Wild Mersey Mountain Bike Trails nearing completion

Situated on the doorstep of Devonport, Wild Mersey is one of Tassie’s newest trail networks. Well, it’s actually three networks. Spanning across Latrobe, Railton and Sheffield, the first two stages have been rolling out singletrack over the past three years, and we’re well into stage three. The original plan was to have everything tied up late last year; unfortunately, the world had other ideas.

Since we last visited in 2020, the team at Trailscapes has been chipping away kilometre after kilometre of singletrack. We caught up with Trailscapes boss Garry Patterson to see how things are going in northern Tasmania and what’s new at Wild Mersey.


Build me up buttercup

The Wild Mersey Mountain Bike Trailsspans Latrobe, Railton and Sheffield, and when the project kicked off, there wasn’t really a mountain biking community in any of these towns. So the first round of trails were used to create a springboard for the local community to experience riding and ultimately become ambassadors for their network, before aiming to attract wider Australia.

The locals have well and truly embraced the Wild Mersey trail network and are ready for more.

“There were not as many riders in this region at the time. The idea with this initial stage was not to scare everyone and have them go, “it’s too hard I’m going home and never coming back,” said Marcelo Cardona from Next Level Mountain Bike, who built the network in Latrobe’s Warawee Forest, told Flow in 2020.

“That first lot of trails are probably what I would consider as a ‘gateway trail network,’ and that works well with all the locals. They can go out and hit those trails before or after work,” says Patterson.

“With the trail over here in Railton and Sheffield, we’ve upped the ante quite a lot. We’re definitely taking advantage of all the terrain we can, and there are lots of big features out there,” he says.

Since our visit to Wild Mersey, most of the work has taken place on the Sheffield side of the Badgers Range. Patterson had predicted the terrain would get increasingly rocky as they moved up into these hills; this hasn’t quite panned out as expected, but what the geology lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality.

“We went out hunting for rock one day and found this amazing outcrop. It’s got this incredible lookout; you can see the Bass Strait and Western Tiers. It’s an incredible spot, really rocky,” he says. “It is covered in that famous Tasmanian green moss, so we’ve taken full advantage of that — it’s an incredible spot. Something special that’s definitely going to attract people, but it’s also pretty technical.”

A sneak peek of this moss-covered paradise. If we were talking about deer hunting, these rocks would be the equivalent of an 11-point buck.



Kimberley’s Lookout

While that’s what Patterson and his team are currently working on, the Sheffield side of the network is running strong, with a green loop and blue trails all the way up to Kimberley’s Lookout and back down.

The Badgers Range didn’t turn out to be quite as rocky as Patterson had expected, but there is still plenty to work with.

“It’s a combination of climbing trails called Rock’n Roland and Blue Tongue, and then you’re at the top. From there, you descend trails called Bluetopia and Jack Jumper into Gold Rush back down — all up it’s about 4km of descending,” Patterson says.

Patterson tells us the trails coming off Kimberley’s Lookout are a mix of tech and flow, with Bluetopia having a fair bit of natural stone in it making for some lively rock gardens while Jack Jumper is strewn with techy rock features and drops — all within what you’d expect on a blue trail.

Badgers Run E-Challenge

One of the key features Patterson wanted to implement into Wild Mersey was the e-Challenge trails. These are technical climbs specifically designed to push e-MTBs to their technical limit. Patterson says the idea came from watching folks on e-MTBs zipping up gentle climbs in turbo mode.

The first of the e-Challenge trails, Badgers Run e-Challenge, has opened on the Sheffield side of the network.

“I thought why not build shortcut climbs through the network. They are proper steep, loose, untreated trails, and they are quite challenging on an e-Bike — there is no doubt about it,” he says. “We’ll have another one opening up with the next lot of trails as well.”

Building on Bonneys Tier

The final area Trailscapes is working in is called Bonneys Tier. Patterson tells us this area is essentially a giant rock slab with quarries attached to it on either side. It’s exceptionally challenging terrain to work in, and Trailscapes currently has three crews chipping away at this section.

The flagship trail here will be a 6-8km descent with over 500m of vertical drop through rocky terrain. Patterson tells us this will be a proper backcountry riding experience with fantastic views, and they are even looking at putting in shuttle infrastructure to make for easy laps.

Because the terrain is so treacherous for the trail builders, Patterson has advised us not to hold our breath in anticipation of these trails opening.

We haven’t seen any previews of terrain the trails on Bonneys Tier will traverse, so here is some gratuitous autumn foliage instead.
The range of ecosystems the Wild Mersey trail network covers is something to behold..

Connecting Latrobe and Railton

As it stands, the 11km Railton Express trail starts in Railton and stops just short of the Warrawee network in Latrobe at the edge of the Mersey River. There was a bridge here, but unfortunately, it was washed away by floodwater. The Latrobe Council will be reconnecting this crossing in 2022, but to prevent it from falling victim to the same fate, it will be a suspension bridge this time around.

This won’t be just any run of the mill water crossing. The 150m bridge will also be the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Australia, and potentially the Southern Hemisphere — the current record is held by a 117m suspension bridge in Northam, WA, crossing the Avon River. The project is being looked after by the Latrobe based experts Bridge Pro.

When can you ride the trails?

Patterson tells Flow that this next section of trails, including the moss-covered rocky goodness, will hopefully be ready to ride by the end of February. However, with the difficult conditions on Bonneys Tier, we have been advised that the network won’t be fully completed until late 2022.

Even still, as it stands, there are over 100km of trails already open according to Trailforks, with another 20km or so still to come. And with the proximity to Devonport, if you’re taking the Spirit of Tasmania, it’s only 11km from the ferry terminal.

We can’t wait to check out these new trails around Railton and Sheffield.
Big sends at Wild Mersey!

Photos: Jasper Da Seymour/Wild Mersey

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