Snakes & Ladders in Mystic Bike Park, Victoria, has been built with love by none other than the staff at Bright Brewery.
Words and Photos: Georgina von Marburg
Mystic MTB Park needs no introduction, but here’s one anyway. Situated in the bustling Victorian High Country town of Bright, Mystic is one of many pine plantations in the area. It’s hosted multiple XCO and DH National Championships, of which the vast majority of riders have endearing memories. Maybe it’s the charming township, maybe it’s the Euro-esque scenery, or maybe it’s the variety of trails that make Mystic so popular. Most likely, it’s a combination of these qualities that entice mountain bikers from far and wide each and every weekend. Aussie pros have been using Mystic as a training ground for years, while novices return each summer to hit a new feature and tick another box. Some riders want to shave seconds off World Cup, while others are content to shuttle Hero all day. Some riders will bring sub-10kg XC superbikes, while others will enthusiastically rent e-bikes for the entire family. Regardless of your level, Mystic speaks to everyone.
The hill covers approximately 500m vert from the carpark to the hang gliders’ launch pad, where the majority of double black trails start. But further down the hill, there are several layers of green, blue, and single black trails, all starting from various locations and utilising different natural features and gradients. The most common mistake mountain bike tourists make is sticking to the machined flow trails, in particular Hero and Shred Kelly. There are so many other options which will spark your imagination and skill set, once you dare to take the trails less traveled.
Situated in a pine plantation means old trails are often logged and lost, but new trails are constantly being devised. The latest addition, Snakes & Ladders, has been built with love by none other than the staff at Bright Brewery. A mix of machine and hand shovels have crafted this fast and loose skid fest, adding a fresh spin on the typical “flow” trail. It’s a trail for various levels of skill, challenging intermediate riders to find grip, and providing experienced riders with technical A lines to spice things up.
Snakes & Ladders starts on Moran Road, just past the Mystic DH intersection. Blue Dirt Shuttles will take you to the launch pad, where you can ride down World Cup and join onto this road. Alternatively, purchasing a private shuttle pass will allow your designated driver to drop you at the Snakes & Ladders without any traversing. If you’re earning turns, you can ride up the main climbing trail and divert onto Moran Road before Hades 2. Once you finish Snakes & Ladders, you can turn left on the fire-trail towards Boogaloo, an all-time local favourite. This is a more advanced and technical trail, which will spit you out onto lower Mystic DH and back to the carpark.
Mystic Bike Park is approximately 3.5 hours from Melbourne Airport, and 1.5 hours from Albury.
Mystic offers everything from sweeping green flow trails to proper Double Black Diamond runs. Snakes & Ladders falls in the Blue category, however it’s important to remember that trail grades are based off the standards of other surrounding trails in the same area. So what may be a Blue trail at your local park, may be considered a Green trail at Mystic. While it’s not too steep, Snakes & Ladders can be loose in dry summer conditions. Take care as you may lose your grip through some of the corners. An open face helmet is adequate, with knee guards for those who want to rail the corners.
The only water is a tap near the shuttle pick-up area and toilet, so be sure to plan refills at the end of each run. This trail is quite exposed, so sunscreen is always a smart idea. The centre of Bright is a short 10 minute ride from the park, so lunch and snacks are easily accessible.
Snakes & Ladders is approximately 900m long, a similar distance to the majority of the trails which start half-way up the hill. It can be accessed via and connected to other trails in the area (see below).
If you’re riding up the hill, connect onto Snakes & Ladders via Moran Road (aka the Launch Pad Loop access road). Or if you’re shuttling, ride down to this road from the Hero drop-off point (you will still need to pedal up this road before reaching the start). Experienced riders can alternatively ride upper World Cup from the Launch pad which will spit you onto this fire road. A short ride up this road will have you at the start.
BEST TIME OF YEAR
Bright is known as a summer holiday destination, but winter here is severely underrated. The soil can be exceptionally tacky and loamy in the wetter months, and a lack of dust makes riding the shuttle-laden fire roads much more enjoyable.
WHILE IN THE AREA
Again, Mystic has an enviable variety of trails strewn throughout the park. Some lesser known gems include Corkscrew, Avid Way into Jeep Track, and Huggins DH into Dreamweaver. To reprieve yourself from the peak season crowds, head to Big Hill Mountain Bike Park in Mount Beauty, just over 20 minutes away.
LOCAL BIKE SHOPS
There are two bikes shops in Bright itself, both with excellent mechanics and a variety of parts, accessories, and apparel in stock.
LOCAL CLUB CONTACTS
Alpine Cycling Club - alpinecyclingclub.com.au
Apart from the local club’s 6-week summer dirt crit series, Mystic hosts various XC, Gravity Enduro, and Downhill events throughout the year. Round 4 of the wildly popular Victorian Gravity Enduro series will be held at Mystic in September.
Toilets: yes, at the shuttle pick-up carpark.
Drinking Water: yes, at the shuttle pick-up carpark.
Parking: yes, at the main trailhead on Coronation Avenue, directly opposite the caravan park.
Trails Signposted: the majority of trails are well signposted. Trail maps are viewable at the main carpark or the start of Hero. Copies are available at either of the local bike shops, requiring a gold coin donation which goes towards trail maintenance.
Mobile Reception: Telstra data struggles during peak season (summer school holidays), but Optus is slightly better. Both have good coverage in the park.
Shelter: Yes, there is a small shelter at the main carpark.
BBQ Facilities: Yes, at the main carpark
Accommodation: Options abound with hospitable providers such as Bright Velo or the Bright Chalet. For those on a budget, Camp Crusty is a popular riverside camp sight situated at the base of Mystic.
fitness level 2/5