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Best bike rides

A GUIDE TO THE BEST BIKE TRAILS IN THE SUTHERLAND SHIRE

As spring is upon us, there’s nothing quite like dusting off that bicycle and embracing the outdoors. Whether you’ve just removed your training wheels or are a regular helmet head, there is something in the Shire for everyone. 

Picture lush wooded forests, coastal rides with a view and even a dedicated mountain bike park tucked away in the Heathcote National Park. If that’s not enough to have you hopping on your bike, the fact that you’re helping the environment and keeping yourself healthy should sway your decision.

Saddle up and plan your weekend jaunts with five of the best cycle trails in the Sutherland Shire. As the saying goes – two wheels are better than none.

1. Lady Carrington Drive, Royal National Park, 10km

What better way to experience the Royal National Park than with the wind in your hair? This 10km bike trail follows the Hacking River through patches of forest, beautiful blue gums and 15 creeks. Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life with this easy and wide trail, a journey perfect for the whole family.

Bring a packed lunch and stop at any of the three picnic areas along the track where you can take in the high canopies and listen to the soundtrack of tweeting birds. If you forget your lunchbox, head to the Audley Dance Hall Café and watch the Hacking River roll by. 

Haven’t quite seen it all? Don’t fret – you will be coming back the same way you came. Whilst this 10km bike ride isn’t too strenuous, the eucalyptus rich bushland, electric blue bower birds and trickling river will take your breath away.

2. Captain Cook Drive Loop, 15km

Not everyone was built for heart pumping steep inclines. If you’re looking for a flatter ride, Captain Cook Drive loop, is the route for you.

Start this popular cycle trail at the beachside suburb of Greenhills Beach. The area is abundant with extra-curricular activities so make a day of your ride, exploring the Cronulla Sand Dunes and Wanda Park on your trip. Head west along Captain Cooks Drive winding along the cycle path (be careful, you are sharing the road with cars) bordered by a mass of lush bushes. 

Spinning your two-wheeler can really work up an appetite. Stop off in Kurnell at one of the many cafés to refuel, then continue on to the majestic sandstone cliff tops of Cape Solander. If you’re there at the right time of year (May to August) you can dabble in a spot of whale watching before heading home. This 15km round trip is easy on the legs and even easier on the eyes.

3. Sutherland Shire Beach Ride, 20km

If salty air and sea spray is more your kind of thing then the 20km Sutherland Shire Beach ride is the perfect trail for you. No need for maps, simply follow the cycleway and celebrate your finish at the beachside haven of Cronulla. 

Strap on your helmet at the western side of Cahill Park, Wolli Creek and head for the sound of crashing waves. This ride is ideal for novices and families featuring flat, idyllic roads. Wind along the cycleway as you join tyre to sand at the beachfront of Kymeemagh. Keep breezing along the picturesque shoreline until you take your bike to new heights as you elevate your two-wheeler over the Captain Cook bridge. Enjoy 360 views of Georges River, surrounded by docked sailboats floating in the harbour.

When you reach the 20km finish point, take a well-deserved break at any one of the insta-worthy eateries in Cronulla. From artisanal cafés to beachfront restaurants, the selection of dining offerings makes the journey all the more worthwhile.

4. Sutherland to Waterfall, 10km

Time your ride on a Saturday and begin at the Shire Farmers Market. Get your wheels turning as you head south to Loftus, there’s an option to detour around the Loftus Oval if you really want to get your heart racing. Though easy in parts, this 10km trail will challenge you as the path morphs from flat wide trails to steep, single track trails. 

Pedal off along the cycleway beside the Princess Highway keeping your eye out for the cycle markings just before Engadine. Continue heading through as you reach Heathcote and engulf yourself in the lush shrubbery of the Royal National Park. 

Heathcote to Waterfall is a favourite bushwalk amongst visitors and locals – as you breeze through the natural surroundings, you will see why. If you haven’t quite used up all your energy there are plenty of walking tracks that lead to neighbouring parks, Lake Toolooma and the highest point in the Sutherland Shire, Mount Westmacott.

5. Mill Creek Mountain Bike Park, Lucas Heights, 8km

Kick it up a gear at the Mill Creek Mountain Bike Park. Leave the designer bikes at home and prepare for some hair-raising inclines. Follow signs to the Lucas Heights Conservation Area where you begin your biking adventure at Mill Creek East, also known as Methane Alley. 

This heady and energising ride consists of 8km of trails with various levels of height and difficulty. Find yourself amongst the forest with branches bordering the dusty paths, inviting you to brave the off-road obstacles. For those not quite at the daredevil calibre, keep an eye out for the jumps, built to give your tyres some air as you wind along the tracks.

End your adventure at Black Hawk Down, the first top-to-bottom purpose-built trail in the Mill Creek Mountain Bike park. This 500-metre trail is a favourite for those that need to give their legs a rest as the straight path is mostly downhill. Be cautious on your discovery of the Mill Creek Mountain bike park – this cycle trail is for the thrill seekers. 

By Rebecca Mason.

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