Six Must-Do Mountain Biking Experiences in Queensland’s Tropical North

It’s time to turn the adrenaline radar to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef with an expanding number of epic mountain biking experiences.

Earlier this year, Cairns, in Australia’s tropical Queensland, was crowned the newest destination to join the Crankworx World Tour circuit. The premiere mountain biking event will welcome more than 750 elite, amateur and youth mountain bike athletes to the region, alongside approximately 25,000 event visitors, in October 2022.

Having kicked up the dirt for the first time in 2004, zooming through the mountains of Whistler, Crankworx has grown to be an international celebration of mountain biking, taking in stunning destinations across the world. And for the first time ever, the tropical rainforests of Cairns will be added to the circuit in October 2022. The Crankworx World Tour attracts the best mountain bike athletes from across the globe, alongside competitions for amateur and young riders eager to test their skill and stamina on some of the most challenging yet scenic tracks in the world.

Crankworx Cairns takes centre stage at Smithfield in the city’s north for the third leg of the World Tour from October 5 – 9, 2022. Competitions for this year’s event include Slopestyle, Downhill, Dual Slalom, Speed & Style, Pump Track, and Whip-Off – to name a few – delivering four exhilarating days of action for visitors to get among the festivities and watch the world’s best go ‘helmet to helmet’.

If you can’t make it to Crankworx Cairns 2022  you can still experience the thrills of the famous Smithfield Track in Tropical North Queensland – the oldest mountain bike park in Australia. The Smithfield Track is the brainchild of world-renowned mountain bike trail designer and Cycling Australia Hall of Fame inductee, Glen Jacobs, who has created hundreds of tracks across the world, including the course for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The Smithfield Track itself has hosted premier mountain biking events including the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup (1995, 2014 and 2016), the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships (1996 and 2017) and will add Crankworx 2022 to the list this October.

It’s time to turn the adrenaline radar to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef with an expanding number of epic mountain biking experiences.

With more than 60km of trails ranging from easy to advanced, the best way to make the most out of this trail network is to book a tour with Biked Palm Cove. The half-day guided tour starts with a 20-minute ride from the Biked office in the pretty village of Palm Cove and includes the hire of a bike, helmet, hydration backpack, gloves and plenty of fast-paced action at the Smithfield Track.

Of course, you don’t need to be a world-class athlete to enjoy the adventure of mountain biking, with two hinterland bike parks within easy reach of Cairns offering beginner-friendly trails. Get a feel for the sport at both the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park and Davies Creek Trail Network by teaming up with local mountain bike operator, e-MTB Tropical Tours. These expert peddlers do all the heaving lifting (literally), with accommodation pick up and all equipment provided. Enjoy learning the history of the area and take in the sensational surroundings while the pedal-assisted e-bikes make for a less strenuous ride.

Local legend has it that the infamous Bump Track (above) near Port Douglas started its life as a trail for Aboriginal groups before becoming a transport corridor to connect the gold mines to the coast in the 1870s. Fast forward to 2022 and the trail is now regarded as having some of the best BMX and mountain biking terrain in Australia. The six-kilometre-long track rises 400m above sea level providing spectacular views out to the coast and valley before sending riders shredding down exhilarating hills. Passing through dense tropical rainforests and by glistening creeks and waterfalls, the Bump Track also incorporates a few steep climbs to test endurance. Tackle this track on a guided ride with the team from Bike n Hike Adventure Tours, including transfers from Port Douglas accommodation and a support vehicle to supply refreshments. Finish the journey with a scenic ride along Four Mile Beach.

It’s time to turn the adrenaline radar to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef with an expanding number of epic mountain biking experiences.
Credit: Flow Mountain Bike

Halfway between Townsville and Cairns, the township of Mission Beach is a jump-off point for a number of little known cycle tracks that come with the added bonus of cassowary spotting. Not far from Mission Beach is the Musgravea Track, a Licuala palm-dappled trail perfect for families, and beginner riders, taking approximately two hours to complete. Keep an eye out for secret swimming holes to cool down at the end of the ride. South of the Musgravea Track is the Mission Beach Mountain Bike Park, with green-rated trails tailored for the less experienced rider.

Meanwhile, the Misty Mountains Wilderness Tracks offers a network of rainforest trails suitable for bushwalking and bike riding, varying in difficulty and length, with mountain bikers permitted to make use of the Koolmoon Creek, Gorrell and Cardwell Range tracks. While these routes require an intermediate or experienced understanding of mountain biking, the nearby K-Tree, Bora Ground, Maalan Road, Maple Creek and Sutties Gaps Road provide easier, green-rated rides. End the day (or start the day) with a peddle along the sands of Mission Beach. The 21km return ride takes approximately one hour and offers magnificent views across the Coral Sea to Dunk and Bedarra Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.

Tackle one of the most legendary mountain biking stage races in the world this November with The Crocodile Trophy. The multi-day biking event (November 4-12, 2022) kicks off at the famous Smithfield Track in Cairns before climbing to the Atherton Tablelands, passing through the rural township of Wondecla and whizzing through the Herberton Range National Park. The stage race includes a stop at Skybury Farms – Australia’s oldest coffee plantation – and Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, before a grand finale finish on the sandy shores of Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. Riders are encouraged to register as soon as possible to make the most of early bird offers and secure a place in the race.

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Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Ultimate Encounters staff writers and contributors are made up of seasoned travel journalists and expedition leaders who have travelled the globe seeking thrilling new experiences for our readers.

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