Alice Springs

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - 6 Of The Best - Info: cen­tralaus­tralian­roughrid­ers.asn.au When to go: April-Oc­to­ber Grade: Easy-mod­er­ate

THE RED CEN­TRE cap­i­tal has, in the past decade, trans­formed it­self into one of the coun­try’s moun­tain bik­ing mec­cas. With a sup­port­ive coun­cil and ter­ri­to­rial gov­ern­ment, and a hugely pas­sion­ate rid­ing com­mu­nity, the moun­tain bike trail net­work in Alice Springs has grown to be now con­sid­ered world class, with a mix of trails run­ning from be­gin­ner through in­ter­me­di­ate (the ma­jor­ity). The to­tal le­gal MTB trail net­work is around 34km and al­ways grow­ing; the Cen­tral Aus­tralian Rough Riders’ web­site has an ex­cel­lent trail net­work map that shows the dif­fer­ent trails, their dis­tance and their grad­ing.

The best thing of all is that the main MTB net­work starts from the his­toric Alice Springs Tele­graph Sta­tion, not more than a 10-minute bike ride from the cen­tre of town along the River­side Walk (a multi-use path), so you are soon sur­rounded by quintessen­tial Red Cen­tre ter­rain – red rock, lus­trous blue skies and the oc­ca­sional pale ghost gum. This sealed track fol­lows the (usu­ally dry) Todd River’s sandy bed, bor­dered by river red gums and ghost gums and, as well as pro­vid­ing ac­cess to the ex­tended MTB trails, makes for a great fam­ily cy­cle ad­ven­ture in it­self for those with young’uns on board.

The eas­ier trails are short, well con­structed, fea­ture a wide, flat base, are well sign­posted and con­tain only slight un­du­la­tions along their length. Move into the longer trails north of the Tele­graph Sta­tion and riders will en­counter slightly steeper sec­tions and looser ter­rain, with a mix of sand, rocks and gravel as their base. The in­ter­me­di­ate trails are well within the skill level of most riders and the ef­forts are worth it: these trails of­fer fan­tas­tic views from a num­ber of high points, look­ing back across Alice Springs it­self, and fur­ther afield to the peaks of the West MacDon­nell Ranges, which them­selves hide one of the Red Cen­tre’s bestkept cy­cling se­crets: the fully sealed, 17km Simp­son Gap Bi­cy­cle Path – the per­fect fam­ily rid­ing ad­ven­ture.

This slightly un­du­lat­ing path starts (or fin­ishes; you can ride in ei­ther di­rec­tion) at Flynn’s Grave, 7km west from the town cen­tre, and fin­ishes at beau­ti­ful Simp­sons Gap, where you will find toi­lets, a wa­ter sup­ply (remember to bring your own wa­ter on the ride it­self) and bar­be­cue fa­cil­i­ties.

The sealed sur­face makes for very easy go­ing (a rough es­ti­mate of time would be two hours one way – more if you’re con­duct­ing a fam­ily trip), and there are four rest ar­eas along the path, with seat­ing and bike racks. This ride passes through ter­rain rang­ing from dry river flats to wood­lands and rock-cov­ered high out­crops, with rugged hills in­clud­ing Rungutjirba Ridge and Mt Gillen sur­round­ing the path. Ride this path ei­ther in the morn­ing or af­ter­noon for the best light, or you might even fol­low a Parks NT sug­ges­tion: ride the path dur­ing a full moon.

The moun­tain bike trail net­work sur­round­ing Alice Springs is world-class and ac­ces­si­ble right from the town cen­tre.

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