Rail to Trail – Mountain Biking Adventures

Mountain biking on the Atherton Tablelands is a joy – the variety of trails, amazing scenery and specialist facilities make getting out on your bike wheelie easy. Here are some of the best:

Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park 

This is the gold standard for mountain biking – 17 purpose-built tracks for mountain biking with rides from easy to difficult.  Up and down and across Herberton Range’s lower slopes, riders will experience gullies and creeks and ridgelines. Some of the names give you a clue – Snakes and Ladders, Cliffhanger and Wahoo Yahoo. 

Image by @kenzie.bikes

The paths wind through forests of gum, mahogany, grasstrees and cycads, with some experimental forestry blocks of teak and black butt thrown in. A word of warning – the difficult are really difficult – climbing to the heights of the Herberton range make top notch navigation and survival knowledge desirable. There are long steep ascents and descents with plenty of obstacles. On some sections it will be easier to get off and push but that’s all part of the challenge.

The mountain bike park is on Rifle Range Road, on the outskirts of Atherton.

Davies Creek Trail Network 

Seven mountain bike trails criss-crossing the Lamb Range near Mareeba give riders choices of easy and intermediate and some difficult alternative rides. Times given for the rides range from 10 minutes to an hour. The trails are shared with walkers. Granite outcrops and stream crossings plus extensive woodland and abundant bird life add to the enjoyment.

Davies Creek National Park is a great spot to linger and savour a wilderness experience, including a spectacular waterfall and excellent camping facilities. The mountain bike park is accessed on Davies Creek Road off the Kennedy Highway about 13km from Mareeba. 

Kuranda Downhill Trail

Stuff of legend and myth, the Kuranda Downhill Trail is one of the oldest in the area and not for the inexperienced. Rated double diamond difficult, the track swiftly descends through the rainforest and it’s extreme in every aspect – technical ability, high drops, and some big boulders to avoid. It starts near the Henry Ross Lookout on the Kennedy Highway and comes out at Smithfield.

Image by @flow_mtb

The 2.25 km track is coming up to 30 years old, making it one of the pioneer trials of the sport. Gnarly turns, big trees and roots to manoeuvre around and awesome views make it one of the best descents in the country. There’s even been a film made of it – check out Shuttle Rewind.

But again, it is only for experienced riders. Walkers are discouraged from using the track – why? Because bike riders are reaching speeds of 70km per hour. 

Atherton Tablelands Rail Trail  

Most rail lines hug the flat so you know this route is going to be nice and easy. The 20km rail trail runs between Walkamin and Atherton and is an initiative of the Tablelands Regional Council. Walkers and horses also make use of the trail so keep an eye out for company. 

The path rolls through farmland, bush, towns and historic points of interest. There are lots of interpretive signs along the route plus cafes and pubs to take a breather at so it can be a very informative and civilised. 

This is a ride for the whole family or rusty bike riders through a very beautiful and fascinating ex-rail corridor. There are lots of bike hire places on the Atherton Tablelands so if you haven’t got a bike, no worries. The trail is well signposted from either Atherton or Walkamin. The trail is expected to be extended towards Herberton as resources allow.