“The Bay of Fires is one of two Epic trails in Australia, but the experience is like none other. Few rides in the world traverse such a variety of landscapes and deposit riders into a scene straight off a postcard as a reward for their effort.”
From the mountains to the sea, The Bay of Fires Trail is a backcountry riding experience like no other. Starting high in the Blue Tier Forest Reserve, the 42km point-to-point wilderness trail descends to the ocean, finishing on the squeaky white sand of Swimcart Beach.
The Blue Tier may sound familiar because it forms the ‘blue’ part of the infamous Blue Derby trail network, and has a wilderness trail of its own to Weldborough. The Bay of Fires Trail sets a course for the ocean, descending the other side of the mountain.
Crossing the threshold onto the trail, you’re guided through a myrtle beech forest before a break in the canopy reveals a sprawling vista. You can see the electric blue water waiting at the finish line on a clear day. However, don’t spend too long taking in the view because you still have 41km to ride, and the fun has only just begun.
After a short climb, gravity takes over and what lay ahead is 14km of flowy berms, jumps and drops. Corner, after corner, after corner of rich, dark, grippy dirt, this masterpiece was constructed by the wizards at World Trail. Every feature is predictable, so you can keep off the brakes and let the bike run, without worrying about surprises that will send you careening into the scrub.
Losing over 600m of elevation — almost 200m more vertical drop than Thredbo — the first descent to Terry’s Hill Road is a guided tour through a prehistoric rainforest. The Blue Tier Reserve is one of the few places in Australia that remained unglaciated through the last ice age, and that myrtle beech forest at the start becomes ever greener, mossier and lush as you descend. Then, the whispy subalpine flora starts morphing into ferns, big and small.
When you emerge from the bush after the first descent, you’ll be thankful for a short fire road liaison to shake out your hands and spin the pedals for a while. But, not to worry, because you’ll be back on singletrack in no time for 4.8km of newly built trail, meandering through the bush.
Ansons Bay Road is the halfway point, and here you’ll find a bike hygiene station before you enter Doctors Peak Forest Reserve. This isn’t a spot to rinse the dust and loam off your bike; it’s there to prevent the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi, commonly known as root rot, from spreading into the Tasmanian dry sclerophyll forest below, please make sure you use the hygiene station before continuing on.
From the halfway point, the trail gains about 200m of elevation over 10km, enough to raise your heart rate but not to the point where you need the 52t cog at the back. As you pedal, boulders and rock formations are sprinkled along the route, seemingly dropped by giants in an age long gone.
Continuing on your journey towards the coast, keep your head up and look around. The surroundings are continuing to evolve. The forest opens up, and the ribbon of dirt in front of you adopts a lighter hue.
The trail continues to climb, contouring up the range and around the edge of Mount Pearson. The smell of salt water hits your nostrils well before you see the vibrant blue water of Binalong Bay peeking through the trees.
Cresting over the top, bright white singletrack carves down the hillside, and the final 8km cuts wide arcs through the open eucalypt forest. You can’t see the beach anymore, but the trail gets sandier with every kilometre, hinting at your proximity to the Tasman Sea.
The singletrack spits you out on the side of a gravel road, but the ride isn’t finished. Keep following the sound of waves towards the dunes for the payoff. Just beyond the rise is Swimcart Beach.
The Bay of Fires is one of two Epic trails in Australia, but the experience is like none other. Few rides in the world traverse such a variety of landscapes and deposit riders into a scene straight off a postcard as a reward for their effort.
You’ll need to book a ride to the Blue Tier to access The Bay of Fires. Shuttle providers based in St Helens and Derby run this route and collect you at the bottom. This is a proper backcountry trail; there is nowhere to buy water or spares along the way, so come prepared.
Enjoy the ride!