5 October 2023

Mountain bikers will be able to ride between Stromlo and the Cotter by 2025

| Ian Bushnell
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Mountain biker on trail

A new trail linking two hubs will further enhance Canberra as a mountain biking destination. Photo: Andrew Buesnel.

The construction of a mountain bike link between Stromlo and the Cotter is a step closer, with the ACT Government seeking a consultant to plan and design the project.

The government is looking to complete the Stromlo to Cotter (S2C) Mountain Bike Trails Project for trails to be open in 2025.

Parks and Conservation Services has released a tender for the design project, which says that the successful tenderer will deliver a “unique mountain bike trail experience” that will connect Stromlo Forest Park to the Cotter Recreation Reserve.

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The new trail will build on the more than 400 kilometres of mountain bike trails in the Canberra region and further enhance the area as a mountain bike destination, with interstate riders estimated to spend about $30 million a year.

The project stems from the government’s 2021 strategy, the Canberra Mountain Bike Report, 2021, which recommended that further investment was essential for the ACT to remain competitive as a mountain bike destination.

The strategy also prompted an analysis of the Canberra mountain bike network and development of new trail concepts, and the creation of a Preliminary Trail Development Plan.

The Plan said a priority should be the construction of a ‘flow style’ and ‘all mountain’ trail from Stromlo Forest Park to Cotter Recreation Area with a return climb to create a link between the two popular recreation hubs.

Flow-style trails are typically wide machined trails that are smooth, fast, require minimal braking, and are full of bermed turns and jumps, while ‘all mountain’ refers to trails of greater technical difficulty.

This year’s ACT Budget allocated $1.8m for capital works to make Canberra a premier mountain bike destination with a completion date of June 2025.

map of proposed bike path from Stromlo to Cotter

The new trail will build on the more than 400 kilometres of mountain bike trails in the Canberra region. Image: ACT Government.

The tender document says the proposed trail will have four distinct sections defined by the terrain and trail ‘type’. However, it should still be considered a single, fully connected entity and marketable trail experience.

The four distinct design sections include:

  • An International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) intermediate grade single directional flow trail descending Mount Stromlo to the Stony Creek Reserve boundary.
  • An adjoining IMBA intermediate grade single directional ‘all mountain’ trail from the Stony Creek Reserve boundary to Casuarina Sands.
  • A return IMBA intermediate grade ‘all mountain’ shared use (with walkers) climbing trail from Casuarina Sands to the Stromlo Forest Park boundary.
  • An easy-grade multi-use trail between Casuarina Sands to Thompsons Carpark in the Cotter Recreation Reserve.

The first section starts at the top of Mt Stromlo, following existing green and intermediate trails to then turn off onto a newly constructed section of trail. Creating a longer ‘flow’ style trail will require changing the proposed alignment.

Section 2 will commence from the Stony Creek Reserve boundary and then transition from a ‘flow trail’ to an ‘all mountain’ ‘adventure’ trail with a mix of climbing and descent through gullies and around rocky knolls.

A mid-trail intersection with the climbing trail about 2 to 3 km from the Reserve boundary provides an opportunity for a shorter loop and a viewpoint.

The third section is a climbing, shared-use trail commencing at Casuarina Sands and winding up through Stony Creek and Winslade to finish in the existing Stromlo Forest Park trail network, intersecting with the fire road.

The mid-trail intersection, approximately 4.2 km up from Casuarina Sands, provides riders with two shorter loop trail options. This trail will also be a dual-direction walking trail.

The final section is a multi-use, dual-direction trail using existing paths and tracks through the Cotter Recreation area.

The trail runs between Casuarina Sands and Thompsons carpark, passing over the Murrumbidgee River and through the Cotter campground.

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The document says that as the Cotter Recreation Area is already well used by Canberrans and visitors, the integration of mountain biking may require upgrading the existing pathway and trail network with an emphasis on shared use and safety for all users.

It recommends a new dedicated pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the Murrumbidgee River to keep bikes separated from vehicles and ensure an enjoyable experience for users.

The tender closes on 26 October.

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More squillions of dollars for the Lycra warriors & still know sign of a dragstrip.

Squillions….

By which you mean less than two million bucks and spread over a couple of years.

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