9 must-do Gold Coast mountain bike destinations for every skill level
Helen Stubbs | December 8, 2020
From the ocean to the mountains, Gold Coast mountain bike parks are home to a multitude of trails, with a track to suit most abilities. Read on to discover easy rides by the beach, family-friendly adventures, challenging black diamond descents, and where to take a fast spin on an assisted mountain bike.
With so many rides to explore on the Gold Coast, we can’t cover all of them, but we can get you started with nine experiences of every flavour and spice.
By the sea
If you love the smell of the surf and the ocean breeze in your hair, Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, Main Beach is a ride you can’t miss. Eight kilometres of track begins at the Southport Spit, showcasing a variety of plants and trees: perfect habitats for native fauna. With a magical beachy feel, this trail seems to transport you miles away from the city, even though it runs alongside Main Beach. This track is popular with walkers and runners, and home to Parkrun on Saturday mornings. It also provides access to the beach, with several side trails leading down to the waves, so be prepared for some sand. Like many trails, this one gets very hot from early morning, so consider riding it very early in the morning or in the late afternoon, with friends.
For riders game to take on steps and steep pinches Tugun Hill Conservation Area links Toolona Park to Currumbin and the Hidden Valley Reserve via a passage under the motorway. The Conservation area is home to rare vegetation, being part of the Currumbin to Cobaki wetlands habitat corridor.
A short bush track surprise in suburbia
Skyline Terrace offers legendary views up and down the Gold Coast, and there’s a suburban surprise on the northern side, with a mountain biking track tucked away between Ladds Ridge Road and Tanjenong Place. Ron Mason Park, Burleigh Heads is home to a 2km track with a bit of everything. I parked at Ladds Ridge Road and rode down the steep decline and up into Ron Mason Park and Herbert Park, in a fairly challenging ride that took 45 minutes, including rests and photo shoots. If you’re stopping for a rest or a photo, hop off the trail where it’s safe, and always watch for other riders to avoid collisions.
Several sections of the trail are built of large stones, and there’s a winding downhill section of switchbacks. Log obstacles provided a challenge, while the wide grassy fire trail towards the end was easy and breezy.
The birdlife clearly enjoys this patch of nature, including rainbow lorikeets, magpies and bush turkeys. A burn had recently taken place, resulting in some impressive blackened trees, which will be pretty when the regrowth comes in. The track was in good condition and appeared to see a fair level of traffic.
Either return by the same route or exit through Herbert Park. There wasn’t a bike exit through Tanjenong Place—I had to lift my bike over the fence. The ride back to my car, along Skyline Terrace, to the entry to Ron Mason Park, was fast and fun, making for a decent little circuit. Although short, I’d rate this trail as intermediate. Do a few loops or try it the other way for a longer ride.
Fast and fun
Rabbit’s Run, Glossy Black Reserve at Reedy Creek is the downhill run after Lazy Lizard. Just minutes from the motorway, these trails are new, smooth and one way. Built in 2019, you can feel the freshness. The inclines up Jumpin’ Ant Hill and Lazy Lizard are mild, while the descent—over a shorter distance—is quick and lively. Rabbit’s Run is a fun downhill ride.
Short and sweet
Ruffles Road Reserve, Willow Vale is a short recreational trail accessed from Shane Road. It features Gold Coast gum forests with tallowoods, grey gums, pink bloodwoods and more.
Long and lively
Nerang National Park is the centre of mountain bike riding on the Gold Coast. Two very two popular trails are Happy Valley and Three Hills. Happy Valley is a 2.3km trail each way, and is accessed via the Goanna trail. Some of the highlights are riding up and down small creek crossings, and the option of taking small jumps. This trail can get hot from early morning, so it’s best ridden very early or on a cool day.
Three Hills trail is a favourite at Nerang for intermediate riders, at 2.5km each way. There are jumps, switchbacks and, in terms of technical terrain, plenty of rocky and big-root sections. High on the mountain, the track also reveals great views out to the Coast, through the trees.
The two private bike parks, NV Gravity Bike Park and Boomerang Farm Bike Park, really take things up a notch for riders who want to speed down descents, fly over gap jumps, and build their skills. This isn’t to say they aren’t suitable for a wide range of riders. There are plenty of options for riders who prefer to roll over obstacles. One rider told me it was only her third time on a bike, and she was having a ball. I’m not a great rider, but I had an awesome time at both private parks.
What differentiates the private parks from National and City Parks is that both teams are dedicated to designing and maintaining a smaller section of trails than the public parks, so they can make the trails more exhilarating and smooth, and maintain special features.
Both parks provide an awesome experience for visitors and members. There’s an entry fee (around $40 including shuttles—check their webpages for details). Shuttles are one of the best parts. It’s nice getting a lift to the top of the trails. Many riders at the private parks wear full safety gear including full-face helmets.
“NV Gravity Bike Park is more than just a park, it’s a destination for good times,” says park owner Michael Murray.
“We’re all about progression,” says Murray, having designed park features to encourage riders to progress their mountain biking ability. There’s plenty on offer with gap jumps, wooden wall berms, steep descents and a range of table-top jumps.
NV boasts green scenery and fluid trails. It’s nestled in the hills of the Numinbah Valley, with beautiful views of the mountains, and lovely horses in the paddocks riders pass through on the 4WD trip up the hill to the trailhead.
With incredibly well maintained tracks and grassy table tops, the Green With Envy trail is an ideal setting for riders to improve their skills, while the more demanding trails, like R&B, have plenty of jumps and a faster, steeper ride.
AstroTurf is used to smooth out transitions and ramp lips.
“They’re the smoothest trails we’ve ridden anywhere,” says Bevan Wuyts, visiting from Casuarina, NSW, with his mate Tiago Grieve.
Murray says the park caters for all levels of riders, “From the new and inexperienced to the old school lads … to the extreme crew who isn’t afraid to donate some blood from time to time.”
NV Gravity Park is open on Sundays and, due to demand, bookings are essential. To book your spot message Michael Murray through the NV Gravity Park Facebook Group.
Boomerang Farm Bike Park offers some of the wildest rides on the Gold Coast, in a world-class facility open to all ages, with 150m of elevation, and a café and bar just next door.
Trails range from the Green Machine through blue trails like Medicare and Sidewinder, through to black trails like Rodney’s Run and the double black diamond rated Shane’s Big Line: Extreme Pro, which only opens when a club marshal is present. Sidewinder can be ridden by assisted cycles too, which means Boomers has achieved inclusion for riders who use wheelchairs.
Boomers is open from 8am to 3pm Friday to Monday, and shuttles run every day to take riders to the top. While there’s no need to book, park entry and a shuttle pass are separate fees, so check the website for details. The Facebook group is also lively with discussion and announcements.
The park is located next to Boomerang Farm Golf Course and the Sapphire Bean Café, convenient for refreshment after your ride.
Outlook Riders Alliance President Bob Davis says new trails and features are continually being added.
“There’s diversity of trails including the dirt jump area and pump track,” says Davis. “The trails lend themselves to progressing your abilities.”
Many of the riders at NV Gravity Park and Boomers wear full-face helmets and protective gear like gloves, knee pads, and elbow pads.
Have you’ve missed one of the articles in our Mountain Bike Series? Here’s the complete list.