The Gold Coast guide to mountain bike riding
Helen Stubbs | December 8, 2020
The Gold Coast is home to a rich and diverse range of trails and mountain bike experiences. Discovering these trails can result in a fun outing with the family, an epic adventure up into the hills or an exhilarating shred with friends down an adrenaline-inducing line.
Mountain biking on the Gold Coast is underpinned by passionate and friendly communities that develop and maintain the trails. We have gorgeous locations, eco-diverse National Parks, dedicated private bike parks and great weather.
If you’re new to mountain biking, Nerang National Park is one place to learn, popular with local and international biking communities. Nerang has hosted events for the Commonwealth Games, Mountain Biking Australia, the Pan Pac Masters Games, the Sunshine Series and the Gold Coast Mountain Bike club (GCMTB). For help and advice on how to get started, join a beginner’s social ride with the GCMTB. Upcoming events can be found through GCMTB’s webpage or Facebook page. The club requires registration with Mountain Bike Australia so you’re covered by insurance. The initial registration is free, as a trial.
GCMTB’s work with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, City of Gold Coast, Seqwater and trail care groups including NTCA (Nerang Trail Care Alliance) have transformed and developed the trail networks. Nerang National Park has the largest network of trails, with green options like the Casuarina Grove Circuit, blue trails such as Happy Valley, Three Hills and Pete’s, and long rides up into the mountains.
Don’t have a bike? Bikes are for hire and sale at Just Ride, Topline Cycles and Giant Nerang. If you live nearer to the beach, the team at Mikes Bikes in Miami are super friendly, and helped me choose my bike.
Beyond Nerang National Park, other public parks open for mountain bike riding include the Peter Hallinan Mountain Bike Precinct at Hinze Dam, the Lower Beechmont Conservation Area, and Glossy Black Reserve, Reedy Creek.
For riders with a need for speed, private parks are the direct route to shredding hills. Boomerang Farm Bike Park at Mudgeeraba and NV Gravity Bike Park in the Numinbah Valley have speedy descents and pain-free climbs with shuttle lifts to their trailheads.
When mountain bike riding, safety is paramount. Session trails to see if they look right for your skill level, and compatible for your bike type. Always wear a helmet. Consider if you need knee pads, elbow pads and gloves.
I always carry plenty of water, a first aid kit with a snake bandage, my phone, a map (or map app), and even a personal location beacon if I’m going off the grid. Ride with friends or a club for safety and guidance. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Safety sorted? Let’s zoom in on the trails locals love.
Just half an hour from the motorway, NV Gravity Bike Park is a private bike park for riders who want the thrill of exhilarating downhill descents without the slog of riding back to the top. The ascent is taken care off with shuttles.
NV, in the Numinbah Valley, is a friendly and welcoming bike park, with stunning views, while capped booking numbers obliterate queues. NV’s trails are renowned for smoothness, meticulously maintained by Michael Murray and crew, with well-packed dirt sections, grassy table-tops, Astroturf to smooth out transitions, and wooden structures.
While there’s plenty to challenge advanced riders at NV, the Green With Envy trail is wide and amenable to newer riders, but steep enough to send me zooming down the mountain, somehow feeling wild but safe, too. R&B is more demanding with timber structures with a wave section and drop through to a berm, and optional jumps.
“We’re all about progression,” says park owner, Michael Murray. Many of the obstacles can be rolled over, but lend themselves to giving a rider some air when you hit them with speed.
“When a guy comes out with his kid for their first ride, and they have a great time, that’s the best,” says Murray.
NV is open Sundays. Book by messaging Murray through the NV Gravity Park Facebook Group. Take snacks, lunch, and plenty of water for fuel. Most riders wear full-face helmets, though a few of us didn’t. I was grateful for my knee pads, gloves and long pants when I skidded off a corner, though the grassy paddock provided a soft landing.
Boomerang Farm Bike Park at Mudgeeraba is 20 minutes’ drive from Gold Coast central and offers a world-class mountain bike experience for enthusiasts. Boomers, as the park is known, is open from Friday to Monday.
Kimberley Pease and family, visiting from Tasmania, enjoyed the park immensely. “We’re loving it,” says Pease. “It’s got some great tracks. Beautiful.”
Outlook Riders Alliance member Bob Davis showed me around the park, displaying the friendly nature of the riding community.
“There’s camaraderie between riders and community spirit,” says Davis. “Riders befriend you, show you around. There’s diversity of trails, including the dirt jump area and pump track. New features are continually being added,” says Davis.
After riding you can relax with a beer and a bite at The Sapphire Bean café, at the Golf Course next door.
“We’re getting riders of all ages coming to the farm. Very young kids with their parents, up to dinosaurs like me, at 68,” says Davis, humble, while he shreds the trails ahead of me.
“The trails lend themselves to progressing in your abilities. The green trails are wide trails, with table-tops, like Sidewinder and Mini Mega. There are trails to progress on like Medicare, with no gaps. And there are black diamond downhill tracks with difficult technical sections including B lines for riders not as skilled.”
For riders developing their skills, the Lower Beechmont Conservation Area is a great place to start mountain bike riding. The fire trails are wide and packed with fairly solid gravel, in a more simple network than Nerang National Park.
Just minutes outside Nerang, Belliss Road at Clagiraba offers an easy entry into the park. You can set off on a fire trail that takes you down by the creek, with several creek crossings covered with water after rain.
The gravelly road continues up and down the hills, then breaks into a grassy field where my buddy ran over a snake. We hoped the snake survived, but it’s a reminder to watch where you’re riding and carry a snake bandage. We’ve also seen hundreds of butterflies in the fields. It can be worth parking your bike to explore the creek, too.
The trails at Glossy Black Reserve, Reedy Creek are just a few minutes from the motorway. Completed in 2019 these are the Gold Coast’s youngest cross country trails.
Accessible from Kingscrest Drive, Skywatch Park and Bardon Ridge Road, there’s an 8km network of trails rated easy and intermediate, super smooth, and all one way. The fire trails are shared with walkers and runners.
Starting at Kingscrest Drive take Jumpin’ Ant Hill and Lazy Lizard up an ascent of around 70 metres over about 2.5 kilometres, and then ride Rabbit’s Run back down. There really are jumping ants, so watch out for those. Rabbits Run is a very fun and fast downhill ride.
The Peter Hallinan Mountain Bike Precinct at Hinze Dam provides breathtaking views of the lake on the ride to the forest, along 2km of pedestrian friendly dam wall. These trails were built in 2013 and named after Peter Hallinan for his work petitioning for mountain bikers to have access to trails and land resources.
When you reach the trails, the Family Loop provides a short well-signed ride with the option to continue into the more challenging Duncan’s Creek Track, with club race day facilities in the middle. The toilets are only open on club event days. Find more information about the area on the GCMTB Peter Hallinan page.