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The best Gold Coast mountain biking tracks for beginners

Helen Stubbs | December 8, 2020

Mountain bike riding is fun and provides a full body workout, building strength and cardio fitness. The Gold Coast has plenty of trails for riders new to mountain bike riding.

These trails are rated green and usually have fewer challenges, with options to ride around jumps and obstacles. President of the Gold Coast Mountain Bike Club, Chris Thompson, recommends new riders start in Nerang National Park.

“Nerang National Park has the largest trail network, trailhead facilities and is near coffee shops and bike shops for all your needs,” says Thompson. “There are also public mountain bike trails at Peter Hallinan Park at Hinze Dam, managed by Seqwater, and trails at Glossy Black Reserve at Reedy Creek, managed by City of Gold Coast. In the hinterland are Boomerang Farm Bike Park and NV Gravity Park for the more experienced riders,” says Chris.

Thompson recommends riders look up the Nerang National Park mountain bike map online and download the Trailforks app to their phone.

“Trailforks.com is a great resource providing a good description of all trails, and maps with colour coding according to trail difficulty rating. Start out by choosing green (easy) trail loops closer to the trailhead before venturing too far. Once comfortable on green trails, then incorporate some blue (intermediate) trails. Black trails are technical, requiring skill, experience and fitness,” says Thompson.”

Two favourite green trails in Nerang National Park are the Casuarina Grove Circuit and the Goanna Loop.

“The Casuarina Grove loop and extension trails are great to start on to get familiar with the terrain,” says Thompson.

“If these feel great and you need some more distance, then head out and ride Goanna and Goanna loop.

“When heading out on the trails, take care if accessing trails via the Cycle Centre as this is a multipurpose venue with road cyclists using the Criterium Track at high speed. Stop and look before crossing. Look ahead when riding as most trails are two-way and there are lots of people riding, some fast, some slow.

“Yield to on-coming riders especially when you are going downslope. Remember it is a National Park and it is a privilege to ride here, so stay on the trails, no short cutting. Only leave a little bit of dust, and enjoy the environment.”

To find these trails, park outside the velodrome on Hope Street and ride past Nerang’s scout hall to the entry to the forest.

Not far from Nerang National Park is the Peter Hallinan Mountain Bike Precinct, accessed by parking at the Hinze Dam Visitor Information Centre and riding 2km along the pedestrian friendly, very tall, dam wall.

“Beginners should start on the green graded Family Loop and then check out either of the blue trails, including Duncan’s,” says Thompson.

I rode the Duncan’s Creek Track anticlockwise. It was a fun ride with red soil and a lot of close forest providing shade. There were technical sections and a fast run into a pine forest, which led down to a very pretty creek and bridge, with frogs calling. Although there are toilets half way around the track, be warned that they’re only open on NMTBC event days. The track felt quite remote, was well kept and well signed, and the ascent on the second half wasn’t too bad. I didn’t see any other riders. Overall I spent an hour and a half riding, including down past View café to look out over the water, racking up around 9km.

Jumpin’ Ant Hill at Glossy Black Reserve, Reedy Creek, is one of the Gold Coasts newest and most user-friendly trails, built in 2019. It’s one way, and I liked not having to worry about oncoming riders as I was puffing up the hills. The trail is so smooth that the uphills are a pleasure to ride, and it’s easy to follow, with great signage. With 54m of ascent over 1.2km, it’s a good trail to build climbing strength, uphill cornering technique and endurance. Continue on through Lazy Lizard which is even smoother. To return to the start of Jumpin’ Ant Hill, Rabbit’s Run is a faster, more challenging, exciting way to finish the circuit. I really did see a jumping ant when I rode this trail! Whizzing back down the mountain at speed was a blast.

“What I love about mountain biking is the freedom it brings, the places it takes me, the connection with the environment and the opportunity
to challenge myself,” says Thompson. “It is accessible to almost anyone who can get hold of a bike, and there are no cars! And I love the physical and mental health benefits mountain biking provides.”

To find out more about mountain bike riding on the Gold Coast, read The Gold Coast Guide to Mountain Bike Riding.