Perhaps during the gold rush, those dedicated folks were searching too hard for gold, and the answer was always right in front of their noses, golden terrain for mountain bike singletrack, of course!
Yackandandah is home to classic, old-school singletrack. It is janky, twisty, narrow, fun and in just one lap of the extensive network, you’ll be riding at all sorts of speeds from tight and slow right up to a brakeless breakneck pace swooping through fast gullies.
Of the seven destinations in the Ride High Country road trip, riding the Yack Tracks feels organic and natural, and the bushland scenes would make a lovely oil painting. Don’t expect machine-built bike park style trails here, this place is all-natural, and uniquely Yack.
The quirky little town is part of what makes visiting the town so special, it has an arty vibe, the leafy main drag is an eclectic mix of art studios, bakeries, antique stores and a newsagent with healthy shelf space dedicated to cycling magazines. We’re not locals, but we still manage to bump into a bike rider or two in the main street, it feels warm and welcome.
The trail network isn’t far from town either so that you can ride into the singletrack after a coffee and an almond croissant, brilliant! Down at the main trailhead, the map board is an exciting scribble of trails, if you take the time to digest the information you’ll have a clear idea of what is out there in no time. The well-thought-out map has trail distances, gradients and technical levels listed; it’ll make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
We met up with Albury locals, Briony and Matt, a really sweet couple that loves their cycling. Taking mountain bike holidays to the best spots in NZ and Tasmania, the pair are reported to rarely miss a social ride or club race in the Yackandandah and Beechworth region. That dedication and passion for riding showed as they pedalled with effortless style through the singletrack smoothly as if they built it themselves.
The region was once a gold mining hotspot, and when you make your way into the trail network, it’s easy to see signs of mining heritage. So easy that if you walk off the trail, you might stumble across an old mineshaft or water race. We can only imagine what else is out there that just the history books and locals know of.
When you can see the trail in front of you snaking away, down a gully and up the other side, it triggers something within you – or maybe just your index fingers – and you can’t help but let the brakes off and let out a loud whoooooooop as you hoon down and back up the other side. There are so many moments like this, the rolling terrain and open woodland really let the trails flow along nicely.
A lot of the challenge to some of the tricker trails is staying smooth, and light through the older sections that appear to have been built when 26″ hardtails were en-vogue and dropper posts were still a far off dream. Some of the corners on these trails aren’t as easy to lay into, but that’s what makes this place what it is.
The gold rush shaped a lot of the landscape into gullies, with age-old eroded creek beds spicing up the flow with a few cool surprises here and there, Carcass Canyon is a favourite, dropping below the earth’s surface racing down and under a large skull suspended on a wire above you, it’s a hoot!
Yack is definitely worth a stop, the trails could easily be covered off in one day, the town has plenty of great food, and the pub has great local beer. Maybe Yack is the place to pick up something artistic to hang on your wall back home, a souvenir to add to the memories of hooting through gullies and winding through the bush.
For more information, trail maps and everything else you need, head to Ride High Country’s website.