A Tale Of Two Towns | Riding the new Indigo Epic Trail, Victorian High Country

Who doesn’t love taking a walk down memory lane? Even better — riding your bike really fast down memory lane. The Victorian High Country is built on the history of hunting for gold, nostalgic cross-country trails and just a nibble of that new-age machine-built flow. Connecting the renowned mountain bike towns of Beechworth and Yackandandah, the Indigo Epic had a mix of it all.

The trail is punctuated on either end by towns imbued with heritage buildings, retrofit into new-age breweries, distilleries, and even a coffee shop spilling out of an old guard train carriage. Whenever we visit these places, there is always an air of nostalgia, and times gone by.

Join Emma, Jono, Lia and Ben for a guided tour of the Indigo Epic 

Beechworth Bakery
Walking down the main drag in Beechworth is a bit like being transported back in time.

The Indigo Epic is a helix loop of trail between Beechworth and Yackandandah. Extending into remote sections of Aussie bushland with over 32km of new trail and technically challenging sections with singletrack for almost the entire route.

Now, nostalgia, you ask? I’m talking, hand dug, rocky, tight, gravely natural stuff created by hours of work — that old gold. The stuff of XC dreams. Gum trees, fern gullies, wildly fit old men in spandex — you know the drill.

Lucky for me, I had some speedy friends in tow to enjoy the journey (and jelly beans) with; locals Ben and Lia, met up with Jono and me (Emma) to explore the newly built Indigo Epic.

Cue a bit of that tacky Yack.


Yack Tracks
The crew prepping for our Indigo Epic adventure.

Yack is where the XC is at

We started at the Yack Traks trailhead to ensure we got a little taste of the broader old-school Yackandandah trail network. Ahead of a long day, we got our legs turning over on Shark Track, a nice green climb to help the caffeine from that 6am servo iced coffee kick in, en route to the Epic.

If you’d rather ride in from your accommodation, you can also pedal out on the Creek Path and Home Trail from the Yackandandah Sports Park. A day where you never even have to get off the bike, is a day we can get around.

Yack Tracks Map
The Indigo Epic is not isolated from the trail networks in Beechworth and Yack like at Buller at St Helens.

The Yack Tracks are all about loose gravel and fun, flat corners testing grip. You’re bound to have flashbacks from the days old school XC, head-to-toe spandex riding a hardtail — even if you never raced old school XC in head-to-toe spandex on a hardtail. With the sunrise throwing speckled warm light through the gum trees, we made our way through the Yack Tracks to the beginning of the Epic.

Ben, our local tour guide — calm, cool, collected and a very fast individual on a bike — explained how these trails would not be here without a motivated local community. He also got us up to speed on the work of the Beechworth Chain Gang and Yack Track MTB Club.

“There is so much time put into these trails by the locals, it makes you think how many hours have gone into the full Indigo Epic,” he said.

Yack Tracks
Lia getting her eye on the way out to the main event for the day.

This thought echoed a lot over the weekend when we found ourselves in incredibly remote locations, viewing an immaculately formed berm and wondering – but how?

Turns out the, “but how?” came via a $2-million boost through a combination of the Indigo Council and grant funding. A huge achievement delivered by TrailScapes in collaboration with the local bike clubs.

Fern gully flow

Without much notice, we departed the XC nostalgia and entered swiftly into the new age stuff of shredit creators’ dreams. The formal commencement of the Indigo Epic Trail. It was nothing short of beautiful, curated, red dirt berms amongst ferns. And just like that – the go button was on.

For me, a little too on!

Indigo Epic
Jono testing out one of these introductory berms — for science.
Indigo Epic
More berm testing. Trailscapes gave this one the extra fern power-up.

One too many beans had me somehow entangled with my bike, flying at mach-10 speed over the bars, straight into a bridge.

Immaculate flow trails with fun side pops and huge catch berms sometimes just get you excited and, maybe, a little too confident. You know the type?

The Epic is meant to be approachable for riders of all levels, but still entertaining for folks who are a bit more skilled. Just watch out of those bridges.
The descents are flowy and fun, and as Emma found, it’s easy to get a little carried away.
Reporting live from Fern Gully, it’s green. It’s ferny, and the crowd is buzzing.

Make sure you watch your bean intake on the descents, those pesky trail bridges they come around quick. If you’re anything like me —the kid at a candy store on the descent — you might bite off a bit more candy than you can chew.

