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5 cycling trails through the Gold Coast Hinterland

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The Gold Coast has loads more to offer than sandy beaches and surf. I’m talking a playground for us like-minded Cadel Evans cycling folk, nestled in the hinterland.

There are one-way rides and loops to cruise, most riddled with challenging pinches made sweeter by the fact you’re riding in ancient Gondwana Rainforest and rolling cattle properties.

So, if you haven’t ventured further than the CBD River Loop or Mt Coot-tha (where I’m embarrassingly passed by runners), then best click your cleats and grit your teeth into some of these top rides.

1. Mount Tamborine

Distance 43-kilometre loop
Start/Finish Canungra
Total Climb 577 metres
Rating Challenging

Park and ride from the Canungra township.

Turn the legs over on the long stretch through Tamborine, passing horse-racing studs and the famed Albert River Wines vineyard. Take a right at the Bearded Dragon Pub at the roundabout and soon you’ll begin to enjoy the climb to Mt Tamborine – a volcanic mass formed around 20 million years ago.

Smell wafts of log fires burning in winter and the damp rainforest canopy in summer (and note it’s always around 5 to 10 degrees cooler than the coast).

Arrive on top of the world and you’ll see the town is a tourist mecca of antique stores and homemade goodies. If you’re lucky, you can even catch hang gliders launching themselves from the side of the mountain.

Take it easy down the Main Western Road known to locals as the Goat Track, as it’s narrow with tight switchbacks.

If you’ve got a backpack, stop for ripe avocados and tart rhubarb straight from the many road-side stalls and treat yourself to a curry pie from the Outpost Cafe in Canungra.

If you loved this loop be sure to register for the annual Tour de Tamborine 100-kilometre ride in November.

Cycling through the vineyards of the Gold Coast Hinterland

2. Little Nerang Dam to Springbrook

Distance 23.2 kilometres
Start Little Nerang Dam
Finish Springbrook (Best of All Lookout)
Total Climb 983 metres
Rating Challenging

Park one car at Little Narrow Dam and enjoy the easy cruise downhill before it begins to climb as soon as you hit Gold Coast Springbrook Road. Take extra care crossing the timber bridges, which can get slippery in winter.

The road splits into two and you’re rewarded with edgecliff views over Springbrook National Park where you can unclip for a selfie at the lookout. #overhalfway.

Pass through the Springbrook village and turn right onto Repeater Ridge Road before arriving in 3.8 kilometres to the Best of All Lookout (named for obvious reasons).

Pack a lock for your bike and walking shoes and enjoy the scenery. Then, jump in the second car if you were prepared or simply ride back to Little Nerang Dam.

Twin Falls, Springbrook National Park, Gold Coast by @swaller4

Photo by @swaller4

3. Hinze Dam

Distance 60.6-kilometre loop
Start/Finish Little Nerang Dam
Total Climb 983 metres
Rating Super challenging

Little Nerang Dam is a popular spot to park and ride and you should budget to spend the day exploring after you’ve exerted yourself – there are so many waterfalls, walks and townships to see.

But first things first, get cracking down then uphill, before turning right onto Pine Creek Road. You’ll scoot through the Numinbah State Forest and also Murwillumbah township (in New South Wales), then back to Hinze Dam where you’ll roll directly over the structure (pretty cool).

Stop at the kiosk for some sugary lollies (yes, please) before heading back via Mudgeeraba and again hitting the Gold Coast Springbrook Road. You’re on the home stretch now.

Friends cycling through Queensland

4. Currumbin Valley

Distance 20.5 kilometres
Start/Finish Currumbin
Total Climb 189 metres
Rating Moderate

Take it easy through the hustle and bustle of Currumbin before entering the Gold Coast Hinterland. You’ll know you’re there when you’re surrounded by small hobby farms and honesty boxes lining the streets.

If you’ve brought a lock and shoes, pull up and explore the platforms and views in Springbrook National Park, if not, turn 180 degrees and enjoy the cruise home through the countryside.

Remember, each trip to Currumbin isn’t complete without a Wildlife Sanctuary detour, so plan to meet the family afterwards (and skip coffee).

5. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat

Distance 70 kilometres there & back
Start/Finish Canungra
Total Climb 927 metres
Rating Challenging

This ride was tough enough for Troy Bayliss in 2013 so let’s say it might just knock your socks off.

Park and ride from Canungra township and make tracks along Lamington National Park Road. Approximately eight kilometres past grazing farm land, check out O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards before starting the 2.5-hour incline after the Sarabah dirt road.

Wind through ancient Gondwana Rainforest and be rewarded after one final pinch with a cold non-alcoholic drink (of course) at the O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat rooftop bar.

Best of all, enjoy the exhilarating ride downhill (and don’t hang onto your brakes too much).

O'Reilly's Lamington National Park Road

Want more?

You’re bound to have spotted some local gems on these rides, so if you need some itinerary inspiration to bring back the whole family, check out 48 hours in the Scenic Rim.

This slow ‘n steady Bianchi Sempre Pro 2014 rider (with 42mm aluminium clinchers and old tri-bars) would like to thank Where to Ride South East Queensland, 2nd Edition (2009), by Ian Melvin for providing me with route inspiration for this post.

What’s your favourite ride through the Gold Coast Hinterland?