UPDATED OCT 25, 2019
There’s nothing better than donning your best lycra and taking a long, scenic cycle through the city. Oh, wait — cycling can be a bit of a hazard in the City of Sydney. But don’t click that bike lock just yet — even a few kilometres from the CBD, you’ll discover some amazing bike paths and trails.
Scenic water views and wide, well-kept paths combine for a gorgeous seven-kilometre trail around the Glebe foreshore and beyond. Start at Jubilee Oval and wind your way around Blackwattle Bay, then challenge your legs with a heavy climb up Anzac Bridge before stopping to catch your breath in Rozelle. Once there, you can turn west towards Leichhardt and Sydney’s beautiful Inner West suburbs, but we’d recommend tackling another ascent over Iron Cove Bridge, which will land you squarely in Drummoyne’s marina, with access to coastal tracks along the Parramatta River. By this point, you will have earned yourself a refuel at one of Birkenhead Point’s scenic cafes — and if you need a more extended recovery, hit the massive brand outlet for bargain finds on sportswear and luxury home goods.
If you really want to feel like you’ve left the city bustle behind, there’s no better way than crossing over the bridge and taking your bike to the North Shore. In particular, make for Manly Dam, nestled at the cusp of North Balgowlah and Manly Vale. This heritage-listed reservoir is a paradise for trail runners, bush walkers, and serious outdoor cyclists. You can hit the challenging mountain bike singletrack for over 10km, or cruise a more leisurely route around the park’s periphery — either way, it’s one of the best nearby spots to have fun on two wheels.
If you’re up for the journey, the Cooks River Cycleway is a scenic, paved, and fairly undiscovered path winding nearly 30 kilometres alongside the Cooks River from Rhodes to Kyeemagh on Botany Bay. Starting in Settlers Park on Parramatta River (or Rhodes station if you prefer), pedal your way from the Ryde Bridge and through the beautiful tracks at Bicentennial Park before hitting Freshwater Park in Strathfield. From there, the riverside path will take you on an easy cruise through neighbourhoods, mangroves, and past more than a few ice cream shops before you reach the bay!
We know — we were pretty derisive about cycling in the city, but Centennial Parklands has just the right balance of beautiful natural features and loads of designated bike lanes to make it a breeze for keen cyclists! There are plenty of hills and secluded trails to explore in the park itself, or you take off towards Redfern through scenic Moore Park to really stretch those legs. Fitt Tip: this is the best spot on the list for those not blessed with their own bike! Centennial Park Cycles is open daily, 8.30–5.30pm, renting out all the high-performance equipment you could possibly need!
Another hidden gem just north of the city, this stunning ride around Narrabeen is definitely one for the guide book. The track itself is around 8km, so it’s suitable for every fitness level, and there are plenty of options to diverge or shortcut the official route from there. You can reach the trail from any side of the lagoon, but we’d recommend starting at South Creek and winding around clockwise to make the most of the stunning estuary’s most scenic points — and the tempting cafés or picnic spots at the exit point!
We all know the Royal National Park is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and weekend adventurers, and it’s also an epic spot to take the bike out for a spin. There are literally hundreds of kms to cover from Engadine to Wattamolla, but if you’re just keen on the highlights, then we recommend sticking with the designated cycle tracks. Our most glorious recommendations? Anywhere along Loftus Ridge for the native wildlife, the 10-kilometre Lady Carrington Drive, or the coast along Garie Beach to take in views of the heaving swell. Fitt Tip: as tempting as it is, don’t stray onto or forge any unauthorised trails — you’ll face a hefty $300 fine!
Both eager beginners and experienced mountain bike pros will find this the perfect trail, with the right mix of challenging terrain and excitement alongside enough open space to pick up speed. There’s a reason 300 people drop into this six-kilometre singletrack every week. Just make sure you check wild weather warnings before you make the trip, as the trail is prone to heavy gusts and storm debris.
If it’s Northern Beaches scenery and a smooth ride you are after, you can’t go past riding from Manly into North Head Sanctuary — the best of all the North Shore attractions rolled into one smooth, paved 23km loop. Start on Darley Road and continue past the arch onto North Head Scenic Drive (fitter riders can choose a steep detour up Collins Beach Road!), taking in the panoramic harbour views along the way. Fitt Tip: plan your trip during June/July or October/November and you might just spot migrating whales en route!
Red Hill Reserve is North West Sydney’s best-kept secret in outdoor adventure — and your next favourite destination for some seriously exhilarating trail biking! There are dozens of trails to choose from of varying terrain and difficulty, and thanks to the passionate mountain biking community, up-to-date condition reports and crowdsourced route ratings are just a click away! It gets pretty crammed on the weekend, so allow yourself plenty of travel time and get in bright and early for your pick of the routes.
An epic cycling adventure in the South Eastern Sydney awaits with Botany Bay’s expansive cycle path. It’s the perfect way to see Sydney (and much of its history), with a separate bike path all the way along the coast, punctuated only occasionally by shared pedestrian roads and the odd car park. What the route lacks in signage it more than makes up for in scenery, particularly if you follow Anzac Parade all the way down to La Perouse Museum (and popular whale-watching spot, Cape Solander!). Tackle it as part of a longer Eastern Suburbs ride or a standalone coastal adventure.
Here’s another rugged coastal gem offering scenic vistas, native bushland, and—you guessed it—a pretty stunning walking and cycle path. Not as long as some of the other beachside trails—3.7km one way—Malabar Headland’s Boora Point Walking Track is a good off-road option if you feel like getting out there into nature and avoiding those crazy Bondi crowds.
Just a short drive north from the CBD, you’ll find Garigal National Park and its 6.5km worth of off- and on-road tracks winding up into the hills. The Gahnia and Serrata mountain bike trails themselves are pretty challenging — so best steer clear if you’re lacking in experience. However, you can test your abilities in the first 50m, and if you’re not quite feeling up to the challenge, head instead to Heath or Bare Creek for a scenic ride with slightly fewer bumps.
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