Glenrock is Newcastle's top mountain bike destination. Will Shaw digs into the details.
Words: Will Shaw
Glenrock is one of the oldest examples of purpose-built mountain biking trails within a NSW National Park. Located about ten minutes ride or drive from Newcastle’s CBD, Glenrock is an expansive National Park with trails for mountain bikers, walkers, horse riders, and access to beautiful beaches.
Glenrock’s mountain bike trails were formalised in late 2009. Their formalisation was a result of National Parks noticing a significant increase in illegal mountain biking trails. National Parks then worked with the Glenrock Trail Alliance to create a plan of management for the trails. The plan’s aim was to ensure the trails were environmentally sustainable for the long term. From there, professional trail builders worked with the trails that already existed to bring them to a professional standard, and then national parks formalised over 14km of singletrack.
Nowadays, on most days of the week the carpark at the Fernleigh Loop/Gun Club Road entrance to Glenrock is jam packed with riders. It’s the same story at the other trail entrances. Glenrock has something for just about everybody, from cross-country racers, to trail riders, to families getting into the sport.
The trails are well constructed, and despite the huge volume of riders they cater to they’re well maintained and hold up to traffic well. The trails are all graded and signposted, and it makes doing a classic clockwise loop from the Gun Club Road carpark very simple. Some highlights include Kenny, a flowing trail through luscious green forest that’s the trail most riders will start with. Another classic is Shaft, a fast descent that caters to everyone from beginners to experts, with some high-speed lines requiring serious commitment for advanced riders.
Deluge is a trail that’s not a part of the main Glenrock loop, but well worth checking out via the connecting Yuelarbah Management Trail. Similar to Shaft, Deluge is suitable for toddlers right up to expert level riders, for whom finding the limits of traction in the fast turns is an exciting and risky game.
At Glenrock there’s under 100 metres of elevation, but the undulations of the trail flow well and you don’t feel short changed in terms of descending. There’s also the option to lap descending trails like BJ’s surprise, Shaft, and Twisties.
Aside from being a great mountain biking destination, Glenrock is a truly beautiful place and is one of the last Littoral (coastal) rainforests in the whole of NSW. In fact, Littoral rainforests make up less than 1 percent of the rainforests in NSW. As a result, Glenrock is home to a variety of animal species including bandicoots, goannas, bats and gliders.
Aside from the Flora and Fauna, there’s a number of stunning vistas throughout the trails. A classic viewpoint is the iconic Glenrock table at the end of ‘Hang Ten’, which looks out over the secluded Burwood Beach. Halfway up the Snakes and Ladders climb is another stunning view, looking out over Leggy Point, a local’s favourite in the Newcastle surf scene.
Glenrock is a real gem in the Newcastle mountain biking scene. I can’t think of too many other places where a great riding destination is only ten minutes from the CBD. I also can’t think of anywhere more scenic off the top of my head, and the fact the area is protected for perpetuity is a real cherry on top.
Glenrock is a ten-minute drive (or ride) from Newcastle’s CBD, and you can ride to the various trailheads from most parts of Newcastle. If you’re coming from further afield, Glenrock is around 35-minutes’ drive from Newcastle Airport, and there’s direct flights from Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. Glenrock is around round 2 to 2.5 hours from Sydney and Sydney Airport.
The main carpark is the Ferleigh Loop/Gun Club Road entrance (often called ‘the water tower’). There’s also an entrance to the North at the intersection of Yule Road and Scenic Drive. To the South there’s the Yuelerbah Trail Carpark on Burwood Road, which is the way to go if you’re keen on riding Whitebridge and Glenrock.
Glenrock is predominantly more cross-country and trail oriented singletrack, however BJ’s surprise is a black graded descent that includes some rocky sections and tricky turns. Trails like Shaft, Twisties, and Deluge also become more challenging the faster you go.
There aren’t any taps on the trail so bring plenty of water, particularly if you’re riding in summer. On the same note, sunscreen is a good idea as there’s a few fireroads connecting the trails where you’re fully exposed to the sun.
There’s over 14km of purpose built singletrack at Glenrock, and most of it can be ridden in a loop, with only a few sections of fireroad to link up the trails. The most popular Glenrock loop starting at the Gun Club Road trailhead is to head North along Kenny and complete a clockwise lap. Taking this option also means you can stop for a mid-ride break at the classic Glenrock table, which is famous for its world class beach views.
I’d recommend the classic Glenrock lap to any first timer, followed by a lap of Double Barrel and Twisties. Heading out to Deluge via the Yuelarbah Management Trail is also well worth it. If you’re after a bit more of a descending challenge, BJ’s Surprise is a technical descent that splits off from High Roller.
All of the trails are decently signposted and on Trailforks. If you’ve got Trailforks, I’d recommend downloading the Newcastle area onto your phone for your first time, and you’ll be able to link up Glenrock with the nearby riding at Whitebridge.
BEST TIME OF YEAR:
You can ride Glenrock all year around, however it’s best to steer clear after heavy rain. If in doubt, check out the Hunter MTB Trail Conditions page on Facebook. It gets pretty hot in Newcastle in summer, so it’s best to ride early or late and avoid the heat of the day if possible.
WHILE IN THE AREA:
Newcastle and the Hunter has a ton of riding options for all disciplines. For cross-country and trail riding the Whitebridge area has some fantastic trails that come off the Fernleigh track. For cross-country and gravity riding Awaba has you covered, and they’ve recently opened a brand-new flow trail!
LOCAL BIKE SHOPS:
There’s plenty of great local bike shops in Newcastle. The two closest shops to Glenrock are Drift Bikes in Kotara and Cycle Fitness Nutrition in Adamstown.
Rocky Trail Entertainment hosts a round of their GP cross-country series at Glenrock every year. Check out their website for the details.
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