The Clarence Mountain bike park is less than 10 minutes by car out of Hobart and has largely become part of the greater Meehan Ranges trail network. It is however still a worthy place to come and ride by itself with the 7km cross country trail providing a superb challenge for fit-intermediate riders and above. For the rest of us mere mortals this park contains switchbacks that are sharp, steep and fairly unforgiving. If you’re not sure of your skills I’d recommend the Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park over Clarence, but if you’re up for the challenge … well here it is.
By car, head out of Hobart over the Tasman Bridge towards the airport. About 3.5kms from the bridge, exit left onto the B33 which is signed towards Mornington / Warrane. As you exit the highway get into the right lane. The Mountain Bike Car Park is on your right (the big open gravel area, surrounded by large stones) as you come off this exit. To get into the car park, turn right into Flagstaff Gully Road and then there’s an entrance into the carpark about 30 metres down the road.
By bike, the easiest way to get here would be to follow the recommended Hobart Airport Cycling Route out from the CBD until you get to the busy roundabout where you exit towards Mt Rumney / Cambridge to get to the airport. Instead of doing this, go left at this roundabout across the overpass (you’re on flagstaff gully road) and as you come off the overpass you’ll see the car park in front of you to your right.
The cross country track is one big loop and is generally ridden in a clockwise direction. For beginner riders attempting this track I’d recommend skipping the first section of track near the beginning as it is quite technical (though it has been greatly improved). Fortunatley the new section can be bypassed, so if you’re keen to give it a try, I ‘d suggest ride the old section of track first and then if you found that easy enough, head up and try the new section. I’ve written the track notes to explain how to do this.
Please don’t underestimate this trail.
From the car park, go past the gate and follow the obvious gravel trail (heading east) parallel to the highway. Less than 100 metres from the metal entrance gate you’ll see a single track head off on the left, jump onto this and follow it for about 50 metres until it drops you back out onto the gravel road (it was just a short cut).
Don’t continue on the single track on the other side of the road (that’s the way you’ll come back). Instead, turn left onto the gravel road and follow it for another 600 metres until you’ll emerge out into an open area near the monster bridge. You’ll see a set of dirt jumps in front of you on your left and up on the hill on your right you should a couple of flat areas where buildings used to be and also plenty of single track wending its way up the hill.
The cross country trail heads up the gully between the dirt jumps (on your left) and the open area (on your right). You’ll know you’ve gone the right way if you have the (usually dry) creek on your right and you find yourself climbing some switchbacks after about a hundred metres.
OK, this is the new, and hardest, section of the cross country course. If you follow this, you will gain nearly 100 metres in altitude in just 1.6kms on some tough track , and then you’ll plunge down and lose all of this height in about 500 metres. I would seriously only recommend this section for stronger intermediate riders. For all other riders, keep your eyes open on your right at about the second switchback and you’ll see a cutoff that drops down into the creek essentially bypassing this new section. As I say in the route options, on your first ride through the park, I’d recommend doing the rest of the course first then coming back to this new section if you found the rest well within your skills.
Either way, after either skipping or completing the new section, follow the track back down the gully on the other side of the dry creek, and then follow it as it switchbacks its way back up the little hill across the top of the open area and then follow the track straight ahead out onto the cross country loop (if you miss this don’t worry, you’ll just switchback down a couple of turns and realise your mistake).
Once on this bigger loop, just follow the track as it wends its way up and down and around and around for another 1.8kms. Just past a big tree stump you’ll drop off onto a track that heads both left and right. If you head left you’ll climb up and be overlooking the highway after about 100 metres and if you continue on you’ll drop down into Belbins Road and all of the tracks over there. However, the route turns right and provides a fast, fun ride all the way back down to the dirt jumps site. Keep you eyes out for little single track diversions on the way down when you get near the gravel road, but don’t get too stressed about missing options… Just go back and do it again.
As you come back into the open area (it will be on your right), you’ll be on a gravel road. If you’re ready to leave, just follow this track straight ahead as it peters out into a single track and drops sharply off to the left towards the highway, then curves quickly around to the right following the highway back towards Hobart. You should just be able to follow this track all the way back to the carpark, however if you’re keen to have another lap around either the new or old section of the cross country route, then go from here, and leave this for when you’re ready to go back to the car.