This mountain bike route starts and finishes in Zeehan, and in between it manages to combine the fun of cycling through a 100 metre tunnel, some great riding along an old tramway line and some dedicate mountain bike trails heading back down into Zeehan (note opening in May 2019).
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.
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.
With some new MTB trails opening in May 2019, the main route described below is a 12 kilometre loop, but more experienced riders could extend this to a 30km loop by including a ride out along the Mt Heemskirk Trail, with the last 9kms being a return ride along the the C249 Highway into Zeehan, so a car shuffle is possible for those who want to avoid the road section.
Another option to extend the ride, shown on the map below, is that once you get back into Zeehan, turn left on Hurst Street and ride out past Zeehan Bush Camp to Parting Creek Lake. The road out follows an old rail line and is very flat and then there's some steep pushing up onto King Hill before following some old trails through an interesting area back into Zeehan. Total extra ride distance is about 6 to 7kms, depending on how much exploring you do.
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 along the foothills of Mt Heemskirk 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.
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 900 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 you will see the official trail head signage for the start of the Spray Tunnel Trail. Head down this trail (the right fork) and just follow the main trail as it climbs it's way up to the Spray Tunnel 1.5kms away.
3.4km from the start you will come to the Spray Tunnel which you will need to ride through. The Spray Tunnel is part of an old railway line, and is great fun to ride or walk through, but it gets deceptively dark in the middle.
Once you've ridden through the tunnel you'll come out into a carpark and for those doing the easier, shorter circuit with young kids this is a great place to have a play and a rest. There's some interpretation signs around the site and an old collapsed mine shaft nearby (on your right once you have gone through the tunnel). Once you've finished here head out on the road coming into the car park (left as you exit the spray tunnel) and head up the road about 100 metres before turning left onto 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.
When you hit the bitumen road (6.8kms from start), 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 in a couple of steep pitches. At the top of the first steep pitch you will come out under the power lines and will be following the maintenance track along these to the top of the hill.
The reward for your efforts at the top 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,most riders will see the new mountain bike trails heading off to their left and can then just follow their nose back down to the road, and from there take a right out to Zeehan and back to their car.
For those wanting to include the Heemskirk Trail, when you get to the highway, turn left instead of right and follow the road up for about 2.3kms, looking for the trail head sign for the Heemskirk Trail 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.