The nationally acclaimed network of mountain bike trails in the Atherton Forest can be accessed from two locations:
1] THE CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT TRAIL HEAD AND SKILLS AREA.
Head up Main Street of Atherton and turn right in to Vernon Street [ANZ on one corner, Carrington Hotel on the other] The trail head is directly in front of you past the public toilet block on the old train line
This option offers a short, rain forest link track ride [Trail 1, Licketty split] to the main section of the park. It leads through to Rifle Range Road past the gun glub and up to the trail head proper which is approximately 2.5km from town
2] THE RIFLE RANGE ROAD TRAIL HEAD CARPARK
The northern entrance to the Herberton Range ridge road (PDF, 138K)*.
Take the sign posted right hand turn off on to Rifle Range Road approximately 2km from McDonalds’s on the main street of Atherton directly opposite the big red dragon at the Atherton Chinese temple
Turn off the sealed road to the left after approximately 500 mts and follow the gravel Rifle Range Road over the small water filled causeway, past the gun club for approximately 1.5km. You will find the trail head and parking at the entrance to the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park .
The easier trails meander through an open forest of gums, bloodwoods, mahoganys, she-oaks, grasstrees and cycads. Some of the trails pass former forestry experimental plots of teak, blackbutt and tallowwood trees.
The more difficult trails turn up hill and eventually climb right up in to rain forest at the top of the Great Dividing Range. The breath taking climbs are well rewarded with blue and black graded descents that will keep even the most hardened and skilled adrenalin junkies happy.
The approximately 55km of single track trails are purpose-built for mountain bike riding and are graded according to International Mountain biking Association guide lines which can be found here: https://www.imba.com/resources/maps/trail-difficulty-ratings
Currently the mix of difficulty is approximately 20% green [easy] 80% blue [more difficult] with Black [difficult] lines being incorporated in to some of the blue graded trails.
Whether you are just starting out, riding with the family or a seasoned rider on a 6 – 7 inch dual suspension carbon superbike you will not be disappointed. There is something for every level of rider from meandering, easy, level trails through to adrenalin fuelled black graded gravity descents with 8 meter gaps.
See what you are in for here:
Internal forestry roads
Mountain bike through Herberton Range on the network of internal roads and firebreaks. Not all roads are shown on the maps and intersections may not be sign posted. Expect to share the roads with pedestrians, trail-bikes, horses, vehicles and other cyclists.
In the 15 years before AFMTBP became the fantastic facility that it is today an enthusiastic group of local mountain bikers had been building & riding handmade MTB trails in the Sylvia Creek Valley [I.E. where AFMTBP is located].
They also built jumps, bridges, log roll over’s, see saws and rock drops, down hills trails and cross country loops.
All of these trails and features had names of their own and many of those names & features still survive in the AFMTBP today.
For the uninitiated traditional mountain bike trails have names, some also have numbers as well as names, but the majority of trail networks use names not only to identify individual trails but to reflect the character of the trails, local identities, specific trail features & the mountain biking culture of the area***.
As you peddle your way around the park you will notice that all the trails have numbers to identify them corresponding to the trail map. These numbers are on the official QPWS wooden sign posts at the entrance to the various trails, you may also notice that at various places there are also handmade wooden signs wire tied to trees such as “Knowles ‘Nard” “40 Stiches” “Stairway to heaven” etc.
Below is a list of some of the various trails & features in the AFMTBP and a little potted history of how and why they got those names
Trail 1 – “The Link or Licketty Split”
This trail starts about 100 metres along the rail trail from the new pump track and skills area on Vernon Street right behind the Atherton CBD. Look out for the ANZ bank on one corner and the Carrington Hotel on the other. The trail follows the creek for about 1.5km before popping out on Rifle Range Road an easy 1.5km ride from the trail head proper of AFMTBP. It then continues as a green graded trail in the park proper with various other trails leading off it
Trail 2 – “Knowles ‘Nard”, “Two Tooth” ; “Kiwis” featuring “Georges Pool” & “Deanos’ Drag Strip”
Trail 2 is one of the longer trails in the park that crosses the Herberton range road twice, hence it has several different names and features.
