Cycle East Kowen Forest

Cycle Canberra, Mountain Bike Ride, East Kowen Forest


East Kowen Forest is comprised of mainly hardpack singletrack mountain bike rides, connected by some fire trails. There are minor obstacles for complete novices and a nice variety for experts. You will run into the occasional stock gate on fire trail sections to negotiate. Whilst there are several old trails in this area, an 18km loop was built in early 2011.

Here we introduce you a 4-km mountain bike ride which is suitable for every level. The ride lasts less than an hour, so you can save your time to explore more trails in the area.


The ride can be divided into two sections. You are going to experience a downhill terrain in the first section with sharp turns and switchbacks near the junction of two sections. The second one seems easier at first, but the more you get closer to the ending point, the rougher terrain will be.


The entrance to East Kowen is on the King's Highway, the road that takes you from Queanbeyan eventually to Bateman's Bay.

About 10km after the climb out of Queanbeyan, you will come to a bend and see the gleam of light reflecting off the cars parked in Sparrow Hill's main car parking area, a dirt area off the main road. To get to the good stuff once you're parked, ride West along the King's Highway on the left-hand side of the road for about 100 meters. When you see a couple of gates a short distance down a gravel road, climb through the right-hand gate (Not the private one on the left). Then ride another 100 meters or so, where you will get to a junction and pick up the trail signage.

Food and drink

Since there is no permanent catering facility in the area, you may want to bring your bottles and snack. If you want to have a picnic, you can find you a spot in the picnic area together with gas barbecue facilities, picnic tables and picnic shelters.

More details

To house the mountain, 24-hour bike race by Paul Cole and the Kowalski Brothers, an enigmatic group of underworld trail fairies who build fantastic tracks, leaving only a faint hint of stale beer in their wake. This original 18km has been extended to 20km with some optional extras, and there is a shorter but excellent 7km loop for those wanting a taste. The main loop has been ‘built’ to bike ride anti-clockwise (and this is the way the arrows at the junction’s point) but some trails are pretty nice riding both ways.

Once you know your way around you can change your route a bit by backtracking or using some of the fire trails around the place. There are some trails in here that could well become classics. Kowalski’s Sideshow is already well-known for its steep, tight switchbacks (down!) and is a tribute to Sparrow Hill's much loved, but alas former, classic Bobsled. If you bike ride a 29’er or love big fast flat curves, the final 2k’s or so once you hit Sweet Apples MUST be hit in the big ring. There are no sustained steep hills, but you will find short steep pinches and sustained but relatively shallow singletrack climbs. Of course, there are also some excellent descents too.

For more information about the forest, click here.

Trail map

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3.894 km / 2.42 mi

Total Distance

96 m / 315 ft

Total Ascent

96 m / 315 ft

Total Descent

756 m / 2,481 ft

Highest Point

Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
Ride Duration: <1 hr
Fitness Level: Various
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Gravel Road
Trail Signage: Good
Mobile Coverage: Nil
First Aid
Bike hire
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle
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