Eight great mountain bike trails in Tasmania
Known as Australia’s mountain biking capital, Tasmania is threaded with purpose-built, award-winning tracks through spectacular landscapes – from mountain to sea, rich myrtle forest to white-sand beach, granite to hero dirt.
The fun isn’t over at the end of the trail, either, with adrenalin-pumping adventures easily accessible across Tasmania. Jump on a quad bike and seek out secluded beaches, fly high above the forest canopy on a zipline, raft wild rivers or abseil the 140-metre wall of Gordon Dam. The island also has a reputation for excellent food, wine and drinks trails, including beer, whisky, gin and cider routes.
Here are the rides that have shifted the island's mountain biking reputation up a gear. To nail your trip on and off the trails, tuck these insider tips firmly in your back pocket.
1. Blue Derby Network
Derby was once the centre of a tin-mining boom, but these days it's mountain bikers carving up the dirt
Derby was once the centre of a tin-mining boom, but these days it's mountain bikers carving up the dirt. Threaded through forests of giant ferns and myrtle in north-east Tasmania, the trails at Blue Derby cater to all skill and fitness levels. There are 125 kilometres of purpose-built enduro-style trails encompassing everything mountain bikers love, with uphill and downhill sections, and loads of berms, booters, jumps and flow.
Dam Busters trail takes its name from a 1929 disaster when the Cascade Dam burst, wiping out the riverbed and half of the township of Derby. Ride the forest and exposed riverbed and finish with a white-knuckle descent to Derby. The Blue Tier trail cuts through its namesake mountain range and descends to Weldborough Pub, where riders can catch up with a hearty counter meal and a craft beer from a big selection brewed by local microbreweries.
Want to taste a local brew at the source? Head to Little Rivers Brewing Co. in Scottsdale or visit its Side Tracked pop-up bar in Derby for the latest limited-release craft beer. Need to brush up on your Australian history? Learn about Tasmania's tin-mining history at the Derby Schoolhouse Museum. Looking to soothe tired muscles? Head to the wood-fired Floating Sauna Lake Derby and embrace the heat before taking an invigorating plunge in the lake.
2. St Helens Mountain Bike Trails
Whether you dream of shredding serious downhill, enjoy cross-country flow or seek a day of family fun, St Helens Mountain Bike Trails, on Tasmania’s east coast delivers. There aren’t many places in the world where you can ride from the mountains to the sea. The epic 42-kilometre Bay of Fires Trail starts high on the Blue Tier trailhead, near Derby, climbing through giant granite boulders, traversing rainforest and sub-alpine terrain, and emerging on the white sand at Swimcart Beach.
Nearby, the St Helens Stacked Loop Network has scenic routes for all experience levels on 66 kilometres of trails and eight stacked loops. From the trailhead at Flagstaff, take Rock Lobster for a few sendy little jump lines, roll through Pearla’s berms and rollers, or catch a shuttle to Loila Tier and take Old Salty Dog, a gravity-fed ride along ridgelines and through granite outcrops and moss-covered gullies.
Refuel in St Helens with waterfront fish and chips at the floating eatery Skippers, in the beer garden at The Social, or in the sleek surrounds of the Parkside Bar & Kitchen. Allow time to explore the Bay of Fires coast or head inland for a short walk through rainforest to St Columba Falls, one of Tasmania’s highest waterfalls.
3. Maydena Bike Park
Welcome to the largest gravity park in the southern hemisphere. Just over an hour’s drive north-west of Hobart, Maydena Bike Park offers gravity riding in the Derwent Valley’s spectacular wilderness, with more than 62 trails and a massive 820-metre vertical elevation.
Steep and technical for the most part, this park is best suited to experienced riders, though there are some family-friendly rides through the rainforest. If jumps are your thing, the lower park has some of the biggest jumps and hits in Australia. Catch a shuttle to the 1100-metre summit for expansive views of the rugged south-west wilderness. Select your trail and drop away. The combination of trails, with multiple trailheads down the hill, is endless.
En route to Maydena, treat yourself to a meal at one of Australia's best regional restaurants, the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery in New Norfolk. Maydena is only 10 minutes’ drive from popular Mount Field National Park, where you can take a short stroll to Russell Falls or venture further into the park for longer alpine walks. The region also has some great spots for kayaking and Tassie Bound has a range of guided tours.
