The tale of Tasmanian mountain biking hitting the world stage is one that has been told many times with the overwhelming success of Derby, a location that is known world wide as one of the best mountain biking locations in Australia. As the success of Derby has been established, the Tasmanian Government has invested more into mountain bike tourism and the rise of new locations such as St Helens is starting to take place. We headed down to St Helens to check it all out and give you another ride location article.
As part of stage 2 of the Blue Derby mountain bike development project and funded by $1 million from the Tasmanian government, St Helens was set to be a success from the get-go. Award-winning trail builders World Trail were given the task again and they have yet to disappoint with building still ongoing within the network. The picturesque seaside town hosts some of the best beaches in the country and now is home to a growing network of trails.
How to Get There
Situated 150km from Launceston approximately 2 hours drive, St Helens is the gateway to the Bay of Fires and the Beautiful Tasmanian East Coast. Only an hour’s drive from Derby, it makes this spot a great add on to any mountrain biking trip to Derby. Cars and campervans can be hired from Launceston or you can organise a shuttle pickup from one of the mountain bike transfer companies such as Premium MTB Transfers and Tailored Trails. If you are after the full experience tackle the Bay of Fires trail from Blue Tier and make your way the 42km down to Swimcart Beach.
The Bay of Fires Trail
This trail is set to become one of those iconic trails that people travel to conquer, nowhere else can you get amazing scenery, epic forests and ride trails built by World Trail. Accessed from the Blue Tier, The Bay of Fires Trail covers 42km of terrain from rainforest, past granite boulders and onto the sands of Swimcart Beach. The halfway point is accessible for those not wanting to tackle the whole trail and can be accessed by Ansons Bay Rd.
It’s recommended you allow 5hrs or more for the whole trail, carry enough water to sustain you for the entire ride, have spares and are fully self-sufficient. Mobile phone coverage is spotty at best so make sure you let someone know where and when you expect to finish. Self driving is an option or there are shuttles available from Derby or St Helens. Click on one of the links below for details.
Stacked Loops – Flagstaff Trailhead
Once you have conquered the Bay of fire trail it’s time to head out to the trail head at Flagstaff Rd. You can either drive the short distance from town or takes the gentle climb on the town link trail and cover the 4km on your own steam. These stacked loops are still being built but there is approximately 30+ km of trail already constructed, most of which is flow trail with nothing over an intermediate level at this stage. If you are looking to hit the two longer descents though you will have to grab a shuttle and head up to Loila Tier to start the See Ya Later and Old Salty Dog.
Local company Gravity Isle runs shuttles to Loila Tier.
One of the funnest flow trails is the town link trail back from the flagstaff trail head and means that you can finish by the water with some local seafood, all without turning the key to the ignition of your car.
If you are chasing the local trail knowledge or need something for your bike the drop into Giant St Helens and have a chat.
The St Helens Flagstaff trailhead has everything you will need to stay hydrated, relaxed and ready for the trails. There’s potable water, toilets, trail maps and even a cafe on some days. The build of the St Helen’s trails really has taken after the prototype of Blue Derby. As far as the Bay of Fires Trails goes, make sure you are fully self sufficient and are carrying enough water and food to make the journey.
Best Time to Ride
St Helens can be ridden year-round but the best time to ride is from Autumn to Spring, Tassie does get crisp in winter of course. No matter what time of year it is, St Helens and the Bay of Fires will not disappoint.
The Final Word
Tasmania is fast become the best ride destination in Australia, no matter who you are, this cannot be disputed. The success of Derby has been well established, Maydena have taken the reigns on the gravity side and now it looks like St Helens is set to add flow and a seaside destination to the mix. We spent just a few days in St Helens but it was long enough to realise that it’s a beautiful part of the world. The trails are fun and there’s much more planned and being built, meaning that this place will raise the bar one more time.
If you are chasing a place to unwind after Derby, or perhaps somewhere to stop on the way to Maydena, then St Helens is the seaside paradise you have been looking for.