Want to know where you can find mountain biking trails in Melbourne?
Read on young skywalker….
Melbourne – A great city in its own right, is also steadily increasing its cycling infrastructure to be a great cycling city of the world.
Well that’s all great, but how does that help me if I’m not rocking a single speed, whilst reviewing where to get my next tattoo or slogging it out on Beach road on a Sunday morning?
Well Melbourne also has a wide array of mountain biking trail options for those who cannot bear leaving the greater Melbourne confines. It addition to world class mtb trails, there are also some hidden trail networks that can satisfy your singletrack thirst, for a quick hit out or multi-hour marathon.
Melbourne’s trail network is expansive and while there will be more locations that what is presented below, the following locations provide a good snapshot of what is available, providing a great singletrack experience within the greater Melbourne area. Before you start asking ‘what about the You Yangs?’ the ‘Youies’ could be technically classed as beyond greater Melbourne and the trails there are so good that they deserve their own dedicated post – which will be posted in the coming weeks. (Edit: Done – see link above).
Singletrack can be found at the following locations:
– Yarra Trails
– Han’s Loop
– Westgate Park
The above trail locations are well spread around Melbourne with the South East (Lysterfield), North & North East (Yarra Trails and Hans Loop) and Inner West (Westgate Park) all featuring singletrack opportunities for mtb riders.
Lysterfield MTB Park
Lysterfield Park is located approx. 25km South East of the Melbourne CBD (Central Business District or city) and combines a good mix of predominately intermediate and beginner trails. What put Lysterfield on the map in terms of mountain biking was an injection of government funds to create a network of trails, in addition to hosting the 2006 Commonwealth Games mountain bike course. The result is a network of trails that can be utilised by beginners through to experienced mountain bikers. The Lysterfield Park trail network has a similar feel in its delivery to riders, to that of the more well known UK mountain biking centres in Wales. Whilst the park is shared use with families, equestrian riders, trail runners and walkers, the mountain bike trails are clearly marked for mountain bike use only and all parties seem to co-exist happily.
There have been a number of trail upgrades and improvement over the last couple of months with an almost complete overhaul of the Commonwealth Games trail and new additions such as the ‘Follow Me’ trail, and a pump track utilising the trail building expertise of the World Trail crew, provides riders of all abilities to experience one of Australia’s leading mountain bike centres.
One of the great features of the Lysterfield Park network is the TrailMix bike shop and café. This bike shop is very well stocked with great brands, knowledgeable staff and baristas who can pull a great shot of coffee. Ideally located on the trail loop, it can be a great end or mid ride stop when riding at Lysterfield. Also watch out for the Kangaroos – you are highly likely to come across groups of kangaroos at Lysterfield.
The Yarra trails have often been difficult to find, yet once discovered, offers a great singletrack experience starting less than 8 Km form the city centre. The Yarra trails essentially follow the Yarra River all the way north through the Templestowe and beyond. In many parts, the singletrack is parallel to the Main Yarra Trail, a shared pedestrian and bike path.
The Yarra Trails are a mix of twisty, flat singletrack that have been built and added to over many years, and could benefit from some expert trail building skills to turn the trails into a viable network where Parks Victoria and the local council can actively promote and encourage users to experience this outdoor space.
A good starting point is the Fairfield Boathouse where you take predominately flat twisting singletrack for approx. 25Km north to arrive at Hans Loop or also known as the Pink Ribbon trail at Candlebark Park (next to Westerfolds Park) in Templestowe. If in doubt, follow the Main Yarra Trail north and look for the singletrack on your right, parallel to the bike path. The other option is to drive direct to the park and do a few loops of this trail to get your city mtb fix. Either way, this trail network is a great option for a mid-week ride, night ride or just to ride when time is a factor – especially those living or staying near the city or Northside.
The legend of Hans loop is that it was built by local industry legend Hans Werner and has remained fairly underground for a number of years. With the increase of mountain biking in Melbourne and cycling in general, increased interest in areas to ride and Parks Victoria becoming proactive in their response to mountain bikers, has enabled areas such as Hans loop to remain open and to have resources dedicated to its up-keep.
Hans loop is one of the few areas along the Yarra Trails network where there are some small hills and steady climbs. Sure we’re not talking alpine riding, but enough to get your heart rate up for a quick burst. The trail builders have created a fast and technical loop, taking in the best features of the terrain, utilising eucalyptus plantations, river banks, dams and open plains – not bad for 20 Km north of the city centre.
With what looks to be recent works, the trails at Han’s loop are being repaired, expanded and looked after. All it requires is some signage and the park to fully embrace the trail and the increasing number of mountain bikers.
When you arrive at Westerfolds Park continue to follow the singletrack on your left hand side until you arrive under the large bridge of Fitzsimmons Lane. From here take the left immediately opposite the car park next to the bridge which will take you into the Hans Loop trails.
What was once a swamp wasteland with industrial rubbish, has been turned into a nature reserve and urban mountain bike trail. A great use of the land and a good option for those who just need to get out and ride. The loop is short and sweet, but enables you to link together a number of loops to create a decent session
Westgate park is also home to the Dirt Crits which have been running for a number of years to provide an outlet in a competitive format, for mountain bikers mid-week. This dirt crit format is based on a set number of laps within your grading A, B or C with the fastest overall time the winner.
The Westgate park is relatively easy to get to and is located underneath the Westgate bridge on the city side. Take the Todd Rd exit. Ample car parking available.
Melbourne Mountain Biking Trails
Melbourne is one of the great cities in the world to ride a bike, and to have good options for mountain bikers only enhances its appeal. In addition to the above trails, there is even more singletrack further afield within a short drive from Melbourne, such as the previously mentioned You Yangs, Woodend and Anglesea, all providing a great singletrack experience with trails built by and for mountain bikers.
Melbourne can be accessed easily via both domestic and international flights with all major Australian airlines flying in and out of Melbourne. All major rental cars are available. The airport (Tullamarine) is located 25 Km north west of the city.
Lysterfield: 25Km South east of Melbourne CBD – suburbs that surround the park include Lysterfield, Hallam and Endeavour Hills
Yarra Trails: 8 km North of the city. A good starting point is Fairfield boathouse, access via Heidelberg Rd, Fairfield.
Westgate Park: 3km west of the city, under the westgate bridge. Entry off Todd Rd.
Hans Loop: 25Km North East of the city – Near Templestowe. Head for the exit ramps on Fitzsimmons lane, Templestowe, before crossing over the river.
The terrain is varied, however Melbourne is reasonably flat, therefore not a lot of climbing to be had. Think tight to flowy singletrack with technical features throughout.
This distance can be as long or short as you want it, especially along the Yarra Trails. The Westgate Park will be short and sweet – approx 1km laps. Lysterfield has a trail network approx 35Km of trails built and Hans Loop is approx 4.5Km in length – ideally linked with a Yarra Trail ride.
food & drink:
Melbourne is one of the great cities in the world to eat and drink and be merry. Anthony Boudarin describe the food as ‘ ridiculously good at every level’.
For location specific options, Urbanspoon is always a good option to review for the latest and greatest.
Again too numerous to mention, however The Hatton in South Yarra offers the perfect location to situate yourself while you contemplate your riding options. This boutique hotel epitomises the Melbourne style – classic yet contemporary.
local bike shops:
There are a multitude of bike shops throughout Melbourne. Good MTB bike shop options, nearby to the trails include:
Yarra Trails & Hans Loop:
Been riding in Melbourne? Do you know of other great places to ride? Any other must visit locations/cafes/bars for mountain bikers? Please share your comments below.
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