4. Wild Mersey
This growing network of trails in Tasmania’s north west is adventure riding at its best. Expect serious switchbacks and flowy trails that take in peaks and descend to the Mersey River flats.
With trail heads at Latrobe, Railton and Sheffield, Wild Mersey is geared towards multi-day explorations and the trail network is surrounded by a number of vibrant historic towns. Stop at Seven Sheds Brewery in Railton for artisan beers or head to Spreyton Cider Co. for a refreshing local cider after a day on the trails. Lace up your walking boots and climb nearby Mount Roland, or head to the coast to Narawntapu National Park for short walks and wildlife spotting.
5. Hollybank Mountain Bike Park
Only 20 minutes’ drive north-east of Launceston, Hollybank Mountain Bike Park has easy-to-ride loops and wooden berms. Those seeking a challenge can tackle the Juggernaut track, a 10-kilometre downhill descent on steep and rugged terrain. Skilled riders can tack on the 200-metre Reverb and 1.5-kilometre Ginger Ridge tracks, packed with steep rock chutes, drops and turns.
Adrenalin junkies can hop on a Segway or fly 50 metres above the blue gum forest on a zipline tour with Hollybank Wilderness Adventures. If a trail of the cool-climate wine variety is more your thing, you’re perfectly located to explore vineyards and cellar doors along the Tamar Valley Wine Trail.
6. Maria Island National Park
Historic ruins, sweeping bays, dramatic sea cliffs and plenty of stories await
Maria Island is a national park as well as a natural wildlife sanctuary. Historic ruins, sweeping bays, dramatic sea cliffs and plenty of stories await, but don't expect to find hard-core mountain biking trails here. The main attraction of exploring Maria Island by bike is getting off the grid. Maria is great for those with little or no mountain biking experience and a keen sense of adventure. With numerous tracks and trails criss-crossing the island and plenty of sand, mud and rocks along the way, a mountain bike will allow you see it all.
Maria Island is accessible via a 45-minute ferry from Triabunna. Take your bike with you or hire a trail bike through the ferry operator. There are no shops on the island and no cars - the only traffic you might encounter is a wandering wombat or grazing kangaroo. Stay overnight on the island at Darlington Probation Station, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site rich in convict history. Further up the east coast at Freycinet National Park, swap two wheels for four and explore Freycinet’s coastal tracks and beaches on a quad bike.
7. Penguin Mountain Bike Park and Dial Range
The Penguin Mountain Bike Park is small in size but big on quality. Ride a disused speedway, a corkscrew bridge, north shore features, and massive berms. Once you're through, head to Dial Range for longer tracks with higher elevations. This rugged area has a mix of forestry trails, motocross trails and wooden tramways - an infrequently ridden world of climbing and descending.
After your ride, drive to Burnie to pour, wax and seal your own bottle of whisky at Hellyers Road Distillery, and visit producers and makers along the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail. For a spine-tingling adventure make your way to Cradle Mountain and dive, leap, shoot and repel your way down river on a canyoning tour with Cradle Mountain Canyons - it's off the charts.
8. West Coast Mountain Bike trails
This wild and remote region has many 'old school' trails...
This wild and remote region has many “old-school” trails along former railways and prospecting routes, and the climate, geology and elevation of the trails requires fitness and self-sufficiency. For a wild ride, consider Oonah Hill Trail, the first purpose-built mountain bike trail on the west coast, or check out the descending Stirling Valley track near Rosebery. The Montezuma Falls track is a mellower alternative. Climies Track from Trial Harbour to Granville harbour connects the two shack towns and is exposed to the west coast's wild weather.
Following your ride, walk Ocean Beach near Strahan or cruise the Gordon River through World Heritage rainforest.
Travelling with your bike
Travelling to Tasmania with a bike is easy. Grab a bike box or bike bag from a local bike store before booking flights and don't forget to include the excess weight. Car-hire companies offer a range of vehicles for mountain bikers, including cars with bike racks and utes with soft tail pads. Airport-to-trail transfers can also be arranged. Campervans offer a comfortable alternative, and the Spirit of Tasmania ferry between Melbourne and Devonport allows you to bring a car fully loaded with bikes and gear.