12km XC (cross-country) hard packed singletrack loop which boasts amazing rainforest scenery and frequently hosts races. The course itself is suitable for beginners; however, it increases in difficulty with more speed thrown into the mix. The Monkey-Face DH (downhill) track is one of the wildest in the country and recommended only for advanced riders. Featuring a solid mix of technical, and fast flowing sections over its 3 km length, it’s sure to whet the appetite of gravity focused riders.
The Coffs coast in northern NSW is home to some of Australia’s most picturesque trails. With a thriving club scene and a number of different trail networks on offer, you’re sure to find a route to suit your skill level.
Pine Creek (Cows With Guns)
Situated in the Pine Creek Forest, the comically named Cows With Guns trail network is around 14km in length. The park was officially established in 2010 and is located a short 20-minute drive of Coffs Harbour. The two-way Cows With Guns trail is famous around the area and is great for family rides, and solo shredders alike. The trail is flat and hugs the edge of the Pine Creek Forest. While it’s low on the difficulty scale, the faster you go, the harder it gets! So mash those pedals and get into your single track flow state of mind.
Located to the west of Cows With Guns, the Sawmill is a more technical trail network that is loaded with technical features and suited to more advanced riders. Highlights of the 12km loop include hand sculpted berms, log rides, plenty of opportunities to grab some air, with optional B-lines for those not wanting to go full-send on the features. Given it’s close proximity to Cows With Guns, there’s also the opportunity to link up the two trail networks via a bridge, making a mega 26km loop.