The entrance section immediately prior to the creek crossing is “Knowles ‘Nard” named after Mark Knowles, current president of TCS and tireless supporter of cycling on the Tablelands.
Once you are over the creek and past the entrance to trail 6 [Ridgey Didge] it turns in to “Two Tooth”. Two tooth was/is the nick name given to Darren Horn, the builder of the trail many years ago prior to him having some much needed dental work done : ).
Further along you come to the little billabong called “Georges Pool”. George is a German short haired pointer owned by Terry who was our regular trail dog on our Tuesday & Thursday night rides for many years. George used to short cut the trail by diving in and swimming across the pool especially on warm evening rides.
On the southern side of the road the trail loosely follows the path of one of the oldest trails previously ridden in the valley. This section was known as “Kiwis” named after a Kiwi bloke who worked in the Atherton Hotel who not only cut in a lot of the trail but also had the misfortune to crash and open his knee up on the section.
You will also find a shorter Green graded loop of approximately 1.5km that turns off trail 2 that is well worth a look.
At the highest point of the southern section of trail 2 you will find the “Deanos Drag Strip” berms.
You will still find Dean Boyce riding the trails most evenings as he has done for 15+ years as one of the originals
Trail 3 – “V6 roll n Roll” & “Triple B Playground”
Trail 3 has two distinct sections, the section closest to the road is known as “V6 rock n Roll”
If you have ridden this trail you would surely have noticed the old Holden Commodore V6 on the top of the tree stump. The dumped motor turned up when the trail were being built by Ground Creations’, Evan Rhode.
The upper section is called “Triple B play ground” after Dean “Boycey” Boyce, Stephen “Barky” Barkworth and his son Bradley who spent many hours grooming and raking after the trail was cut in by Ground Creations in 2012.
Trail 4 – “40 Stiches” & “Up n Hover” featuring “Barkies bridges”
When you exit trail 2 and make the short climb up the fire road you turn left on to trail 4 otherwise known as “40 stitches”.
“40 stitches” is not only one of the oldest original trails in the park but also one of the first that had the attention of World Trail back in 2011 when a trail building workshop was held to rock armour a small section.
Back in the day the two bridges that cross the deep seasonal creek gulley were not as wide as they are today, in fact they were only 200mm wide boards. You had to be committed and get it dead right or the consequences would be unpleasant.
Unfortunately one evening Steve “Killer” Kilpatrick missed the bridge and face planted in to the rocks on the far side. As a result it does not take much guess work to figure out where the name “40 stitches” came from!. Steve recovered with only a minor alteration to his good looks and is still riding the trails most days, in fact it is rumoured that he may have something to do with the signs themselves.
Once you get past “3Y junction” and cross the creek you can either turn right in to trail 11 [“Waterfalls”] or continue on trail 4 all the way to the Herberton Range Road. About half way along the trail before you get to the road you will cross a rock armoured creek crossing and wooden bridge collectively called “Barkies Bridges” agian named after Steven Barkworth, local rider, trail groomer, bridge builder & plumber extraordinaire. Barkie is also one of the original MTBers in the valley.
Once you have crossed the rock armoured creek crossing you pass on to a section of track called “Up n Hover”, that is not a typo, it is “Hover”. The section of trail was originally built by local police officer Aaron Hover. Aaron has since left Atherton but the trail still bears his name.
Trail 5 – “Rocky Python”
Trail 5 is known as “Rocky Python” due to the way is winds its way up the ridge covered in basalt boulders. It is also one of the original hand made trails prior to being realigned by Ground Creations in 2011.
“Rocky python” is quite unique in the park due to its geology. As you cross the creek at the end of trail 11 [“Waterfalls”] and turn right on to “Rocky Python” the soil type changes dramatically, it goes from decomposed granite and clay to basalt based black soil in the space of 10 meters. The vegetation also changes from Casuarinas’ and gums to grass trees and Cycads.
“Rocky Python” is built on an old volcanic lava flow that makes up the ridge line. Take time to stop at the top and look down, you can clearly see the alignment of the lava flow and the creeks in the gully’s that border it.
Trail 6 – “Ridgey Didge” featuring “Leasies look Out”
Trail 6 known as “Ridgey Didge” was named by the World Trail crew during construction.
