Mountain biking is a great way to get active, get a hit of adrenaline and enjoy the great outdoors. My husband Reis and I love to mountain bike together. However Reis rides more frequently and is a HEAP better at it than me, so I thought I would invite him to share with you all the best places for mountain biking in Canberra, Australia. Beginner or pro – the nation’s capital has a track for you! From the Sunshine State? Check out his advice on the places to mountain bike in Brisbane, Queensland.
Mountain biking (MTB) in Australia has taken off over the past ten years thanks to huge improvements in MTB technology, product availability, and big brand sponsors like Redbull. In order to feed this insatiable appetite for mountain biking, places like Canberra have built, redesigned and improved pre existing trails with huge success.
Canberra – Australia’s premier location for mountain biking
In the past 3 years, the nation’s capital has cemented its place as Australia’s premier location for all things mountain biking. Canberra has everything from bespoke beginner circuits to gnarly downhill runs, from all day epics to techy cross country courses, over 300km of trails in all. That’s enough mountain biking to get you from Civic to Circular Quay!
After spending 5 years in Brisbane exploring all things mountain biking in South East Queensland I moved to Canberra in December 2015 and what immediately struck me about Canberra’s mountain biking scene was how widespread it was. Kids, mums, dads, couples, you name it, people were spending the weekend putting rubber on dirt in numbers I hadn’t seen before.
Mountain biking in Canberra – trail riding
My passion lies in Trail riding, so today I’m going to share some of Canberra’s hotspots for mountain bike trial riding.
Mt Stromlo Mountain Biking Trails
The jewel of mountain biking in the Southern Hemisphere, Mt Stromlo, is world renowned for have some of the best trails in Australia. Host to events such as the Scott 24, CORC the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike & Trails World Championships that attracted more than 30,000 visitors from up to 40 countries. Devastated by bushfire in 2003, the site was rebuilt in 2006 and has undergone extensive trail work since then. In 2017 Mt Stromlo offers mountain bike riders a world class facility with XC/Trail/Enduro and Downhill riding with well sign posted trails.
The Best Mt Stromo Trails
Whilst there are over 50kms of trails at Mt Stromlo, if you are short on time or looking to suss the place out for the first time, these 5 trails are a must to experience Stromlo in all her glory:
Pork Barrel into Double Dissolution:
Tight banks, flowing trails and plenty of doubles, this trail is requires some skill but offers 1000m of shred.
Just as it sounds, Luge is full of tight, high, switch backs that will put your cornering skills to the test.
XC/Trail flowing with heaps of kickers which makes it a blast.
Smooth, flowing, fun.
How to get to Mt Stromlo Mountain Biking Trails
Like most places in Canberra (with the exception a decision in Parliament ) getting there is easy. Mt Stromlo is located on the western side of Canberra, 15 minutes from the CBD, there is heaps of parking and you’ll also find water points and bathrooms behind the car park.
Located at the base of Mt Majura, this 20 acres of Radiata pine forest is home to one of Australia’s oldest MTB parks. Nearly wiped off the planet by plans to build a major highway through the guts of the park, the trails were saved by a huge effort from locals to conserve as much as possible, whilst improving and redesigning existing tracks.
What you have now is a world class XC/Trail/All Mountain park that offers everything from green beginners tracks to double black diamond white knuckle runs. 20 Km of trails zig-zag the pine forest providing plenty of natural obstacles and tight switch backs.
There is also a jump park located on the eastern side of the highway adjacent the car park. Fully sick.
The Best Majura Pines Mountain Biking Trails
2-3 hours is enough to explore the extent of the trails, but if you are in a hurry there are 5 trails that you must ride.
Pinot Grino into Bombara:
Also known as ‘Enduro Bro’ on Strava, this trail straddles the northern vineyard, delivering deluxe flow, tight switchbacks and a hectic ‘half-pipe’ section at the bottom which will have you scrubbing kickers for days.
A great way to start the day, this trail is a well kept classic with cheeky kickers, loose edges and a fast middle section.
Double black baby. What looks like an innocent trail on paper is in fact a killer quick ‘down hill’ trail that will have you brake rotors hotter than the sun and suspension working harder than a one armed bricky in Baghdad.
Getting there involved the longest climb at the park, but well worth it. A fast, straight, loose trail that runs right into Planet Claire, this trail has plenty of doubles to clear for the shredders.
Just when you think you’ve mastered Majura Pines you remember this black diamond single track running adjacent the fire trail. This track is insane XC. $100 to the first person who can ride the whole thing with no dabs.
How to get to Majura Pines Mountain Biking Trails
Again, easy. 10 Mins from Civic on the way to Sydney you’ll find the carpark/entrance adjacent the AFP in Majura.
Click on this link for the carpark: 311 Majura Rd, Australian Capital Territory 2609
Kowen Forest & Sparrow Hill
Located on the ACT/NSW border, Kowen Forest offers nearly 50km of manicured single track. To give you an idea of how big that is I have been riding there for nearly 18 months (including the 2016/2017 Mont 24 hour) and STILL haven’t covered it all!
Kowen and Sparrow Hill have a similar feel to Majura pines, flowy XC single track with a few All Mountain style downhill runs that will test even the most experienced rider. The annual Mont 24 hour race has been held at Kowen/Sparrow for the past 12 years which says a lot about the quality and robustness of the the trails. I just can’t get over how many kilometres of good trails there are out here!
Best Tracks at Kowen Forest & Sparrow Hill
Not for the faint hearted (or the unfit) this purebred shred demon would probably give Sam Hill a run for his money. Enjoy the climb out.
Chosen as the final leg of the past two Mont 24 hour races, Beer Garden is your classic fast flowing single track run.
Fast, tight, and lots of little kickers, this track is a great way to start any day of shred.
Love You Long Time:
Fast and straight, apply the brakes or you will be doing 40km/h + before you can say ‘full metal jacket’.
Lots of fun, beginner friendly.
Again, this is just a snapshot of the trails out here at Kowen. So go explore them for yourselves!
How to get to Kowen Forest & Sparrow Hill mountain biking trails
So this place needs a little more planning than other places to ride in Canberra, notably there are no facilities and it will take you about 30 minutes to get there if you are staying in Civic. There are two car parks (linked below) that will give you access to the trails, although you will have to cross the Kings Highway to access the Sparrow Hill section of trails.
Car park 1: 199 Sparrow Hill Rd, Kowen ACT 2620
Car Park 2: 1 Hibernian Rd, Kowen ACT 2620
But wait, there’s more!
Now the more astute readers will be muttering things like ‘what about Bruce Ridge? Tuggeranong? Issacs Ridge and the Centenry Trail? Does this guy know anything about mountain bike riding in the ACT?’ What I have done is list the three major trail locations in Canberra, there are plenty more as I just mentioned, so go explore them all!
If you have a Canberra favourite, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! Leaving a comment will help other riders also find the top spots 🙂