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.
Call in at City Park near the ride’s end to see the enclosure of Japanese macaques, rather far from their natural home.
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.
8.377 km / 5.205 mi
62 m / 202 ft
62 m / 203 ft
31 m / 102 ft