Considered by many riders as one of the best trails in the park it is a 6km trail with an undulating climb featuring a couple of smaller gap jumps and a log skinny as it winds it way up to the “Roundabout”. Past the “Roundabout” what follows is an awesome flowing descent filled with berms, jumps, rock armoured creek crossings and small seasonal waterfalls. Pedalling optional on the way down!
Once you are over the worst [or best] of the climb and emerge on to the northern side of the ridge you come to “Leasies Lookout” with spectacular views overlooking the northern tablelands. The lookout features rock recliner chairs to relax in after getting warmed up on the climb. Leasie Felderhof has been one of the driving forces in securing funding for the park spending countless hours preparing grant applications and liaising with the powers that be to get past the bureaucratic red tape to establish the park. She is also a long standing member of TCS and administrator of http://bikelinx.com.au/ the go to website for all things cycling related on the Tablelands.
You have a lot to thank Leasie for in the development of the park.
Trail 7 – “Bandy Bandy” featuring the “Fern Grove”
Winding its way up from the “Roundabout” is trail 7 known as “Bandy Bandy”.
“Bandy Bandy” is a species of small, infrequently seen snake with alternating black and white bands down its body that is endemic to the area.
Several examples of the elusive little bugger were seen by the trail builders during construction.
“Bandy Bandy” is a short but intense trail with a tight, steep switchback climb to the summit of the hill overlooking Atherton that will test even the fittest riders. At the summit is a yet unnamed rock seat that you will need after the climb. The descent features several testing black graded alternate lines as well as many flowing berms and rock features. One of the highlights on the descent is the “Fern Grove”. The trail cuts straight through a spectacular steep hill side grove of ferns. When the sun hits the ferns just right after an overnight dew there is no more magical sight in the entire park.
Trail 8 – “The Hack”
“The Hack” runs off “Ridgey Didge” down towards the Atherton Golf course. Hence the name “The Hack” as a reference to the golf course and the weekend “Hackers” who lose their balls.
Some locals have also been known to refer to the trail as “The vomit”. While the descent is a fast flowing descent made up of deep, beautifully designed berms the climb back up from the golf course to the intersection with “Trail 6, Ridgey Didge” is testing to say the least, climbing over 200 mts in approximately 1000mts, just make sure you bring your granny along with you.
Trail 9 – “Ricochet”
“Ricochet” – described by Flow Mountain Bike Magazine as one of the best trails outside of the north shore of Canada. Considered the jewel in the crown of AFMTBP by “all mountain” riders.
Once ridden it is easy to see why “Ricochet” is a fitting name as you bounce between the series of HUGE berms like a bullet fired into a steel barrel.
Pedalling is definitely optional on “Ricochet” but don’t be put off by its awesome reputation.
At no point on the descent is it so steep or so gnarly that you can’t just roll down at your own pace, all black graded features can be easily ridden around and are clearly sign posted.
Do it! – you know you want to!
Trail 10 climb – “Beady eye” featuring the “Rock sofa” going up to the roundabout
Trail 10 “Beady eye” connects trail 11 “Waterfalls” with the “Roundabout”.
It was called “Beady eye” by World Trail during construction as the WT crew felt like they had the beady eye on them by everyone as they eagerly awaited the trail to be finished and the name stuck.
As to why it is called trail 10 link? Well the original plan was to have the trail eventually go all the way up and around past the roundabout and all the way up to the top of the valley to “Link” to Trail 9 “Ricochet”.
This plan has since been amended with the construction of trail 12 “Stairway to Heaven”.
“Beady eye” features one of the best stone features in the park. A carefully crafted, full size, 3 seater solid rock sofa! Stretch out and relax and enjoy the view but please no pets, eating potato chips or shoes on the sofa : )
Trail 10 descent – “Cliff hanger” going down from the roundabout
Trail 10 “Cliff hanger” connects the roundabout or Hub with trail 11 “Waterfalls
As the name suggests this trail is cut in to the steep side of the valley. It is best ridden by experienced riders as there are sections where you would not want to fall off the trail as it may be some time before you stop rolling down the side. Having said that it is grade blue and if you are confident then give it a go.
