The Tasmanian Trail is a 480km, multi-day route from Devonport to Dover that caters for horse riders, mountain bikers and walkers. This is not a wilderness ride, but rather connects together some interesting sections of trail, quiet roads and single-track that give you a glimpse of the quiet country life in Tasmania that most tourists will miss.
I last rode the route (in sections) in late 2010, and despite the excellent efforts of the volunteers who maintain it, the trail was suffering from neglect when it comes to signage and maintenance. However, a good friend recently ran it (January 2013) and told me that there were only two junctions on the entire route which weren't well signed, and that he didn't need my GPS once.
The association also publishes an excellent guide for the trail, but the maps in the guide are ony 1:100,000 scale and can be pretty hard to follow on the ground which is why I put together the route below which shows, as near as possible, the actual route of the trail. This route is 95% from my GPS carried with me on rides and 5% from where I got lost and I've connected the dots when I've got back to my computer.
If you a bit more background on what it's like to ride the trail, including lots of pictures, then feel free to visit my blog site, and look for a menu on the left hand side titled "Tasmanian Trail" (you may need to scroll down a bit). This brings together the various entries from my latest exploration (in day trips) of the trail. You can also view a random selection of pictures taken from my 2010-11 adventures on the trail here.
Tasmanian Trail Summary
The summary below gives a brief overview of each of the sections (as per the official Tasmanain Trail guide) from a mountain biking perspective. It is based on a series of weekend rides over the trail in late 2010 and early 2011.
1. Devonport – Latrobe
All on road, looks like it might be nice alongside river on map, but honestly pretty mundane.
2. Latrobe – Sheffield
Campsite south of Latrobe fairly nice. First off road section not that exciting just south of Latrobe - Slight gradient uphill going North – South, and last bit recently logged with lots of downers (fallen trees) cluttering up track making for lots of lifting and pushing.
On road section along Native Plains Road to Railton, though the really keen could ride adjacent to road under power poles for quite a few kms.
Railton to Sheffield is a nice little rail trail section. If had own transport and just wanted to pick the eyes out of the trail, I’d start at Railton.
3. Sheffield – Gog Ranges
Nice sections of quiet road south of Sheffield, though some steep climbs. Once on Star of West Road be ready for lots of logging operations, though also some really nice riding through pines.
Gorgeous little campsite at Gog Ranges. Hut is now run down and toilet no longer works but right beside river in flat paddock area. Be warned that if this river is in flood it’s a big, big back track to the alternate route, but worth the diversion as the section on the other side of the river is pretty sweet.
4. Gog Ranges – Cluan
I enjoyed section out onto Mole Creek road so much I turned around and did it again (though that was also the only way I could get out as the river was in flood). Plenty of uphill though if travelling north to south.
You’re on the road from here (Detour into Deloraine may be worth it for Woolies Supermarket as last big chance to shop for a long, long way). The mapped section through Montana Falls is now detoured around. You follow Leonards Road the whole way (still a pretty nice section though).
Another short section of off road trail from Lakes Highway to Maroneys Road. This is now a trail bike area so lots of tracks everywhere (feel free to dump your gear and play – I did).
Back on road to Cluan Camp. I didn’t stop here but it looked really uninviting, as in it looked like it had been converted into a motorbike race track.
5. Cluan Ranges to Bracknell
I did this South to North, and had a lovely spin down the hill for kilometre after kilometre … so enjoy the climb :). Once you get to the trop, and head off into the plantation, it’s a nice bit of trail, and worth a few detours to enjoy the views over Liffey valley. Be warned that you’ll hit a gate with lots of warning signs about not proceeding, you need to go past here, and take a track about 50-100 metres on right which will detour you around logging area. Will involve really steep (likely unridable) descent. Follow that GPS route.
Bracknell is a pretty quiet place. If you’ve got supplies from Deloraine, no real reason to head here and shorter detour towards Caves Track might be an option.
6. Bracknell to Arthurs Lake
The top half of the push up Caves Track is a monster, but this is what you came here for. Some lovely riding as well. Hit the track, but know it’s going to be hard. The last section along Arthurs Lake is usually muddy, wet riding. Quite a few tracks, I followed the lakeside, few deep river crossings, but you can’t get lost, just follow the power lines.
Campsite at Arthur’s Lake looked pretty well laid out.
The first time I did the trail I bypassed caves track and cycled up the alternative Poatina road after staying at a backpackers in Poatina. I enjoyed the ride up the hill, so there’s no bad option.
7. Arthurs Lake to Miena
This section has been cold every time I’ve done it. Pleasant first section alongside water race, but don’t expect to get too excited, then it’s gravel road back out to Lake Highway and fast bitumen riding to Miena.
There’s a pub at Miena (never eaten there) and also a very basic shop. Only for the desperate.
8. Miena to Bronte Park
The first section of off road trail shown on the map just south of Little Pine Lagoon appears to have been abandoned. I couldn’t find trail markers into it from either end, and didn’t sound like much fun anyway.
Second section of off trail shown on map (and not advised for cyclists) is a ripper. Hard work, scratchy, lots of bike carrying and some beautiful country. Having said that though, just thundering down the Marlborough Highway (actually a narrow gravel road) is a darn nice ride as well.
