Zeehan and Mt Heemskirk Loop

Zeehan and Mt Heemskirk Loop

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Zeehan and Mt Heemskirk Loop

Key Statistics

Distance
30 km
Duration
Single Day
Time (hrs)
3-5 hrs
Total Ascent (m)
650
Last Visited
September 10, 2011
Land Tenure
  • State Forest (Forestry Tasmania)
  • Regional Reserve

Location

This mountain bike route starts and finishes in Zeehan, and in between it manages to combine the fun of cycling a  100 metre tunnel, some great riding along an old tramway line and some awesome, though technical, riding out along old gravel 4WD trails along the foothills of  Mt Heemskirk.   Experienced riders will love the challenge this route provides, however even moderate riders who are prepared to walk a few sections will really enjoy this ride.

GETTING THERE

You can start the ride anywhere in Zeehan, though I'd suggest parking your car in Frederick Street, next to the public toilets at Howard's Park.

FACILITIES

There's public toilets in Howard's Park, and although a quiet place, Zeehan has a well stocked IGA supermarket as you come into town and a couple of take aways.  It also has a hotel and camping ground, the latter of which I can personally recommend.

ROUTE OPTIONS

The main route is about 30km, with the last 9kms being a return ride along the the C249 Highway into Zeehan, so a car shuffle is possible (or a much harder out and back) for those who want to avoid the road section.

For riders looking for an easier family ride, you could just head out to the Spray Tunnel and out along the old tramway line, either turning around when you reach the mine site at the end of the tramway (7km from start) and retracing your route or  instead of turning off the Trial Harbour road (C248) onto the gravel track at 8.4km from the start, you can just continue along the road (it's mainly downhill from here) back into Zeehan making a loop of just over 12kms.

WARNINGS

This route is in a remote and exposed region.  The weather conditions can change very quickly, and it can get bitterly wet and cold very quickly.  Although you're never actually very far from a major road, the gravel sections in particular are very technical due to trail debris, washouts, sharp drops, deep puddles and sticky mud.  Only do this trail if all of that sounds like fun and you're prepared for it.

Also be aware that (I am told) there are some old mines near these trails - so watch where you tread if you head off track.

Finally, it is wise to take bike lights or a torch for getting through the Spray Tunnel.  At a pinch I have ridden through both wihtout a light and just using my iphone torch, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend either of those options.

ROUTE DETAILS

Starting out from Howards Park, turn left down the main street and cycle out of Zeehan towards Corinna.  Just as you leave the town (about 800m from the Park) turn left down a bitumen road following a small sign pointing towards the golf course. 

After following this road for about 700 metres  you will enter the golf course and you'll pass the club house on your left.  200m past the club house you come to a junction, and there is a "No Entry" sign in front of you, turn left at this junction and follow the track that starts sidling gently up and around Manganese Hill.

3.8km from the start you will drop down into a car park at the Spray Tunnel, though keep your eye out for a rough track on your right as you start descending to the car park as this is where you will return to after exploring the tunnel.

The Spray Tunnel is part of an old railway line, and is great fun to ride or walk through.  There's some interpretation signs around the site and an old collapsed mine shaft nearby. For those doing the easier, shorter circuit with young kids this is a great place to have a play and a rest.

Once you've finished here, retrace your steps about 100metres back up the road and turn left up a rough track which loops around onto an old tramway line that crosses over the spray tunnel.   The next 3kms of riding follows this old tramway line and it's relatively easy riding with lots of big puddles to ride through.  The last 600 metres of this line run through a mine site, so be careful as you ride through here and out onto the bitumen road.

Turn right and follow this road for an easy 1.2km before turning off onto a white gravel road that heads off to the left.  This gravel road pretty is easy riding initially, but soon starts heading uphill and you'll gain about 100 metres in height over the next kilometre, and you'll do it in a few steep pitches. 

The reward for your efforts is your first real chance to appreciate the wide open plains out towards Mt Heemskirk (as well as your first views of the trail ahead).  Once at the top of the hill, continue down the other side, being aware that the descent is steep in places with some deceptive drops and lots of loose rocks.  In short it's great fun for experienced rides, but less experienced riders should proceed with caution.  There's a T junction after the first steep descent where you need to turn left and then just follow your nose for the next 1.4kms out onto Heemskirk Road.

Turn left onto this road and follow it for about 800m, looking for an indistinct track that again heads off to the left.  This track backtracks parallel to the road you've just come along for about 50 metres before heading up and out into the button grass plains.  This section of track makes for tough but great riding as it climbs and drops through a few creeks and deep, long puddles, before getting a bit more serious about the climb as it heads up into the foothills.

After cresting the top about 4.5kms from the road, your efforts are rewarded with 3kms of delicious, mainly downhill, riding back out onto the highway about 20.4km from the start.  Be aware that some of those puddles have mud in them like super glue.

Those with the legs and the time might be sorely tempted to retrace their tracks back over the route just ridden, but most will be content to turn right and ride the final 9kms back to Zeehan along the highway.  The ride back is undulating, but the road is fairly lightly trafficked.

Photos

Attachments

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  • Zeehan - Heemskirk Loop (GPX)
    For download onto smart phones or GPS devices.
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  • Zeehan - Heemskirk Loop (KML)
    For viewing the route in Google Earth.
    24 KB
    kml
    38

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3.5
Fun factor 
 
3.5
Technical challenge 
 
4.0
Scenic/cultural/historical value 
 
3.0
Overall rating 
 
3.5

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Overall rating 
 
5.0
Fun factor 
 
4.5
Technical challenge 
 
3.5
Scenic/cultural/historical value 
 
3.5
Overall rating 
 
5.0

Mountain climbs and sweet descents

One of my favourite tracks in Tasmania. The ride through the spray tunnel is a spooky experience without lights, and well worth the short trip from Zeehan. But the real highlight was the Heemskirk foothills. Once you get up into the hills, it's endless buttongrass as far as you can see, with the white snake of quartzite trail cutting through the hills into the distance. The track is a series of short but sharp climbs, punctuated by some very fast downhill runs. A whole lot of fun! The track seems to stay in pretty good condition because of the quartz base. The hardest bit was finding the start of the track from the highway - make sure you have the GPS with you! Once on the track, it's very easy to follow! A couple of small muddy patches in summer, it could get very wet in places after a good rain, though.

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