GETTING THEREThis ride starts in Derby in North East Tasmania. It is about four hours drive from Hobart (assuming a coffee stop or two) or a bit over an hour and a half from Launceston.
To get there, unless coming from the east coast, head to Scottsdale, and from there get onto the Tasman Highway (A3) heading towards the East Coast (you should see signs to either or all of St Helens, Derby or Scamander if you're going the right way). It is 32kms from Scottsdale to Derby (about 30 minutes drive).
As you come into Derby look out for the kids playground and a brightly coloured toilet block on your left just before you get to the tennis courts. There is a "Visitor Information" sign on the road pointing into the car park where you want to stop. Just park anywhere near the Public Toilets and get yourself ready to ride.
FACILITIESThere is a public toilet and picnic shelter where you park your car. There are also a few cafes, a pub, service station and small corner store in Derby. There are no other facilities anywhere else on the route.
ROUTE OPTIONSThese trail notes describe the pre "Blue Derby" trails route. It would make more sense nowadays to follow the Blue Derby network out of Derby (Axehead - Long Shadows - Dambusters) up until the top of the dam (where you cross Myrtle Bridge) and then instead of following Dambusters around, continue up the trail joining these trail notes approximately 8kms in. Similarly on the way down it would now make a lot more sense when you get to the quarry at the 24.9km mark to just follow the Atlas trail back down to Derby.
WARNINGSThis is a remote area ride with some very technical sections, limited phone coverage, and you may not see another person all day, so make sure you are self sufficient in terms of safety gear, food etc. and always let "someone who cares" know where you are and when they should be worried if you're not back.
ROUTE DETAILSThis route is best ridden in an anti-clockwise direction, and due to the large number of junctions if you don't already know the area, I'd really recommend downloading and taking the GPS route on a smart phone or GPS device to let you spend more time enjoying the ride, and less time checking directions.
From the car park, head out onto the road and turn left heading towards the centre of town. Approximately 1km along this road turn right up Krushka Street (at the Derby Town Hall) and follow this bitumen road around to the left onto Cascade Dam Road (unsigned).
300 metres from the town hall you will come to a Y junction where you need to take the right (upper) fork as it continues up the hill.
2.7kms from the start of the ride you will come to another junction where you went to continue straight ahead (up the left fork). This was signed to the Cascade Dam with Blue Dragon bicycle signs on it last time I headed up this way. 5.2kms from the start, after a short downhill section you will come to a track heading off to your right just before coming out at Cascade Dam. Turn up this track and enjoy the ride.
Detour option: it can be worth the short ride down to Cascade Dam if you've not been here before.
Follow this track for 4.5kms ignoring a turn off to your left at 9.5kms. However 300 metres past this junction (9.8kms) you need to take a sharp left onto another gravel road (Carnac Road, unsigned). Follow this road for another 1.8kms until you come to yet another junction (11.6km) where you turn right to head up another gravel road (Brittania Road), then 500 metres along this road (12.1kms) turn left onto an intersecting road and head up through a pine plantation. 13.6kms from the start you will emerge from the pine plantation with a young eucalypt plantation on your left.
Detour option: There is a really worthwhile 1.2km out and back detour here if you've got the legs (or want a nice place for a rest). Instead of just continuing straight up the road, turn left onto the fire trail running around the eucalypt plantation and follow this trail for around 350metres until you see another small track heading off to your left (there is a red arrow on a tree pointing down this track). Head down here and almost instantly you will see an old dam wall on your left. follow the track another 250 metres down to the bottom of this dam and have an explore. You can walk through the dam wall and the little creek below is a lovely spot for a rest break. There is also an interprative sign which gives the history of the dam on the track below the dam. When you've finished, just retrace your steps and continue upwards. There are some photos below if you want to see what the dam looks like.
14kms from the start (assuming no detour) you will come out onto Mount Paris Dam Road where you need to turn left and head down the hill for a brief 200 metres before turning right onto another road which you will follow upwards, ever upwards.
