Favourite trails

hawkeye's picture

By hawkeye - Posted on 09 February 2015

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Following on from the thread about Serrata and Gahnia not quite living up to the expectation of a section of the riding population, particulary in relation to flow (here: http://nobmob.com/node/49218), Trail Care has asked that we share our favourite trails both in Sydney, and all-time.

I'll start the ball rolling, although I'm not going to stick to the formula:

Equal tie between Manly Dam and Old Man's Valley. The Dam for its physicality - I know I've done a full body workout after 3 laps around there. OMV for its flow and fun factor. The core muscles give out before the legs and lungs.

The Chocolate Foot circuit around Kiwarrak State Forest, Taree. Flow, even when you're climbing. Berms. Mmmm!

The 2013 circuit for the Mont 24. Good climbs to make you earn the descents. The descents were like surfing the hillside.

Rotorua. All of it. It just flows.

Over to you:

Jonathan's picture

Although i haven't ridden too many trails and although i'm not sure you would classify it as sydney i would have to say ourimbah.

Just a perfect mix of speed, flow and technicality. Fun at low speed but even more fun when you push it and surprisingly easy to pedal.

Damn. I need to get back there...


DudeistPriest's picture

Ourimbah is not Sydney, but it is a very good Central Coast track

Lach's picture

... I don't get a lot out of riding round in the same circles all the time and prefer:

a) rides that I can do from home rather than wasting riding time driving somewhere
b) extended loops rather than purpose built circuits.

Hence my favourite "track" involves riding from the mid north shore to St Ives (Acron Oval), cutting across to the descent off the end of Douglas St, popping back out on Cambourne Ave, roading it round to Linigen Pl, taking the fire trail through to Mona Vale Rd, St Ives sniggle, Muppets, Larool Track, Larool Ave, under Mona Vale Rd, up to the equestrian area, back onto Mona Vale Rd, down the sniggle after the last house, out onto the Forest Way/ Mona Vale Rd intersection, then back via the sniggle and Linigen Pl track. If I want a bit extra climbing, I can throw in Blackbutt Reserve and / or Cascades / Quarry Track, or for more distance there are bits of Terrey Hills to add in as well.

That way I get 2-4 hrs of solid riding, some good hills, some techy bits (techy enough for me anyway) and max riding for my available hours.

If I had to pick a dedicated XC track that is worth riding to, it would probably be OMV.

Flynny's picture

Mt York

Naturally evolved trails with a bit of every thing. High speed flow. Slow technical stuff. Steep descents. Snotty little climbs. Long uphill grinds. Great views.
200 years of use without intensive maintenance schedules....

Actually scratch that. Can't let them get too popular. Tuff riding with Not a berm to be seen. ...

hawkeye's picture

Actually Lach, what you're outlined there is what I do most weekends, albeit with a different starting point.

And it's actually Simon's vision that we've been trying to get NPWS, Warringah and Pittwater councils on board with: a 40-50-50km epic trail loop.

It would also be nice to have a decent XCO race loop locally that could sustain a club.

Home_Beeatch's picture

These two were my all time favourite Sydney rides for fun and flow. Unfortunately both closed now and I haven't found anything as good since.

Tristania's picture

Like Lach said, I personally prefer longer rides that take in a whole variety of terrain (as much as we love ST, it gets exhausting if we stay on it for ages). I usually do a 70km training MTB ride on Saturday mornings taking in OMV and two other local singletracks, linked together by a series of firetrails and roads, and personally I think that is essentially ideal for me.

But from a holistic viewpoint, I'd personally say the best track in Sydney (well, it's in the Sydney street directory) is the Great North Road - it involves technical skills, views, heritage and hills that are unmatched by anything else I've been to.

If we include the ACT in the NSW region, I'd rate Stromlo as one of the best places for MTB in general, even after I am still sore from 84km of it at the AMB "100." Some great features for all levels of abilities can be found there, not to mention the facilities that are the best of any place I have been to in the country. Literally, there's something there for everybody. Kowen Forest is pretty darned impressive as well, for its length (I mean, they put a 100km that was almost all unique singletrack), however less variety

That I've ever been to? Well, I've never been MTB outside of Australia. But I everyone who's ridden in Rotorua says it's amazing so I'm keen to make that change in the near future!

moggio's picture

My all time favourite place to ride is You Yangs near Melbourne. Best place for technical, rocky trails with flow, variation and no boring bits on either the climbs or the excellent descents. Cressy, Boulder run and Trav's Diamond are just hours of fun where one keeps finding new lines and ways to ride them better. Very much graivity orientated even for XC riders.

