Cycle Adelaide, Road Riding, Riesling Trail
Don’t you just love rail trails? These rides make great use of public space, provide safe, off-road recreation paths and, best of all, are never steep in gradient. Following the disused rail corridor through the Clare Valley wine region, The Riesling Trail was one of the first rail trails developed in South Australia. It rapidly became one of the region’s most popular tourism drawcards, opening the door to a number of others across the state – including the Westside Bikeway, Coast to Vines (Ride 38) and Shiraz Trail. The main linear trail runs between Auburn and Clare, starting and finishing at the towns’ former railway stations. Along the way it passes through Leasingham, Watervale, Penwortham and Sevenhill, each designated by its own signed siding. It also passes a number of the region’s cellar doors and restaurants – understandably one of the trail’s major attractions. You can ride the trail in either direction but I’d recommend the logged itinerary: uphill on the way, so you can go wine tasting in Clare and then coast back down. Although a glimpse at the profile shows it’s actually a gentle climb each way, just a shorter one on the return journey. Or perhaps ride part of the main trail and pick up one of the three associated loop trails, ranging in length from nine to 16 kilometres. Leaving the main valley, and predominantly on unsealed back roads, they’re a little more challenging (and can in fact be quite hilly) but offer the chance to explore wineries and attractions further afield.
Take Main North Road out of Adelaide following the signs to the Clare Valley. Auburn is 109kms from Adelaide and 24kms south of Clare.
Food and Drink
Cafes, pubs and shops galore in Auburn and Clare; several wineries along the way have cafes. Two rainwater tanks on the trail may have water but take your own supplies.
Head east of the trail to Mintaro and visit Martindale Hall, where Picnic At Hanging Rock was filmed, then unravel the twists and turns of the Mintaro Maze.
The trailhead in Auburn is at Mount Horrocks Wines, one of the region’s most renowned wineries and home to the Station Café. It’s part of a dining culture for which Auburn is becoming known, although the town has always had a reputation for hospitality - gained in the 1800s when it serviced the Copper Trail between the Burra mines and the Spencer Gulf shipping ports. The Rising Sun Inn was there then and is still there now, with a welcome smile and cold ale for modern-day weary travellers.
Further along is Sevenhill and the historic Sevenhill Cellars. Operated by Jesuits since 1851, it’s the oldest winery in the Clare Valley and has State Heritage status. A truly unique place, Sevenhill makes both sacramental and commercial wines, has its own church and burial crypt, and even hires out bikes for the Riesling Trail. From Sevenhill you can also access the John Horrocks Loop and the Spring Gully Conservation Park in the nearby Skilly Hills.
Then it’s on to Clare, the regional centre of commerce and tourism – but with a relaxed, country- town feel. With accommodation, restaurants, wineries and a host of sporting facilities – including one of the state’s best country racecourses – it’s a great place to settle down and explore for a while. Not a bad idea, especially from the saddle of a sturdy bicycle!
- 0.0 From the Mount Horrock Wines carpark, head down Church St towards the main road, crossing a side street and then a footbridge.
- 0.3 Carefully turn right onto Main North Rd and continue north towards Clare.
- 1.2 Where the footpath ends, veer left onto the gravel bikepath behind the guardrail.
- 1.3 Veer left through barriers, where a Riesling Trail marker signals the start of the off-road path.
- 4.7 The first of a number of side road crossings. Slow down, give way and cross each carefully.
- 10.5 Stephen John Wines and a rainwater tank on the trail.
- 17.8 Carefully cross Mintaro Rd.
- 18.9 Cross College Rd to the Sevenhill Winery and Cemetery.
- 19.7 A picnic area with rainwater tank on the right.
- 23.3 The path meets a bitumen road. Carefully cross and pick up the path on the other side.
- 24.4 At a carpark, the site of the former Clare Railway Station, the ride ends. The Mawson Trail continues on a bitumen road straight ahead, or take the road to the left into the Clare township.
24.568 km / 15.266 mi
225 m / 737 ft
129 m / 423 ft
501 m / 1,644 ft