Cycle Sydney, Mountain Bike Ride, Loftus Trail
Loftus is a very popular ride in southern Sydney. It’s a great course for the less experienced rider looking to graduate from fire trails to the wonderful world of single track. A few cranks of the pedals have you slipping from the southern suburbs of Sydney into a lovely mix of fire trail and single track. The numerous ride options at Loftus have seen it become a popular training loop with the shaved legged, XC crowd looking to put in some midweek miles.
Mix of non-technical single track and fire trail. Trail surface is a combination of sand, loose gravel and clay.
No vehicle traffic. Loftus trails can experience a large number of riders especially on weekends. Trails are dual use and are also popular with trail runners and walkers.
If catching the train, the ride is best accessed from Loftus station. Exit the station and head south along the Princess Highway. After around 1km you will cross a set of tram tracks. Loftus oval is immediately on your left. If coming by car, Loftus oval is accessible via the Princess Highway and the car park can only be entered whilst travelling south. Loftus oval is immediately on is a large car park at Loftus oval, but space can be at a premium on weekends as various team sports are played here.
Food and Drink
No shops or facilities are located at the trail head. A kiosk can be found nearby at Audley Weir and shops can also be found close by at Loftus or Sutherland.
Temptation Creek Fire trail – A fire trail loop leading down to Temptation Creek that will suit the more experienced and fitter riders.
Starting at Loftus oval, the ride described here is a 23.1km loop and comprises a mix of easy single track sections and fire trail. I have included the Gorra Ridge fire trail in the return journey from Heathcote to add some variation. However if you would like to upsize your single track serving you can ignore this and simply return the same way you came. While there are no major climbs, the undulating nature of the ride does translate into a fair amount of climbing and would suit riders with an average fitness level.
Lovers of technical riding may be a little disappointed by Loftus, but still, there are a few semi technical descents/climbs, a creek crossing, a small log rollover and some fun descents to sharpen the bike handling skills. Not overly technical, Loftus can be ridden by anyone with average bike handling skills and is suitable for hardtails. Most of the dual use bicycle sections of the trail have been marked with a bicycle symbol making navigation for this ride easy.
The Loftus trail network is a mixture of sandy gravel and moisture holding clay soils. A number of the single track sections are poorly drained and can hold water for long periods after rain. It’s advisable to avoid this ride after any type of rain, a number of B lines are starting to open up around some of the longer lived puddles. Numerous other ride options exist within the area and any combination of trails and side trips can be linked up allowing rides from a few kilometres to all day epics. Loftus oval is often used as the starting point for a number of other rides in the area including Lady Carrington Drive, Heathcote pipe line track, and Helensburgh. Excellent trails and a close proximity to the city means Loftus is an extremely popular ride, with the trails hosting many riders—especially on weekends.
Loftus oval trail network is currently involved in a MTB access trial being conducted by the NPWS. Ongoing access to this lovely trail network is dependant on riders respecting the other user groups and also the trails themselves. Although only 32km from the city, riders on the Loftus trail network have an excellent chance of sighting some of the resident wildlife. Our club regularly rides Loftus and club members have come across numerous wallabies, echidnas, possums, the odd lyrebird and occasionally even feral deer.
0.0 Start ride in the Loftus car park. Look for a gap in the fence toward the rear left of the car park. Pick up the track between the public toilets and the goal posts. Cross the tram line and look for a large dark shingle mound. Find Rawson Pde trail and follow this around the shingle mound in a roughly north direction.
0.3 Ignore the trail heading off to the right and follow the fence line.
0.4 Trail splits. Look for the small bike symbol and follow the trail along the fence line to the left.
0.5 Trail comes out into a large clearing, turn to the right and pick up the fire trail heading roughly to the east.
1.0 Trail comes to an intersection. Note sign directly ahead posted Princess Hwy and Temptation Creek. Turn right towards Temptation Creek.
1.5 Ignore the fire trail to the left, this leads down to Temptation Creek and can be done as a side trip later.
1.7 Bicycle symbol signifying the start of the single trail off to the right. Turn right and pick up this trail.
2.4 Note the bike symbol and look for the start of another section of single trail off to the left. Near the start of the single trail is a large sign with information about the Loftus trail network. This is a lovely section of single track which contains a small rock garden and leads down to a creek crossing followed by a climb out.
3.4 Single trail opens out onto Rawson Pde. Cross the tram tracks directly in front of you taking care to look for trams which occasionally operate. Look for another bike symbol directly in front of you signifying the start of another trail heading approximately west past the NPWS works building.
3.7 Ignore single track branching off to the left and continue on straight ahead through the Casuarinas.
3.8 This marks the start of a fantastic 200m long tunnel of Casuarinas. This section of the trail normally always holds some standing water and a few mud puddles. One of the muddy sections has been filled with small logs. If large puddles are present it is a good idea to walk this section to avoid trail damage.
4.3 After a single trail climb the track opens out onto Farnell Ave. Cross Farnell and look for a large yellow NPWS MTB information sign and the Loftus Ridge Fire Trail which should be straight ahead.
6.7 Ignore fire trail to the left heading downhill (Note: you will return on this trail). Follow current trail around to the right heading up the hill and turn left into the second fire trail on your left which has a loose rocky technical climb and is again heading uphill. Shortly after taking this trail you should see another bicycle trail marker at the top of the short climb.
8.1 Single trail widens out into an eroded fire trail and a gradual climb.
8.4 Toward the top of the climb you can catch a glimpse of the city skyline on your left through the open heath.
8.5 Large T-intersection. Look for the Audley Engadine sign directly across from you and the single trail which starts beside a large rock. This is a great section of single trail but some of the corners have limited visibility so keep an eye out for other trail users.
9.2 Single trail terminates into a large fire trail, (same trail you just crossed at the T- intersection) turn left and follow this fire trail.
9.6 Fire trail comes out onto fence line and a T-intersection with a rough trail on the park’s outskirts. Turn left and follow this trail along the edge of the park. The suburb to the right is Heathcote.
10.1 Ignore the Gorra ridge fire trail to the left.
10.3 Take the Parklands Management trail off to the left which leads to a fun downhill section.
10.7 At the bottom of the downhill look for a fire trail to the right heading in a southerly direction.
11.9 Stay on the major fire trail. It soon comes to an intersection, ignore trail off to the right and follow the sign towards Audley in a roughly north direction.
12.3 Continue on the fire trail heading roughly north.
13.7 Top of the climb. Trail comes to a T-intersection with a trail skirting the edge of the park. Turn right and follow this trail.
13.9 Turn right in to the Gorra Ridge fire trail. Gorra Ridge is a fast flowing, sandy downhill to a creek crossing. Trail surface here is loose so watch some of the faster corners. (If wanting to ride more single trail simply continue on straight ahead and retrace your steps, ignoring Gorra Ridge trail).
16.0 Creek crossing.
16.4 Ignore fire trail heading to the left and uphill and follow the fire trail straight ahead and retrace route back to the start.
23.1 Arrive back at the Loftus car park.