Stromolo has some great stuff, the back side leading into Double Dissolution is just fantastic fun.

A soft spot for Corn Hill at Buller. Very flowy, fast with the right amount of spicey bits.

For pedalling XC with nice flow and climbs and decents in the Snowies I really enjoy Mill Creek at Jindabyne and the new Thredbo Valley Trail.

A nice race loop type trail I really enjoyed for just good XC fun and flow was Coondoo down at Nowra. It does a nice job of not wasting height.

Besides that just some local bits and pieces in the Blue Mountains.

staffe's picture

I was mainly interested in discussions re the new trails but the link posted seems incorrect.

My answer is variety - Having a few options to do different rides and types of rides is important. The new Ghania and Serrata are good to work on the technique but not very suitable for endurance training so one has to pick the tracks that suit the riding one wishes to do on the day.

As already mentioned, the ability to string together tracks to get some decent mileage down is also very valuable. The less time one has to spend on the roads with cars to achieve that mileage - the better.

One of my favourite rides is to combine the hills of Davidson starting at Wyatt Ave with a bunch of laps of the single track along mona vale road in all possible directions. That combines a bit of fun with grinding out the distance and enough uphills to hurt towards the end. No problem getting a few ks down and only cross a road once.

hank's picture

Firstly I would like to point out that I'm certainly not complaining about Serrata & Gahnia as they are excellent additions to the northern beaches trails and beautifully built to make the most of challenging terrain.

However I have to agree with several comments above on how technical and tight they are.

Loops that can be easily joined up to other trails are the key to urban locations like the beaches. In the week before work you want a 60 minute lap, then on the weekend you might want a 4 hour ride - a selection of trails where you can mix it up is the way forward and that is pretty much what we've got now in Serrata, Gahnia, the dam, possum, muppet etc. The fact that 'the community' has had to build much of the joining trails is a mute point and something Warringah Council should have a think about.

Regards style of trail, personally I'd prefer flowing faster single track where you can chew up the km's and the course in Kowen for the Mont is pretty much dreamland in this - as is Butterfly and much of the SCUM trails south of Nowra. I think Many Dam has the potential to become more like these with berms and fast corners if the downhill sections had some TLC and the track moved away from the ever widening fire trails.

BT's picture

Link indicated in original post is wrong. I think you meant this one - http://nobmob.com/node/49218

+1 to Ourimbah and also Awaba definitely deserves a mention. Just so much fun. Flowing, fast, berms, jumps, gaps; it's all part of the experience. OMV is also great for the same reasons.

Then I also love the Sydney trails around the Dam (and including the Dam) for their rocky, technical terrain. Menai and Kentlyn are also great trails.

bikemad's picture

would be a toss up between Kiwarrack and Tathra. Both flow very well with plenty of features to keep you entertained. Ive always been a big fan of redhill for its techy riding and sandstone features(if only would could keep those Ahole motos out!)The new addition of Ghania and Serratta and the disgruntled gerbil and larry emda make the long loop of the dam a blast.

hawkeye's picture

Thanks for the heads up. Link corrected.

JimmyJazz's picture

We're a difficult bunch to please but quite frankly, we want everything!!!

Variety is key when it comes to MTB, and something we have plenty of in and around Sydney. Take Manly dam and the greater area of BB and Redhill for example. You have just about every style of track to cater for all skill levels. Linking these up provide for one of the greatest 30-50km loops you will find.

Serrata and Gahnia has copped some flack (or rather the stakeholders that made it happen), but people just need to step back and realise that the majority of us are not going to BB just to ride these 2 trails. They're now tagged onto a bigger loop...offering more variety!

It's difficult to pigeon hole a single track I like, however personal favourite sections in sydney (or rather Manly Dam / BB as that's were I do 90% of my riding) include;
- First couple of hundred metres of Secret Squirrel, until you hit the rock outcrop that looks down to BB. For its flow, drops, and gradual descent.
- Top of the possum (albeit in the downhill direction) again for it's flow and gradual decent but putting more emphasis on line choice due to the tight twisties.
- Golf course wiggle for it's smooth, level single track and bermed corners. Nailing that switch back!

