Australia’s undisputed mountain biking capital, Tasmania is threaded with purpose-built tracks through rare landscapes.
Picture descents from mountains to sea, rainforests blanketed in moss, marathon-length trails to white-sand beaches, and terrain that ranges from granite to hero dirt.
Since 2015, when the opening of the Blue Derby network announced Tasmania to the mountain biking world, trails have been emerging and expanding across the state. Head east, west, south or north and tracks beckon, whether cross-country cruises or white-knuckle downhills.
Here are the rides that have shifted the island's mountain biking reputation up a gear.
Derby was once the centre of a tin-mining boom, but these days its mountain bikers carving up the dirt. Threaded through forests of giant ferns and myrtle beech in north-east Tasmania, the trails at Blue Derby cater to all skill and fitness levels, with 125km of flowing, purpose-built enduro-style trails.
Trails stretch far and wide from the town, reaching to the top of the Blue Tier mountains and down to the neighbouring town of Branxholm. The signature Blue Tier trail cuts through its namesake mountain range and descends to the Weldborough Hotel, where riders can catch up with a hearty counter meal and a local craft beer. Close to town, Flickity Sticks has a dizzying collection of berms, and Kingswall mixes forest trail with an old mining water race.
Need to know
Bike hire and shuttles are available in Derby through Vertigo MTB, MTB Express, MADMTB and Up Down Around MTB, or hire an e-bike through Evolution Biking. Pedal the network in style with Blue Derby Pods Ride, or join dedicated Blue Derby tours with Into the Wild, Shredly’s Adventures, MTB Express or Up Down Around MTB.
St Helens Mountain Bike trails
Whether you dream of shredding serious downhill, enjoy cross-country flow or seek a day of family pedalling fun, St Helens Mountain Bike Trails delivers. Just south of the east-coast town of St Helens, the Flagstaff trailhead has a stacked loop network comprising 66km of trails and eight loops coiling up and down the slopes.
Try Rock Lobster for a few sendy little jump lines, roll around the lower slopes with the kids on Pearla or Eagle Eye, and 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. Stretch things out on the 27km Dreaming Pools, a wilderness trail that offers a remote journey through the backcountry, with cooling rock pools along the way.
The headline ride is further north, with the epic 42km Bay of Fires Trail offering the rare chance to mountain bike from the mountains to the sea. Beginning high on the Blue Tiers, this stunning ride plunges through rainforest and climbs through and over granite boulders before emerging on the white sand at Swimcart Beach on the Bay of Fires.
Explore the string of postcard beaches along the larapuna coast, which includes the Bay of Fires, and head inland for a short walk through rainforest to St Columba Falls, one of Tasmania’s highest waterfalls.
Maydena Bike Park
Welcome to the largest network of gravity terrain in Australia. Little more than an hour’s drive west of Hobart, Maydena Bike Park has more than 70 trails and a massive 820m vertical elevation, with trails speeding through magnificent rainforest.
Much of the park is steep and technical, best suited to experienced riders, though a range of intermediate and novice rides have been added to the network, including a top-to-bottom family-friendly wilderness ride. The new Dirt Surfer trail offers a fun and flowing introduction. If jumps are your thing, the lower park has some of the biggest jumps and hits in Australia.
Need to know
Bike hire and uplift shuttles are operated by the park. Shuttles access the top of the mountain and the lower slopes, with a mellow climbing trail if you prefer to work for your downhill reward.
Maydena is only 10min drive from popular Mount Field National Park, where you can take a short stroll to Russell Falls or head high up the slopes for alpine walks from Lake Dobson. Nearby Lake Pedder provides more alpine scenes.
This emerging network will eventually span 100km of trails near the north-west town of Latrobe, providing adventure riding at its best. Expect serious switchbacks and flowy trails that take in peaks and descend to the Mersey River flats.
The first sections of the network have opened, with trails around Warrawee Reserve in Latrobe, as well as at Railton and Sheffield. The network will ultimately connect Latrobe to Sheffield.
Need to know
Wild Ride Cycles in Latrobe and Sheffield-based North West Safaris hire out mountain bikes. North West Safaris also operates a shuttle service from Sheffield to Railton and Latrobe.
