Bantry Bay (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Bruce Ridge (Canberra)
Bungarra Alpine Centre (Snowy Mountains)
Currumbin Border Track (NSW/QLD Border)
Daisy Hill (South Brisbane)
East Kowen (Kowen Pine Forest, Canberra)
Forest Pipeline (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Fred Caterson Reserve (Castle Hill)
Golden Jubilee Field MTB Park (North Shore, Sydney)
Hassans Walls (Lithgow)
Hinze Dam (Gold Coast)
Jindabyne (Snowy Mountains)
Kiwarrak State Forest (Tarree)
Majura Pines (Majura, Canberra)
Manly Dam (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Mt Joyce (Gold Coast Hinterland)
Mt Kosciuszko (Snowy Mountains)
Nerang State Forest (Gold Coast)
Old Man's Valley (Hornsby, Sydney)
Ourimbah (Central Coast)
Oxford Falls (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Pilot Wilderness (Snowy Mountains)
Red Hill (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Rotorua Redwoods (New Zealand)
Silver Mountain (Kellogg)
Singleton (Hunter Valley)
Sparrow Hill (Kowen Pine Forest, Canberra)
St Ives and Belrose (North Shore, Sydney)
Stromlo Forest Park (Canberra)
Terrey Hills (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
The Oaks (Blue Mountains)
Thredbo Resort (Snowy Mountains)
Thredbo Valley Trail (Snowy Mountains)
Whistler Bike Park (Whistler)
Wingello (Southern Highlands)
Wylde MTB Trail (Cecil Park - Western Sydney)
East KowenLast Update: 20/11/2015
For full information, including maps, photos and detailed info on trail sections use the links on the right
UPDATE: 22 August 2015
Videos of the NEW trails of particular interest for Kowalski Classic competitors.
The first thing to know about the East Kowen Forest is that you need the Kowalski's Trail Buddy app (Google Play or App Store). Not only will it get you around the East Kowen Forest with amazing accuracy, proceeds from the app go toward new trails.
The East Kowen Forest mountain bike trails sit in the north eastern corner of the Kowen Forest. The Kowen Forest is MASSIVE, on the south side is Sparrow Hill, typically defined as all the trails on the south side of the Sparrow Hill Road parking lot, on the north side of Sparrow Hill Rd is a substantially larger forest stretching a long way to the east and a very VERY long way to the west.
East Kowen, in the north eastern corner and takes up a very small part of the entire forest foot print. The areas presently accessible by MTB Trails in East Kowen and Sparrow Hill would barely cover a fifth of the entire forest however there is still well over 100km of single track and somewhere in the vicinity of 150-160 signposted trails. Tempted, well you should be!
This section is East Kowen, the trails to the north of the Sparrow Hill Road and Hibernian Rd Car Parks, with one exception – Upstart, which is typically included within East Kowen despite being on the southern side.
The East Kowen trails are not dissimilar to Sparrow Hill however they generally contain more rocks. The biggest descents and climbs are found in East Kowen as are the more technical trails including the newly opened (as of August 2015) Stairway to Heaven and Romper Room which are a whole new level of technical for anywhere else in the forest. That’s not to say that East Kowen doesn’t have its fair share of cruisy trails in fact I’d argue that the beginner single track loop around Sweet Apples to Last Tango is easier than the short loop at Sparrow Hill because you don’t have to climb to get there.
It’s probably fair to say that East Kowen extends the boundaries at both ends of the scale.
There are 3 loops marked out at Start Me Up. On my first trip to East Kowen I followed the longest loop which was a great sampler but barely scratched the surface of what East Kowen has to offer. There are two shorter loops that bypass the bigger climbs. The loops are not as clearly marked as Sparrow Hill so you need to pay a little bit more attention, and unlike Sparrow Hill where the 3 loops cover about 90% of the trails the 3 East Kowen loops concentrate on the central trails only.
I highly recommend downloading the Kowalski's Trail Buddy app (Google Play or App Store), and if you google around you will find some former event maps that will give you ideas for routes further afield in East Kowen.
Here are my Strava routes for the 4 days I’ve ridden East Kowen. Note – my forth ride was a mystery tour some of the best and almost all the worst decisions I made happened on that ride.
