Introducing the mega St Helens trail network.
It’s a great time to be a mountain biker in Australia with amazing networks all over the country and plenty more to come. Tasmania needs no introduction as our little island state already packs plenty of punch with Maydena, Derby and Wild Mersey as must do, standalone MTB destinations in their own right, but there is even more great news to come… Imagine an iconic MTB trail starting at the same trailhead as one of Blue Derby’s most iconic trails, the Blue Tier, but instead of heading west to the Weldborough pub, you head east to the internationally acclaimed Bay of Fires. If ending an epic 44km ride on the white sands of Swimcart beach isn’t getting you excited, perhaps the addition of another 66km of stacked loop trails just south of the coastal town St Helens might! That’s right, the region will soon boast a whopping 235km of amazingly varied trails and terrain from the high up in the mountains finishing literally right on the beach! From sky to sea. Add to that idyllic coastal town of St Helens and you now have the perfect base to ride, relax, explore and stay.
“St Helens is one of the most outstanding regions in Australia. Encompassing an amazing stretch of coastline, bright white beaches, sand dunes, rustic red rocks, spectacular ranges with monolith boulders, fern valleys and breathtaking scenery. With the goal of combining all these attributes, our trail builders are currently shaping up a bunch of unique styles and vistas throughout this wildly changing terrain. Our teams have been focusing on shuttle points, town linkages, trail heads, creative airflow and wilderness trails, all within a short ride to cafes, restaurants, hotels, accommodation and services of the famous Northern Tasmanian fishing village. Perhaps best of all, the coastal St Helens network’s close proximity to with award winning Blue Derby network will galvanise these 2 iconic locations in North East Tasmania as one of the premium ride destinations in the world.”
– Glen Jacobs, Director @ World Trail
Okay, so where exactly is St Helens? The town sits on the stunning Georges Bay on Tasmania’s sunny east coast surrounded by mountains, rivers and beaches. Living by the sea with Derby in your backyard, a scenic 66km or 1 hour drive inland it’s already a great place to call home. St Helens is also the largest town on the east coast. In classic Tassie terms that’s a vibrant, relaxed coastal community of around 2000 people.
What does that mean for you my fellow riders and your families? Well, St Helens is already a bustling tourist town in summer. Accommodation ranges from awesome free coastal camping, 2 caravan parks one with purpose built MTB accommodation, hotels, motels, Bay of Fires Eco retreat and a huge range of quality Air B&B’s.
Let’s talk about the trails – what’s on offer? The master craftsmen at World Trail have been busy laying down their signature expertise and we are eagerly awaiting the predicted December 2019 opening. The new St Helens trails are 2 individual networks. A 46km epic point to point wilderness ride starting from the alpine country high in the Blue Tier, plus a 66km stacked loop network just south of town. The new trail head up at the Blue Tier will now access the established Blue Tier wilderness ride down to the iconic Welborough pub and the start of the new Bay of Fires descent trail. This will take you down through moss covered Tassie goblin rainforest to the halfway point at Anson’s Bay road. From here you ride into the dryer eucalypt coastal granite country, with the ride ending at the white sands and aqua waters of Swimcart Beach in the Bay of Fires conservation area. Now you can bust out the boardies and jump in for a refreshing Tassie Coldie! There is great free camping at Swimcart and the surrounding beaches and finishing this ride in a camp chair and Esky on the beach after a swim is pretty unique in MTB.
Will it be e-Bike friendly too? Absolutely, this trail will be a sensational e-Bike destination. There is abundant World Trail descent flow and features but there is also plenty of peddling to be done over the 48 km. This is where E-Bikes really come into their own and keep you grinning from start to finish.
What about shuttles? Yep, you’re all sorted. Local shuttle companies will offer St Helens based shuttles to the Blue Tier trail head. St Helens to the trail head is only 35km getting you on the trail quicker and Swimcart beach is a short 15 minute drive back to town which avoids the drive back to Derby after a long day in the saddle. You could self-shuttle if you are an experienced strong intermediate to advanced mountain biker with competent resources, i.e. First aid kit, bike spares and tools, extra water and food etc. The remoteness and exposure of this ride is not to be taken lightly.
Now the town trails are a different beast entirely. The car park and trail head are approximately 3km from St Helens with a multi-use walk and ride path available if you want to park and ride from town. From the trail head you have multiple options on fun flowy green and blue trails with a separate climbing trail to the top of Loila Tier where the gravity trails and another 27km wilderness trail starts.
Holy moly, that is a lot of trail! Yep, Loila Tier has elevation, steepness and ridiculous views over the coast and the ranges towards the Blue Tier and Derby. This is truly a unique MTB experience, standing up there looking over pristine beaches, mountains, and St Helens town ship. Savour the view because once you drop into these gravity lines your focus will be solely on negotiating another World Trail playground. The stacked loop trails and Bay of Fires Descent are aiming for a November opening all things going well with the exception of the big 27km wilderness loop which should be ready by March.
“This network will be a great e-Bike destination to maximise you’re riding time and cover more riding kms. It’s also very family friendly and offers great progressive trails for all riders’ abilities and fitness.”
What about the climate? Another bonus is the weather. Being up on the north east coast, St Helens is blessed with a sunny mild Mediterranean climate which differs significantly from the rest of Tassie. The dry coastal granite soils drain fast and don’t waterlog, making St Helens a true year-round riding destination. My favourite riding times in Derby are autumn through late spring. No dust, less people and trails are in perfect condition and riding in 15 to 24 degrees is spot on.
Is there a decent bike shop in town? I am also super excited about the new Giant St Helens concept store to be opened mid-October. This partnership with Giant is unique in that we will be a MTB focused store with a large range of 2020 demonstration bikes and e-Bikes for hire to blaze the Derby and St Helens networks with. The shop will offer a tour information desk with friendly local staff to get you pointed in the right direction for your rides plus sales servicing and repairs. The belief that Giant has in St Helens is proof that this area combining with our friends in Derby is a truly unique world class riding destination for all levels of riders, families and budgets.
The positive flow on effects into these small communities from mountain biking is massive. Job creation, better fitness, more outdoor opportunities, grom’s having career pathways never thought of, improved mental health aspects, family bonding through riding together, the list goes on. All this because of the simple pleasure of riding a bike down a mountain, how cool is that!!