Biking through beautiful rain forests in active holiday
WHAT better way to launch into a holiday than hurtling at speed down a steep mountain?
This was our fast and furious introduction to the beautiful forests of Tasmania when we joined the Vertigo Mountain Biking shuttle earlier this year.
While scorching temps had forced many mainland mountain bikers to retire their bikes for a few months, Tassie's cooler climate was a welcome relief and encouraged us to get a taste of the freshly minted Juggernaut trail.
The track is world-class and part of the Hollybank Mountain Bike Park built by Dirt Art and opened late last year. It is only 20 minutes from Launceston in the stunning Hollybank Forest Reserve. The reserve is also home to the popular Segway Tours plus the Hollybank Treetops Adventure, which is a three-hour flying-fox tour through the canopy.
Many people say catching a shuttle bus up the mountain to start the Juggernaut is slightly cheating - I say jump on board as it just gives you more time to ride.
Our friendly and helpful driver Buck Gibson fixed us up with dual-suspension bikes and helmets before we joined fellow riders for the short drive up the mountain.
The park offers different trails suitable for riders of all experiences - green for easy, blue for more difficult, and black for advanced mountain shredders.
The 4.5km green track will help you find your rhythm as it loops through towering eucalypts.
The 3.6km blue track winds through lush rainforests and ferns. It leads down and up through a valley that includes a roughly paved creek crossing and fun sections to make you smile.
The main descent trail, the epic Juggernaut, is 10km and rated blue with double-black diamond track options for the brave.
All trails start at the car park.
While you can ride up the main trail, most prefer to drive to the top via a dirt road and ride down.
The Juggernaut starts up high in the eucalypts, with huge rock slabs and ledges.
It flows on through a working forest (which was cleared on our visit) before hitting gorgeous Lord of the Rings-style mossy glens and lush forests. Nothing has been overlooked in this park with ample facilities located near the car park, including a bike wash-down area, toilets, picnic shelter and a dirt jump and skills section.
And the good news for riders is that the Hollybank Park is part of a growing network of mountain bike trails in Tasmania.
In February, 23km of single track was launched by Blue Derby Trails. It is part of an 80km project being built by the World Trail team near Derby, north-east Tasmania.
If your legs aren't too sore and you are after more rides in the Launceston area, don't miss local favourites Trevallyn Recreation Area behind Cataract Gorge and Kate Reed Nature Recreation Area in the southern outskirts of the city.
And if you want to explore further afield, head to Vertigo Mountain Biking (vertigomtb.com.au and on Facebook).
Guides Rob Potter and Buck Gibson offer local knowledge, trailhead shuttles, bike hire, and good times out on the trails.
Hollybank is a super ride for all levels of experience and is just the tip of the iceberg for two-wheel adventures in our Apple Isle.