Words and photos: Nick Waygood

Canberra’s cycling infrastructure has improved tremendously over the past few years, with upgrades taking place at Stromlo Forest Park and Majura Pines. Stromlo sits central in Canberra – a perfect middle ground for travel distance and trail variety. It’s an easy escape from the bustling city into nature.

Makin Trax Australia have gone to town in building an extension of the original Vapour Trail that was constructed a few years ago, introducing large tabletops and berms on the mountain from top to bottom. 

Take a detour off the highway during your travels for a few hours of maximum air time and easy shuttle runs on a truly unique trail. Popular and easy shuttle spots are the bottom of Mount Stromlo Road, which requires a brief fire-trail ride from the end of the downhill trail, or the Fire Memorial carpark, which is a small path ride from the bottom carpark.

GETTING THERE

Canberra roads are easily navigated from the main highways that come through – set a route for Dave McInnes Road to get to the bottom carpark, or drive to the top on Mount Stromlo Road for awesome views either side, and of course the trail head found at the very top.

TECHNICAL NATURE

Stromlo’s Vapour Trail was made to help riders improve on their jumping ability. The tabletops get larger as the trail progresses, but they are generally forgiving and will let you go if you don’t quite make the gap. There are A, B, and C line choices, each of differing sizes to help develop your skills. The top of the trail features a small rock garden to warm you up, before launching you out into the huge berms.

YOU’LL NEED 

Protection gear such as knee pads, gloves, or a full-face is a always a good idea, but ensure to bring snacks and water to keep you going throughout the day. There are stations for water refills and barbeques available at the top and bottom of the hill.

DISTANCES

The Vapour Trail is about two kilometres long, but there are also other top section options such as ‘Up The Anti’ and ‘World Cup’ to mix your day of descent up.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

To get the most of your day, weekend, or week, spend a good day riding the descents of Stromlo before visiting Majura Pines. Stromlo is generally hard-packed year round, while Majura Pines maintains a form of hero-dirt during most months of the year. There are also an extensive amount of cross-country trails at Stromlo, so bring both bikes and make it a huge weekend of bike-related activities.

BEST TIME OF YEAR

The best time for riding the Vapour Trail is the spring and summer months. Autumn and winter can be good too, however cold and strong winds are usually blowing down from the Brindabella mountain ranges. 

WHILE IN THE AREA

Canberra has plenty of other adrenaline-fuelling activities aside from the bustling mountain biking scene. Pay a visit to Powerkart Raceway for quick electric go-karts on a tight circuit, or Paintball Sports ACT for proper fun paintballing. 

LOCAL BIKE SHOPS 

Onya Bike Woden is a great option for overnight servicing and some spare parts, or Pushys Fyshwick for a mountainous stock of spare parts.

LOCAL CLUB CONTACTS

Canberra Off-Road Cyclists (CORC)
 

REGULAR EVENTS

Weekly shuttles held by Dynamic Motivation
CORC Club races held multiple times a year. Check their website for more details.

TRAIL ESSENTIALS

Toilets: Yes – Bottom pavilion 

Drinking Water:  Yes – available at the bottom carpark and top observatory.

Parking:  Yes

Trails Signposted:  Yes – Map of the entire park available at the bottom carpark, or a sign at the top of the Downhill start. All trails are signposted with blue signs and trail difficulty level.

Mobile Reception: Yes – all providers, however becomes patchy behind Stromlo.

Shelter: Yes

BBQ Facilities: Yes – available at the bottom pavilion and top observatory.

Accomodation:  Yes – plenty of choices within a 20 minute drive, in suburbs like Woden or in the city.

Ratings

Technical - 4

Fitness - 3

Cross Country - 1 

Trail - 1

All-Mtn - 3

Downhill - 5

Jump - 5