North Esk River

Cycle Tasmania, Sightseeing Ride, North Esk River

A short ride that pieces together a jigsaw puzzle of trails, combining sealed tracks, an old rail bridge, Launceston’s first bike lane and the North Esk Trail, arguably the city’s most beautiful stretch of cycling track.


A flat ride with the lot: sealed bike paths, a pick-a- plank bridge, dirt tracks, open road and an on-road bike lane.


The ride takes to the road on Hoblers Bridge Road, which has no shoulder and is relatively busy, but is wide enough to share with the cars and trucks. Busy Elphin Road is made good by the presence of a bike lane.


Inveresk Precinct is immediately across the North Esk River from the Launceston City Centre. From town, take Tamar Street across Victoria Bridge.

Food and Drink

In the Inveresk Precinct, mellow Blue Cafe has a quality breakfast or lunch menu, plus good coffee and cakes.

Side Trip

Call in at City Park near the ride’s end to see the enclosure of Japanese macaques, rather far from their natural home.


More Details

This route begins by Victoria Bridge, at the edge of the Inveresk Precinct. The most attractive course from here is along the levee-top trail, though cycling is not allowed on the boardwalk, so you can either push your bike or ride along the road just below. Past the old signal box, the ride crosses the North Esk River on the 19th-century Black Bridge.

All trains from Launceston to the Main and Western lines once crawled across this pick-a-plank bridge, though traffic today is limited to bikes and pedestrians. If you’re riding on narrow tyres it’s wise to dismount and push across the bridge rather than risk getting wedged in the gaps. Black Bridge Trail continues along beside the rail lines, pressed between a corrugated iron fence and the railway embankment, heading into surprisingly rural lands just a couple of kilometres from the city centre.

After linking with the Henry Street Trail, the ride drops to the banks of the North Esk River, where the at-times- bumpy North Esk Trail heads upstream. With fairy wrens darting about the track, birds of prey hovering overhead and the river flowing almost imperceptibly towards the Tamar River, it’s a gorgeous short ride from here to Hoblers Bridge Road. By the dog exercise area the track comes to a T-junction; turn left here to continue beside the river on a wooden boardwalk through a swampy, tussocky section of river bank.

The North Esk Trail ends beside Hoblers Bridge Road and if you prefer to avoid any road riding, or if you have young kids cycling with you, you can turn around here, retracing the route back to Victoria Bridge. Otherwise, turn onto Hoblers Bridge Road, which continues briefly along the river bank before intersecting with Elphin Road, which leads you back into Launceston along the city’s first on-road bike lane.

At Elphin Road’s end you will pass City Park, one of Launceston’s best recreation areas and a good place to monkey about if you’ve always wanted to see Japanese macaques without having to travel to Japan. 


Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at the northern end of Victoria Bridge, riding north on the path beside the rail tracks towards the Inveresk Precinct.
  • 0.1 Turn right onto the minor road running alongside the Inveresk Precinct car park and the Queen Victoria Museum.
  • 0.4 By the old yellow signal box, ride straight ahead beside the rail tracks to cross Black Bridge.
  • 0.5 Across the bridge, ride straight ahead on the track beside the railway line.
  • 1.4 At the trail’s end, continue straight ahead onto the bike path beside Henry St.
  • 1.8 The trail crosses Henry St just before the bridge over the North Esk River; on the other side, take the track to the left, dropping down to the North Esk Trail and following this south.
  • 3.8 Cross a concrete bridge and turn left towards a boardwalk.
  • 4.7 At the track’s end, continue straight ahead through the car park.
  • 4.8 Turn right onto Hoblers Bridge Rd.
  • 5.7 Turn right onto Elphin Rd.
  • 7.7 At the roundabout, continue straight ahead on Brisbane St.
  • 8.0 Turn right into Tamar St.
  • 8.6 Finish the ride back at Victoria Bridge.
  • Trail map

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    8.377 km / 5.205 mi

    Total Distance

    62 m / 202 ft

    Total Ascent

    62 m / 203 ft

    Total Descent

    31 m / 102 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: <1 hr
    Fitness Level: Low
    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
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 8.6
    Elevation Gain: 60
    First Aid
    Bike hire
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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