St Helens is one of the newer destinations on the Tasmanian MTB map - here's what you need to know.
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.
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.
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.
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