Hollybank Mountain Bike Park
Only 20 minutes’ drive north-east of Launceston, among the tall trees at Hollybank, this mountain bike park has a trio of intersecting trails. The family-friendly No Sweat loop offers a gentle look at the forest, while Tall Timbers shifts things up a gear, with climbs, drops and tight turns, and a swimming hole as unexpected reward. Those seeking a challenge can tackle Juggernaut, a 10km downhill track on steep and rugged terrain.
Need to know
Hire bikes on site at Hollybank Wilderness Adventures.
Take a break from riding on a trail of a different flavour – the Tamar Valley Wine Trail. At Hollybank, take to the trees on a zipline or tree ropes course, or spin more slowly across the ground on a Segway tour.
Penguin Mountain Bike Park and dial range
Small in size but big on quality, the Penguin Mountain Bike Park has more than 6km of trails packed with fun features. Located at the town’s disused speedway, the park is suited to riders of all abilities, with the chance to tackle jumps, wall rides or freshen up your moves at a skills park.
At its southern end, the park links up with trails through the Dial Range. This rugged area is headlined by the 15km Iron Tor loop, with a long and challenging ridgeline descent packed with rock features and lookout points. The 6km Montgomery Loop is a good introduction to the range.
Need to know
Wild Ride Cycles in Latrobe, a 30min drive east from Penguin, hires out bikes.
West Coast Mountain Bike Trails
Tasmania’s wild west has an aptly hair-raising network of mountain bike trails. Mount Owen, rising above Queenstown, is at its heart, with 35km of trails and 800m of vertical descent – the bare landscape guarantees widescreen views. The upper trails are rugged and challenging, with intermediate and beginner-friendly trails across the lower slopes.
Oonah Hill, out of Zeehan, was the west coast’s first purpose-built mountain bike trail and heads gently over buttongrass-covered hills. It’s an easier journey still along an abandoned tramway to the base of Montezuma Falls, the highest waterfall in Tasmania.
Need to know
The upper trails on Mount Owen can be accessed only by shuttle, which is operated by RoamWild Tasmania. Into the Wild runs mountain bike tours to the west coast.
Cruise the Gordon River through World Heritage-listed rainforest. Walk (or cycle) along Ocean Beach, Tasmania’s longest beach.
Tasmania’s newest trail sensation has risen beside the mouth of kanamaluka / River Tamar. This world-class network is framed around Mount George, with more trails to come across the rocky, slab-covered Tippogoree Hills.
There are 10 trails on Mount George, offering 16km of riding, with flowing descents such as Desperado, which is ribbed with jumps, and Hebe Jeebies, which bounces through a rock slab known as the Reef. There’s a mix of trails for all abilities.
Need to know
Send It MTB Shuttles operates a shuttle service on Mount George.
Check out local seafaring history at the Bass and Flinders Maritime Museum and the Low Head Pilot Station Maritime Museum. When evening falls, little penguins march ashore by Low Head Lighthouse; join a tour to see their waddling ways.
Hobart Mountain Bike trails
Hobart’s edges are strung with mountain bike trails. Prime among them is the North South Track, which cuts across the slopes of kunanyi / Mount Wellington, passing through wet forest, a boulder field and by the front door of a stone cabin as it descends into Glenorchy from The Springs. Less taxing is the family-friendly Pipeline Track, a wide and smooth path that wraps around the mountain, providing good views of Cathedral Rock as it goes. Things get more adventurous on the challenging trails through McRobies Gully in South Hobart.
Cross the river to find the Clarence Mountain Bike Park. Trails run through the bush beside the Tasman Highway, and ascend into the Meehan Range on the Corkscrew Climb, delivering views of Hobart and kunanyi / Mount Wellington.
Launceston Mountain Bike trails
Few places have mountain bike trails so close to their city centre as Launceston. The Trevallyn Nature Recreation Area, across the top of Cataract Gorge, is covered in rides. Stolen Spice Track provides a flowing downhill run, while the combination of Sidewinder, Matinee, Value for Money and Deadmans Knob tracks ventures out towards the gorge edge. And all less than a few kilometres from the CBD.
South of the city is the Kate Reed Recreation Area, beside the city’s indoor velodrome. This small reserve has more than 15km of cross-country bush trails.
Need to know
Mountain bikes (and mountain e-bikes) can be hired in the city centre at Roll Cycles.