Whilst there are those who would argue that the NSW government is egregiously ignoring the needs of urban cyclists, there is no doubt that for the offroader, Sydney and surrounds are a cornucopia of tracks and facilities that can give the beginner mountain biker weekends worth of trails to explore. Some are tracks carved into surrounding bush, whilst others are purpose built with trail features constructed to a world class standard. Read on to discover the best mountain bike trails in Sydney.
Royal National Park
To Sydney’s south Royal National Park has over 30km of single track and fire roads that will keep both the beginner and expert alike amused, although some of the trail features on the expert trails are not for the faint hearted, so be sure to choose your trail based on your ability. It is accessible by train, and with a multitude of trails available it can provide a quick loop for the time pressed, or a longer epic for the adventurous. Loftus Loop Trail is a great place for beginners to start, and can lead on to a range of other loops. As a National Park there is an entry fee, but for this you get toilets, picnic area, car parking and café, just don’t get lost and locked in on those long summer evenings. Not all trails are mapped, or even “official”. If you know a track is not sanctioned by Parks, best not to ride it – frustrating land managers is a great way to limit future use of public spaces. More information, maps and information about conditions can be found here.
Wylde MTB Trails
West of the CBD lies Wylde MTB Trail, a purpose built MTB facility for both recreation, and as a venue to race for those people who like to ride like their hair is on fire. It has 1.5, 3, 6 and 12km loops, and the level of difficulty varies from “kids have fun” to “ye Gods I’m an expert but still clenched”. Tracks are clearly signposted so you know what you’re in for, and are one way, so respect this for the safety of all. There is also a jumps area and a pump track if you have energy to spare. It is open sunrise to sunset, so don’t go planning a night ride, and car park gates are locked regardless of whether your car is in there or not. Of course the security guard can come and unlock the gate if you are locked in, but you will be parting with a handful of your hard earned for that small service. Water is available onsite, plus a bike washing facility, and toilets are 800m away at a local shooting club. The trails can be closed due to bad weather or local races, so check before you plan a visit. Information about the Wilde trails can be found here.
Hornsby MTB Trails
Lurking north of town is Hornsby Mountain Bike trail. Built to international standards, trails are one way, graded and signposted. The green trail is ideal for beginners, and the blue trails have more need of fitness and skill, but do have B lines for those not wishing to tackle the obstacle in question. Black diamond trails are technical, with unavoidable trail features, some of which may discombobulate if your skill or bravery is lacking. The trail head is almost in town, so whilst the park has no facilities, there are shops, water and a pub nearby. Take note of the parking signs if you travel with the aid of internal combustion, or otherwise the train will get you within a bull’s roar of the kick off point. From there it’s a splendid array of slick rock, berms, boardwalks and rollers that will leave the rider wondering how the trail builders packed so much fun into only a few kilometers of track. Such excellence sees up to three hundred visits a week for multiple loops of joy, so don’t go thinking you will have a wilderness experience with the track to yourself.
More MTB Trails near Sydney
Sydney and surrounds also has a vast array of less well documented and signposted venues once you build that all important confidence, and skill base. Just a few of them include:
- Manly Dam, a 10km(ish) loop with a range of sneaky side tracks, some sections of which can get technical.
- Jubes MTB Park, with a pump track, skills training area and jumps park.
- Bouddi National Park, (park entry fees apply), has tracks for both beginners and those who would like to test their lungs.
- Terrey Hills is mainly a fire trail romp with some cunning vertical for good measure, but has marvelous views to reward those intrepid enough to question their sanity on the steeps.
- There is all manner of biking in the Blue Mountains, but beginners beware – the word “mountains” in the name Blue Mountains does what it says on the tin – provides lots of steep terrain. In mountains you tend to spend more of your time riding up, as you are going so much slower than riding down, so a poorly planned route can become the sufferfest of doom if not thought through. A good route, however, can reward with magic views, fun trails and a challenging ride. Do your homework and marvel at this amazing area
This is only scratching the surface of the terrain available to Sydney riders, and as always whilst information can be found on the interweb, a great resource is your local bike shop, or club. Generally run by people who like bikes, your LBS can provide you with information about local trails, secret spots and hidden gems, whilst keeping your pride and joy in fine fettle for that weekend of adventuring. Clubs will also help maintain trails, involve themselves in advocacy and put you in touch with like-minded riders.
If you're ready for adventure check out even more MTB Trails around Australia