Three major trails at Stromlo Forest Park have just undergone a major facelift in time for spring.
Work was completed on the trails last Friday (3 September), just as the ACT’s daily exercise hours doubled from one to two.
Trebuchet, Vapour and Caroline have all been upgraded to allow for some easing of congestion, with new tunnels and jumps allowing the trails to cross over one another on different levels.
Over the top, there are two black trails, and then the blue trail runs through the middle, meaning all three are distinct.
The easing of congestion will make the park even safer.
Executive branch manager for the National Arboretum Canberra and Stromlo Forest Park Scott Saddler says it’s all part of a broader strategy to bring more riders to the park.
Currently, Stromlo receives an average of half a million visitors per year, and it’s a number that’s only likely to grow.
The long-term goal for the park is not only to increase the number of trails in the park, Mr Saddler says, but to continue to upgrade and maintain the existing routes.
“We have identified several areas of the park which were too congested and becoming a safety issue.
“By actually upgrading the tracks, we were then able to alleviate the risks associated with too many riders converging on the one area,” he explained.
As part of the process, Iconic Trails was engaged as a new contractor.
Run by keen bike rider Garreth Paton, the team initially suggested making the blue trail run under the others in a tunnel, with two jumps over the top.
“It looks absolutely amazing now,” Mr Saddler says. But, much as he loves mountain biking, you’re unlike to spot Mr Saddler on what he calls the “insane” black trails.
Stromlo Forest Park only came under Mr Saddler’s direction around 12 months ago. He explains that it was part of a broader ACT Government strategy that noted the importance of the park’s infrastructure and appeal to locals and visitors.
He says the government is firmly committed to ensuring that the park remains at the top of the game in terms of downhill tracks.
It’s been clear to Mr Saddler that the popularity of mountain biking has only grown since the beginning of the pandemic over 18 months ago.
“There have been stages through COVID-19 when you couldn’t even buy a new bike, and as soon as you put a second-hand bike up for sale, it’s snapped up immediately,” he said.
He also attributes some of the popularity of Stromlo to the work that’s gone into building the nearby state-of-the-art swimming pool and gym.
“People bring their bikes along, they come to the pool for a swim or utilise the gym, so it’s turning out to be a multifaceted institution.”
This is also changing the demographic of the park.
“Before, you’d see a bloke come out by himself, or maybe bring his son, but now it’s whole families who are coming out to get amongst it,” Mr Saddler said.
“They’ll have the trailer with the five or six bikes and the kids will be using the pump tracks which is just great.”
Dynamic Motivation has recently begun running a ‘Stromlo Shuttle’ which takes riders to the top of the mountain for only $2 every hour, making riding easier, faster and more accessible.
This isn’t the end of the work at Stromlo, either. Big things are in the works under the current Master Plan to allow for continued upgrades to trails and tracks.