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Cycling in Wirrabara Forest

Home > Adelaide > Nature | Family | Escape the City | Cycling
by Paul Gould (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer addicted to cycling and coffee.
Published May 12th 2013
Update February 18th 2014
The Wirrabara Forest is closed to all visitors for safety reasons, following the recent Bangor Fire. For more information and maps, visit www.forestrysa.com.au. The forest will reopen in due course.

Discover Wirrabara Forest and the mighty King Tree
Wirrabara Forest, King Tree, red gum
The King Tree in Wirrabara Forest. Wife and bike included for scale.


Discover Wirrabara Forest, just 3 hours north of Adelaide. To start your adventure head to the Forest Headquarters 9 km from Wirrabara along Forest Road and 30 minutes south of Melrose.

Wirrabara Forest
Google Maps image of Wirrabara Forest, showing Forest Circuit trail.


This public forest reserve is a mixture of native woodland, pine plantation and eucalyptus plantings.The forest is scenic and peaceful with an abundance of native bird life. It is an ideal place to spend a day or camp for a few days.

Wirrabara Forest, Forestry
Wirrabara Forest Headquarters. For the Forest circuit you can park here and pick up a map,


Mountain biking is a great way to explore the forest whilst getting the heart rate up and having some fun. The Wirrabara Forest offers a variety of trails for your riding pleasure. On our recent visit we chose the Forest Circuit. You can pick up a hard copy map from the Forest Headquarters or download a copy from Forestry SA. Of course you could walk the trails but why walk when you can ride.

Wirrabara Forest, trail, mountain bike
Signage along the trail is frequent and clear.


The Forest Circuit was very well marked with marker posts at frequent intervals and a track junctions. This was a good thing as the track had been little used when we rode it and would have otherwise been hard to find at times. This may have been as we rode just after the end of summer when there are fewer visitors about.

Wirrabara Forest, trail, mountain bike
Trail head for the Forest Circuit and other trails by the main picnic area just west of the Headquarters.


The ride commences from the main picnic area just west of the headquarters through a little gate. Along the trail there are interpretive signs but most of these were illegible having faded over time. If some keen individual or group out there is looking for a project then reinstating the interpretive signage would be a useful one.

Wirrabara Forest
Relics from the timber cutting days.


Wirrabara Forest, trail, mountain bike
Whilst well marked, the trail was very faint at times.


The Forest Circuit trail was very rideable and would suit beginners and families. There were a couple of short steep sections across a creek but these where easy to walk or ride around if you choose to. The Circuit comprised a mixture of single track, fire track and a little bit of dirt road so you will need a mountain bike. The area is relatively remote and we did not see any other cyclists or walkers during our visit which was in the middle of the school holidays.

Wirrabara Forest, trail, mountain bike
Forest Circuit trail signage.
If you like the look of this bike, it is a Trek Fuel purchased from Bicycle Express in Adelaide.

Ensure you are self sufficient, carrying spares and a repair kit in case of a flat tyre and adequate water. If you have forgotten any of your bike kit, don't fret, just head to Over the Edge Sports in Melrose.

There was some level of mobile phone coverage along the ride but do not rely on it. Always let someone know your route and expected return time.

Along the way we took the King Tree spur track so that we could visit, yes you guessed it, the King Tree. The King Tree is a very old and very large river red gum. There is an interpretive sign at the tree that tells you, well nothing. It has faded and you can't read it. However, the history of the area and the tree is revealed in an informative article on the Wirrabara Forest on the Flinders Ranges Research website.

The Forest Circuit, including a visit to the King Tree is around 13km. Allow about 1.5 to 2 hours and bring your camera.

Wirrabara Forest, Forestry, mountain bike
The Forest trail includes native forest and pine plantation as shown here.


If you would like to explore the forest further camping is available on a permit system for the amazing price of $3 a night. Permits are available from the Forest Headquarters. If you don't want to rough it, accommodation is available in Wirrabara at the hotel and nearby Melrose.

So, grab your mountain bike, dust of the helmet and check out Wirrabara Forest.

Wirrabara Forest, Forestry
Apparently this is A Plantation. Who would have guessed?

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Why? To enjoy nature and have some fun
Phone: (08) 8668 5000
Where: Wirrabara Forest, Southern Flinders Ranges
Cost: $3 per night if camping.
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