It's April, temperatures are starting to dip, and the wind has a little more chill to it. The sun seems reluctant to rise, and in a terrible hurry to set. Winter is drawing in, and evening rides in short sleeves are fast fading to memories. Don’t put up with it. We recommend you start planning a trip now to break up the winter chills with a good dose of sunshine, and when it comes to sunshine, Queensland has it on tap. Here’s AMB’s top-secret winter ride destinations from the state that offers so much more than mangoes, double pluggers, and XXXX bitter.

Toogoom

Just a few minutes from Hervey Bay’s sleepy holiday town is a fabulous trail network established by a group of passionate locals. Today, there are over 40km of trails to suit the beginner right through to the experienced rider. The network includes a skills park, Joey trail, and shelter shed to keep the kids happy and the adults who don’t ride some shade from the amazing sunshine while they keep an eye out. Best of all, there are toilets and showers available to the public, and at the beach end of Toogoom road there are cafés and shops available for a post ride coffee, beer or a full-blown feed.

The beach side has about 11kms of trail to explore with an assortment of cross country trails and flow trails. Don’t be deceived by the apparent lack of elevation. While it makes it great ride for beginners, the flowing nature of the trails will give the most seasoned rider a good workout. There are four one-way flow trails to check out with a variety of technical features including jumps, berms, log drops, timber features and flat shale corners to keep all levels of rider grinning from ear to ear. All technical features have A and B lines so everyone can navigate the trails safely.

On the other side of the road are about 30km of singletrack and fire road. At the moment this area is still under development and no official mapping exists (the trails are completely legal of course!), but if you are keen for adventure and want to get into some old school, ungroomed, seriously fun technical trails this is the place to head. There is also more elevation on this side, so for those who like climbing there a few little lung busters to be found. 

How to get there: The Toogoom Mountain bike trails are twenty minutes West of Hervey Bay, with the main trailhead on the corner of Oregan Ck Road and Toogoom Rd just opposite the Toogoom Community hall.

What to expect: A bit of everything, and plenty to get your heart rate up!

More details: Visit Fraser Coast Mountain Bike Club’s page on Facebook for more info.

Daisy Hill

In the South of Brisbane, Daisy Hill has long been popular with mountain bikers from Queensland's capital. With lots of flowing trails, many of the favourites have recently had a facelift, adding some extra flow to the older trails, but leaving some of the test pieces there for the technical challenges.

Daisy is also one of hilly Brisbane’s flatter trail destinations, so it’s easy to spend three or even more hours there adventuring over the varied singletrack that combines old-school hand-built trail and newer flow-style terrain.

There’s plenty of easy parking, and if you want to make a full day’s riding, the purpose-built XCO and skills park at Underwood, and the rocky gravity riding of Cornubia are both just minutes away. A little crowded on weekends, Daisy also has few water stops, so plan ahead.

Daisy Hill has "had some work". Photo: Lachlan Ryan

How to get there: Take the M1 south and use Springwood Road turn off. 

What to expect: Flowing trails with loose gravel over hardpack surfaces. Avoid Daisy in the wet.

More details: While there, check out the trails at Underwood and Cornubia. A few details about Brisbane’s network of mountain bike trails are available on our website. While you’re at it, RATs Cycling Club have details about riding at Underwood on their website.

Photo: Lachlan Ryan

Mackay

Mining might not be booming in Mackay anymore, but mountain biking sure is. With growth via a schools programme, mountain biking has captured the imagination of many who call Mackay home. The best trails close to town are at Rowallan Park, which is owned by the local Scouts – with the mountain bike club building and maintaining the trails. There are about 10km of singletrack, and while that doesn't seem like much, it keeps you on your toes. There's work going on out at Kinchant Dam with some gravity trails being built - so keep your eyes peeled for further news. 

The trails at Rowallan Park, and the work of the local club, have impressed so much that Mackay was granted the Queensland XCO State Champs in 2016, then again in 2017. Racing this year takes place between 30 September and 1 October.

Further up the Pioneer Valley, there's plenty of backcountry mountain biking to explore, up through the forests from Eungella and beyond. This is the largest stand of rainforest south of Cairns, and the riding is unique and spectacular. The Mackay Mountain Marathon regularly attracts talented riders from across the country to take part in this unique, platypus-infested part of the country.

The opening of the Mackay Mountain Marathon.

How to get there: It's an easy drive out from the CBD, just put Rowellan Park into your phone.

What to expect: Tropical trails! The park is closed until about April, but in winter these trails are great. There's plenty of built obstacles to test you, but enough flow to keep you smiling.

More details: Head to the MAD MTB Club website for more details.

Hidden Vale

Hidden Vale Adventure Park is fast closing on its goal of opening 100 kilometres of trail. Riding on the privately-owned land of Spicers Hidden Vale resort is free to all comers (although at the time of publishing a $10 charge to cover trail maintenance is being discussed), and Hidden Vale hosts numerous events over the year, including the iconic Flight Centre Cycle Epic, a Queensland institution.

