Maitland Ridge Track
Duration: 4-5hr loop
At the moment my favourite mountain bike ride is the Maitland Ridge Track near St Arnaud. This track has been described as “like tramping on a bike”.
The ride takes between 4 and 5 hours starting with a solid 600 metre push up the Beebys 4WD road, which heads off Tophouse Road. The climb takes about an hour and a half before reaching the bush edge where the Maitland Ridge Track begins at 1320 metres, heading east down a ridge to Red Hills Hut.
The track was only completed twelve months ago by the MTB Trails Trust through the DOC Community Fund, and has already proved popular with mountain bikers, trampers and trail runners.
Another set of zig-zags up the ridge takes you to a spot where the mossy forest floor and chunky stunted mountain beech trees create a Lord of the Rings like atmosphere.
This is often a good place for a snack and a breather before starting the main descent. The track tilts downward, ever steeper, culminating in a series of sharp, steep switchbacks before heading across a slope with some tricky corners that keep you on your toes to another flat saddle.
As the adrenaline subsides the track takes you upwards out of the saddle on an easy grade for 800 metres into the ultramafic country typical of the Red Hills area where you drop your seat for the final rip roaring rock strewn descent to Red Hills Hut.
From the hut it is a ‘cruisy’ ride down the Red Hills 4WD road to the flats. There is however a kicker here as the track skirts farmland for a kilometre or so by climbing steeply up a narrow ridge. Only really skilled riders are capable of ‘cleaning’ this section of track. After this though, it is a pleasant ride through beech forest to the Red Hills carpark adjacent. A couple of kilometres up the road takes you back to the starting point. We often do this part of the ride first to avoid riding up the road in the heat of the day.
I’ll let you in on a secret; if you drop down to the north of the saddle through open bush for 10 minutes to Beebys Creek you will find a waterfall cascading into a bush bordered pool. Great place to cool off. Otherwise there is no water available on the ride, so take plenty.
Maitland Ridge Track is an expert level track leading from Beebys Track. Beebys Track starts at Tophouse Road, which is a part of the Teeotal Recreation Area, 1.5 kilometres west of St Arnaud on State Highway 63.
Do you have a mountain bike trail to recommend? Comment below.