Flow Mountain Bike acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Lake Mountain and Marysville, the people of Taungurung Country. We recognise their connection to lands, waters and communities and pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
Ah Lake Mountain Resort, the home to one of our favourite trails on the mainland, Cascades. On a short skip from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne, this 28km adventure ride starts at the tippy top of the alpine resort and plunges 1,550m vertical metres down to Marysville — albeit with 638m of climbing mixed in.
Green season has well and truly kicked off in the Victorian Alpine, and the trail crew has been busy primping, prepping and revamping the trails for riders this summer. But it’s more than just tweaks to the trails, there are a few big changes to the way things are running at the Resort this year.
We caught up with the crew at Lake Mountain to see what you can expect in the alpine this summer.
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Cascades | Just like you remember, but a little different
According to Ben Reynolds, head of the Lake Mountain Trail Crew, the most challenging part of his job is keeping Cascades fresh season after season.
“We have to try and keep new stuff going in as much as possible (on Cascades). It’s not like we have a whole bunch of trails that you could constantly say, ‘hey, look at this new one, and check out these features on this one over here” says Reynolds. “So that’s tweaking the berms or adding in double berms (for some cheeky passing zones) and new jumps. Things like that just keep bringing new life into the trail.”
The biggest project has been refreshing the whole section of singletrack between the Snowy Hill Car Park and the Arnold Gap Car Park. For those who aren’t super well acquainted with Cascades, this is the section between the first and second road crossings.
“We’ve tweaked a lot of the features, some jumps, some step-downs and we’ve added some dual berms. We’re trying to give people options so that they’re not just going into the same berms; that way, you can hit the inside berm or the outside and just change it up a bit,” he says.
Starting just above the first road crossing, Reynolds tells us he has completely refreshed a little more than 2km of trail so far.
“The way it’s turning out is pretty fast flowing. We’ve changed a few sections and probably taken out about 60m that just runs through rather than coming back on itself to keep the flow going. It’s taken me a while because a lot of it is that really red soil that’s hard to work with when it rains.”
The trail crew are also flexing its carpentry muscles, there is also a new bit of fresh woodwork on display near Harry’s Landing.
“I was up there with the machine cleaning up, and then we ended up deciding to make this little 40m pump track type-thing with some wooden features. We were just trying to turn a 40-50m plain section into something interesting,” says Reynolds.
He also tells Flow on the to-do list is to create a raised platform over the mud bog at the top. But this won’t just be a stock standard raised platform; Reynolds tells us he has some ideas for something North Shore style. This is still very much in the planning phase, however, so you’ll have to wait a while.
Even with all of the changes and Reynolds’ never-ending quest to make the Cascades ride like a brand new trail every season, he also tells us it’s essential to keep everything to a blue or dark blue level.
“It’s such a big trail that you can’t change because we’re limited on the alignment. But the majority of people love that sort of blue trail, to dark blue in sections,” he tells us.
Don’t forget the trails on the summit
While Cascades is far and away the showstopper at Lake Mountain, don’t forget there are also trails on the summit.
Reynolds tells us they’ve done a fair bit of work to get the beginner Lenny’s Loop Trail running smooth, and there’s even a bit of new woodwork for freshly minted riders to experience.
“Lenny’s loop is looking pretty good, and we’ve just put in a new wooden rollover,” he says.
Stemming off from Lenny’s Loop there’s a black trail called Ski Run 21, which Reynolds has also been moving dirt on.
It’s only about 400m long, but I think you’ve got 10 or 11 doubles and step-downs in that little section. There’s a little A/B-line section on there, and there is a massive tree that came down a few years ago, which we put a wooden feature over the top,” Reynolds says.
While it may seem less than ideal to run a black trail off of a beginner loop, Reynolds tells us there is a tree right at the entrance that creates a filter feature — an obstacle that requires a certain degree of skill to get over, which will prevent riders who aren’t ready from ending up on that trail.
The trail crew will also be out slashing the XC ski trails so folks can go for a leisurely roll and enjoy the scenery around the summit.
New shuttle pickup
The new shuttle pickup will probably be the most noticeable change for folks heading to Lake Mountain to ride Cascades.
“We have closed down the Lake Mountain Visitor Centre in Marysville and have repositioned our shuttle pickup to the Peppers rear car park,” says Kirra Clancy, Acting Visitor Services Supervisor at Lake Mountain Resort.
Reynolds tells us they’ve also installed a new bike wash down there to boot.
“We’ve got one down there sitting at Peppers. It’s one of the newfangled ones where you chuck your money in, and you’ve got bike wash and a blowdryer, and everything,” says Reynolds.
Another significant change for this season is that the shuttle is only running on weekends for most of the year. However, from December 29, 2023 to January 19, 2024 the resort is putting on an 8:00am and 9:30am shuttle during the week.
“We’ve only put it on (weekdays) for the busy period at this point in time, but it’s kind of see as we go for putting on weekday shuttles. If we have demand, it’s definitely something we will look into. We’re taking note of when people are inquiring about weekday shuttles and things like that,” says Clancy.
That said, if you can’t find a shuttle day that works and you can get a big group of mates together, Lake Mountain is offering private group bookings for this riding season.
“We can utilise the bus that we have already, and get people up here on days that we’re not running the shuttle service. You can choose the time that you’d like to be picked up in Marysville, and we’ll come down and pick you up. Usually, we can take 10-20 people; you just need the minimum payment on booking — all the info is on our website,” says Clancy.
The top has been rearranged, too.
When you make it to the summit, the shop and cafe have also moved into the admin building.
“It was kind of a no-brainer to move it (the shop and cafe) over here. Not only to reduce the operational costs and energy used over in that second building, but it’s also a much nicer atmosphere to host our summer operation,” says Clancy. “We’ve got an awesome balcony outside so that you can take advantage of the beautiful views while you’re enjoying a coffee.”
Lake Mountain is still offering a full fleet of Rocky Mountain hire bikes with both Instincts and Altitudes available. You can also rent helmets and knee and elbow pads too. The only difference here is that you’ll need to drop them off at Peppers when you’re done, as the Visitor Centre is no more.
For more info, to check trail status, or book shuttles, head over to the Lake Mountain Website.