Flow Mountain Bike acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Blue Derby, the people of Palawa/Pakana Country. We recognise their connection to lands, waters and communities and pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
Sitting on the shuttle bus with the Blue Derby trail map open on your phone, trying to figure out where to go first can feel like trying to choose your favourite child. While runs on Air Ya Garn, Flickity Sticks and Kumma Gutza are a given, ticking those off won’t take too long and you’ll still have plenty of daylight to kill and energy to ride.
With a good deal of time putting tyres on that beautiful granitic dirt, here are a few of our favourite routes to help you get the most out of the trails.
Beginners, first-timers and mini-shredders
Every year there are more and more families and folks who aren’t core mountain bikers travelling to Derby. Many shops in town rent hardtails or shorter travel bikes for folks who aren’t ready to swing a leg over a big rig just yet. And there are some great rides for newer mountain bikers to take on without biting off more than they can chew.
The Valley Ponds Track is purpose-built for this crowd, offering a mellow and scenic introduction to riding mountain bikes off-road. This 8km trail runs all the way to Branxholm and is mostly downhill into Derby — it’s a two-way trail, and many locals use it for their morning commute. If the 16km round trip sounds like a bit more than you’d like to bite off, shuttles can be booked that will take you to the Cricket Oval, where the trail begins in Branxholm.
The beauty of a point-to-point beginner track like Valley Ponds is that it’s a bit of an adventure riding to somewhere. Along the way, giant manferns watch on as you pedal through the quintessentially Tasmanian landscape, but there’s also open fields where you may see wallabies or kangaroos grazing and rocky outcrops. About halfway, you’ll find the Valley Pond. If you’re lucky, you might spot a platypus, and there are picnic tables, making it an excellent spot for a rest and refuelling. There is also abandoned mining equipment sprinkled along the trail adding a history lesson packaged as a scavenger hunt into the ride.
Beyond the actual adventure of the ride, there are a few switchbacks, rollers and small berms to introduce riders to the basics of what they can expect through the rest of the network.
The only green-rated descent from the Black Stump shuttle drop, Hazy Days is a fantastic new addition to the Blue Derby Trail network. Built to be a miniature version of Air Ya Garn, it was the first green-rated airflow track World Trail ever built.
With a super wide footprint and multiple lines of rolling obstacles, there is no forced risk, so less confident riders aren’t pushed into terrain where they feel uncomfortable. But it’s also built in such a way that more advanced riders can give it the beans, with many an easter egg and side hit.
But the biggest thing that Hazy Days brings to the trail network is that it allows these new riders to experience the revelation that is shuttling.
Hazy Days was originally pegged to be ready in the 2022/2023 riding season however Mother Nature had other plans. Unfortunately, the landslide that took out a section of Air Ya Garn also cut off the green-rated descent before a single set of tyres had rolled down it. However, a year on its back running all the way to the trailhead, so get after it!
Kingswall | Derby’s most underrated trail and a local’s favourite
Forming the western edge of the Blue Derby trail network, Kingswall is one of, if not the most underrated rides in the network.
Spanning 8.1km of mostly descending, it’s a journey through dazzling forest scenery with sweeping views over the valley below — on a clear day you can even see as far as Bridport — capped off with a 3km journey through history.
Kingswall is not a smooth cruise by any means, and for the first ~5km, it’s rock gardens, big boulders, quick corners and some steeps. It’s up, it’s down, it’s right, it’s left, it’s techy and also flowy.
After all that, you hit a lovely lookout point, and then the trail traces — and sometimes runs on top of — the Bresis Water race most of the way until it connects to Return to Sender. This water race was built in 1902, and it’s a testament to the quality engineering of the era.
Atlas into Cuddles | Big adventure followed by even bigger rocks
Atlas is nothing short of spectacular. Named for the Atlas mine, the trail begins up near the Mount Paris Dam and rejoins the stacked loop just before the final descent on Dam Busters.
Atlas is sensory overload, and everywhere you look, there is a massive tree three times as old as your grandmother or a gargantuan marvel of geology, with a beautifully feature-packed ribbon of dirt guiding you through it all. Seriously, it feels like the berms are endless.
With the 8km descent in their legs, many will ride the rest of Dam Busters and head back to the trailhead or town for some refreshments and to rehash the epic ride they’ve just finished. HOWEVER, don’t cut the epicness short; hang a right off Dam Busters onto Krushaks, head for Cuddles, and finish with a trip through the Derby Tunnel.
When joining onto Krushkas, it’s basically at the top of the climb, and the remainder is a cruisy traverse over to Trouty and Cuddles — both of which have featured in the Enduro World Cup.
