Cycle Adelaide, Road Ride, Riverton Trails
A quiet mid-north town known for its well-preserved heritage buildings, Riverton is becoming increasingly popular as a walking and cycling destination. Two of South Australia’s famous long-distance trails run through or near the town – the 900km Mawson off-road cycling trail and the 1200km Heysen walking trail – each year bringing a legion of modern-day recreational explorers to the region. More recently the Riverton Trails have expanded the opportunities for walking and cycling around the township, and heralded a new appreciation for the peaceful rural expanses of the Gilbert Valley.
Ranging in distance from one to 28 kilometres, the five Riverton Trails loop in varying directions around the town. Mostly on graded gravel roads, they take in points of historic and natural interest along the way, and offer panoramic views over the valley and the surrounding countryside. Most are moderate in difficulty, undulating at most rather than hilly, and all are signed with colour-coded directional markers. It’s important to note, however, that several markers were missing on our route at the time of logging, so ensure you follow the ride log.
This ride follows the 28km Peters Hill Trail, the longest of the trail network and the only one with links to both the Mawson and Heysen Trails. Following back roads east of the township, it has wide, open views of the surrounding countryside - golden wheat fields dotted with gums, and sheep at every turn. A seriously rural ride, it gets right off the usual tourist routes and provides a real taste of the mid-north outback, with red dirt roads and far horizons. Yet as visually remote as it may seem, you’re never more than 15km from Riverton and pass numerous friendly farms along the way.
That said, it’s definitely a seasonal ride. In the mid-summer heat it’s just too bare and parched, and a number of fords along low lying stretches make it a boggy ride in winter. Like Goldilocks and that porridge, though, in spring and autumn it’s just right – and when we logged it one afternoon in early November, simply stunning.
Starting with a flat warm-up out of town, the route takes a rolling climb east towards the Peters Hill Lookout (a detour from the ride), then undulates along the base of the range. On the way it meets the route to the Heysen Trail at Marschall’s Hut, built in 1856 by Lutheran settlers and now an overnight shelter for trail walkers. Then it’s on to the hamlet of Peters Hill, in reality a few houses with a church and cemetery, where the trail turns and leaves the range with a gentle descent. A couple of (usually dry) creek beds lead the way back into Riverton, where a crossing of the Gilbert River is a fitting end to the ride.
Head out on Main North Road towards Clare until Tarlee, then continue towards Riverton and Auburn. Turn right 5km later, signed to Riverton and Broken Hill. Another 10km and you’re there.
Food and Drink
Plenty of options in Riverton, none along the route. It’s pretty isolated country, so make sure you carry plenty of water and a snack.
Visit the Riverton home of Olive Oil Packaging Services, who pioneered the packaging of extra virgin olive oil into casks for the world. See how it’s done, taste their boutique olive oils and stock up while you’re there. Call ahead on (08) 8847 2255 and Kent or Ann will show you around.
- 0.0 Starting at Scholz Park, head south along the main street.
- 1.3 At a sign to a truck parking area and markers for the Peters Hill and Mawson Trails, veer left onto the bitumen track.
- 1.8 Turn left and cross the railway line. Continue around to the right on a graded road.
- 2.7 At crossroads, turn left onto a graded road for a gentle climb through wheat fields towards the range.
- 5.1 At an intersection, turn right onto Callery Rd (gravel) and continue through several fords.
- 6.9 At a fork, turn left following the graded road to Finniss Point.
- 9.0 Take care over a one-lane bridge.
- 9.2 At an intersection, turn left. The Mawson Trail continues ahead.
- 10.6 At a T-junction, turn left onto the Marrabel road. From here it’s an undulating ride along the base of the hills.
- 15.6 Ignore a marked track on the left then immediately turn right towards Hupputz Cemetery. Continue on the clay 4WD track, climbing gently towards the base of the hills.
- 16.9 At a T-junction, turn left onto another clay 4WD track. To the right is the route to Marshall’s Hut and the Heysen Trail.
- 17.4 Climbing again, then a descent into the hamlet of Peters Hill. Just after the church, turn left and continue along the graded road.
- 19.1 Veer left at a sign to Riverton, watching for traffic on the right. Shortly after veer right at a trail marker onto a rough 4WD track. Cross a dry creek bed and then climb gently.
- 20.1 Turn left back onto a graded road for a flat spin away from the range.
- 21.2 At a T-junction, follow the graded road around to the left. A dirt road goes off to the right.
- 22.2 Turn right onto a clay 4WD track for a gentle descent and a couple of creek crossings.
- 24.9 Turn left onto a graded road, Callery Rd.
- 26.3 At an intersection, turn right onto the bitumen road.
- 27.6 Cross the River Gilbert and railway line, then continue past the high school and oval.
- 28.2 Turn left onto the main street of Riverton.
- 28.5 Back at Scholz Park, the ride ends.
28.329 km / 17.603 mi
196 m / 641 ft
192 m / 630 ft
394 m / 1,292 ft