Alternatively, just be as good at riding a bike as Lia — who took fourth at elite DH nationals in Thredbo! The latter is a much longer-term strategy.

Reload | Nine Mile Creek

Speaking of beans, jellybeans to be exact, it was time for a refuel. We’d heard a rumour this side of the Indigo Epic was home to an elite-level sandwich spot.

There was the promise of a mid-trail waterfall, complete with water play and face-splashing opportunities. And dear reader, the Nine Mile Creek Waterfall delivered.

Nature’s air conditioning. We’d highly recommend stopping for lunch at the Nine Mile Creek Waterfall.
Calories replenished, we’re off to explore the flagship descent on the Yack side.

Even with an early start, it was shaping up to be toasty one. Once you’re on the Epic, you’re committed, and there is no halfway-cafe, like you get on the Alpine Epic in Buller. Make sure you’ve got your hydration and a sando (or two) sorted!

Homeward Bound | The descent

After a lot of gradual climbing, the pinnacle of the day and the home stretch of trail, aptly named “Homeward Bound” was in our sights. And boy, we did not know what we were in for.

This section of Epic is brought to you by tired legs, elevated spirits and the reward of the descent after a solid climb did not disappoint. It’s nestled in Nine Mile Creek Historic Area, with little offshoots to explore. Peaking through the bushes, you’ll find water races dug deep into the landscape or if you find the right little sidetrack, one large steel structure rusted right over – remnants of an old mining hut, great for kids (or late 20s /early 30s kids).

Homeward Bound! The final descent back into Yack, on this side of the helix, will definitely leave a smile on your face.

The track opens up into fast straight sections and then comes together in small little labyrinths of singletrack. A-lines and B-lines, jumps big enough to Nac off, and an immense amount of party train goodness.

We had too much fun on Homeward Bound, Lia was constantly hiking back up to hit features again. And again. And again — you get the idea.

Ben having absolutely zero fun. Nope, just a miserable time riding the Indigo Epic.
Dipping, diving and darting through the trees, Trailscapes has built a winner between Beechworth and Yack.
More bermy goodness back into town.

Trying to hold the tail of some speedy friends with so many line choices, jump opportunities and tight corners, we were all very vocal with the yips and yeewws all the way home.

We were flying past little mining races, spitting out the side of the track or somehow utilised in the trail build. Perfectly shaped side hits before a water race cut into the hillside, or old rock deposits reformed to line the side of the track.

It added a little golden glint to a big day of pedals.

Dusty similes to finish the day; we’d built up quite a thirst if you know what I mean.

Gin O’clock

The alcoholic establishment-to-person ratio must be high in Northeast Victoria. If you are absolutely parched and hunting for the nearest beverage and a pretty cute fit-out too, Yack Creek Distillery is just off the Creek Trail as you head back into town. A bit behind schedule, we missed last call on this occasion, but case to my previous point. There are plenty of places to wet your whistle in Northeast Victoria.

And after a good 30kms on the bike, none of us were complaining at the prospect of some locally made imbibement. Well, at least not after one litre of water and a cheeky little tasting palette from Backwoods Distilling Co in Yackandandah.

If craft beer and spirits are your jam, there is plenty to offer in this section of the Victorian High Country.

An old industrial building lined with rusted sheet metal was reminiscent of the mining heritage we were riding through all day.

Jono, as it turns out, is also a big gin guy.

“Mmm, salted Lime Gin, that’s unique!”

A taste of the high country to cool off the legs and bring down the heart rate after an epic day. We coupled this with a pool dip and sunshine bathing on the old wrap-around verandah at the Golden Heritage Cottages in Beechworth. Our bikes put to bed and snugged up in the purpose-built storage next door.

The precise moment, Jono became a gin guy.
Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you’re doing and listen. Cannonball!
No trip to Beechworth would be complete without visiting our friends at Bridge Road Brewery for pizza and some recovery beers.

The happiest of bakers and coffee makers

Now I don’t know about you, but my degree of functionality pre-coffee is like a whiny child who ate all their dinner and still didn’t get dessert. Luckily Jono – a man of great whip skills, and meticulous scheduling — had ensured there was nothing to fear the next morning.

We headed straight to the Happy Baker in Yackandandah to sample some of the most delectable pastries I have seen in quite some time. Melbourne folk – eat your heart out.

