Earn your turns at The Oaks flow trail.

Jump, hop, drop and flow on The Oaks flow trail. Rail the berms and float over rock features at the end of the Woodford to Glenbrook fire trail in the NSW Blue Mountains National Park.

Treat yourself to some fun and frivolity on a well-constructed single track trail after the journey down from Woodford. Take the black line and pop off every jump and drop, or opt for the blue line and just feel the flow. You can even do both. The trip from the end of the flow trail back to the start is only about 2k on a sealed road.

The flow trail runs parallel to the last section of the fire trail in the national park and is a reward for enduring the undulating trek from Woodford, kind of like the fun you add on to the end of a workout. The Oaks Trail is a moderate workout, and the beginning of the MTB trail can be reached from Woodford in about one hour without too much effort – it is essentially downhill, so

‘keep your hands off the brakes and your eyes upon the trail’

You can warm up for the flow trail at certain parts of the fire trail. You could read the following signs as a warning, or an invitation. With enough speed, you can get good air off the humps.

The signs are great for your confidence too, as they tell you you’re going so fast you need to be alerted to the presence of speed humps.

Upon arrival at the first boom gate, you’ll see a short single track off to the right, and while this has no designated features, it is still fun and more interesting than following the fire trail. It’s also a walking trail, so keep your eyes open for hikers.

Cheat

You could cheat. You could get yourself to Glenbrook, then ride or drive to the start of the MTB flow trail, without doing the hard work from Woodford. The start of the flow trail lies a few kilometres from town and it is even possible to drive all the way to the carpark before enjoying the jumps, drops and berms.

That said, the climb out of the gully from the creek crossing back to Glenbrook is quite steep, and almost as arduous as riding from Glenbrook all the way back to Woodford on the fire trail.

Still hungry?

If you’re still hungry for single track and MTB features, cross the highway to Knapsack Reserve and enjoy the trails in this small section of bushland. There’s enough to keep you entertained for a good while, and the downhill track is steep and rocky.

Image: Nick Rickert

Cycling the Narrow Neck Trail.

Narrow Neck Trail is a scenic and challenging cycling trail in the Blue Mountains National Park near Katoomba which offers off-road cyclists a solid workout with some spectacular views.

The trail itself is a shared hiking and cycling fire trail which snakes its way along the Narrow Neck ridge for about 10 kilometres in either direction, and finishes at a lookout point which promises views of the national park, farm land to the west and even to Sydney on a clear day.

Cyclists weave their way in and out of bush land and exposed sections with beautiful views, and share the bush with birds and other native animals, which are slowly returning after the severe 2019/2020 bush fires which ripped through the Blue Mountains.

Evidence of the fires follows riders along the trails and the charred remains of trees contrast starkly with the bright blue sky and the striking green shoots of new growth.

Narrow Neck presents a solid workout. Short sharp climbs are scattered throughout the trail, and flat sections are interspersed with long, slow climbs. The halfway point features a few very steep climbs whose ‘whoa boys’, (water drainage humps), add an extra challenge to an ascent. They’re guaranteed to burn the legs – but they’re great fun on the way down.

Furthermore, Narrow Neck trail lies at about 1000 metres altitude. On some of the tougher climbs you can definitely feel the difference in the lungs.

Winter can be cold in the mountains – very cold. Its not uncommon to start the ride with the temperature hovering around 0, and the exposed sections get very chilly on a windy day. Don’t be surprised if you ride through patches of ice early in the morning.

An advantage of riding the trail in winter is the chance to see the valley covered in mist and to ride through clouds.

The trail head sits about 2 kilometres along the access road, which begins in the suburbs of Katoomba. It’s possible to drive right to the trail head, and the advantage of driving is that it cuts out a steep hill just before the trail head – a hill so steep it has been concreted to avoid erosion. This steep and nasty hill is quite a warm up.

For those who are not afraid of a little climbing, it’s possible to reach the trail from Katoomba town centre and from the train station. It lies a few kilometres from the station and can be easily found. Just head to Cliff Drive then keep an eye out for the sign to Narrow Neck trail and the dirt road.

A cycling trail also exists between Katoomba and Leura, and Katoomba and Blackheath and is a mixture of dirt, bitumen and suburban streets. At Blackheath, riders are rewarded with some genuine single trail.

Cycling to and from the trail also forces riders to climb back out to Katoomba, along the dirt access road. After a hilly 20km ride at 1000m, you’ll feel like a sprinter in a Tour de France mountain stage – just tap out a tempo.

Most cyclists tackle the trail on a mountain bike, but it would be achievable with a gravel bike and some decent bike handling skills.

Most importantly, the trail lies close enough to Katoomba for cyclists to finish their ride with a coffee.