Whether it’s pedalling peacefully through a forest, flying downhill at top speed or testing your cross-country endurance, these are some of the best locations for mountain biking in South Australia.
On the right track
EAGLE MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK
All two-wheeled thrill seekers should have Eagle Mountain Bike Park on their “must do” list. Located near “the old freeway” in Leawood Gardens, Eagle Mountain Bike Park is often used as a race venue for national-level biking events. Located about 12 kilometres from the CBD, the park is a short drive up the South Eastern Freeway, with a car park at the entrance on Mt Barker Road. The freeway cycling path runs past the main entrance. Eagle Mountain Bike Park is home to some 21 kilometres of cross country trails, a specifically designed downhill trail, a skills development park and a jumps park. The park is open between sunrise and sunset, seven days a week. For rider safety, dogs are not allowed in the park.
Cudlee Creek Forest was the first dedicated mountain bike location in South Australia and offers a variety of trails for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. More commonly known as Fox Creek because of its proximity to Fox Creek Road, the park’s network of cross country and downhill trails is still growing, with a children’s skill area recently added. From Adelaide, it’s a scenic 30-kilometre drive through the Adelaide Hills. The trails can be accessed from the top car park on Croft Road, or via the bottom car park on Fox Creek Road. Bring all the essentials; there are no toilets, food or drinking water, so pack plenty of water, lunch and snacks. If you plan to ride the big cross country loop, pencil in about two hours. This loop requires an intermediate level of fitness and technical ability. For the downhill trails, about three hours would be ample for a good session covering the majority of the trails.
For those seeking a mountain bike getaway, The Southern Flinders Ranges town of Melrose is paradise. After the three-hour drive from Adelaide, your first stop should be the well-equipped bike shop Over The Edge Sports in the main street to grab up-to-date information about the region’s many trails. Then power your two-wheeled adventure through this brilliant part of the world. From beginner riders just discovering the joy of adventuring in the fresh air, through to families, weekend warriors and seasoned pros, there is something to suit. Colour codes will tell you what to expect from each trail with a green circle, blue square or black diamond. There are great options for camping in the region, which will come alive for the Melrose Fat Tyre Festival from June 8 to 9.
With more than 40 kilometres of single-track trails, mountain-biking through Sturt Gorge Recreation Park is a great way to explore Adelaide’s natural heritage and ecosystems. Enjoy the race-ready trails in the Craigburn Farm area, or take a longer ride for a 25-kilometre loop all the way around the gorge. Start with the Surf and Turf trail to find your feet, then make your way to Gunners Run via Little River — a fun flow trail for more experienced riders. If you’re game, continue to Horner’s Corner to attempt the full loop. The cool shady areas of the Wattle Trail and the fun flow of the Lomandra and de Rose Trails will make it worth your while.
SHEPHERDS HILL RECREATION PARK
Shepherds Hill Recreation Park is a small mountain bike park, but with quality trails. It’s a great spot for beginners — children and adults — with options for progression from easy through to intermediate, advanced and very advanced options. Despite being a small park, Shepherds Hill contains 16 kilometres of mountain bike trails, including family-friendly loops, short but tough cross-country loops, and fun intermediate downhill runs. Located just 11 kilometres south of Adelaide, the park contains magnificent grey box eucalypts and has 360-degree views of the surrounding plains, coastline and hills. Start and finish with a few laps of the pump track and kids’ zone obstacles at the Ayliffes Road.
O’HALLORAN HILL RECREATION PARK
The trails at O’Halloran Hill Recreation Park are the latest work of National Parks South Australia. Eight kilometres of brand new downhill and cross country-trails have recently been opened to the public, including beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. The new trails use the steeper parts of the park to provide some great downhill options. The bluestone quarry in the park once supplied raw materials for the construction of many Adelaide buildings. Stunning views of the city and coastline can be seen from the park’s various trails. The park is located 16 kilometres south of Adelaide, with access via Majors Road at Seaview Downs. The gravity trails are fun, with dedicated climbs to bring you right back to the top.
The City of Mitcham council area contains about 40 kilometres of off-road trails for cycling and walking. The council developed the network with residents in mind, but the great cross-country and downhill trails attract cyclists from all over. There are four zones across the district: Randell Park, Lynton Reserve, Ashby and Saddle Hill reserves, and Blackwood Hill Reserve. You can download trail maps for each zone from the council’s website. There is a variety of terrain to provide challenges and areas to explore, with steep gullies, quarry areas and stunning views of the ocean and surrounding hills. There is a trail for everyone’s skill level, but cyclists must take responsibility for their own safety. There are some great hiking trails, where bikes are not allowed, while cyclists must give way to walkers when on shared-use trails.