15.5kms from the start you will come to another junction, take the left fork and again at 16.5kms ignore the track heading off to the right and just continue straight ahead. The track starts getting a bit rougher and funner. 19.7kms from the start (you're getting very close to the top) the trail again forks, but both forks end up at the same place so your choice and then finally 20.8kms from the start you'll come out at the trig point on top of Rattlers Hill. take the time to enjoy it.
After having a look around continue along the track and down the hill. You're about to lose a lot of height really quickly. 21.5kms from the start you'll pass a fairly recent (2011) harvest operation which marks the start of very rough and steep section. Respect this short descent which (at 22.2kms from the start) will drop you out onto another gravel road. Turn right on this road and then immediately turn left down another trail where the downhill fun continues. 23.3kms from the start you'll cross a broken bridge (be careful) and then 100 metres later you'll come to a nice place for a break and a two minute stroll to a nice little dam. This is a good place for a rest stop if it was too wet and cold up top of Rattlers Hill.
Continue down the road, turning right 23.5kms from the start to head up a grassy track just around the corner from dam. Follow this lovely little track around through a pine plantation and then back out onto Mt Paris Dam Roam (24.9kms from the start).
Head straight across this road and proceed into the quarry. You basically need to head straight through the quarry (if you're lucky you'll be able to follow the route of other cyclists) and jump onto a trail at the back of the quarry that continues heading up hill in the direction you're going. You might need to do a bit of hunting around.
Once on this track (25.0kms) continue on a bit of a climb for 900 metres (25.9kms) to a junction and take the track that runs around to the right, 100 metres later at another junction again continue on the track to the right. Continue along this track for another 1.2kms (you'll be heading down again by this point), then take the left fork (27.2kms) as you continue down the hill. At 28.3kms from the start there is a sharp right turn, which signals the start of a gorgeous, but short technical and steep section which drops you out into Union Jack Creek (29.8kms). This creek is usually not ridable.
Cross the creek and enjoy the next section of trail through another pine plantation, emerging out onto Mutual Road (30.4kms). I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's time to head up again. Turn right onto this road and follow it 1.8kms (32.2km) to a T Junction where you turn left and continue your ascent. 600 metres down this road (32.8kms) continue straight ahead, ignore the track coming in on the left.
At 33.3kms you'll come to another junction where you go right and follow main road around. Around 35kms from the start you will finally finish this climb and four hundred metres later (35.4kms) you'll comt to another T junction, where you turn left and head back down the hill. At 36.3kms take the right junction and follow this road for another 1.1kms to the end (37.4kms).
At this point jump onto the single track that heads off on your left. This singletrack, whilst technical, can be either brilliant riding or an exercise in extreme frustration if no one has been down it for a while, but either way you'll follow it from 1.6kms until you emerge at a creek head (39.0kms) where you jump onto a farm track and continue straight ahead.
40.3kms from the start you will have the somewhat surreal experience of passing through a farmers yard (according to TheList this is a public throughway) and thenonce through yards, turn right onto the gravel road (40.4kms) and follow this road out towards highway.
You'll come at at a four way junction, just next to the highway, 41.2kms from the start, turn left here and then turn almost immediately right onto another gravel road past the Chinese cemetery. Three hundred metres down this road you come to a fork (41.5kms) just go straight ahead (ignore the left fork) and continue on around the gravel road for just over another kilometre (42.6km) where the fairly good gravel road merges into a rougher trail. The main route ahead is fairly obvious so just follow it down and then around to the left. You'll now find yourself riding along a nice bush track with the river off to your right. Follow this trail for the next 2kms and then just before the tracks descends down to the river you'll see another track heading off to your left (44.7km). Jump onto this and enjoy a fun, but sometimes tricky, section of trail and singletrack alongside the river.
You'll eventually emerge out on a gravel road again at 47.8kms from the start and just continue straight ahead on this road for another 500 metres until it emerges at a T junction (48.3kms) with another gravel road. Turn right onto this road and follow it around and across a large bridge (48.7kms) and then settle in for the last climb of the day up Mutual Road (only 70m altitude gain over 2kms). 51.4kms from the start you will come back out onto the highway (A3) where you just turn left and head back down towards where you left your car at Derby (53.1kms).