Snowy Mountain Higher
For years the long road climbs of the Snowy Mountains have kept me coming back to this unique and rugged landscape, but in recent years I’ve fallen in love with venturing even further off the beaten path. After the success of the Snowy Mountain High Ride in 2017, I could think of no better place to launch our first off-road ride, Snowy Mountain Higher!
From flowing single track to remote fire trails Kosciuszko National Park offers some of the most spectacular off-road riding in the world. These 4 epic days will have you chomping at the bit for more MTB adventures.
Eagles Nest to Jindabyne
Strava Route: 74km 1200m
Starting with a bang, we catch the Kosciuszko Express Chair to the top of Thredbo to kick off with 1950m of gravity-assisted fun. The Flow Trail will get your adrenaline pumping and a smile on your dial as we criss-cross Thredbo ski resort. After 7km of downhill bliss, we move on to stage two with a fang down the Thredbo River Trail. Averaging -1.5km for 30km this undulating run down the Thredbo Valley has got to be one of the most beautiful pieces of single track in the world, crossing the river numerous times to maximise the visual joy!
You might notice that the route map straight-lines for the last 8km. This is due to the fact that the trail is due for completion in mid-2019 so we’ll be testing out some sections of pretty fresh trail. We finish up with an early lunch by the Thredbo River before we hit the tarmac for a few km to link the TVT to the Lake Jindabyne Foreshore Trail. The 10km lakeside trail takes us back into the heart of Jindabyne and the option for an early tap out. If you’ve still got fuel in the tank there are some wonderful trails on the eastern side of town that link Jindabyne to Tyrolean Village. After an hour or two exploring the Jindy trail network, you’ll be ready for that afternoon coffee or vanilla slice and a hot shower.
Jindy to Guthega
Strava Route: 91km 2350m
While Day 1 was predominantly a downhill run, Day 2 sees us gain some pretty significant altitude. Heading out of town along the Foreshore Lake Trail we hit the tarmac again at the 10km mark and it’s here that we gain our first big chunk of altitude as we climb up to Rennix Gap (Cat 1 13km @ 5%). After descending 5km to Island Bend we park up for a well deserved morning tea. After 7km of digesting we hit our next climb Gutherga Rd / Link Rd (Cat 2 5.7km @ 6.5%).
For the Skiiers amongst us, you’ll enjoy seeing the back of Blue Cow and Smiggins in all its summery glory. We hit the tarmac again for the 11km stretch to Charlotte Pass Ski Resort for lunch. From here we strike out on our push to Australia’s Highest Peak in the footsteps of Strzelecki, the Kosciuszko Summit Climb (Cat 3 7.7km @ 4%). Parking up km from the summit we’ll take on the last push on foot before remounting and enjoying the downhill run back to Perisher. Busting off-road again we head through the Perisher Valley and follow the Roller Coaster run down to Guthega Rd which takes us to our digs for the night.
Guthega to Geehi
Strava Route: 62.5km 880m
Striking into the heart of the Jagungal Wilderness with one of the classic Kosci MTB day trips. Following the Snowy River around Mt Blue Cow for 7.2km, we cross the river at Guthega Power Station and hit the main climb of the day Schlink Pass (Cat 2 9.2km @ 5%) which is really two climbs rolled into one with the first 2.1km @ 10% and the last 4.5km @ 7%. For the non-mathematically minded amongst us, that’s 2.6km of relative respite. As we climb towards the Pass we transition from the montane zone with taller and denser trees up through the sub-alpine zone and eventually above the treeline and into the alpine zone above 1800m. Thankfully that’s the lion’s share of the climbing out of the way.
After a regroup and a snack we continue across the Jagungal Plateau briefly before a 15km long downhill run to Geehi Reservoir, where we hit a little speed bump, the Mungyang Rd Clim (Cat 4 .9km @ 11%). With that taken care of we roll down to lunch on the dam wall at the 38km mark. The next 14 or so kilometres are a bit of a mystery… My best guess is lots of leg sapping undulations, some longer than others. At least one of the “undulations” lasts long enough to be categorised. The Olsens Rd Climb (Cat 4 2.1km @ 5%) comes at the 45km mark.
Cresting this little drag you can feel safe in the knowledge that you have conquered Day 3 and you’ll fight on for another day. The last 12km is a downhill run on a well-maintained fire trail. With one last stop to take in the view of the Main Range from Olsens Lookout, we finish our day when we hit The Alpine Way and meet our support crew for a quick trip back to Thredbo.
Thredbo to Jindabyne via the Pilot Wilderness
Strava Route: 95km 1670m
They’re all going to be days to remember but this is going to be a classic. Speaking to a local trail builder and MTB guru, he said this is one of the best days riding he has done anywhere in the world. High praise from a man who knows his stuff!
Heading out from Thredbo we start climbing from the gun, following the valley up to Dead Horse gap then heading south on the Cascade Hut Trail. While it’s predominantly up, the first real test comes at the 7km mark when we hit the Bob’s Ridge Climb (Cat 3 2.7km @ 7.4%). From there, its a long undulating downhill run (although there are plenty of little ramps) until we have a brief break for a snack at the Tin Mines Hut at the 30km mark. We continue deeper into the Pilot Wilderness for 17km then hit the Nine Mile Fire Trail Climb (Cat 4 1.6km @ 8.1%) before dropping very rapidly into the Pinch River Valley at -20% and losing 900m in 4.5km. Make sure your disk brakes are in good order!
After lunch at the Pinch River campground, we head towards home with 10km to digest before we take on the giant of Snowy Mountain Higher, The Barry Way (HC 22.9km @ 4.1%). It’s a long drag with some tough steep pinches. The bulk of the climbing occurs in an 11km section that averages 6%. Knocking it off in under 2 hours will see you crack the top 3 on Strava but with 3 big days in the legs expect this beast to take 3 hours and take all the mental strength you can muster. We hit the tarmac at Grosses Plain at the 95km mark and if you’re feeling strong you’re welcome to spin out the legs with an extra 20km downhill run to Jindabyne- and a very well deserved beverage.