This short ride follows a section of the Tasmanian Trail from Railton to Sheffield and is on an old railway line for most of the way. As such the trail makes for fairly easy riding as it passes through surprisingly pleasant bushland, plantations and farmland.
Railton and Sheffield make great places to explore, as do Sykes Sanctuary and Stoodley Plantation along the way.
The route climbs slightly uphill from Railton to Sheffield, so if doing the return journey it is best to start at Railton so it’s downhill on the way back.
There’s many ways to get to either Railton or Sheffield. The start of the trail in Railton is about 250 metres along Railton Road (B13) heading towards Elizabeth Town.
As this route follows the Tasmanian Trail, you can use the markers as guides along the way.
Head off into the reserve on the Southern side of the road behind the interpretative sign (worth a read). You’ll cross a gravel road after about 700 metres, and pass a signed turn off into Sykes Reserve after another 400 metres (ignore this now, but you might want to come back this way) before the trail becomes a track and drops out onto Sunnyside Ride (1.5km from start).
Turn right here, and follow the road past the main entrance to Sykes Reserve (definitely worth heading back through this reserve on the way back and pondering the monuments within). 400m down this road, turn left down Gambles road.
This road forks after about a kilometre, take the right fork (Goss Road) and follow it out onto the Bass Highway and turn left continuing up the hill. As you get to the top of the hill on the highway (about 400 metres), a trail again heads off to the left which you follow through some beautiful pine plantations.
Again, you’ll emerge out onto a gravel road, go left up this road for a short distance and then turn right and continue following the railway line. There's been a lot of harvesting in this area over the last few years and you'll get to see it up close on your left as you cycle along this otherwise pleasant section of trail before emerging out onto the Bass Highway. Carefully cross the Bass Highway and continue up the gravel road in front of you. You are in Stoodley Plantation through here and for those with the time it can be a fun place to explore and have a break.
The section of the trail from here to Sheffield goes around and through farmland, the trail is easy to follow and makes lovely riding. There are a few gates which need to be opened and shut, and there’s one fence where you’ll see a sign on your right saying “Danger Rifle Range No Entry” with a Tasmanian Trail sign on the left telling you to actually enter. Continue straight ahead on the path you’re on with the little dam on your left. This is the trail.
The trail goes through one last gate and drops out onto Johnson Street from where it is another 1.5kms along the road into the centre of Sheffield (turn right at the end of Johnson Street). Once you’ve had a look around, turn around and retrace your route back to Railton.
You could return to Railton via the road, but be aware that it is further with a lot more climbing.
The Tasmanian Trail guide provides coverage of this route, as does the excellent Rail Trails website and guide.
Sheffield and Railton both provide plenty of amusement that don’t need my explanation.
For those looking for some more challenging rides in the area, there is apparently an excellent private series of bike trails off Stubbs Road near Devonport, or the section of Tasmanian Trail around the Mersey River provides for some great riding.