Cycle Tasmania, Mountain Bike Ride, Styx Valley Ride
Be dwarfed by some of the world’s tallest trees as you disappear into the Styx Valley, climbing steeply over a ridge and then discovering rainforest and its massive swamp gums. The ride - and road surface - can be challenging but it brings great reward. A mountain bike is essential.
Dirt roads climbing over a steep ridge before descending into the Styx Valley for a flatter run to the massive feet of the Big Tree Reserve.
Every road out here is a road to nowhere so there’s little traffic. Expect no more than a smattering of forestry vehicles and the occasional log truck.
Maydena is 85 kilometres from Hobart. Take the A10 to New Norfolk, following the B62 from here to Westerway, where the B61 (Gordon River Road) heads to Maydena.
Food and Drink
The Maydena Store is basic - chips, dim sims - but is the only option anywhere near the ride.
From opposite Maydena Store, follow Junee Road for 3.5 kilometres to Junee Cave State Reserve, where you can walk to the cave mouth to watch Junee River pour out. Among the 300 or so cave entrances in the environs is Niggly Cave, Australia’s deepest cave (375 metres).
This ride from the timber town of Maydena to the tall timber of the Styx Valley begins with a slow climb out of town before turning off Gordon River Road and onto the dirt roads that will be your almost constant companion. Immediately off the main road you will be among towering trees, though they might look no larger than grass by the time you’ve seen what’s ahead in the Styx.
Styx Road winds steeply up a ridge covered with regrowth forest, climbing around 300 metres in four kilometres with keyhole views of the mountains to the north. When wet this road develops a glue-like quality, making your wheels sound like a paint roller, but there’s still a firm surface beneath the thin cover of slush. The descent into the Styx Valley begins past the Mueller Road junction, and you’ll barely have to pedal for the next six kilometres as the road drops to South Styx Bridge, crossing the Styx River near its junction with the South Styx River. For the next four kilometres to Big Tree Reserve the road undulates calmly through the rainforest.
A few giant trees spear through the canopy but the real arboreal treasures are to be found at the ride’s turnaround point in Big Tree Reserve. Here, a short walking track loops through rainforest that almost glows with moss. The first stop along the trail is beneath the simply named Big Tree. The second stop is at - gasp - the Bigger Tree, which seems almost to support the sky. Be impressed, these massive swamp gums are among the tallest hardwood trees in the world, growing to near 90 metres in height. It is beauties like this that have at times made the Styx Valley a battleground between loggers and greenies.
Across the road from Big Tree Reserve is a second short walking track down to the Styx River, its waters as brown as ale, dense rainforest crowded around its banks. It’s a good place to soak the feet before the return ride back over the ridge. Maps suggest you can ride a long loop through Westerway by continuing along Styx Road but locked gates and private road prevent this, so turn around and retrace your route back to Maydena.
34.673 km / 21.545 mi
896 m / 2,940 ft
896 m / 2,940 ft
587 m / 1,925 ft