Located only 15km from the centre of Adelaide, Belair National Park provides a range of wonderful cycling opportunities. Whether you are looking for an easy cruise with the family, hitting the trails on your mountain bike or a training ride on your road bike, Belair has you covered. Whilst you could walk any of these trails, why walk when you can ride?
The Park is readily accessed by bike, or if you live further away, you can drive and park or catch the train up (trains will be running again later in 2013). If you do drive, you can park just before the boom gates, as cars are charged an entry fee whilst bike entry is free. If you have roof mounted bike racks and you do decide to bring your bikes further into the park be sure to take the left lane and avoid ruining your day by wiping your beloved bikes off the roof of your car.
A map of the trails can be downloaded here, and is also displayed at the major trail heads.
For those who like to stick to the bitumen, a nice route commences at the main park entrance off Upper Sturt Road and heads up past Long Gully to Karka Pavilion along Valley Road. This is still one of my favourite short rides, with a gentle gradient, lovely scenery and almost no traffic during the week. If you are just learning to ride or getting used to clipless pedals (cleats) this is a great spot to ride. Be aware cars can use this road and it can be busy on weekends. It also pays to look out for the local wildlife including kangaroos, koalas and emus.
This route is approximately 8 km return. You can continue on past Karka Pavilion to extend the ride but be prepared for some hard climbing with the gradient exceeding 10%. If you do continue on you can pick up Upper Sturt Road and head out of the park onto Stirling or Mylor. A variation within the Park on the return is to take the turn to Playford Lake (Sir Edwin Avenue) and exit over the old railway bridge next to Belair railway station onto Sheoak Road.
If mountain biking is more your style, you can hit a variety of shared use dirt trails within the Park. These are all detailed on the trails map, as is a code of use for trail users. Remember to give way, and be courteous to, walkers and horse riders.
I love these trails, they are so close to the centre of Adelaide but you are quickly immersed in high quality Australian bushland. The trails are not technically difficult but, depending on your chosen route, can be quite steep and may test your fitness. All part of the fun. For the most part, the shared use trails, approved for bikes, are 4WD fire trails.
My favourite loop can be picked up from either the Upper Sturt Road main entrance or from the Sheoak Road shared use entrance near the Belair Railway Station. Either way, get onto the Echo Track to the Plant Nursery and Old Government House. From there start a steady climb on the dirt Queen Jubilee Drive up to the Yulti Wirra Track. Turn off on your left. This takes you past the Upper Waterfall.
The waterfall is often running through winter and is just beautiful. If you leave your bike and walk about 50m there is a viewing platform rewarding you with a great view across the hills to the Adelaide Plains. Keep following the Yulti Wirra Track around past a water tank and onto Tilti Track where it meets up with Queen Jubilee Drive to complete the loop. A fast roll down back past the Old Government House takes you back to the park entrance.
Of course, no bike ride is complete without a coffee. If you want to stay within the Park and soak up your daily dose of nature, you can visit the on site coffee and icecream van at the Adventure Playground. Alternatively, if you exit over the old railway bridge, near the Belair Railway station, you can get a great latte at the cycle friendly Sheoak Cafe on the corner of Sheoak, James and Upper Sturt Road.
So if you love riding but want to do it away from traffic and in a natural bush setting, head for the Belair National Park.
For a detailed map and further information on Belair National Park visit this website.