This one is quite possibly the jewel in the crown for the Queanbeyan-Palerang region. Ans that's a big call, given the range of bicycle adventures to be had in this top cycling destination.
What makes it so? - The combination of the Wallace Gap gravel, the absolutely stunning Majors Creek Mountain Road descent into Araluen, combined with the grueling climb back out of the valley towards Braidwood; the comforts of great coffee, food and accommodation in the beautiful heritage-listed township of Braidwood pre and post ride; and the forests, views and vistas you'll pass along the way.
We've mapped this route such that you head out of Braidwood and commence with the Cooma Road. This is pleasant enough but not the highlight of the ride; so we like to get this part done first rather than leaving it till last. While a pleasant enough ride on a good day, it will seem a pretty dull finish after the absolute treat of Wallace Gap Road and the Araluen Valley.
Cooma Road is the most heavily trafficked road on this route; however, it's still not very busy. You'll likely see an occasional car or other vehicle.
This one is a mix of sealed and gravel roads.
The gravel sections are from the locality of Ballalaba along Wallaces Gap Road to Major's Creek and then beyond, down Majors Creek Mountain Road into Araluen. Wallaces Gap Road is relatively wide and smooth, with a few undulations. Majors Creek Mountain Road is a whole other kettle of fish! It's STEEEEEEP, and a bit rough and patchy in places. Definitely easily-conquerable by those with a few gravel km's under their belt; but not for the complete newbie. You'll appreciate some reasonable suspension here too.
The alternative is, as noted below, to ride the route in reverse; climbing up this gravel road rather than descending down it.
Either way, you'll have a substantial climb out of the Araluen Valley - the choice is yours: downhill gravel and a paved climb up the Araluen Road; or a paved descent down Araluen Road and a gravel climb back up Majors Creek Mountain Road.
We recommend starting and ending this one in Braidwood. You can ride straight from the door of your accommodation; or park your car near Ryrie Park to the north of the main shopping area.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are no food options along this route, unless you make the 3km detour into the small township of Araluen where there's a local pup serving up some basics, including cold beverages. You can get a water refill at the Araluen Campground. If it's been a dry season, best not to rely on this being a reliable source however.
ALTERNATIVE RIDE OPTIONS
There are optional detours for this one, including to shorten the ride as soon as you leave from Braidwood, and heading down the Majors Creek Road, avoiding Cooma Road. This is a good option if you're wanting something a bit shorter; but you'll be missing Wallace Gap Road connecting between the locality of Ballalaba and Major's Creek - this is a really nice gravel road that we recommend riding.
To extend the journey, after ascending from Araluen, you can turn right onto Sawyers Ridge Road (gravel) and then left to Reidsdale Road (paved) and back to Braidwood. This extension adds around 15km to the ride and is a pretty route to take without too much additional climbing.
You could also do this ride in reverse. Benefits are that you ride the significant road into the Araluen Road on paved road and then climb back out on gravel. The key downside to this is that you don't witness the easterly views across the beautiful Araluen Valley descending from the Majors Creek Mountain Road. But really, either way, you can't go wrong on this one. For those comfortable, but perhaps a bit less confident, on gravel - this reverse option might be a better one. Either way, you'll have a slow and grinding, but beautiful climb out of the valley.
66.999 km / 41.631 mi
1,095 m / 3,592 ft
1,095 m / 3,592 ft
795 m / 2,609 ft