Cudlee Creek MTB Trails Ride 1

Cycle Adelaide, Mountain Bike Ride, Cudlee Creek MTB Trails Ride 1

When it comes to mountain biking venues, it doesn’t get much better than this. Just 40 minutes from Adelaide, and part of the Mount Crawford Forest Reserves, Cudlee Creek Forest combines sensational scenery with one of the best networks of MTB trails in Australia.

The Cudlee Creek Mountain Bike Trails are part of an innovative environmental and recreation project created by the SA Government and state cycling bodies. Sited within a former production forest, the trail network is now part of a conservation area and has been developed with environmental sustainability as a core value.

Catering for all skills levels, the network of loop trails includes both cross-country and downhill routes. Single tracks meet IMBA standards, and are seriously challenging, while forest management tracks provide easier routes for families and recreational riders. The trails are all classified and marked accordingly – green circle for beginner, blue square for intermediate and black diamond for advanced – and trailhead and route signage makes it all incredibly user-friendly. There’s also a bit of fun in the tracks’ imaginative names, with routes like Human Projectile, Dynamic Tension, Immaculate Compaction and The Guts (yes, straight up the middle).

The trails are home to the Dirty Weekend, one of the state’s most popular annual endurance MTB events. Run by Bicycling SA, the challenge pits solo, duo or team riders against their peers over a 24, 12 or 6-hour period, on a course designed to test both endurance and handling skills. Held in April-May each year, it’s just one of many events run at the site, including cross-country and downhill club events, and rides in Bicycle SA’s Track and Trail series. Check BSA or club websites for event dates, and note that the trails are closed on Total Fire Ban days.

Leaving the black trails for the more daring, our rides utilise green beginner (Ride 1) and blue intermediate (Ride 2) routes. Ride 1 follows the Cudlee Creek Cruise to the Thomas Hill Lookout, and is a relatively easy ride on 4WD tracks – although with a short challenging climb or two and some rough patches along the way. At under 2km each way it’s a great ride for families with young children, and the lookout provides sensational views and an ideal picnic spot.

Ride 2, following blue trails, is surprisingly hard. It takes a bit of navigation, as the tracks are among the least used within the network and can be overgrown, and not all of it is marked. There’s also some serious climbing, several steep rollercoaster descents, and a couple of tight single track sections. The tracks are all very rough and obstacles are common, so be prepared to get off and carry your bike where necessary. It’s a great ride, though, twisting and turning alongside steep gullies and gorges, then opening out to incredible views. If stunning scenery and pizza-deserving workouts are your thing, this ride is for you.

Terrain Ride 1 undulating, all on unsealed 4WD tracks. Ride 2 hilly to very steep. Mainly rough 4WD tracks, two single track sections. Knobblies recommended. 


From the city, take North Tce, Payneham Rd, Lower North East Rd and Gorge Rd to Cudlee Creek. Just after the Cudlee Café, turn right onto Cudlee Creek/Lobethal Rd, then Fox Creek Rd and Croft Rd. Both rides start near the Grass Triangle Carpark.

Food and Drink

None on the rides. The Cudlee Café on your way there or back makes great coffee and light meals and has outdoor seating.

Side trip

Make the most of your visit to this great mountain bike park and relax with a picnic, then explore the rest of the trails. Alternatively, take a walk through the forest reserve.

Ride Log 1

  • 0.0 Starting at the trailhead sign for the Mawson Trail, Thomas Hill Study Centre and Cross Country MTB Trails, cross the stile and head down the 4WD track.
  • 0.1 A shelter on the right has information boards for the MTB trail network and the Mawson Trail.
  • 0.2 A challenging climb on a rough section of track.
  • 0.6 The Guts Track/Munns Track goes off to the right. Take the lower track, signed for the Cudlee Creek Cruise and the Thomas Hill Lookout.
  • 1.0 With a track off to the right, continue straight ahead on the marked green trail.
  • 1.7 At the Thomas Hill Lookout, the ride ends. Enjoy the views, then head back along the trail.
  • Trail map

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    3.496 km / 2.173 mi

    Total Distance

    103 m / 337 ft

    Total Ascent

    103 m / 337 ft

    Total Descent

    569 m / 1,868 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Beginner (Green)
    Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    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: 3.5
    Elevation Gain: 103
    First Aid
    Bike hire
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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