Mountain bikers in Adelaide are spoilt with some of the country’s most accessible urban trails, as well as some quality biking nearby for those with a will and an internal combustion engine. The only thing an inexperienced cyclist may need to watch is that many venues are not well developed or signposted, so self-sufficiency is key here. Some venues also suffer in summer from exposure and heat, so be prepared to ride in the cool times, leaving the trails at midday clear for the mad dogs and Englishmen.
That said there is still a plethora of developed areas where a beginner can dip their toes into the murky waters that are urban MTB. Be aware that many of these areas can close during fire danger periods, so check the status of the area you wish to ride before hitting the dirt. Read on to discover the best mountain bike trails in Adelaide.
South East of the city centre is Mount Lofty, and its foothills and surrounds host a number of MTB destinations. Belair National Park is a fine place to begin exploring the terrain Adelaide has to offer. Situated 13km south east of the city centre, it is accessible both by car and train, although being a national park you will pay a vehicle entry fee for the day. Once in there is car parking, drinking water, toilets and most importantly, some excellent clearly signposted trails. Best known is the Belair Adventure Loop; a 12.5km trail mixing fire road climbs with single-track descents and a few short road sections to tie it all together. It is classed as an intermediate trail, so if you are a rank beginner you may wish to walk the sections too gnarly for your skill set, but these are far from the bulk of the trail.
The trail is designed to be directional, and with all Adelaide riding you will find some steep bits. Mount Lofty and the Adelaide Hills - the clues are in the names here: there will be vertical change. South Australian riders need to resign themselves to getting fit, or grabbing a fat bike and heading for the beach or desert, not that soft sand doesn’t raise the heart rate. More information about Belair National Park can be found here.
Eagle MTB Park
Just north of Belair National Park, about 12km south east of the CBD is another well known destination, Eagle MTB Park. Managed by the Office for Recreation and Sport, and slightly more advanced, this well known areas has 21km of mainly intermediate trails as well as downhill trails and a skills development park. Some of the tracks are rough and rutted, favoring the bold, but there are also some smooth flow style single tracks whose sandy nature means they drain fast, so are great winter destinations. Summer can be exposed at this venue, and whilst there is a water tank, there is no mains water or toilets onsite, so riders need to be organized here. More information can be found here.
City of Mitcham
Much of this mountain biking goodness resides in the City of Mitcham, and besides the Parks crew and the Sport and Rec people, the local Council itself has embraced mountain biking, and manages a range of facilities including dedicated biking trails as well as multi use track into the bargain. They have created four zones – Randell Park Trails, Lynton Reserve Trails, O’Deas, Saddle Hill and Ashby Reserve Trails and Blackwood Hill Reserve. All areas are accessible by train, and can be linked up with either access tracks, or short bitumen jaunts. Within this cornucopia of trails there is something for all levels of skill, ability and fitness, from gentle bushy rambles to double black trails of the most committing variety where body armor is essential, plus some climbs that may see your lungs leap from your throat and run down the track on their own.
Trails are signposted, to save beginners straying into the steep terrain of doom, and many have both A and B lines in case you are not wearing your brave trousers. Facilities at these venues can vary, and often do not include water or toilets, but the whole area is surrounded by suburbia, so you are never far from first world amenities and retail experiences. The Council has a comprehensive brochure on the trail network with links to maps and future plans here
Additionally Adelaide riders can check out the Adelaide MTB Trails website for an overview of much of Adelaide’s urban MTB potential.
Three hours north of Adelaide sits the small town of Melrose, and this is a marvelous destination for both beginner and experienced riders alike. If you are just “getting into” mountain biking, it’s a great spot for a weekend away to soak up the MTB vibe, because even though it’s Mabo, it’s the Constitution, mainly it’s the vibe. There are 100km of trails, with easy access to even more, which cater to all abilities, and the town is right behind riding.
There’s a range of accommodation from camping and glamping through to pubs and boutique options, plus pub meals and cafes for vittles and post ride recovery sessions. There are festivals and races throughout the year to inspire you, and the bike shop there does a great job of running rides, disseminating information and keeping people on the trails. They can sort you out with a map, as not all trails are signposted, plus let you know of other tracks not yet documented. They also have four “sibling” shops in the US plus some tasty high-end rental bikes to try, so you do have to be careful lest an addiction should take hold, either caffeinated or bike based. They can solve both. Information about Melrose can be found here, and here
So what are you waiting for. Adelaide and surrounds has a great range of tracks to ride, and your local Reid store can sort you out with all the equipment and clothing you could require to stay happy and hydrated out there. So put down the computer and hit the trails. You’d be mad not to.
If you're ready for adventure check out even more MTB Trails around Australia