Thredbo is absolutely cranking right now; the summer season is packed with mountain bikers heading up to the alpine resort to get their fill of gravity-fed goodness, why? It’s more than just the traditional downhill riding on offer these days, the network of chairlift accessed trails is growing rapidly with diversity, accommodating all sorts of riders and abilities, and in only four years will double what is currently there. It is on like Donkey Kong!
Right now the new trail on everyone’s lips – the Thredbo All-Mountain Trail – has just officially opened from top to bottom, check out the video below, get psyched from the juicy photo gallery and pack your bags to hit the road to Thredbo this summer.
Watch the video here:
What, and where is this?
The freshly opened piece of trail links the top of the chairlift to the start of the existing Kosciusko Flow Trail and the rest of the All-Mountain Trail which opened last summer from atop the Gunbarrel Chair, it gives riders easier access to the start of these two trails without having to ride the ultra-fast and intimidating Eagles Way fire road. From the top, you’re able to ride a massive 30+km descent when linked with the Thredbo Valley Trail towards Lake Crackenback.
Constructed by trail company Dirt Art on super-sensitive National Park land this is one piece of trail that didn’t come easy with many challenges, more on that later.
This particular new bit of singletrack may not be long in length but it’s one of the most breathtaking (puff, puff, puff) pieces of trail we’ve ridden, it is also the highest purpose-built mountain bike trail in Australia, starting at 1930m above sea level where trees don’t even get a chance. It’s high alright! The trail starts behind the top of the Kosciusko Express Chairlift Terminal and the Eagle Nest Mountain Hut, you’ll catch a glimpse of the paved walkway to the Kosciusko summit, the highest mountain in the country, but you don’t want to walk up there this time, the juicy stuff is about to begin just to your right.
When you’re up this high the views are bloody massive, the whole Thredbo Valley stretches out before you towards Jindabyne, and in the other direction towards Dead Horse Gap, on a clear day, it’d be rude not to chill on the grass to take it all in and feel small in comparison.
Just like we did on our first run down the trail, you’ll sure run into a dilemma; do you ride it slow and enjoy the view and spectacular terrain, or rip down it fast to feel the flow of the well-built trail? Tough call to make, or simply just ride it many times over, the chairlift is there all day, remember…
From top to bottom the landscape changes dramatically, the trail takes it all in, from the low-lying scrub and granite boulders to the gnarly snow gums, and colourful native forest below.
Built as a blue/green rated trail, it’s not too hard to ride.
Have a look at these numbers; the Cannonball Downhill Trail is 3.3km, Kosciusko Flow Trail 4.5km and the new All Mountain Track is 11km. All taking in similar elevation, the All-Mountain Trail has been designed to flow and weave its way down the massive mountain maintaining the elevation for a more mellow and accessible ride, it doesn’t tire your hands and body like the faster downhill tracks do.
To the credit of trail builders Dirt Art, they have done a brilliant job of linking up unique features on the mountain, cool terrain, and cleverly managing speed to the point we hardly saw any braking ruts in the corners. The berms are also so damn good, deep and supportive, and completely safe to commit to and rail around them off the brakes with confidence.
Wasn’t built in a day.
As we mentioned earlier, this linking piece of trail has been a long time coming, and if you’ve been riding Thredbo over the last 20 years like we have, you’d appreciate every single new development that comes to fruition. Due to the sensitive nature of the terrain and flora and fauna, it went through a lengthy approval process and adding to that is the amount of snow that the area cops every winter.
Then the Dirt Art crew had to battle erratic weather with wind, snow and rain making life pretty hard up there! The trail surface had to be capped using granite sourced in its immediate environment, with loads of gruelling hours winching the huge rocks around to make the trail ride with good flow.
What’s next for Thredbo then?
Dirt Art is keeping very busy up there, currently they are finishing off a piece of singletrack that will cut out the fire road climb to the top of the Gunbarrel Chairlift, through the gnarly old snow gums this will be the final piece in the All-Mountain Trail construction, with all 620m of descent to the village on premium purpose-built stuff. There will also be a linkage section built to carry riders from above the Friday Flats area back to the Village Square, cutting out the existing climb taking riders over towards the finish of the Cannonball Downhill and Flow Trail.
All in the five-year plan for Thredbo we’ll expect to see the network double in size with a couple of new trails down the mountain, including an all-new jump/trick trail like Whistler’s A-Line or Crank It Up, a new beginner Flow Trail and a World Cup ready downhill race track. There’s also plans to open a second lift with bike hooks too to distribute riders around during peak times and events.
With the Thredbo Valley Trail’s ultimate plan to stretch from Thredbo, past Lake Crackenback all the way down to Jindabyne, it’s a pretty extensive network of trails!
Heading to Thredbo? We’d suggest you give the Makin Trax Basecamp a try. They hosted us for our week in Thredbo, and it was the perfect setup for our crew of six riders. With five bedrooms, to sleep up to 12 riders, a huge kitchen, an open fire and plenty of space to store your bikes, it’s just bloody ideal. They’re doing some great accommodation and lift pass packages too. Take a look!
The 2016/17 MTB Season runs from 19 November to 1 May. The chairlift is open for mountain bikers from 9.30am-4pm, and the retail/rental shop is open from 8.30am-5pm.