From October 26 2020, Tasmania opened up their borders to select Australian states and New Zealand. Keep up to date with who can visit, and what the procedures are via this link.


By now you’ve probably heard of the new Bay of Fires Trail that descends from the tippy-top of the Blue Tier all the way down to the white sand beach and lichen-covered rocks of Swimcart Beach. It's a must-ride trail on any visit to the north-east of Tasmania, and has quickly become a favourite for anyone who rides it.

But, the 42km trail isn’t the only thing the quaint Tasmanian beach town has to offer. Launched on the same day was the St Helens Stacked Loop Network, a brand new trail network designed by the folks at World Trail. We spent a few days at the Stacked Loops late last year, and since we left the diggers have been hard at work adding new trails.

Located about 6km south of the St Helens township, the trail network is divided into two sections; the Stacked Loops which can be accessed directly from the trailhead, and consists of green and blue level trails; and the shuttle-able gravity trails at Loila Tier at the top of the network.

The trailhead itself has a small cafe, toilet blocks, tables, shade and bike wash stations; though not in the traditional sense. Instead of pressure washers designed to dislodge mud from your frame, the wash stations are there to prevent the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi or what’s commonly known as root rot.

The Stacked Loops, as the name implies, are round trip trails starting and finishing at the main trailhead; as the distance increases, so does the difficulty of the trail. Quick loops like Over There and Swell Done are perfect for the mini shredders — they are flowy and fast, but short enough you don’t need to worry about little legs running out of steam kilometres from the trailhead. As you move out into trails like Wedged-In and Rock Lobster, the grades increase and so do the size of the jumps and tech features, though everything has a B-Line.

 

Gaining about 200 vertical metres over the rest of the trail network, Loila Tier gives you access to trails like Old Salty Dog, Seeya Later and the brand new Icarus, Shucka and Send Helen’s. These gravity trails are brimming with prominent granite features, high-speed berms and plenty of opportunities to put air under your tyres. In fact, with photos we’ve seen of the World Trail builders test riding the new air trails from Loila Tier, we are yet to see anyone with rubber on the ground.

Also just opened is a new 23km adventure trail called The Dreaming Pools, named for the natural granite water features the trail meanders past — the perfect spot for a mid-ride dip. The Dreaming Pools trail also leaves from Loila Tier so you’ll need to grab a shuttle to the top, or take the Garnup climbing trail. You can get all the trail details online here.

The best part about the setup in St Helens is that once you’re in town you don't need to hop in the car for anything. From the main drag in St Helens, it's a short ride around the bay to the Town Link trail, which makes for a leisurely pedal up to the trailhead — it's also downhill the whole way back into town.

 

Getting there

St Helens is about two-and-a-half hours from Launceston. You can get there by driving through Conara and St Marys or via the Tasman Highway through Derby, where you could stop off for a couple of days to ride the Blue Derby Mountain Bike Trails.

Best time of year

As we’ve said many times before, the weather in Tasmania is unpredictable; you might have scorching hot temperatures one day, and freezing rain the next, so be prepared for everything. While we were in St Helens the trails were extremely dusty coming into summer, and a bit of rain would have been welcome to quell some of the dust. Visit anytime between September and March and you will be laughing, as the temperatures are temperate, but warm enough to validate a swim at the beach or swimming holes. Bear in mind the riding at St Helens will be warmer than at Blue Derby in the colder months.

Local knowledge

The best place in town for a beer and a bite is The Social. Just off the main drag, it’s an outdoor beer garden with everything served out of an old caravan. Expect to find choices galore, with about a dozen craft beers on offer at any given time, and the food is top-notch — the steak and cheeseburger are the perfect recovery food after a long day on the trails.

Cost

Access to the Flagstaff Stacked loops is totally free, however, the shuttles to Loila Tier are run by Gravity Isle and cost $15 for one ride, $30 for two uplifts and $40 for three.

Accommodation

With St Helens already an established tourist town there is no shortage of accommodation, both in hotels and short stay accommodation. We stayed in the Gravity Lodge (formerly the Artnor Lodge) which is run by the same folks as Gravity Isle. If you’re planning to ride the Bay of Fires Trail, Gravity Isle’s shuttles leave about five feet from where you’re sleeping, and they have secure bike lockup and cleaning facilities.

Local bike shops

While there are a few general sports stores around town, there are two bike shops with Giant St Helens on Cecilia Street. And Vertigo MTB has just opened a store, also on Cecilia Street. Both stores along with Gravity Isle offer bike and eMTB hire.

Want to find out about more places to ride? Don't miss our Travel section!

Photos: Colin Levtich, Nick Waygood, Jasper Da Seymour