Have you seen a cafe built inside an old railway car? That’s what you get with The Guard, and not to worry it isn’t one of the tourist traps that lure you in with a quirky exterior. The coffee and toasties are delicious.

An old red guard carriage from the 1950s, repurposed as a funky, sustainable, hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, now by the name, The Guard. They also make a mean toasted sandwich.

Sam and Gary of The Guard, said “We have only been open about a year, and there are so many little businesses popping up since then.”

The place was bustling with those making the Saturday coffee commute, chatting amongst freshly picked flowers on the weathered tables.

Chief Guard dog Raffi was also there to welcome the groups of riders out for a morning coffee — get you a doggo pat with your morning beverage of choice, how good! Also, don’t sweat the keep cup; they have a mug library for you to choose from, which helps to keep their waste down.

Beechy – City of Berms

The existing trail networks of Yack and Beechworth can be added onto the new Indigo Epic Loops. The trail can be ridden in its entirety from town to town for a 56km outing (spandex, I am looking at you) or can be split up into smaller morsels.

The figure eight loop between the two towns is accessible from many points on the trail, giving you the ability to jump in or jump out where you want. This makes it not just for Mr and Ms Spandex, but it’s also leisure athlete friendly, if you want to break up the trail over a few days. Or just take a fancy to a particular section of trail you might want to go back for.

Watch that bean intake, it’ll getcha.

As leisure athletes ourselves, we opted for the Beechworth side the following day and had Project Manager Callum Brown along for the ride.

“The Beechworth side is one of the best sections of trail to work on, this area has some quality dirt, and the gradient makes it easy to hit a perfect fun blue grade.”

There were sections of trail that were as well formed as a pump track. A great lead-in to build speed into smaller hits, or if you have the jump skills of Jono or Lia, you can even build enough speed and pop to make them doubles. The soil was more of the dark tacky style on the Beechworth side of the Epic; confidence-inspiring, giving you the traction to hold plenty of speed around corners.

If you want to couple fast flowy descents, a bit of healthy competition to make those doubles and, a lil’ bit of blackberry picking, the Beechy section of Epic is quite peachy. Lia was particularly stoked with all the mid-ride nature trail lollies. Just the little boost you need for more flowy descending, with a few cranks in between to build speed for some of the longer jumps.

Sculpted berms heading down into Beechworth.

Golden Hour

After two days experiencing such a cross-section of different  trail styles, hooking around tight, flat cross-country corners and then finding tacky clay berms in the next hour really kept the senses engaged.

I am not sure if it was the high pastry consumption or the constant hunt for trail gold, but we were happily spent.

You might just have to go looking for some golden nuggets of your own. The Indigo Epic is open now, so get after it folks.

Album dropping soon — The Indgo Epic, by Emma and the wheelers.

Build your own Adventure

The (general) rule book:

We opted to take on the Yack side of the Epic and then the Beechworth side over two days. You can punch it out in one, but make sure you have the supplies (or the E-bike). Give it a few days here, so you can spend some time riding the Yack Tracks and skittering across granite in Beechworth. That way, you won’t be disappointed or rushed on your trip.

Who is it for?

Spandex, enduro champs, leisure athletes and e-bike enthusiasts will all have an absolute time on this track. The A-lines, hip jumps and the challenge of pulling up to get the doubles make for an awesome day for experienced riders.

You won’t find a huge amount of steep tech on the Epic itself, but you will find speed (and likely your limit with it, if you seek it out). The possibility to cap off over 50km of riding if you build it in with the existing trail networks is also a huge opportunity for those wanting to test their endurance.

The accessibility of the network also makes this a great day out for beginner or intermediate riders wanting to try something new. Plus it won’t close during the winter months, and the locals reckon that’s when it will be riding its best.

A little bit for everyone, is the Indigo Epic.

Must eats

Must hits:


The Indigo Epic is open year round, and the locals tell us the dirt should hit its best over the winter months.

The Indigo Epic Crew

Gin and whip enthusiast — Jono Wade

Enduro speed racer and back wheel demolisher — Lia Ladbrook

Local legend, humble man of history, and community trail contributor — Ben Hartwig

Trip stenographer, and just out here trying to avoid collisions with bridges — Emma Chadwick

Camera button pusher and concerned about overconsumption of beans — Campbell James

Video guy, always lurking in the bushes — Justin Castles

This project was made possible by Ride High Country.

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