Getting out of Sydney, I want what I can't have here so any long gravity fueled adrenalin such as Thredbo's flow track and anything without sandstone under me Smiling

On a side note, spent a few days in Forest in Jan and what they have on offer is great! Again, it's variety that they offer!

mudgee's picture

The beauty of mountain biking is different trails challenge you in different ways.

I'm a huge fan of ghania and serrata because they are so true to the 'original' northern beaches techy, ledgy, droppy trails that got me hooked on mountain biking in the first place. Trails like the old xc loop at oxy, ourimbah and the back of red hill that were perfectly suited to a 6 inch 'xc' bike in the days where bikes were either xc or dh.

The sport evolved, stromlo got built, canberra style smooth singletrack became the rage, 24hr races got popular, xc mountain bikers started wearing heart rate monitors and training, I went to NZ and Canada and like a lot of others got a little addicted to flowy, pumpy, jumpy trails.

OMV opened and was a great example of how to do good xc trails with local councils thanks to the lessons learnt by ku ring gai at jubes.

I got fat and slow due to kids and houses and life and after seven or eight years of strategising, consulting and gritty effort, ghania and serrata are completed. It's techy, ledgy and droppy like all the stuff I haven't ridden in years. It shows how lazy I've got riding the smooth flowy, bermy, pumpy, jumpy trails that I thought I enjoyed so much.

Now I've got something to challenge my riding again to relearn how to ride the type of trail that's pretty unique to the northern beaches terrain. If I want to ride smooth single track I'll head down to Canberra for a long weekend, if I want gravity park trails I'll plan a holiday to whistler, for jumpy free ridy trails oxy is great, if I want fun xc I'll hit up OMV.

There's a place for all types of trails but techy, ledgy, droppy are the northern beaches specialty so enjoy them for what they are rather than wishing that where you live was more like Canberra!

I recall that someone at NPWS or a council said at one point that they had tried to establish where they could put a 'proper' dh trail in sydney. Locals riders had said that it had to at the very least be shuttleable and have 400m+ vertical for it to work. Consequently the logical conclusion was that it couldn't be built in Sydney!

Enjoy the challenge of all of Sydney's trails, firetrail, single track, techy, flowy, fun, fast. Rather than giving land managers an impossible specification to try to accommodate to keep all riders happy, we need to help formalise enough of the informal trail network to offer something official that leaves everyone smiling when they get out on the bike.

Then northern beaches mountain bikers can stop worrying about strava trophies and fitness stuff like training, recovery and nutrition and get back to the simple holy Saturday morning trinity of bike - beach - burger.

fairy1's picture

Surprised to see Awaba in there, I don't really understand the love for that place. The DH track is a masterpiece but I'm not really good enough to enjoy it. The XC track is basically one line with almost no rocks or features but I do love the Salad Bowl section! From home one full loop and a ride to and from is bang on 100km.

For me the old Mt Sugarloaf DH trail was the most fun thing I've ridden on a hardtail, the mix of steeps, singletrack and wide open fast sections was stupid fun.
I used to go out and do two or three solo push runs and loved every minute!

I don't really travel much with the bike, I did ride at Glentress in Scotland a few years back and the amount of grip in the pouring rain was insane. You could ride that place at a decent pace on Nevegals, it had that much grip!

obmal's picture

Just hurry up an build us a mini Rotorua some place out the back of terry hills will you?

I'd nearly burn my road bike for anything like a Kowan or an Ourimbah on the northern beaches.

The Wicked Wombat course at jindi was perfect.

Local? Muppets.. Possum.. but more more more and there's some sniggles up top at Red Hill (corner cut and rim ride) that are nice, Red Hill fixed up could nearly the perfect MTB place, its just that it gets soooo trashed.. and that's getting off topic.

obmal's picture

Awaba is fast and flows, kind of like the Ourimbah roller coaster was made into a longer track with some climbs thrown in. I like it a lot for what it is.

bloodpuddle's picture

I love the trails at Loftus.

