The Mawson Trail is a series of interconnected mountain bike trails stretching from Athelstone in the Adelaide Hills to Blinman in the northern Flinders Ranges. The Trail travels or near most major towns on a route that takes riders through the Adelaide Hills, Mt Crawford Forest, Barossa and Clare Valleys, Bundaleer Channel, Beautiful Valley, across Goyders Line and in to Flinders Ranges National Park.
Hawker Crossroads - Steve Hudson
All in all the trail extends 900km from South to North, and is estimated to take 12-14 days if travelled continuously from end to end. However most riders elect to travel the Trail in 40-50km stages, using two cars in a shuttle to transport between the start and end points. Several loop circuits also exist around Fox Creek, Mt Crawford Forest, Melrose and Wilpena.
The trail is predominantly on unmade road corridors, verges, former rail lines, and 4wd tracks. Occasionally, and mainly around townships, the Trail travels on some roads. For the large part the Trail takes you to places that you would probably not know about or rarely visit including lookouts, waterfalls, windfarms and numerous (dry) creek crossings. Some of the highlights include the Bundaleer Channel, Dares Hill Summit and Warren Gorge.
Typically it is good to ride any time of the year, so long as one takes note of the weather. Hot weather makes riding uncomfortable, and it tends to be hotter the further north one gets. Also, experience says that riding within 1-2 days after some rain has gone through makes for some muddy and expensive riding. Some of the red dust tracks soon become quagmires, and derailleurs don't like turning with that quantum of mud on them !
The Mawson Trail is extremely well signposted with multiple multi-directional signs at every junction, and some large signage boards in some of the major towns. BikeSA have also arranged a series of nine maps which detail the route and topography as well as town facilities and amenities etc. These maps are available from BikeSA at a cost of $8.50 each.
The Mawson Trail often crosses the Heysen Trail (long distance walk for hikers) or follows the same roads in some cases, particularly around Kapunda, where these two iconic trails also meet up with the Kidman Trail (long distance horse trail).
Scenic Landscapes - Steve Hudson
Occasional Tough Climbs - Steve Hudson
The Mawson Trail is suitable for riders of all skills and abilities ..... although you may have second thoughts after the first 20km ! The climb up Castambul Hill is the steepest on the whole 900km, and it comes right at the beginning as the Trail leaves the Torrens River behind and heads to the cooler airs associated with Fox Creek and the Mt Crawford Forest. Stick with it, and be sure to enjoy the majestic views, great scenery and idyllic roads.
And for those who want to do it all at once, BikeSA run an Outback Odyssey every two years (next event is in May 2015), whereby they provide food, accommodation and transport for half-Mawson or full-Mawson riders. Further information and registration details can be obtained from the BikeSA website.
I like the concept of the loop trails around Fox Creek and Melrose. It enables us oldies to go out and have some "big" fun, while the kids can go out in a safe but similar (less demanding) environment at the same location