Renowned as the game fishing capital of Tasmania, St Helens is Tassie’s answer to the place that has it all. Epic wilderness trail including a 14km descent? Check. Trail network with stacked loops and shuttle runs? Check, check. White sand beaches complete with crystal clear water, lichen-covered rocks and surf breaks? Yep, St Helens hast that too.
With the Bay of Fires Trail well and truly bedded in, we sent a crew down to see what St Helens is all about.
Watch Christa and Andy ride the incredible Bay Of Fires Trail, from Blue Tier onto Swimcart Beach
Don’t miss part two, of Christa and Andy’s adventure in St Helens
From the mountains to the sea
Since 2019, there have been two ways to ride down from the Blue Tier; the classic route, heading west down into Weldborough, or the new-new, dropping over the eastern side down the Bay of Fires descent to Binalong Bay.
You know when you get to the bottom of a section of trail, and think back to yourself, ‘that was really fun,’ this descent is like that, but for 14km
The Bay of Fires wilderness trail runs for 42km, and isn’t just your standard point to point wilderness trail, it kicks off with a 14km descent. Yes, you read that right, 14km with almost 700m of descending; that’s nearly 200m more vertical drop you get at Thredbo.
Sculpted to perfection by the dirty wizards at World Trail, the initial descent is long enough that your face gets tired from smiling the whole time.
“You know when you get to the bottom of a section of trail, and think back to yourself, ‘that was really fun,’ this descent is like that, but for 14km,” Christa Capel says.
The Blue Tier reserve is one of the few places in Australia that remained unglaciated through the last ice age, so even though it’s easy to get lost in the trail, take the time to admire the lichens, mosses, and ferns blanketing the ground on either side of the singletrack, the neon orange strawberry bracket fungus clinging to the trees, and giant man ferns and eucalyptus regnans tower over your head. It a special place to be able to ride. With that in mind, when World Trail build the Bay of Fires Trail, it made every effort to preserve the environment around the trail so it can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come, this includes a bike hygiene station at the mid-way point to prevent the spread of root rot — click here to learn more.
The forest changes, and so makes the trail; you get a taste of all types of terrain; it’s such a must-do
“It’s a true adventure trail. You start up in the hills and end up on this beautiful white sand beach, and it’s almost like you travel to the other side of the plant. The forest changes, and so makes the trail; you get a taste of all types of terrain; it’s such a must-do,” she says.
The trail begins in a wispy subalpine forest, but quickly dives into thick tropical rainforest
The sun and the sand
St Helens was already a tourist destination before the mountain bike trails were ever conceived. Whether you want to catch a few waves at Shelly Point or just go for a dip at Stieglitz beach, the beaches are top-notch.
“There are some really cool rock areas; if you want to do any snorkelling, Stieglitz is probably the spot,” Capel says.
According to Capel, you’re guaranteed to see heaps of different species of stingrays, reef fish like banded morwong and maybe even giant trevally or a pod of dolphins if you’re lucky. Beyond just the sea life, Steglitz is protected from the wind and large swell, so its more comfortable catching a few rays on the sand, and you don’t need to worry about getting dumped by a rogue wave either.
“For me, it’s paradise; if I can go your mountain biking and diving in the one day, I’m happy as a Larry.”
The Bay of Fires trailhead is about 33km from St Helens, and the best way to get to there is to book a shuttle. All the major shuttle companies out of Derby like Vertigo, Mad MTB and Premium MTB Transfers and Gravity Isle out of St Helens will drop you off at the Blue Tier and collect you down at Swimcart Beach.
For a swim, the Bay of Fires Trail deposits you directly on the beach at Binalong Bay. Stieglitz 7.5km from St Helens, just off the Tasman Highway and around the bend from the Flagstaff trail network.
For more information, head to the official St Helens MTB Trails website here – https://www.sthelensmtbtrails.com.au/
Check out part two of Christa and Andy’s St Helens adventure here
Producer, videographer, editor, and master of the peculiar – Jasper Da Seymour @jdaseymour
Photographer, backlit beers and vibe documenter – Kristina Vackova @kiphotomedia
Host, shredder and crayfish spotter – Christa Capel @rideomtb
Shredder, pedaller and hair talent – Andy Butler @_andybutler
This Flow MTB project was made possible with the support from Tourism Tasmania