Plenty of nice wild places to camp around Pine Tier Lagoon, or head to Bronte Park for backpackers accommodation or more upper class.
9. Bronte Park to Victoria Valley
Some guides show a bit of an off road section, but it’s off limits, so this is just a ride down Malborough Ride, a little section along Bitumen on the Lyell Highway and then quite a cruisy, pleasant ride along Victoria Valley Road to Victoria Valley. Campsite is just a paddock. No reason to stop here as it’s all downhill to Ouse (OK, other than several up hill sections).
10. Victoria Valley to Ouse
Be warned, the GPS track may not be that accurate for this bit as my GPS malfunctioned so it is my best guess to the route. I really liked this section, lot’s of fun downhill, with a really steep descent at the end. There’s not a mountain biker who won’t enjoy this little off road section.
Ouse has a small supermarket with a pretty reasonable selection, but the pubs recently closed down. Also has a nice little take away (nothing spectacular).
11. Ouse to Glenora
This was perhaps my favourite section, but you won’t enjoy it so much as several of the best bits are currently shut due to logging, plus even if you did go in here, what you won’t know is that this section crosses a MTB orienteering map which I had great fun on, but won’t even know about it. Sorry. .
When you get to the turnoff to the Victoria Valley Road you’re actually supposed to cycle down on the dirt track on the other side of the road (if you search you’ll see a marker next to a small gate with a lock on it). I threw my bike over the fence and did this, and ended up getting lost for my effort. Nice climb and views then drop down to dam.
From here the trail is closed and you have to go left around a big detour, the trail (as per my GPS track) goes up through some nice bushland, drops down for a crossing of Broad River then follows some trails back out to Ellendale Road. This is the fun bit if you know where you are.
I haven’t gone over Mt Bethune as when I rang the landholders they wouldn’t let me ride through without taking a key and then returning it which seemed like to much hassle, but at the same time I had to respect their property. Bonus of this is Ellendale has a shop, so got to gorge out.
Section through Meadowbank can be a bit intimidating (lots of no trespassing signs) and on one or two spots you feel like you’re riding through someone’s front yard, but stick to the GPS route and you’ll be fine … I hope. There’s one small section where I actually lost the trail, but I’ve adjusted the route to the correct trail (I hope). All care, no responsibility. Good news is heading North to South even if I’ve got the trail slightly wrong the section in particular is a no brainer.
Not much at Glenora, there’s a small servo/shop at Bushy Park (turn left out of Kenmore Road and go a kilometre or so down the road), but never been in there myself.
12. Glenora to Lachlan
For those just looking for trails, past Glenora there’s not much on offer. The route selected is OK, but really designed for horse riders to keep them off the busier roads. You’ll expend a lot of effort cycling up Black Hills only to drop straight down the other side into New Norfolk wondering why you just did that. So really only for the purists who want to follow the trail, or those who like hills.
A much more pleasant ride is just to turn right at Bushy Park along the B62 and just bee-line it into New Norfolk. For the hungry one’s a detour into the Salmon Ponds for pancakes is a tempting option if you take this detour.
New Norfolk is a pretty decent town: Woolworth’s, Subway, Bakeries etc.
If abandoning the trail here and heading to Hobart, the quickest way is straight alongside the highway to Hobart, but heavily trafficked and not much shoulder in places. Riding along the Northern Side of the river is a much quieter and more pleasant road, the cross at Bridgewater and follow the signed cyclists route which will lead you onto the intercity cycleway and drop you into Town.
A more extreme option is to continue to follow the trail through Lachlan and up over Jeffries Track and then cut off onto the East West Trail which will eventually (after much climbing) bring you around the back of Mt Wellington and onto the bike paths that way. This is a pretty big ride.
13. Lachlan – Judbury
It's a decent ride up from Lachlan, and can get very, very muddy in winter, and unfortunately there's not a huge amount of reward on the other side down to Judbury as the trail has been upgraded from old bush trails to major logging roads over the past few years which robs the trail of some of its beauty.
14. Judbury - Geeveston
When I last did it the trail 2010 this section had been almost completely re-routed from its original course. At the time the route went up Bermuda Road, but I've been told (January 2013) that the course has returned to close to its original route from Judbury back out along She Oak Road and then around to Geeveston. The GPS route still follow my 2010 route (until I can get back down there and follow the new route).
Geeveston has a good take-away and decent IGA supermarket for supplies.
15. Geeveston - Dover
I'm the first to admit that this section won't be to everyone's taste, but I love it. Another section, another hill as soon after leaving Geeveston on the bitumen road you again veer up gravel roads, and then forestry roads and start climbing. There's lots of forestry in these parts, and I'll leave it up to your moral compass how that sits with you, but this isn't a ride through wilderness, and let's leave it at that.
After some fast descending, there's a brilliant 4wd drive track section, before emerging back out onto new blue gravel and back onto gravel roads as you descend (don't take the old turnoff to John's Road) nearly all the way to Dover.
To finish off the ride is one of the steepest and most brutal climbs, or maybe it just got to me because I thought I was home ... however the reward for this is once again a fun slippery descent, with the last few hundred metres through farmers paddocks.
The bakery was closed last time I was down there (Jan 2012), but there was a take away and grocery store at Dover and there is some places to stay down there. You may not have mobile coverage down here unless you have a Telstra phone.