They have a bit of everything: flowy, smooth sniggle; rocky & techy sniggle; firetrail (if you're in the mood for it); and enough of them intertwining with each other to allow lots of different loops and all rideable in two directions.

In other words, it's a real trail network that lets you escape into the bush on your bike for a good couple of hours.

Northern Beaches is evolving in that direction too: Ghania and Serrata add some excellent, purpose built options to be incorporated into a wide-ranging ride. But being so much more built up, it seems inevitable that the trails in the north are going to be a bit disjointed.

The more NPWS and other land managers can be shown that we're responsible land users, the more opportunities for trails there will be, as Ghania and Serrata show.

bikemad's picture

Today,as I was riding there,can't believe I didn't list this.its like a cross between Menai and red hill,lots fun tetchy stuff,nice big sand stone drops and roll downs,Definately one of the better options

Matt P's picture

I’ve given this a fair bit of thought and realised that I don’t have any true favourite tracks.

I think that as we improve, our needs change (and they should in order to challenge ourselves and avoid staleness). I think that a great track will be one that works for a wide spectrum of abilities. A novice (not uber beginner) should be able get through and handle most sections, with B lines being created for the tougher parts and / or clearly harder sections (gaps, rock gardens etc) having a break off line. But as skills improve, there is a chance to ride the same track differently and faster (not just by being fitter) such as gapping rock gardens instead of riding through them, linking up rollers to double them, allow sections to be ridden at warp speed for faster riders but still maintaining an element of fun for those who are still learning.

Rotorua is by far the most enjoyable place I have ridden. Of course we don’t have the vertical drop, the area size or soil type however I still think that many lessons could be taken away. There are numerous trails in all grades that could be ridden by a wide range of riders. Some trails were clearly suitable for novices but more skilled riders could challenge themselves on A lines or approaching features differently in order to maintain or even increase speed. More challenging features could be skirted around without losing flow, other features could be considered challenging but low consequence (eg 6m table tops, 2m step downs with long, well sculpted transitions). I was shown a track by a local (he built and “owned” it) where entire corners could be cut by using a berm for jumping over ferns, numerous small steps could be missed if you were off the brakes from the top of a slope and simply bunny hopped off a small root to clear the steps. And at the same time, his beginner wife could happily trundle most of it without too many wobbly moments. But a key learning point was using the land better. Some trails were fast and fun with minimal fall. Natural features were used to provide great features and there were multiple places to generate speed.

The truth is that many of these attributes exist on some Sydney trails but they are illegal or at least tolerated. It shows however that enjoyable, sustainable and wide appealing trails can be constructed with nothing more than basic tools and sweat.

If it was less of a faff to shuttle, I think the Sydney tracks that I enjoy most (at the moment and that I’d mention on-line) are Bunnings & Ya Mum and Warriewood.

commandokamikaze's picture

I'd like to put a vote forth for the Appin 10k XC as one of the great XC loops in Sydney it's rough, natural and super technical in parts and my legs always feel pretty worked after a couple of laps. Ourimbah if your up the coast has to be a fun fav also..

mikethebike's picture

Without a doubt I would have to say - Simons ladders (strava name?), powerlines at oxy and Ya Mum. Some of the best riding I've ever come across in Sydney. Challenging, steep and technical.

Narralakes's picture

Sydney - Manly Dam (plus OMV)
Mid north coast - Kiwarrick
Canberra - Sparrow and Stromlo
Blue Mts - The Oaks fire and single

ChopStiR's picture

A good mix of everything, that is why I don't like to ride at the same place 2 times in a row. Got to mix it up.

I do not have any specific favourites.

danielschipper's picture

i haven't ridden outside the Stdney basin. But I've been to the beach after a ride. I've ridden through the bush to work in an economy that survived the GFC and still has low unemployment. I've ridden out my back fence on some great trails that are 20 minutes away from an international city.

Maybe we're not Whistler or Rotorua but we've got some sweet trails and access to a lot more.

So for a favourite trail. Davidson downhill... Just love the techie climb and the rocky descents.

N76's picture

Wingello for a camping weekend of day and night riding.

hawkeye's picture

I might have a new Sydney favourite. That place is awesome.

It flows so well that if you choose your lines properly you hardly have to touch your brakes

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