See & do
Six challenging mountain bike trails for thrill seekers
Helen Stubbs | December 2, 2020
Love speeding through the forest with the wind whistling in your ears, and getting some air over gap jumps and table-tops? You’ll be stoked to shred the best mountain bike trails on the Gold Coast.
The Goldie is home to a stack of mountain bike trails, perfect for riders keen on fast winding tracks and challenging obstacles. From the fast, free, rocky rides at Nerang National Park to the exhilarating descents of Numinbah Valley Gravity Bike Park (NV) and Boomerang Farm Bike Park (Boomers), there’s plenty to get your wheels spinning.
A quick note on safety. Mountain biking is a fast sport that comes with risk. Riders should ‘session’ trails – evaluate each trail’s suitability for their ability and their bike’s capabilities. AusCycling offers a free trial period and provides insurance. Always wear a helmet, and other safety gear as you deem necessary. It’s safer to ride with friends or the Gold Coast Mountain Bike Club. Carry water, a phone, a map (or map app like Trailforks), a spare tube and tools, a pump and a first aid kit.
Many riders wear full-face helmets and knee and elbow protection to ride, especially at NV Gravity Park and Boomers. Safety noted, you don’t have to be a great rider to enjoy these trails. I’m not a great rider, but I loved riding all these parks. So sort out your safety and let’s ride.
First stop: Nerang National Park Trails
Nerang National Park offers a wide range of trails across a massive land area. Some faster favourites in Nerang National Park are Pete’s, Three Hills and the GC2018 Loops 1, 2, and 3.
Pete’s Nerang is a smooth trail with fast sections. At 2.2km long, it’s my favourite trail at Nerang National Park. Relatively low on the mountain, Pete’s is in the bottom, eastern section of the park, so relatively little uphill pedalling to get to the top. Pete’s has been recently refurbished so offers a fairly smooth ride, with windy but not overly steep descents where it’s easy to build confidence for higher speeds. It’s a good transition trail for riders moving from beginner to intermediate, with plenty of switchbacks, and some obstacles and challenges. Pete’s and Three Hills are both two-way trails but are much more fun on the way down, so consider climbing via the fire trails to enjoy the rolling descent.
The forest is sparse through parts of Pete’s but the track is mostly shaded. In spring the native wildflowers bloom. All year round, red necked wallabies graze in the park. If you’re new to the park, the Trailforks app can help you find your way. It’s also possible to take photographs of the maps at the trailhead or bottom entry.
Starting higher on the mountain, Three Hills is a fun 2.7km long trail that you can start at the trailhead or at NG26 for a more downhill run. Either way, be prepared to climb more in the beginning, and to be ready to enjoy a longer descent than Pete’s. If you start at NG26, the trail takes you southeast, back down the mountain, through tallowwood and grey gum. Be prepared to roll over or around some big stones and roots in the track, and also take on navigate over or around obstacles. Even for a short rider like me, 29-inch tyres are my best friend on trails like Three Hills. It’s a lot of fun rolling over roots and rocks back down the mountain, navigating the technical terrain as the forest changes around you. Red wallabies make an appearance almost every time I ride this trail, and there are some good views out to the city skyline. I always carry plenty of water, my phone, and a small emergency/first aid kit when I ride. You might not have phone reception in all areas of the park.
The GC2018 Loops 1, 2, and 3
The GC2018 Loops 1, 2, and 3, are a great fast hit of adrenaline. Designed for speed, these tracks are one way. Number 3 is my favourite, with a mostly smooth-surfaced roller-coaster feel -distinctly Gold Coast. These were ridden in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and they’re all short distance rides. The longest is just 1.5 km long. They leave every limb burning from wrangling your handlebars and standing on your pedals to fly around the track.
The Old Tambo Downhill Mountain Bike Track
From Nerang, head north up the motorway to Tamborine Mountain, and find the top of the Old Tambo Downhill Mountain Bike Track. The trail starts at Wongawallan road and makes a steep descent along technical sections, jumps and berms, with rest areas and a fire trail running alongside. Most riders stick to the top of the trail, rather than taking the full steep descent out the bottom. Old Tambo is a challenging double black diamond trail and approximately three kilometres long. The trail intersects and merges with fire trails, then exits out Welches Rd.
The super steep fire trail was a bit of fun for me, and it’s an alternative option, described as more difficult due to the incline. You need good brakes and to know how to use them. A reconnaissance run is recommended before riding this track, to make sure it’s clear of branches and in a suitable condition for riding.
Onto the private bike parks, for a new definition of fun…
NV Gravity Bike Park
Southwest of Nerang, the R&B trail at NV Gravity Bike Park will satisfy your need for speed in a setting of lush green as far as the eye can see. Forget the slog to the top of the hill and save your energy for plenty of downhill rides with shuttle lifts to the top of the trails included in the entry fee.
NV is described as having the smoothest trails around thanks to great design and maintenance by creator Michael Murray and his crew. The trails are meticulously maintained, with firmly packed soil, solid wooden wall berms and Astroturf making for the perfect rides.
At NV you get a clear sense of height and elevation, looking across the valley and over to Springbrook. Shredding down the trail plunges you into nature, while friendly horses look on from a nearby paddock. The Green with Envy trail was super fun for me with the added bonus of somehow feeling super fast and safe at the same time. Maybe because the lush grass at the side of the track provided a soft landing when I needed it.
Zoom down steep descents, over the rhythm wave section, around switchbacks and wall-berms, through lush fields, pine forests, and over drops and gaps. NV is open Sundays and bookings are essential with rider numbers capped which effectively obliterates shuttle queues. If you love mountain biking do yourself a favour and book in to NV Gravity Park.
Remember to take along all your food and water, these downhill shreds are going to make you hungry.
Further down the motorway, just outside Mudgeeraba, Boomers’ DH3 Riccos and Sidewinder are made for speed. DH3 Riccos boasts massive jumps, while Sidewinder is a fast and very wide trail, suitable for assisted mountain bikes too.
The genius and passion of Shane Flower and the Outlook Rider’s Alliance have built 15 exhilarating trails in a world-class bike park. While DH3 Riccos is for the pros, the Green Machine and Sidewinder provided plenty of action for me, with high-speed sections, swirly switchbacks, and small obstacles to coax out my skills.
The entry fee is worth the experience of zooming down these trails, with options to fly over gaps and descend extreme gradients. DH3 Riccos has off-camber sections, unavoidable obstacles, technical drops, a gap jump, with a B-Line option, and the scenic traverse. An extra fee provides unlimited shuttle bus rides (highly recommended) to take you back to the top.
The hills at Boomers are packed with trails, some of which defy gravity. After riding you can hit the Sapphire Bean Café at Boomerang Farm Golf Course for lunch and a beer. Just don’t ask me to choose between NV Gravity Park and Boomers. They’re both too much fun.
Level of stoke?
If you’re not sure which of these trails is for you, read the Gold Coast Guide to Mountain Biking, or get in touch with the Gold Coast Mountain Bike Club, NV Gravity Bike Park or Boomerang Farm Bike Park, and someone friendly and helpful will welcome you into the sport they love.