Rugged bush, wide open trails, flocks of Black Cockatoos – this trail is suitable for a family day out or the tribe to enjoy some sunshine and the all important fresh air, exercise and sunshine.
Dharawal is an important National Park, housing many sensitive areas of vegetation and wildlife. Ensure you stay on the designated trails and respect this National Park.
This is essentially a service trail, which makes it ideal for mountain bike riding, especially beginners. The trail takes on a a great long distance ride for the weekend warrior, and not too serious rider. There are also additional management trails that offshoot this trail that can be explored too, just ensure you check the signage – not all are accessible.
The best starting point is on Appin Road where there is a inconspicuous parking area and gated entrance. Please be careful entering and exiting, Appin Road is a dangerous road. Once you get there and unload, you need to lift your bikes over the gate… yep get the guns out here!
The road starts in a Gymea filled landscape on a fine crushed gravel road. This soon turns into a scrubby heath and a coarser red gravel road. This is a little tougher to ride on, it’s a bit slipperier under the wheels for beginners, especially with a bit of speed. The track is a return trail; the way there is a cruisy ride on on light descent, enjoy it while you glide and coast down towards the halfway mark at the gorge.
You know you are reaching the halfway point once you reach the massive descent towards the gorge. Trust me, once you get there – you know you are at the descent, it’s really steep! Well it is for a non-MTB rider at least. You then reach Stokes Creek Gorge which is a perfect spot to chill out, have a bite to eat and even go for a dip if you feel like it. It’s a peaceful spot, abundant in birds, Angophora’s and has some lovely little cascades. The trail does continue from here, but I think to this point is a good distant for a day out, especially with the kids, by this point they are ready to turn around after the break.
To head back, simply turn around and head back the way you came. The ascent back up the hill is hell, so be prepared – let me know if you rode up the hill, I’d be super, super impressed! Once you get up the hill, take your time to recover, have a really good drink and a stretch too. The return trip is not flat, that light coasty cruise on the way there, now turns into a consistent uphill ride. Not big hills, just a constant incline. Throw your gears back, take your time and enjoy the thought of the 30km’s you are going to complete (only 15km’s to go!).
Parking and Transport:
The parking is limited here, but very accessible for multiple cars. Be mindful not to park in front of the gate, or you could expect a fine from the NPWS.
The trail is pretty straight forward, not a great risk of getting lost, basically just remember you are on the 10B trail, so don’t turn off onto the 10C trail etc. In terms of any riding, be prepared. Ensure you have a suitable bike that can handle the trail, no fixies or cruiser bikes. You should always carry spare tubes and repair kits, it’s likely that no one will be on the trail, so if you get a flat – you’re walking out.
You should also carry a medical kit, it’s super easy to have a stack on the gravel, especially if you ride down the gorge. If you are a beginner, wear the appropriate clothing and padding to avoid gravel rash such as knee pads.
There is not a great opportunity for photos, other than the gorge – obviously hard to take photos and ride at the same time!
This is a long trail and would suit a long distance trail run.
What to pack:
- Sunscreen, it’s a really exposed trail
- Wind jacket, it can get chilly
- Medical kit
- Repair kit
- Heaps of water and some food (Camelbak if you have one makes it easier to hydrate on a bike)
Signage and Track Condition:
The signage is pretty good on this trail, all the off roads are also clearly marked including their accessibility. The start of the trail also has an information board and the gates are fully signposted. The track is in good condition, no major potholes and minimal corrugations.
Data & Cellular Coverage:
Google Maps works OK on most of this walk. It will give you a general indication of your location and the direction you are travelling. There is cellular coverage for most of the trail except for the gorge.
This track is great fun for families, in particular it will keep the tweenies and teens occupied with the challenge of the distance. It’s not suitable for smaller children, unless you consider going only partial distance. If you are not a competent rider, don’t consider taking this ride alone. Go with a group of experienced MTB that are happy to take a slower pace and take in the sights.
You will need a moderate fitness level to take on the distance and the inclined ride. For those that aren’t big bike riders like myself, expect a sore butt from the seat, sore legs and if you are also a wussy like me, I grip the handlebars like crazy when I’m going fast so I get sore hands and arms! But, if you are an experienced rider, it should be a piece of cake.
Hiking/Riding Grade: Grade 2
I took a stab at rating this trail, I went for a 2 based on the distance, not too steep for most of the way, but has a steep ascent/decline in one section.
Distance and Time:
The track is a round trip being roughly a 2-3hr ride at a cruise pace. Distance is approximately 30km return.
Pollution/Rubbish Status: Grade 4
Surprisingly, the rubbish on this trail appeared to be commercial rubbish from the trail maintenance crew! Bits of barriers and larger pieces of rubbish that looked like they didn’t clean up after they upgraded a fence or barrier… also, outside the trail gate a large dump of domestic waste…way disappointing. Hopefully council sorted the dump, and the NPWS got onto the inhouse rubbish.
Please ensure you take a garbage bag to collect rubbish if you find any, we suggest collect on the way out and don’t forget to take a photo of your collection and tag us in #bushwalkthegong #cleanupgongsbushland – let’s spread the word that littering in or around our bushland areas is NOT OK!
All dogs (except for assistance dogs), motor bikes and smoking – and alcohol.