GAP CREEK RE­SERVE, BRIS­BANE

Australian Mountain Bike - - Tested - WORDS: IMO­GEN SMITH PHO­TOS: TIM BARDSLEY-SMITH

Gap Creek Re­serve, just west of Bris­bane’s CBD, is one of this bike-friendly city’s most pop­u­lar MTB parks. Coun­cil have re­cently ex­panded the car park to ac­com­mo­date the hordes of shred­ders of all ages and abil­i­ties who flock here each sunny Queens­land week­end. Gap Creek Re­serve is where many Bris­ban­ites did their first ride. It was the first park in South­east Queens­land to gain le­gal recog­ni­tion of its ‘moun­tain bike only’ trails, and re­mains a favourite for its easy ac­cess and prox­im­ity to the city (just seven kilo­me­tres if you drop in from the top of Mt Coot-tha).

Gap Creek is kept alive and in beau­ti­ful con­di­tion by the Gap Creek Trails Al­liance, who have worked closely with the City Coun­cil to main­tain trail ac­cess and ex­pand the moun­tain bike fa­cil­i­ties. There’s a small skills park near the main car park on Gap Creek Road, a mas­sive amount of fire road, and about 30 kilo­me­tres of moun­tain bike-only sin­gle­track, all of which is bi-di­rec­tional. All trails are sign­posted and rated in the IMBA sys­tem. Gap Creek isn’t only pop­u­lar with moun­tain bik­ers. On any given morn­ing of the week, the re­serve is filled with hik­ers, jog­gers, dog-walk­ers, and even horse-rid­ers. There is lit­tle ten­sion be­tween moun­tain bik­ers and other trail users, but this is one lo­ca­tion where bik­ers should be mind­ful of giv­ing way on fire roads, par­tic­u­larly to horses, as there are of­ten lots of peo­ple about. It’s im­pos­si­ble to talk about Gap Creek without men­tion­ing the Great Bris­bane Lump. Mt Coot­tha dom­i­nates Bris­bane’s western sky­line, as well as dis­cus­sion among cy­clists over cof­fee. It’s an im­mensely pop­u­lar tourism and recre­ation spot, and is a part of ev­ery as­pect of Bris­bane’s bik­ing scene. The Gap Creek trails lie on the western side of the moun­tain, but Coot-tha dic­tates their character, and the hills don’t end there. It’s pos­si­ble to ride off-road from Gap Creek’s Mt Coot-tha en­trance all the way to Mt Nebo, about 25 kilo­me­tres away. All but the eas­i­est tracks at Gap Creek Re­serve are hilly by stan­dards dic­tated by nor­mal san­ity.

GET­TING THERE

Bris­bane has a great bike path net­work head­ing west out of the city, and it’s pos­si­ble to ride to the dirt from vir­tu­ally any­where. The best way to get to the trails by bike from the CBD is via the Western Free­way Bike­way, then over the bridge to Coot-tha, and pedal to the top (about two kilo­me­tres with fire road op­tions, and not re­ally easy!). Drop in down ‘Three Sis­ters’ trail,

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