Words by Flow | Images by Flowtographer

“One of the things people always say, is that National Parks don’t want change,” says Garry Patterson of TrailScapes, “but this project has really proved to me that’s not true.”

TrailScapes are the crew charged with the challenging, highly-pivotal task of creating NSW’s first ever purpose-built mountain bike trail in a National Park area. “From our perspective, National Parks have been amazing to work with – there are crew within Parks who want to ride this trail even more than we do! – and nothing has ever been too hard for them,” says Garry.

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Garry Patterson of TrailScapes. He should be proud of his work!

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The trail in discussion is one of two brand-new trails (yes, completely new, commissioned by National Parks themselves) in Garigal National Park, in Sydney’s northern suburbs. This is an area where mountain biking is booming. It’s also an area of vast swathes of sensitive National Park, countless sites of Aboriginal significance and plenty of residents who like things ‘just-so’. As such, it has taken some serious vision, determination and political will on the part of the NSW government and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to make this project a reality. Everyone involved deserves heaped servings of praise!

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The return climb to the top of the trail is easy, straight up the fireroad.

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While the official opening is still a few days away, Flow was given a chance to ride the fresh Serrata Track with TrailScapes yesterday. This is a unique trail in so many ways; because of the sensitive nature of the terrain, the entire trail has been hand-built, which is a mammoth undertaking in such a rocky environment.  Materials for trail construction had to be sourced locally and either carried in by hand or dropped by helicopter. Trees of over 50mm in diameter had to preserved too. In short, this was not your standard machine-built trail project!

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TrailScapes moved a lot of rock, by hand, to make this trail happen! With so much of the trail on rock, it should hold up exceptionally well.

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It’s nice to see a trail with line choice options; there are at least three different lines through this particular section of rocky trail.

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But TrailScapes have done an incredible job, and ultimately these restriction have resulted in a trail that is both unique amongst most new trail developments, but which also matches the vibe and feel of other trails in Sydney’s northern beaches region. The trail is almost entirely built of rock, either on the sandstone bedrock itself, or with long sections of rock armouring linking up cool ledges and other rock features. Rated as a ‘blue’ intermediate level trail, there are plenty of properly technical sections that’ll prompt many riders to take pause, with multiple line choices available, including some that aren’t so obvious until you really stop and take a look.

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Tony Nolan, the father of Australian mountain bike photography, has been involved in the construction of the Serrata Track. It’s actually pretty special to have someone so influential in the history of Australian mountain biking involved in this project.

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Rocky, steep, beautiful terrain.

While the Serrata Track is just on 1.5km long, it’s an easy to rip out multiple laps, with the return climb cruising back up a mellow fireroad. And when you combine this trail in with the recently refurbished Manly Dam (just around the corner) and with  2.15km Gahnia trail opening soon, you’ve suddenly got a pretty healthy mountain bike trail network. We’re incredibly excited to see this project so close to completion; it feels as if the discussion about legal trails in Garigal National Park has been going on for decades, and to have it actually come into fruition is just brilliant. We hope this project marks the start of a new era of positive relations between mountain bikers and NSW National Parks.

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Again, there are multiple line options – steep and quick, or round the outside.

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Please note: the Garnia Trail is NOT yet open. Riding it ahead of the official opening date could seriously jeopardise this and future projects. And do you really want to be the d#ckhead who stuffs it up for everyone? 

Location: The Serrata Track starts off the Currie Rd firetrail, in Forestville. The trailhead is approximately 1 km in from Currie Rd – you can’t miss it.

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