Cycle Tasmania, Road Ride, Pine Lake to Liffey Falls
A gorgeous and varied mountain and forest ride, descending from the subalpine highlands of the Great Western Tiers to tangled rainforest and one of the state’s prettiest waterfalls...all rewarded by one heck of a climb back.
A long mountain descent followed by the same long climb back out. Lake Highway is a good, sealed (and wide) road, while the C513 to the falls is unsealed but usually in good condition - 11.2 kilometres of the ride is on dirt road.
Lake Highway is one of Tassie’s least busy highways, so traffic presents no real problem. The C513 sees only tourist traffic into the falls, which get less visitors than their beauty deserves.
The shortest and easiest approach is from Deloraine, from where the Lake Highway heads south up into the Great Western Tiers. It’s about 35 kilometres from Deloraine to Pine Lake.
Food and Drink
There are no food or drink stops en route. For refreshment, head down to Deloraine.
At the start of the ride there’s a 900-metre walking track - one of Tasmania’s so-called Great Short Walks - to the shores of Pine Lake, an alpine tarn set among ancient pencil pines.
The ride begins on a subalpine high plain broken by the centuries-old pencil pines that surround Pine Lake. The lake is around 1200 metres above sea level, so it’s the gentlest of climbs to the Lake Highway’s highest point at 1210 metres. From here, it really is virtually all downhill, descending 450 metres over the highway’s next 10 kilometres. The best of the descent is the first section, passing frost-shattered rock and cruising beneath the ribbed escarpment of Projection Bluff.
Across the deep valley to the right are the equally dramatic walls of Liffey Bluff. Turning off the Lake Highway, the dirt C513 enters the Liffey State Forest, briefly skirting a logging coupe - a patch of arboreal baldness to give you even greater appreciation for the magnificent forest still ahead. It’s a flat ride along the C513 for a couple of kilometres, then it’s downhill again into the World Heritage area that cradles Liffey Falls. Occasional breaks in the forest offer views up to the rocky tops of the Great Western Tier bluffs, but mostly you’ll be encased in rainforest.
The short climb out from the Liffey River about 300 metres before the falls car park will seem disproportionately rude after so much downhill. At the road-end car park, park up your bike and set out for the 40-minute return walk to the base of the wide, moss-drenched falls, which form one of the most perfect natural sights in the state. The walk dips deep into the rainforest, past myrtle, sassafras and leatherwood trees and through a corridor of tree ferns. Savour the walk because the ride out means a 600-metre climb back up to Pine Lake.
It isn’t particularly steep - the average grade is 4.5% - but it is long, alleviated (somewhat at least) by the fact that the views of the Projection Bluff escarpment are even better from this approach. There’s a wonderful sense of satisfaction as you rise past the bluff back into subalpine country - hopefully there’s not an icy southerly blowing or the final four kilometres back to Pine Lake might seem eternal.
32.487 km / 20.187 mi
910 m / 2,987 ft
910 m / 2,987 ft
1,207 m / 3,959 ft