This is the second edition of mountain biking via public transport. If you missed the first post on Sydney’s North click here.
Royal National Park – Loftus
The trails of the Royal National Park are primarily known for long scenic fire trails and beginner friendly, busy single tracks. The trails just outside of the park boundary though, are for the more experienced rider. Fun, rocky, steep in some areas but flowy through some of Australia’s prettiest bushland. Be prepared to get your feet a little wet thanks to the multiple creek crossings. There are multiple loops that you can do multiple lines to find but you can’t go wrong once you’ve found tracks such as Holy Trail, Logarithm and many more.
How to get there
Due to the straightforwardness of the journey, the single tracks of Royal National Park out of Loftus Oval are my go-to trails via public transport. The trailhead is an easy 5-7 minute ride from Sutherland station or an even easier ride from Loftus station. Trains to Sutherland are more frequent and is on the express route, getting you to Sutherland from Central in less than 40 minutes.
Depending on what time of day you are there, the traffic is pretty busy on the short stretch of road between either station and the National Park boundary. There is a decent shoulder/ marked bicycle lane leading out of Sutherland town centre, just watch out when it narrows and when crossing the multi-lane Princes Highway.
Once you’ve crossed the highway at the lights, duck straight into single tracks at the highway make a left at the first single track junction left to get you on the trail network. Make a right to make your way to Loftus oval, meet friends and start your ride by crossing the old tram tracks.
- Large trail network, very close to fast public transport.
- Break up the already short on road ride from the station with a fun loop of the mountain bike criterion track at Waratah Oval.
- The trails and proper loop do take a bit of time to find, so always good with a local guide or if you’re not in a hurry
- Prone to wet weather damage, so give the trails a bit of time after a period of rain
I apologize for not giving too much detail on these trails due to their current status. However, I wanted to share a little bit on them, as these trails are my favourite trail network in the Sydney area. If you are able to be discreet, do get in touch with local mountain bikers if you are keen to explore.
What to expect? There are multiple levels of narrow, off camber single track on a small section of hillside, much like a Donkey Kong display. You could be riding on top of another group of riders and not even know it. Flowy fun with plenty of natural features utilized (boulders, mini waterfalls!), integrated man made features, such as wooden bridges everywhere and fun jumps. There is a bit of steep climbing to put together a satisfying loop, but satisfied you will be!
How to get there (kinda)
You can make these trails part of a bigger ride starting from Loftus. But if you’re short on time or not feeling up to a bigger ride, it’s a ten to fifteen minute ride or so from Engadine station, through Engadine’s shopping district. Be warned that there are one or two climbs from the trailhead back to the train station.
We owe the local trail fairies (main man Mr Mooney) a lot for these trails. You’ll probably run into the main man himself, as you ride through his backyard to access the trailhead. Say hello, have a chat as he will usually enthusiastically wish you a fun ride and share any new developments on the trails.
- Bikes are now free on trains, with the use of your Opal card. But please, still be mindful of the realities of Sydney’s public transport. Avoid peak times as best possible. Carriages toward the tail ends of the train are always the quietest. Position your bike in the least disruptive position possible. In the standing space of the carriage, away from the steps leading up to bottom and upper levels are best. If there is plenty of room, you can have a seat and have the bike angled from the door toward you. You’ll get a seat; your bike is mostly out of the way of other passengers and still leaving plenty of seating for others. Also be prepared to move quickly to find a suitable carriage for you and your bike. But don’t run. Mostly, be alert, aware and considerate. And write to Sydney Trains to put in more bike racks on trains!
- Bring a change of clothing. You would do this after a big muddy ride when getting into your car, so don’t forget to do the same before getting on public transport.
- Don’t forget your commuting lights, especially if you’re riding home in the dark. Easy to do when you’re used to chucking your mountain bike in the back of a car at the end of a ride.
- More links and resources on my first post on mountain biking via public transport