Cycle Tasmania, Mountain Bike Ride, Railton to Sheffield
From the Town of Topiary to the Town of Murals on one of the state’s few true rail trails, crossing through forestry lands and farmland with some fantastic views to Mount Roland as you approach Sheffield. The ride is also a taster of the state’s major long-distance bike route.
Gentle climbs and descents along wide bush tracks and forestry roads, following the course of an old railway between Railton and Sheffield.
There are two short sections on the B14 - the main Railton to Sheffield road - which sees a small but steady flow of traffic. You’ll only see other cyclists, horse riders or dog walkers on the tracks and forestry roads.
Railton is around 20 kilometres south of Devonport; take the B13 through Tarleton. From Launceston, take Bass Highway to Elizabeth Town, turning onto the B13. It’s about 20 kilometres from here to Railton. If coming by bus, Tassielink’s Launceston-Strahan bus service stops in Sheffield, making it possible to ride the route in reverse.
Food and Drink
In Sheffield, get a taste of political fame - and pumpkin scones - at Highlander Restaurant & Scottish Scone Shoppe, once run by Flo Bjelke-Petersen. In Railton, try the Town of Topiary Tea Room.
About 1.5 kilometres along the route, turn right down the short track into Sykes Sanctuary Monument, dedicated to one of the state’s first environmentalists. The curious equations on the monuments were developed by Norman Sykes.
It should be little surprise that a town named Railton would be the trailhead for one of Tasmania’s finest sections of converted rail trail. This ride follows the course of the old Railton-to-Roland railway that opened in 1914 and ceased operation in 1957. It’s also part of the Tasmanian Trail, a 480-kilometre, tip-to- toe bike (and horseback) route from Devonport on the north coast to Dover in the south. The yellow-and-red Tasmanian Trail markers act as guides at almost all turnings between Railton and Sheffield.
If hedge-trimming is your thing, you might like to take a quick spin around Railton, the self-titled Town of Topiary, before you begin. The town has over 100 trimmed shrubs, including one that’s billed as the only living Tasmanian tiger. The ride starts on a dirt track beside the B13 and disappears straight into a narrow band of bush in behind Railton. At the track’s end, the ride turns back on itself and rolls along a sealed road beside horse paddocks before returning to its rightful course on Gambles Road, fringing a section of forest.
After veering onto Goss Road, the ride cuts between low hills to meet up with the main Railton-Sheffield road, which continues climbing between the hills for about 500 metres. At the crest, the ride darts away left onto unsealed Rail Track Road - this is a forestry track so don’t be surprised by the sight of bald hills. Rail Track Road zigzags across a sealed road, then passes through a small series of old railway cuttings. The next time you hit the main road, cross straight over onto the dirt track and climb gradually up past a large water tank - the gates along this stretch should be left open or closed as you find them. The track here serves as a dividing line between farmland and bush, before emerging into open country with gorgeous views south to Mount Roland.
When you enter Sheffield it may be worth trundling about town for a while to view some of its myriad murals, covering almost every wall in town, before turning around and retracing the outward route back to Railton. The return is mostly downhill.
26.704 km / 16.593 mi
460 m / 1,511 ft
459 m / 1,505 ft
284 m / 933 ft