The Glow Worm Tunnel Trail

Cycle Sydney, Mountain Bike Ride, The Glow Worm Tunnel Trail

The aim of this ride is to reach the Glow Worm Tunnel which is one of two abandoned train tunnels and now a popular tourist attraction. These tunnels were once part of a train line into the Wolgan Valley and get their name from a colony of glow worms that now call the 400m tunnel home. Technically simple this ride follows the well graded Glow Worm Tunnel Road along the Newnes Plateau before a gradual descent down to the tunnels. At around 50km in length this ride makes for a decent day in the saddle and is recommended for the reasonably fit.

Terrain

Well graded dirt road and fire trail.

Traffic

Vehicle traffic on Glow Worm Tunnel Road.

Access

From Lithgow follow Inch Street, then turn left into Atkinson Street which soon turns into Glow Worm Tunnel Road and becomes unsealed. After 7-8km the Bungleboori picnic area will be reached where there is ample parking.

Food and Drink

No food or drink at trail head but shops located at nearby Lithgow.

Side Trip

Return leg via Old Coach Road. This option involves pushing your bike along a section of the Pagoda Track until its meeting with Old Coach Road. Fire Trail No. 7 at 16.7kms has some great views if you have the time.

 

More Details

Firstly a bit of history on the Glow Worm Tunnel; this is one of two abandoned tunnels which were once part of a railway line linking the Newnes shale-oil industrial development with the nearest main railway to Sydney. In the early 1900s the Newnes operation was large enough to warrant the construction of a railway. The line opened in 1906 but was eventually closed in 1930s and part of the railway track was dismantled and sent to Europe to fortify beaches in WW2.

The Glow Worm Tunnel itself is around 400m in length and curves through 180 degrees making it pitch black in the middle. The tunnel also has a small creek which flows through it and the dark damp conditions create the ideal habitat for the glow worms which cover the walls and roof of the tunnel. For the nature buffs the glow worms are the larvae of insects belonging to the order of Diptera (flie) and their scientific name is Arachnocampa richardsae. The glow is the result of bioluminescence and is the reaction of body products and oxygen in the insect’s execratory tubes.

A torch or some sort of light is essential for this ride and will be needed to ride through the first tunnel and if you intend to enter the glow worm tunnel itself. You can ride your bike through the first tunnel but make sure to keep an ear out for cars coming the other way. To view the glow worms, enter the Glow Worm Tunnel using your torch. Find a good possie and turn the torch off, shortly your eyes will adjust and thousands of little pin pricks of light become visible. Trail conditions for this ride are excellent, following a well graded dirt road suitable for 2wd vehicles for the duration of the ride.

The tunnels are popular especially on the weekends so keep an eye out for vehicle traffic and be sure to keep to the left. Once the Glow Worm Tunnel car park is reached a gate blocks vehicle traffic. Bikes can be ridden for another 2km to a locked gate but should be walked from here to the tunnel itself. Adventurous riders can return via a section of the Old Coach Road. This involves a short backtrack from the Glow Worm Tunnel to the Pagoda Track. Bikes must be wheeled / pushed along this section of track until the Old Coach Road is reached. From here you can ride back to the junction with the Glow Worm Tunnel Road up a steepish fire trail climb. Along the way enjoy the fantastic views of rock pagodas as you pedal your way back to the start. 

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 From the Bungleboori picnic area, turn right and follow the Glow Worm Tunnel Rd. The road will travel through some recently logged pine plantations. Ignore numerous logging trails off to the left and right.
  • 13.6 Note a sign indicating that you have left the state forest and are now entering Wollemi National Park. Also note to your right Galah Rd. This eventually leads to a fantastic lookout over the Rocky Creek Gorge.
  • 16.7 Note trail on your left; Fire trail No. 7. This is an optional side trip and leads to a great lookout.
  • 17.7 A trail off to your right marked by a locked gate is the start of Deans Siding. From here the trail starts to descend slightly.
  • 17.8 To your right is the Old Coach Rd which you can choose to return on via the optional side trip.
  • 22.5 Tunnel One is reached. You can ride through this tunnel but lights or a torch will be needed.
  • 23.3 The Glow Worm Tunnel car park is reached. There will be a locked gate with a sign indicating 2 km to the Glow Worm Tunnel. Lift you bikes over this and continue.
  • 24.6 After a downhill run the fire trail terminates. Note the pit toilet off your left, and the locked gate with an information booth. Bikes should be walked from here onwards to the Glow Worm Tunnel, and after visiting the tunnel simply return the same way that you have come.
  • Optional side trip returning via Old Coach Road:

    This option should only be attempted by those confident with navigation and a map and compass should be carried at a minimum.

    For this option back track from the Glow Worm Tunnel to the junction with the Pagoda Track approximately 0.5km. Turn left into the Pagoda Track and walk your bike to the end of this trail which is around one km until you reach an intersection with the Old Coach Rd. Turning left here and heading downhill will lead down to a crossing on the Wolgan River and Newnes. Turn right and follow the fire trail uphill. This is the start of some steep climbing. Note the views on your right-hand side as you climb and the interesting rock pagoda formations. After 5.5km you will reach an intersection with the Glow Worm Tunnel Road. Simply turn left into this and follow back to the camping area.

    • 49.2 Arrive back where you set off from.
    • Trail map

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      Back

      44.113 km / 27.41 mi

      Total Distance

      434 m / 1,425 ft

      Total Ascent

      434 m / 1,425 ft

      Total Descent

      1,171 m / 3,843 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
      MTB Segment: flow
      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: 49.2
      Elevation Gain: 1077
      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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