Pancakes & Passes

Cycle Tasmania, Sightseeing Ride, Pancakes & Passes

A beautiful coastal ride becomes more challenging as it climbs through tall forest to Elephant Pass and returns to the granite-rimmed coast beyond easier St Marys Pass. It’s a good training ride, or simply an excuse for a well-earned pancake.

Terrain

Good sealed roads with small climbs along the coast leading to a 400-metre ascent to Elephant Pass.

Traffic

Surprisingly quiet (outside of holiday times) given that this coast is one of Tasmania’s major tourist runs. The coastal highway is busier, but also wider, than the twisting, narrow roads over the two passes.

Access 

The lookout at Four Mile Creek is around 45 kilometres north of Bicheno, and 30 kilometres south of St Helens, on the Tasman Highway. If coming by bus, start the ride in St Mary’s, where Calows Coaches stops on its St Helens services to/from Launceston and Hobart.

Food and Drink

Mt Elephant Pancake Barn has savoury and sweet pancakes, coffee and an obsession with elephants (right down to a selection of elephant-themed children’s books).

Side Trip

If there’s been recent rain, allow a few minutes at St Marys Pass to wander out to Gray Mares Tail, a waterfall that seeps out of the forest and down a narrow chute of rock.

 

More Details

Coastal A3

Highway The beauty of this slice of coast is apparent immediately as you leave the lookout car park, with the white beach at Four Mile Creek ending in lichen-coated lines of granite. The road skirts behind the holiday settlement at Four Mile Creek and crosses Ironhouse Point. On the point is the IronHouse Brewery; its ales and lagers can be sampled at the attached, White Sands Resort restaurant, though the climb back out to the highway may have you questioning the wisdom of a beer stop.

It’s a gentle rollercoaster run south, with the open Tasman Sea laid out below you on a road that saves its best for last - at the 12 kilometre mark the highway rises to a small spur with a wonderful view along Lagoons Beach, before swooping in behind the sandy strip - there’s beach access through the camping area at the base of the descent.

Elephant Pass

The inland A4 coils through the hills, starting as a steady climb then ramping up rudely at around the 20 kilometre mark - after climbing 150 metres in the first four kilometres, the road suddenly lurches up 90 metres in a kilometre. The gradient soon eases again as the How the other half live at Four Mile Creek road cuts through pasture towards the pass - the sound of your hard breathing here might be replaced by the chatter of parrots. The final sting in the climb should be soothed by the presence of the Mt Elephant Pancake Barn atop the 410-metre pass. If you’re wondering about the name, Mt Elephant to the north takes on the vague outline of a pachyderm when viewed from the Fingal Valley on the approach to St Marys.

St Marys Pass

There’s little chance ahead to work off any pancakes, with the road beginning its lovely, flowing descent to St Marys just over a kilometre past the restaurant. The climb back out of St Marys to its namesake pass is a gentle one, rising just 50 metres across 3.4 kilometres. From St Marys Pass you can just about put your feet up, leaving the rest of the work to your braking hands as the road unravels its way back down to the coast, offering glimpses of the sandy shores to the north as it goes.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Begin at the roadside lookout at the northern end of Four Mile Creek, riding south along the Tasman Highway.
  • 4.7 Cross Ironhouse Point above IronHouse Brewery.
  • 15.9 Turn right onto the A4 (Elephant Pass Road) at Chain of Lagoons.
  • 24.3 Reach the top of the climb at Elephant Pass beside the Mt Elephant Pancake Barn.
  • 32.7 In St Marys, turn right onto the A4.
  • 36.1 Crest St Marys Pass, beginning the descent back towards the coast.
  • 42.6 Turn right onto the A3.
  • 49.3 Finish the ride back at the lookout at the northern end of Four Mile Creek.
  • Trail map

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    47.165 km / 29.307 mi

    Total Distance

    890 m / 2,918 ft

    Total Ascent

    891 m / 2,922 ft

    Total Descent

    414 m / 1,360 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Gravel
    Various
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: 1/2 day
    Fitness Level: High
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 49.3
    Elevation Gain: 500
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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