Experienced riders will be rewarded with a fun flowing trail with a true black graded “A” line wall ride over solid rock
Trail 11 – “Waterfalls”
A relatively new rider to the area once said they did not understand why it was called “Waterfalls” all I can say to that is that they clearly have not ridden the trail during a break in the rain in a good wet season!
The trail winds its way around the northern side of the valley crossing several seasonal waterfalls over solid bed rock and steep gulleys. Check out the steep but sneaky cheater line straight up the bedrock bottom of the water fall to the start of “Trail 10,Beady eye”. It has to be dry though or it is slippery.
This section of trail also features the “Croc belly berm” as seen on the trail head photos
Trail 12 – “Stairway to heaven”
“Stairway to Heaven” is the first trail in the park to have its name decided by democratic vote on Facebook.
It was suggested by Brett “Chook” Picone and it seems fitting that another of the original riders in the valley have a trail named after them or by them.
When you come around the northern side of Trail 6 “Ridgey Didge” and look across at the opposite hill as you approach the roundabout it’s pretty easy to see the “Stairway”, what you don’t see is the rest of the 12km trail as it makes its way up and over the hill up to the top of the valley and the mountain bikers heaven that is trail 9 “Ricochet”, Along the way the trail passes under then over a massive granite bluff, through rain forest high on the ridge of the great divide and across ancient lava fields.
Truly heaven for a mountain biker.
Trail 13 – “Yahoo Wahoo”
So named by a local who was so excited by his first ride on the brand new trail he was heard to bellow “YAHOO!!!” so loudly at the end of the run that it echoed around the park. and so the name stuck
Along with trail 9, trail 13 “Yahoo Wahoo” offers the best descending in the park. Fast and flowing with numerous A and B line jumps and berms it can either be ridden flat out and loose or casually rolled.
Trail 14 – “Ewe Beauty”
Named in honor of a section of trail that no longer exists that was originally built by a local Kiwi lad. The trail roughly follows the old trail “Kiwi loop”. Also sometimes called “Exit trail” it starts on the fire road almost at the bottom of trail 9 “Ricochet” for a fast, fun ride all the way out to the gate at the trail head.
look out for several rocky seasonal creek crossings, berms, a sneaky black graded wall ride, roll over features and some ski type jumps on the way out.
Trail 15 – “Ewe Beauty”
Trail 15 is the second half of trail 14 “Ewe beauty” and as such has no specific name
Trail 16 – “Top deck”
“Top deck” is the alternative route up to the start of Trails 9 “Ricochet” and 13 “Yahoo Wahoo” if you do not want to climb “Stairway to Heaven” or bust your arse on the fire road climb
Starting at the top of Trail 5 “Rocky Python” it winds its way uphill for 3km on what must be said can be a challenging climb to finish at the top of the valley, just when you are ready for the rush of some downhill fun on either Yahoo Wahoo or Ricochet.
As it winds its way up the valley it crosses back on forth on and off and over the ancient lava flow. At one point on the way up the soil changes from light colored decomposed granite to much darker basalt in the space of a meter. The difference in soils types is amazing, particularly when damp, reminiscent of the classic Cadbury chocolate bar “Top deck” with a white chocolate layer on a milk chocolate base.
Trail 17 – “Drop Zone”
2km of gnarly, steep, off camber adrenalin rush not unlike a sky dive. Big berms, a 5 meter gap jump, rocky, boulder strewn descent with some very tricky true off camber sections make “Drop Zone” one of the more technically challenging trails in the park
There is only one way to get to “Drop zone” and it aint easy. The entry to “Drop zone” is at the top of the stairway section of trail 12 “stairway to heaven”.
Yes, you have to earn your stripes, and no, there is no possible way to the start other than to ride STH [or push: )].
***In fact in the initial concept plan drawn up by World Trail a comment is made:
The trails (and possibly even specific features or sections of those trails) should be given names – not only does this aid in signage and navigation through the trails, but it is important from a marketing perspective that the trails have their own identity. Riders will identify the trails by name when discussing them with other riders, so the names must be simple and intuitive and preferably should reflect the character of the trail and the environment.