Take a ride down the Thredbo Valley Trail!
Words and Photos: Colin Levitch, Nick Waygood
Thredbo is the only place in Australia where the lift runs 365-days a year. Whether you are riding two planks or two wheels, you can make your way to the roof of Oz without breaking a sweat.
While Thredbo is the home of Australia's original Cannonball run, it took the alpine resort a little while to catch on to the fact that, to make a mountain biking destination you need more than just a big hill. Once the powers at be cottoned on, trails began to pop up faster than popcorn over a hot stove.
The Snowy Mountains are in a unique position with the Thredbo Valley running all the way from the village at the ski resort to Lake Jindabyne, thereby connecting the trail networks at either end with Lake Crackenback smack bang in the middle. National Parks and the local council had a shared goal of improving mountain biking in Kosciusko National Park, and so the Thredbo Valley Trail was born.
It's been quite a few years in the making, but you can now ride from Thredbo all the way down to Jindabyne along purpose-built singletrack, bar one short tarmac liaison. In total the Thredbo Valley Trail (TVT) itself covers 25km, running from the base village down to the Gaden Trout Hatchery — it's another 9km along the Hatchery Track and past the Claypits back to town.
The Thredbo Valley Trail officially starts at Friday Flat, but there’s no reason you couldn't kick off from the top of the Eagles Nest, and ride the Flow Trail or All Mountain Trail to rack up a bit of extra descending. The upper section has been open for a few years now and starts with family-friendly wide and smooth singletrack, skipping across the Thredbo River on impressive suspension bridges. Take your time on this section and enjoy the view. As you descend further down the TVT, the singletrack gets narrower, the speed increases, the berms get bigger and so does the fun.
The first 9km down to Ngarigo is well and truly a green trail passing through a few campsites along the way, it's ideal for beginners to explore some of the Thredbo Valley by bike. The next 6km from Ngarigo to The Diggings and onto Lake Crackenback is a better litmus test to the overall difficulty of the lower section of the trail.
From Crackenback you’ll cross the river on the Ski Tube's railroad bridge and make your way to the lower TVT which takes you all the way to the Gaden Trout Hatchery 9km down the hill. Littered with entertaining rock gardens, broad-shouldered bermed corners, elevated stream crossings and tight switchbacks, the TVT is a trail suited to riders of every level. All the features are rollable, and the faster you go, the more exciting the trail becomes — keeping in mind that it’s a two-way trail for both riders and hikers, so don’t forget about your trail etiquette, it makes things more enjoyable for everyone.
If you’re riding the TVT up from Jindabyne or down from Thredbo, by the time you make it to Lake Crackenback Resort, your stomach will have moved to the forefront of your mind. Lucky the Larder Cafe is a short detour from the singletrack and is perfectly suited for the task; offering everything from light snacks, to full meals depending if you're famished or hungry as a horse. Before you leave Crackenback, make sure to roll through some of the trails around the resort and take a few laps through the skills courses and pump track.
The Lower TVT hangs mostly in the trees, with the river playing peekaboo occasionally through the canopy, it's mostly downhill with a few climbs thrown in to keep your legs warm.
It's a big ride from the bottom, and if you want to ride from Jindy you'll definitely want to have some climbing chops — or an eMTB and a spare battery. If descending is more your speed, Lake Crackenback Resort offers free shuttles from the resort back to Thredbo, while Snowy Access runs return shuttles to Jindabyne and the Trout Hatchery.
With only a few places to bail along the way consider the TVT a wilderness trail, so come prepared with spares, tools and layers. Even though the trail is mostly gravity fed, there’s still about 500m of climbing if you ride from Thredbo down, so leave the dual crown fork at the lift.
By car, Jindabyne is about five hours from Sydney, five and a half from Melbourne and a little over two from Canberra. If you’re coming from Queensland or elsewhere, fly into Canberra and jump in a rental car at the airport. There are bus services running from all over, but you’ll want a car while you’re in Jindy.
The Kangaroos are HUGE on the Monaro Highway, and the mobs are plentiful, so be extremely wildlife aware, especially if you’re driving at night.
TVT lays 9km north-west of town, you can ride there via the Hatchery Track, or there is parking at the Trout Hatchery.
Best time of year
We like shoulder season (Spring and Autumn) because there are fewer people around, the accommodation is cheaper, and the weather is a little bit cooler. That said, if you can line your trip up with the Cannonball Festival, you can also watch some of Australia’s best gravity riders shred one of the country's premier gravity destinations.
While in the area
The thing we love about the Snowy Mountains is there is no shortage of things to do outside. From fishing to hiking, or maybe even sneaking in 9-holes at the Thredbo Golf Course, we promise you won't be bored on your rest day — situated at 1,365m you’ll get a bit of free distance on your drive thanks to the altitude.
Zilch to access the trail. If you’re planning to ride from the top down to Jindabyne, Snowy Access runs hourly return shuttles from Jindabyne and the Trout Hatchery for $30. Lake Crackenback Resort runs shuttles back to Thredbo Village, but they fill up fast, so bookings are essential.
Local Bike Shops
In Jindy you’ll find Gravity and Sacred Ride, both have full-service mechanics and demo bikes. Lake Crackenback has a Bike Hire shop on Bullocks Drive, and in Thredbo Village, the resort runs a full-service rental and repair shop.
Toilets: Yes in Thredbo, The Diggings and Lake Crackenback
Drinking Water: Fill up at Thredbo and top up at Lake Crackenback
Parking: There is paid parking in Thredbo, or park in Jindabyne and get a shuttle.
Trails Signposted: Yes, the trailhead is next to Friday Flat
Mobile Reception: Telstra, but it's not great near the end.
Shelter: Only at the camp sites.
BBQ Facilities: Yes in Thredbo and the campsites, plus Lake Crackenback
Accommodation: Lots in Thredbo, Jindabyne and Lake Crackenback
Fitness level 3/5