12km Suburban offroad ride: By Susanna Mills
This ride hugs the bushland contours of a steep-sided, rocky ridgeline of thickly settled Hills District suburbia. With John Purchase Road as its spine, the elevated heart of Cherrybrook is surrounded by Berowra Valley National Park with Pyes Creek and Berowra Creek creating natural boundaries.
From Greenway skatepark, cross Shepherds Drive to Cherrybrook RFS, and enjoy a fast pedal along the rocky rollercoaster Blackwattle fire trail to Patricia Place. (Note: this firetrail changes names from Blackwattle, to Daphne to Patricia Trail, and you will often encounter people walking here.) There is a wicked little pinch climb up to Patricia Place, but you can catch your breath for a few seconds as you turn right down the road through the dip and then right again onto the Trevors’ Lane firetrail.
Turning right at the crest, Trevor’s Lane trail transforms into a short loop of unsanctioned, community-created singletrack bliss which includes the Refuge Rocks Lookout. You can’t get lost on this little loop; the centre of it is dominated by power pylons and there is only one fire trail in and out. Elite mountain bikers will be able to ride the whole singletrack loop, in either direction, in a few minutes. Mere mortals may want to dismount and practise or walk difficult sections as the singletracks are badly eroded in some areas and the rock sheet roll ups and downs near the lookout are hectic!
Departing this area, you turn right and head down to Trevor’s Lane and tedious tarmac. Keep following the ridge contours as you turn right into Purchase Road, Josephine Crescent and finally, Carmen Crescent. At Carmen Playground, ramp the kerb onto the short Carmen firetrail where some fascinating rock formations tower above you on the left. Turn right onto Josephine Crescent, and right again through the gate onto Kentia firetrail. This is an incredibly steep descent, so keep your weight back, the bike under control and make gravity your friend! It’s fun to pump through the water crossings, while admiring the dense riverine ferns and rock features of Pyes Creek. On a hot summers’ day, this veggie tunnel provides cool relief. To get the full hour, ride until the trail terminates at Newline Road, carry the bike up the concrete stairs, and then crawl up Boldrewood Place to Hancock Drive…
Riders can choose to shorten or lengthen their ride at several points along Kentia Firetrail- but regardless of where, accept that there will be an uphill slog back to Greenway Park.
TIME: 1 – 1.5 hours
DIRECTIONS: Follow the author on Strava, or use your favourite map app.
DIFFICULTY: High intensity ride. Refuge Rocks singletracks are not suitable for novice riders. Easy to shorten or lengthen this route at any point.
PARKING: Plenty of free parking at Greenway skate park.
BUILD NEW CYCLE TRAILS & LINKS THROUGH BEROWRA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK! Refuge Rocks lookout is precisely opposite the Westleigh Waterworks trails (H2O) so why aren't existing, much-loved trails like Cherrybrook, Westleigh, OMV and Quarry Road being improved, extended and officially linked together east/west through the National Park across Berowra & Pyes Creek? Building footbridges across these steep-sided creeks linking new and existing trails would create longer distances to ride, walk or run thereby facilitating safe offroad cycle commuting, overall better recreational access for surrounding local communities and visitors- and far greater appreciation and use of this vast, mostly inaccessible suburban National Park.
COFFEE: Why, at Cherrybrook Shopping Centre of course! Safely access the shops on your bicycle from Greenway Park by riding down the sneaky path between the centre and the backyard of Carlisle Swimming.
There are always colourful new works of graffiti art as a backdrop to photograph your bike (or yourself) at Greenway skatey.