Cuddles is the newest trail in the network constructed specifically for the 2023 EDR that rolled through town. While it’s technically rated double black, there are B and C lines on everything, making it much more approachable for riders who may not otherwise be confident on that level of trail.
- Slabs, Slams, Slop, Stoke, and a Bush Doof | The Derby EDR through the lens of Justin Castles
- Slabs, Slams, Slop, Stoke and a Bush Doof | The Derby EDR with Kristina Vackova
- Slabs, Slams, Slop, Stoke and a Bush Doof | The Derby EDR through the lens of Mick Ross
Unlike many of the other more challenging trails in the network, like Shear Pin, Detonate and Black Dragon, where you roll along reasonably slowly, Cuddles is pretty swift. Of course, this will allow you to ride that rock slab. There are three routes down so you can ride to your level.
Dam Busters | A pedally adventure with an intoxicating descent
There aren’t many trails in Derby that are loops. With so many of them being shuttle access, you start in one spot and follow the contour of the hill to take you somewhere else. Dam Busters, on the other hand, is a loop around the Cascade Dam.
A little over 9km, the Dam Busters is undulating until the final big climb and rip roaring descent. This downhill is one of the fastest in the network and is good, clean, flowy, and fun. But it’s not just about the gravity-fueled fun at the end. Touring dense beech and eucalypt forests, the trail has so many hidden little scenic gems from babbling creeks and swimming holes and some of the most epic moss we’ve ever laid eyes upon. Make sure your phone has some free space before you get started on this one, because you’ll need it — trust us. As you round Dam Busters outermost reach, where it meets up with Atlas, you’ll cross the Cascade River and head back for the Dam, playing peekaboo with the water. If it’s a hot day, there are some great spots for a dip or to eat a sandwich with your feet in the water.
But the most fun part about Dam Busters is that you can peel this orange in a few ways. Want to get there quickly? Jump on a shuttle to Black Stump and ride Black Stump or Flickity Sticks over. Keen for BIG pedal, head up Rusty Crust, to Axhead, then all the way up Long Shadows. Come down Flickity Sticks to Great Race and you’re there.
There are also ways to add little extras on the end too. Had too much flow? Finish off with Derby’s only handbuilt trail, Black Dragon. Want a few more kilometres to round out the day? Climb Krushkas and come down Trouty or Cuddles.
The world is literally your oyster on Dam Busters.
Detonate | A sightseeing adventure past Derby’s best-known landmarks
The boulders on Detonate are world-famous. Just wide enough for your handlebars to fit, threading the needle through this chute takes a bit of skill and nerves stronger than one of those roided-up red kangaroos. But that rush when you nail it is worth all the fear, doubt, and maybe an attempt or two when you baulked, and it went sideways.
But Detonate is so much more than just The Chute. For only a 650m trail, there are flowy whoops, big granite slabs and some tricky off-camber sections — it’s a busy trail, to say the least, and it’s not hard to see why it was voted the EWS Trail of the Year in 2017.
Accessed from the top of Flickity Sticks at the Black Stump shuttle drop, Detonate deposits you back onto Flicklity Sticks for a flowy ride down to the access road trail hub. We love Flickity Sticks however, to mix things up keep an eye out for the fork onto The Great Race. Running along what is thought to be a section of the Brises Water Race, it’s about equal parts climbing and descending, and has some tremendous slabby features.
The reason we’re jumping off Flickity to grab some elevation is to reach the top of 23 Stitches. From rhythm sections and moon booter side hits to whopping step downs, this 766m descent is a jump-riddled playground. And in true Derby fashion, there’s some granite, too.
This little detour will leave you in the exact same spot as if you’d taken Flickety Sticks the whole way down. From here you have a few options, you can jump on Dam Busters — scroll back up for more on that one — or you can head back to the trailhead for another shuttle.
If you’re running late, the access road will get you back in a jiffy, but what’s the fun in that? If you haven’t been through the Derby Tunnel yet, hang a left onto Sawtooth, which will take you to the lookout overlooking town and the Cascade River — this is also the best view of the scar from the landslide that disrupted Air Ya Garn, Hazy Days and Axehead in late 2022/2023.
Before you hit the access road, hang another left onto Deadly Bugga. This is one of Derby’s hidden gems, with boosty jumps, steep berms and remarkable scenery that slingshots you into the tunnel.
If you’ve already ridden the tunnel follow Sawtooth back to the access road and cross onto Berms and Ferns to Monument. At the top of this short descent there is a monument to Willaim Allan, Director of the Briseis Tin Mine who died in 1902!
Then it’s down a giant granite slab, into a techy little shoot and a big wavy gully.