The Meehan Ranges on the outskirts of Hobart have much more to offer than just the Clarence Mountain Bike Park and Stringy Bark Gully. Starting at the end of Belbins Road there is a complex network of tracks and trails heading up over the Meehan Ranges which make a great playground for beginner through to advanced riders. There's so much trail work going on up here at the moment for the Meehan Monster that these notes are dating on a weekly basis. The best way to discover these trails is with someone who already knows them, or just download the GPX files and go exploring. The Hobart MTB Rides facebook group is another great group to find some riding buddies.
To get here from Hobart, head over the Tasman Bridge and follow the A3 as though going to the airport. 6.5kms after driving off the bridge you'll see signs for an off ramp towards Richmond and Cambridge. Take this exit and 300 metres after you turn off the highway you'll see the well signed turnoff onto Belbins Road to your left. Follow this road 300 metres to the end and park somewhere around the roundabout, making sure you don't block the road.
If coming from the Sorell or Richmond direction then follow the highway signs to Cambridge and then from the Richmond Road junction in Cambridge (across from the BP) follow the B31 towards Hobart for 2.1kms. The main road swings left and goes under the highway, but you want to turn right here (don't go under the highway) onto the well signed Belbins Roadand again follow this 300 metres until the end.
There are no facilities at the park. The nearest services are back in Cambridge.
The map at the bottom of the page (which you can also download to Google Earth) shows most of the firetrails (orange) and single track (red) in the ranges, although I have left out some sections of old track which you'll still see on the ground but which are now being abandoned in favour of better lines. In essence Meehan Ranges is a great place for a short one hour ride or you could spend the better part of a day exploring all these trails.
The route described will just show you some of the better parts, after that it's up to you.
There are a lot of trails built in this area and the quality really varies, so you need to be careful and expect the unexpected in terms of what may be around the next corner. By way of example I was riding around some switchbacks here just before I wrote these notes and the side of the track just disappeared out from under my front wheel and I was flying over my handlebars before I even knew what happened. On inspection the track had very soft edges and had just collapsed.
Also many of the trails in the area are steep and technical. While riders with strong technical skills will enjoy these tracks, beginner and intermediate riders may find themselves pushing up, and in some cases down, many sections of these trails.
Finally, dogs and horses are allowed in this area, so ride like you might find one around the next corner.
There are several options for getting up out of Stringy Bark Gully, but nowadays the go to trail is the purpose built Hobden's Link and Golden Hill track which allow you to pretty much ride all the way to the top and enjoy the full ridgeline circuit.
To get onto these trails, enter the area from the Belbins Road carpark by going past the white boom gate. You come almost immediately to a Y junction and need to take the right hand fork which runs slightly downhill for 250 metres before coming out in an open area. Find the obvious fire trail at the far side of this open area that heads down to your right and across a creek. Almost immediately you'll see a track heading off on your right (ignore it) but then head down the single track you'll see heading off on your right almost straigth afterwards (about 30 metres from the creek, no more). This is a fantastic bit of new singletrack that has just been finished (July 2014) for the Meehan Monster.
Once on this single track, you should be able to pretty much follow your nose as it twists and turns for about 800 metres before crossing a track and continuing on as it switchbacks its way up the hill. Be carefull over this next bit as there has been a lot of tack rerouting and it is possible to find yourself on the wrong track. About 2.5kms from the car park you'll cross a large fire trail onto a small track which runs around the hill. You only follow this track for just under 300 metres until you see another obvious single track heading off to your left. Jump onto this and follow it as it climbs around the side of the hill. At about 3.6kms from you car, the track comes back out near the firetrail, but you want to continue along the single track which takes you on a loop out along a spur to Golden Hill for about 800 metres and then straight back again along a lovely track dropping you out about 50 metres further up the gravel track having covered a total of about 1.6kms (5.1kms from the start).
You need to turn right on this gravel track and slog up the hill for about 300 metres, where the track will start to flatten out. You'll see an obvious single track trailhead on your left. This is the top of the wedge rock downhill track (a great ride but with a few tricky bits).
A further 20 metres on you will come to a fairly major junction (5.4kms). The track heading down to your left is a firetrail which if you follow it will take you back down to where you started from. There are better rides than this one, but it can be fun for a change.
Continuing along around the main fire trail another 900 metres (6.3kms) you will come to the top of a small hill with a couple of non-descript tracks heading off to your right within 20 meters of each other.
Head down the first of these two tracks (or if you miss it go down the second and then just go straight ahead) following it as goes left and turns into a wonderful singletrack loop of approximately 1.5kms which will actually bring you back to near where you are now before turning off onto a fun section with a few log challenges until it drops you once again onto the firetrail (8.3kms).
Turn right and continue down the firetrail for 200 metres where you'll find yourself at the bottom of a very steep hill going back up again (8.5kms). If you keep your eyes out on the left of the trail you'll see a non-descript single track heading down to your left. This is the top of the newly constructed MTB track which will drop you down into Stringy Bark Gully. It is an excellent option for those with tired legs looking for a fun run back to their car.
Otherwise, push (I mean ride) up the short steep hill on the main trail, and then follow the track as it goes around to the left ignoring several (four or five depending on how you count them) tracks which head off to your right over the next 2kms. You will pass a blue park sign on your left during these 2kms and then at 9.8kms you'll pass a fire trail heading off to your left. Continue ahead (you'll be heading uphill) another 200 metres keeping an eye out for the start of the new clifftop singletrail on your right approximately 10kms from the start.
Jump onto this trail and enjoy this wonderful little track which runs right across the top of the cliffs before re-emerging onto a track 0.9kms from where you turned off. From this point turn left and it's 100 metres back onto the main meehan ranges fire trail. Turn right here and it's 400 metres to the top of the descent down into Clarence MTB Park (11.4kms).
The actual track you want to take down into Clarence MTB park is the sort of track you'll look down and do "No, that isn't it" as it looks like a very steep rocky fire trail. There are a number of small cairns and arrows pointing down this track, and worst case scenario if you miss it you'll come out in someone's back yard (still at the top of the ranges) and have to turn around and head back about 700 metres to this junction.
Heading down this rocky firetrail, you'll quickly come out onto a junction (about 150 metres). Going straight ahead will drop you out onto the Downhill Track (not shown on the map). The XC track goes left. Dirt Art are currently building a link track up to this point (most of which is shown in the map above) so keep your eyes out for where you can jump onto this trail.
Once in the Clarence MTB Park, you can just follow the track notes there to get back around the hill to Belbins Car Park.