Ben Forbes takes to the sky. Photo: Tim Bardsley-Smith

The trails at Hidden Vale are a hugely varied mix of old and new. The old trails are hand-cut, and the rocky, rutted ground makes for technical and physically-challenging riding. The newer trails, all constructed recently by the team at World Trail, are more flowy (they removed incredible amounts of rock to achieve this!), with smooth berms and jumps that play with the gentle gradients close to the Hidden Vale homesteads. Further afield you’ll find some brutal climbs and rough descents, all set within the bucolic idyll of a real working cattle farm.

Anna Beck bombs a rock garden at Hidden Vale. Photo: Tim Bardsley-Smith

How to get there: Hidden Vale is a little over an hour’s drive from Brisbane via the Warrego Highway. Turn left towards Rosewood, then head to Grandchester and up Mt Mort Road.

What to expect: Expect top-quality trails in a quintessentially Australian setting.

More details: Check Hidden Vale Adventure Park’s Facebook page for opening hours, wet weather closures and more before heading out. When Brisbane is warm, Hidden Vale is extremely hot. Best to ride very early in summer, and anytime in winter.

 

Noosa

We’ve written before about Noosa’s ideal setting for a winter mountain bike getaway. It’s warm, it’s family friendly, it’s got a great beach, and then there’s the trails. Wooroi, a few minutes outside Tewantin, is a compact but lively mountain bike park with something for everyone. Riding with the kids? There are wide, flat, simple trails near the car park in glorious rainforest. Riding with your crew? There are gravity trails with loads of opportunities to go big. With an easy road climb to help get the elevation, Wooroi’s invites you to do run after run down it’s steep western flank.

Sliding into Tewantin. Photo: TIm Bardsley-Smith

Further afield, there’s tonnes of off-road riding to be had in the Noosa Hinterland. While mostly dirt roads and farm trails, the stunning scenery and epic climbs and descents make the Noosa Trail Network worth checking out for those who like their adventures long. In Issue 160 (released March 2017) we’ve featured a great piece by Adam Macbeth on backcountry riding in the hinterland.

Need to explore? Try the Noosa Trail Network. Photo: Tim Bardsley-Smith.

How to get there: Noosa is about an hour and a half’s drive from Brisbane. The Wooroi trail network is just a few minutes’ drive from Noosa, heading out via Tewantin.

What to expect: Glorious rainforest, trails for all abilities, and at Wooroi, easy climbing for those who want continuous playback on the gravity trails.

More details: Take your own water into Wooroi where, as yet, there are no toilet facilities. Meanwhile, the visitnoosa website has all the details for planning your holiday.

Townsville

Often overshadowed by big brother Cairns’s fame for mountain bike goodness, Townsville’s Rockwheeler’s Mountain Bike Club have been actively growing this tropical city’s trail network and are now hosting national-level competitions, so it’s time this quiet achiever gained a bit more recognition. The town boasts two main trail networks – Pallarenda, where the National XCM race will be held in a couple of weeks, and Mt Douglas, where a more extensive network is carved into the side of a big red hill just outside town.

Cape Pallarenda is hosting the 2017 and 2018 National XCM Championships. Photo: Dave Acree

With incredible weather for at least six months of the year, and more riding to be done at Magnetic Island, there’s every reason to think of Townsville when you plan a winter getaway this year (and heaps more in our feature in Issue 160, released in March 2017). There are plenty of other activities to do on the reef and beyond, a relaxed vibe, and brilliant trails to keep you busy on the mountain bike.

 

How to get there: Pallarenda trails are a short ride from town. Mt Douglas is just behind James Cook University.

What to expect: Pallarenda is rocky, flowy, and flat, while Mt Douglas is hillier and smoother, but with plenty of variety and a skills park. Pallarenda holds up in the wet, while Mt Douglas is best avoided after heavy rain.

More details: Head over to the Rockwheelers website for trail updates, and don’t forget a bit of Aerogard if you’re riding at Pallarenda, along with the usual essentials!

Atherton

Atherton was one of Australia’s first destinations founded on the idea that Aussies shouldn’t have to get on a plane to experience epic all-day mountain biking. Built with inspiration from Rotorua and Whistler, Atherton boasts nearly 100 kilometres of trail in the hills around this town about an hour’s drive from Cairns. With plenty of elevation to play with, expect epic climbs and epic descents, plenty of jumps and berms, fast, flowy trails, and something for all abilities.

The trails in Atherton sit below the Cloud Mountains. Photo: Robert Conroy.

With the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships coming to Cairns, it’s essential that any spectators pack in a daytrip to the tablelands to experience Atherton, as we’re sure many of the visiting pros will do before and after racing.

The tablelands above Cairns also offer a huge range of gastronomical and outdoor activities, and no trip up the range is complete without a visit to the beautiful Lake Eacham and the enormous Curtain Fig Tree. With other mountain biking nearby at Davies Creek, it’s a great place to spend a day or two when you next visit the Tropical North.

Or you could just cruise along Four Mile Beach at Port Douglas... Photo: Tim Bardsley-Smith


 

How to get there: There are a few options for driving up the range from Cairns, but the easiest is probably up the twisty Kennedy Highway.

What to expect: Flowy trails with plenty of climbing and descending.

More details: Head to the Ride Cairns website for everything you need to know.