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.