- The 13km Loop, everything to the right (Secret Squirrel and returning by Seismic Rd) is an extension - https://www.strava.com/activities/339297324
- Ringing around the middle - https://www.strava.com/activities/365568421
- A pretty long sampler (but everything in the Far East should be ridden in reverse bar Stud Muffin) - https://www.strava.com/activities/366322045
- Right out to the west and north - https://www.strava.com/activities/368576442
- (Kowalski’s) Sideshow and onto Corkscrew
- Secret Squirrel, Kowalski’s Beer Garden and onto Last Call
- Front Nine
- Sugar Glider and Aunty Flow
- Birthday Suit (down)
- Romper Room
Trails I climbed that would be great descents
- Quadrophenia (clearly a descending trail)
- Web Track, Rolling Thunder 1 and onto Rolling Thunder 2
- Birthday Suit, Love You Long Time and onto Stud Muffin
- Ziggy Stardust, Extra Nooky, Magic Mushroom and onto Shiitake
The Climbs (in order of PAIN!)
- Stairway to Heaven
- Birthday Suit (up)
- Escalator (including the climb up Ding Ding Ding and the subsequent fire trail climbs that I walked)
- Rolling Thunder 2, Rolling Thunder 1 and up Web Track
Other trails I really enjoyed (in rough order)
- Effing Track – so worth the effort to get there
- 3.5, Free Fall, Mud Duck, Fairy Glen II and Lost Weekend – an alternate and quick way to climb up right into the heart of the trails.
- Everything around Magic Mushroom (it’s a bit of a rabbit warren in there)
- The beginner loop listed below – because it was a great way to get the lactic acid out of the legs and add a few kilometres to the end of any ride in East Kowen.
The Beginner Loop
From the carpark, climb over the fence as if you are heading to Sparrow Hill but take the first left about 10m into the trail. Follow the Creek Track toward East Kowen down a gully and beside a fence/gate until you hit a wide open and well-groomed winding fire trail heading north. Climb up the trail to the first intersection and onto the beginning of Start Me Up. That’s pretty much the biggest climb out of the way.
- Start Me Up
- Sweet Apples
- Circle Work, Number 2, Tanglewood Front Door
- Rockpile Loop, Tanglewood Back Door
- Hammer Time, Last Tango
MTB Trail Video’s Hill of Death – It should be an event!
- Start – At the bottom of Last Call
- Up - Seismic Rd
- Down - Ziggy Stardust, Extra Nooky, Magic Mushroom, Shiitake
- Up - Magic Mushroom (lower entrance), Bliss Out, Ground Shaker
- Down – Sideshow, Corkscrew
- Up - Rolling Thunder 2, Rolling Thunder 1, Web Track
- Down - Romper Room
- Up - Stairway To Heaven
- Down - Secret Squirrel, Beer Garden, Last Call
- Lower entrance for Cora 1 - I couldn't find the trail head, I suspect it's overgrown
- Cora 2 - Logged out
- Cora 3 - Access was blocked at the time of riding due to logging but appears to be rideable.
- Cutty - I couldn't find the trail head, I suspect it's overgrown
- Mac's Track - Logged out
- Stimpy - Logged out
- Under the wire - In fact just this weekend the Kowalski Brothers have begun restoration work on this trail
- Piggy, Tutu, Dusk, Outpost, Finish me off - I accidentally missed them, unclear if they all still exist.
Please note the app is due for an update early Sept 2015 and will contain new trails, some of which we have ridden but weren't signposted at the time of riding so we don't know their names just yet.
DON'T FORGET - This is only East Kowen - check out our Sparrow Hill section for all the trails on the other side of the car park.
Blog articles that mention this trail
- 25/7/2016 - MTB Trail Videos - Trail Centre Upgrade Program
- 17/6/2016 - VIDEO: The Fourth 365 Days of Reign - My 4th year of Mountain Biking
- 7/5/2016 - Pilot Wilderness Ride - Cascade to Pinch - Part 1
- 7/5/2016 - Pilot Wilderness Ride - Cascade to Pinch - Part 2
- 27/2/2016 - VIDEO: Top XC Rides of 2014/2015
- 27/2/2016 - Finding Bruce Ridge and Loving It!
- 1/1/2016 - VIDEO: 2015 The FAIL Awakens
- 22/11/2015 - VIDEO: Nine Days in the Rotorua Redwoods
- 20/11/2015 - Exploring all of Sparrow Hill and the East Kowen Forest