Sun Chasing at Mount Stromlo I’ve ridden Mount Stromlo’s single tracks multiple times over the last few years. There was a period where Canberra’s largest official MTB trail centre felt like my local, due to the frequency of trips down to the nation’s capital to ride. But this time, I was very excited, as I would be showing them to somebody who’d never ridden them before and had yet to ride anything like it. It was a dark and stormy morning when we made the drive down to Canberra, heading for a day of riding at Mount Stromlo. Stromlo Forest Park is a recreational facility located 15 minutes or so from Canberra City Centre. It boasts over 50km of single tracks for the mountain bikers, an impressive dirt jump park and plays hosts to many a road-riding event. The availability of drinking water, hot shower and toilet facilities is another bonus here.
Although the thought of riding in a rainy, potentially stormy weather in Canberra during the transitional season wasn’t terribly appealing, we were optimistic and persevered toward our destination. Deciding that a day of riding was no longer on the cards, we worked our way down slowly; making plenty of hot chocolate and photo opportunity pits stops.
The weather showed no signs of clearing when we arrive mid afternoon. We were greeted by the lone rider, poorly dressed for the cold in our eyes; but too excited to not get his one lap in. We decided it was too wet and cold for a ride, but not too wet for a little track walk and kangaroo spotting, especially for my tourist travel buddy. It’s never too wet or cold for the local fauna.
The sun decided to shyly show itself the next day and it was time to ride. It is always exciting to share your favourite trails with somebody who has never ridden them. Stromlo Forest Park has solid, largely rock based single tracks with something for the novice to the more experienced rider. It’s very well sign posted with large maps and loop recommendations at the trailhead near the main car park.
You have to do a little bit of climbing to get to the rewarding descents, but I promise you they are worth it. Rocky and fast on trails like Pork Barrel, tight and twisty on Rollercoaster, the fun double jumps on Double Dissolution and the fast and flowy with on the must do combination of Skyline and Luge. We met up with two friends who were on a road trip of their own, one of them his first time at Stromlo; finishing up their ride with the biggest grins glued to their faces despite being mud splattered and exhausted. We ended our lap of the park with a ride down the Downhill Flow track. Don’t be put off by the black diamond sign, it’s perfectly doable and definitely a little more exciting on our trail bikes. Maybe a little too exciting for one of us as you can see from the video below.
One exciting development I wasn’t aware of, was the new 4X track; built not too far from the trailhead. It was a great way to satisfy the “maybe one more lap” niggles and some final fun riding berms and trying clear double jumps. There were definitely more trails to explore at Mt. Stromlo, but we had to save that for another day. Three laps, excited tourist kangaroo pointing, numerous whoops and only one stack caught on camera, we’ll definitely be back. Please enjoy the photos and videos and hope you make it to Mt. Stromlo soon! Here’s a little taste of what riding at Stromlo is like.
Hot choc tip 1: If you’re riding in multiple spots around Canberra over a few days, Mount Stromlo is a great spot to squeeze in that last ride before hitting the road. You can get cleaned up and sometimes grab a hot coffee or meal before you go (the canteen can be open or a coffee van can be on site when an event is on).
Hot choc tip 2: Hook up with a local. Either say hello to friendly locals on track and hit them up on CORC or The Berm. Female riders can also gather together some riding buddies by posting on mtb networking site Silent Revolution.
Hot choc tip 3: If you’re averse to riding uphills and willing to pay it, keep an eye out for CORC shuttle days via their Facebook page. You’ll have to be an MTBA member or purchase a day license for insurance purposes, but it’s a great and less taxing way to have some mtb fun. Priority will go to CORC members, but organizers are usually relaxed and we’ve always been welcome on these rides.
Hot choc tip 4: If you’re travelling south from Sydney on the Hume Highway, I never miss an almost halfway pit stop at Eling Winery. Make it your toilet, coffee, breakfast, lunch etc stop. It’s right on the highway, so it won’t be much of a detour but a well worth stop.
All photos by doowaroda and tareh78 (where stated)