Photograph by Daniel R. Westergren
From leisurely family rides to mountain bike adventures, South Australia has a well-developed network of bike paths, rail trails, and extended touring options. Adelaide and its hills have the highest concentration of bike paths, or the wine districts of the Barossa, Clare Valley, and McLaren Vale have popular rural rides. The Flinders Ranges is a top mountain-biking destination for touring and for downhill at Melrose.
River Torrens Linear Park Trail
This peaceful slice of urban greenery follows the river all the way from the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges through Adelaide’s city center to Henley Beach, with onward beach options. Most visitors start at Elder Park in the center and ride eight miles to the beach, though the other way, 12 miles up to the hills past the Adelaide Zoo, is quieter, greener, and also well worth your while. The trail is paved, often runs both sides of the river, and is generally easy to follow thanks to signs along the path. Suitable for all fitness levels, there’s a steady 300-foot incline from the beach to the hills but no major climbs. The trail is multiuse and also popular with walkers, especially on weekends.
Where the trail hits the coast, you can head north to the pleasant beach suburb of Henley for a meal or drink, or keep riding to the next suburb Grange and put your bike on a train back to the city. Alternatively, head south along the Coast Park Bike Path for a beach ride to Glenelg, Adelaide’s liveliest beach enclave.
Riesling and Rattler Trails
Running through the picturesque wine district of the Clare Valley, the Riesling Trail runs from Auburn to the town of Clare and then on to Barinia. This 22-mile trail was one of the state’s first rail trails and makes a fine leisurely ride through the vineyards and towns of the valley, with plenty of possible stops for dining and wining. A later addition, the Rattler Trail, extends the ride south another 12 miles from Auburn to Riverton.
This is one for the adventurer, running over 560 miles from Adelaide to Blinman in the Flinders Ranges. It climbs through the Adelaide Hills and descends to the Barossa and Clare Valley wine districts (including the Riesling Trail) before traveling on through the desert. This is a well-marked mountain bike trail, heading off of the highway and along forests, farms, and other existing unsealed trails and roads. You can ride the whole length in two weeks or do it in sections, like the Flinders Ranges. In order to safely plan and undertake a ride on the Mawson Trail, it is essential to have a map; Bike SA sells maps and lists bike transport options. Anytime outside the heat of Australia’s summer is a good time to ride the Mawson Trail.
Bike Hire: In Adelaide, bicycles can be hired at Elder Park, or the city has a free hire scheme with over 20 locations. Leave your ID and get a bike for the day, plus a helmet, which is compulsory, and a bike lock. Bike SA has details, and also rents quality road and mountain bikes for longer rentals. In the Clare Valley, Cogwebs, Clare Valley Cycle Hire, Burra Bike Hire, and other accommodations provide bikes.
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