Take on trail biking in the Yarra Ranges

Take on trail biking in the Yarra Ranges. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Callum Ludwig

For motorbike riders looking for tracks to take on in the coming months, look no further than the Yarra Ranges.

Challenging weather may make tracks tougher over the cooler months but the trails in nearby state forest make for great riding.

Yarra Glen resident Ashton Dobbin doesn’t mind staying close to home for a quick ride and said there are plenty of good places to go in the Yarra Ranges.

“There’s Paul Range (State Forest), the Toolangi State Forest, an area between Millgrove and Gladysdale in the Yarra State Forest and from Big Pat’s Creek up to Reefton is another good area,” he said.

“It’s obviously a lot more difficult in winter, because most of it, especially Toolangi is red mud and clay, so it gets real slippery, and Chum Creek and Paul Range get really rocky but it’s all pretty similar.”

Some recreational tracks do get closed during the height of winter from about 13 June until mid-Spring to protect water quality and prevent damage to the tracks but any closures can be found on the Mapshare Public Access road map at mapshare.vic.gov.au/webmap/publicaccess/.

Mr Dobbin said the first time he started riding in the local state forests was in the breaks between lockdowns in 2020.

“That’s when I started getting more into it but it’s just real fun and it’s something good to do on a Sunday, a lot of people get up early and do it and it’s physically challenging which I enjoy,” he said.

“I’d say certainly take spare parts and water if you’re doing single trails because some of them can get very technical and get pretty fast, pretty quick so a lot of the time you can end up dropping your bike or breaking your bike.”

A motorcycle license or learner’s permit is required to ride in a state forest and the motorcycle must have either full or recreation registration. All usual road rules also apply, with riders required to wear an approved helmet, keep left and ride according to the track conditions.

As well as a helmet, riders are also encouraged to wear full PPE including boots, goggles, body armour, gloves and knee guards, bring a first aid kit and have a reliable means of communication such as a personal locator beacon.

Mr Dobbin said you can find tracks for all skill levels locally.

“If you’re new to the area and you don’t really want to do the hard things, there’s easier tracks between Big Pats Creek and Reefton, though there are more difficult four-wheel drive tracks as well out there if you want to ride them,” he said.

“Whereas I feel like the single trails out in Chum Creek and Toolangi are more difficult, especially in Toolangi where you can head out towards Murrindindi, which can get pretty technical and hard.”

Riders are also urged to respect the local area and the environment by unloading and starting trail bikes away from adjoining residential areas, keeping speed and noise levels low when in or near camping and picnic areas or passing other forest users and by staying on the formed roads and vehicle tracks as it is illegal to ride on natural terrain, in streams or on informal single tracks.