Posted on: 3rd September
The network of trails around the Cleland wildlife park are pure magic. What it lacks in technical single track and hardcore downhilling, it makes up for with gorgeous fire trails, outrageous city views, steep climbs, and quick descents. It’s close to our store too, so plenty of people who take out our hire bikes head into Cleland for some fun. Check out our hire, and guided tours pages for more info on how we can help you have a great time in Cleland.
Cleland’s surfaces vary from well-cured gravel, to small and loose rocks, and hard-packed dirt. The dry summers can lead to some loosey goosey action as the dust tries to get you all sideways. There’s so much fun to be had as you pick your way through the spaghetti-like interconnecting tracks and trails. It seems like every bend brings you to a new micro-climate. Dry mallee gives way to towering gum trees which transitions to verdant green rainforests with ferns lining both sides of the track.
It’s accessible to a wide range of cycling abilities. The guide below will help people of all abilities have a great time in Cleland.
We’re putting this right up front because Cleland is a shared use area and a National Park. We love riding in there, and it’s gradually opening up more and more to bikes.
So here’s a quick guide to Cleland etiquette:
- Give way to walkers. We know it’s easy to get caught up in the fun of bombing around on the bike, but show some love to your fellow trail users. Be wary of the blind corners in particular.
- Stick to the marked trails. There’s plenty of awesome riding without bush bashing new ones.
- Take it easy when you’re close to the park entrances. These usually have the highest concentration of walkers.
Navigation and Trail Markers
There’s trail signs, markers, and maps scattered all over the trail network. They’ll tell you what trail you’re on and give an indication of the difficulty of what’s ahead.
They’ll make sure you’re not surprised by a sudden change and comply with common trail classifications:
- Green = easy
- Blue = intermediate
- Black = advanced
Experienced mountainbikers won’t find anything overly technical. A black run in Cleland won’t match the difficulty of a black run in a dedicated MTB park. Less experienced riders should be very wary of the black marked trails. Controlling speed can be very challenging.
All of the bikes in our hire fleet are more than capable for taking on what Cleland has to throw at you. The pedal assisted power should make everything climbable, the dual suspension setup will soak up all the bumps and the powerful brakes will slow you down when you need.
Those taking their own bikes don’t need anything too fancy. Mountain bikes are the most common choice and a few people will take their cyclocross bike through.
A big gear range to help with the many steep climbs, grippy tyres, and well-functioning brakes are all you need. Summer sees Cleland get dusty and slippery, whereas winter sees it get wet and slippery. Making sure your bike can grip and stop is quite important here!
Remember to take spare pump, tube, and tyre levers in case you get a flat. Puncturing deep into the park can mean an annoying walk out.
There’s a staggering amount of wildlife around the Cleland trails. Riding at sunrise and sunset requires some vigilance because there’s so many kangaroos around. Many of them are used to people and don’t immediately flee but there’s still plenty that will run across the front of you when caught by surprise.
Koalas and even echidnas can be found in the park too. Be careful in summer though because brown snakes are common. They’ll come and sun themselves on the open trails and move off when they become aware of you. We recommend stepping carefully around them.
Remember not to feed the animals. They’re wild, and it’s best they stay that way.
Track and Trail Guide
There’s so many great trails we decided to just cover our favourites, and the ones that are most commonly ridden. Feel free to ask us about any trails we don’t list below. We can help you find other great spots, or help you avoid going down some of the livelier tracks that can end in disaster.
The Gnarly Climbs/Descents
Chambers Gully Track: This is a very difficult climb if you choose to try and roll up it. We’ve climbed up on our Giant Full-E hire bike before but the rider needs a level of fitness otherwise you’ll be walking. Once at the top, it links with the fantastic trails across the top of the network. It’s marked as a black trail so it’s a technical descent that only experience bikers should attempt. Be careful and courteous if you do descend it because it’s still a shared trail.
Kirrang/Gunbower Track: This is another tough climb or technical descent. It’s tough to climb without an E-Bike but plenty of strong riders have managed it. The toughest gradients are also quite rough which makes it challenging to keep the power down. You’re treated to some lovely views as the trail gains elevation with the city visible through the end of the trail.
Descending is best left to the experienced riders thanks to the sharp corners and loose rocky surfaces. It’ll drop you back down onto the Bartril Spur track where you can swing left for more trail goodness or turn right and head down to an entrance.
Our Favourite Tracks
Choosing your trails can be hard because there’s so many good ones. Here’s some of our favourites to get you started.
Winter Track. This isn’t too gnarly but it’s steep enough to get your heart rate up plenty high. There’s one particularly steep corner but it’s doable if you have the gear range, or take an E-Bike. This is a very popular trail with walkers so be especially careful when descending. It’s cured gravel surface so you can gain a lot of speed without realising.
The reward for climbing Winter Track is the incredible lookout. There’s glorious views of Adelaide from the South, stretching far to the North. Once your done ogling the panorama, the smooth gravel track continues upwards along a grassy hill side. This is a popular spot with kangaroos so keep an eye out for them as you head up towards the Cleland wildlife carpark.
Wine Shanty. This is one of the highlights of the Cleland trails. It’s 5km of undulating terrain with a few pitches up and down to keep things interesting. It’s deep in the park so it can be one of the quietest areas to ride. The terrain varies from smooth compacted soil, to gravel, to a few rocky patches. There’s nothing too difficult through here so we recommend it to basically everyone. Be sure to watch out for kangaroos! Check out the Strava segment.
Spa/Carro/Nangare: This is a fantastic sequence that mixes wide gravelly fire track with some wide-ish single track. You’ll be zipping over bridges, rounding rock piles, and getting a good flow on through the thick ferns. There’s a section of steep climbing or descending depending on which way you do it. It’s a beautiful sequence though and well-worth the challenge. Check out the Strava segment.
Chambers/Bartril Spur Track: This is one of the best ways to get deep into the trail system. It’s a gradual climb up for several kilometers with one very tough pinch that gets more than a few people walking. It’s a gorgeous section that starts on a wide track with adjacent branching trails, heading into the lush tree-lined middle, then opening up with some beautiful views over the trails to finish. It drops you neatly at Long Ridge Track where you have several great trails to choose from. Check out the Strava segment.
Pioneer Womens' Trail/Bullock Track
This isn’t technically in Cleland but it’s a fabulous section with gorgeous views of the city. Starting from the bottom takes you around the exposed trail on the side of Mount Osmond. It then gets you onto the steep Old Bullock Track for some up-hill gravel grinding.
You can link this section up with the Cleland trails and have a brilliant day out on the bike. The best entrance is off Waterfall Gully Road, where you can link up and follow the walking trail – check out the Strava segment.