Mountain biking was officially permitted in Cobbler Creek Recreation Park in 2014; a big win for two-wheeled thrill seekers in the area. The park is located 19 kilometres northeast of Adelaide, between Salisbury and Golden Grove. Start at the main entrance at the corner of Bridge Road and Smith Road, Salisbury East. The park provides adventure for budding mountain bike riders and hikers alike. Children can be introduced to mountain biking on either the beginners’ circuit or the Easy Does It trail, or join the big kids on the new jump tracks in Pedler’s Paddock; they’re hugely popular. An adventure playground includes a flying fox and climbing structures. For a tranquil ride, take a leisurely pace through creeks lined with red gums, woodlands echoing with bird calls and ridge tops with great views.
A beautiful spot for off-road cycling, Kuitpo Forest is worth a visit to ride through pine forest trails and roads, which are used by walkers, horse riders and cyclists alike. A 50-minute drive from Adelaide, Kuitpo Forest can be accessed via the South Eastern Freeway and then through Echunga and Meadows. There is an information centre, campgrounds and picnic area on Brookman Road, near Meadows. Trails include Onkeeta; a 10-kilometre marked loop through pine and native eucalypts starting at the Onkeeta Picnic Area on Peters Creek Road. Tinjella is a 12 kilometre marked loop trail from Christmas Hill Road, opposite Kuitpo Hall. For a shorter ride, the Forest trail is a three-kilometre loop from The Avenues picnic area car park on Black Nursery Road. Early morning visitors are likely to see plenty of kangaroos emerging from the forest, but they disappear into the gloom if spooked.
ANSTEY HILL RECREATION PARK
Anstey Hill Recreation Park is home to a multitude of natural treasures of Aboriginal culture, geology, nature and mining. A network of trails winds through woodlands, gullies, creeks and lookouts, with old ruins, quarries and mines dotted throughout the park. The winding and steep nature of the tracks and trails are perfect for mountain biking. Off-road cyclists can choose from a small beginners’ loop to intermediate cross country trails and some advanced downhill trails. National Parks South Australia recently completed a $750,000 upgrade to improve the park’s trails, car parking, toilet facilities, trails, signage and picnic areas. The park is 16 kilometres north-east of Adelaide and popular access gates are located off North East Road near the old Tea Tree Gully Village, Perseverance Road and Range Road South.
CLELAND CONSERVATION PARK
Although Cleland Conservation Park offers mostly tracks, rather than trails, it’s still a beautiful part of the world for a two-wheeled adventure. For a satisfying climb to the summit, start at Chambers Gully and take the Bartril Spur Track to Cleland Wildlife Park. From there, continue up to Mount Lofty Summit to enjoy the views of the Adelaide plains below, before winding back down via the Wine Shanty Trail. There is an extensive track network, providing plenty of options and hours of fun.
BELAIR NATIONAL PARK
Belair National Park is worth visiting in its own right, but bring your bike for a bit of fun, either with the family on some of the fire access tracks or by tackling the full cross-country adventure loop. The park is a 25-minute drive into the Hills, or cyclists can get there by catching the train from North Terrace. From the Belair Railway Station, you can go for a challenging spin around the park on the 12-kilometre Adventure Loop. For something a bit less strenuous, take the family and trundle from Playford Lake to the adventure playground. The park remains one of the few relatively undisturbed areas of native vegetation in the Adelaide Hills region, making it an important refuge for native plants and animals.
KINCHINA CONSERVATION PARK
Just out of Murray Bridge, Kinchina Conservation Park offers a different style of trails than those near Adelaide. There are some great tracks for children, while the rest of the park is for intermediate riders with some trails that are even more challenging. The Rocky Gully creek meanders through the park to the north, with beautiful granite outcrops which can be enjoyed from the Lavender Federation Trail. The park is worth a visit in the later parts of the year when it is blossoming with orchids, lilies and spring wildflowers. Patience might reward you with a sighting of several rare birds, including the diamond firetail, restless flycatcher or a hooded robin.
This story first appeared in the April 2019 issue of SALIFE.