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I actually did this ride over the weekend of 31 Mar/1 Apr 2012, and blogged it here

The route I took is still not definitive - I still need to explore a better way around the Blackheath and Katoomba Special Areas, and maybe find a nicer way into Wentworth Falls on day 2.



It occured to me one day that it's possible/easy to string The Oaks and Anderson's Firetrail together. Trailflix has both heading "downhill", so that seems to be the logical way to string them together, though heading west seems to me to be most "atmospheric". But this opens up the possibility of stringing even more trails together to cross the Blue Mountains plateau in its entirety, from Lithgow to Penrith (or vice versa).

So I started planning a ride to go right across the Mountains, taking in as much off-road as possible. Currently I've got it pencilled in for the Weekend of 31st March 2012/1st April 2012.

The plan is to start from Lithgow Train Station as early as I can get there, and to follow the route outlined below. The 5.48am train from Central/6.01am from Strathfield will get me to Lithgow at 8:40am. The next arrival is 11:10 (starting 8:18am from Central), so it looks like it might be an insanely early start, or a short first day. I'm thinking short first day, having done major two-day rides before.

The Route

Version 1

Stage ONE: Train To Lithgow, ~30km road south to Join Six Foot Track ~27km offroad to Join Megalong Road south of Blackheath, ~15km up Megalong Road to Blackheath, or continue (push?) along the walking section of Six Foot to Katoomba (or is Nellie's Glen Road rideable?). Overnight stop at the Gardeners, fill up with carbs (or a pot pie) and a judicious (aka absurd) amount of cider. Review photographs, tweet a bit, retire early. Roughly 75km or so, so not a massively tough day. Perhaps add a jaunt out to Baltzer Lookout at the end, with a beer or two in the backpack, depending on arrival time.

Stage TWO: Wake up, shake off hangover, ride on (somehow) to Tableland Road in Wentworth Falls, follow this and drop onto Anderson's Firetrail (~31km) as far as Woodford. Join The Oaks Firetrail and Singletrack (~28km) at Woodford and head to Glenbrook. Ride down to Emu Plains (via a Fire Road off Barnet Street to Mitchell's pass) and possibly continue to Penrith. At both Emu Plains and Penrith Stations there are pubs for a beer before catching the train home. (O'Donohue's in Emu Plains and the Red Cow in Penrith). If feeling insanely fit, it's 50km of road back to my house via The Great Western Highway, but that would make the day quite massive. Since I'm planning it to happen on April Fools Day, however, it seems appropriate to go the foolish extra 50km. Quite a long day, as much as 150kms if the Penrith to the Inner West road is taken to finish.

Six Foot Track has some access issues, so maybe the alternative first day would be...

Version 2

Stage ONE:From Lithgow to Hartley Vale via Gap Road (Maybe starting up Hassan Walls Road from Sheedy's Gully to get some early, but steep, dirt). Climb into the Mountains via Mt York, then Across Fairy Dell to the Darling Causeway (via fire trails). Follow Station Street into Blackheath.

The climb onto the plateau would be via Lawson's Long Alley, which I recce'd on 10-3-12 and found to be steep as hell but eminently rideable (and mercifully short at 2km of climbing)

Optional overnight in Blackheath, if starting late.

There are trails that continue to via Valley View Road to Lake Medlow, coming back up onto Grand Canyon Road, which is followed to Katoomba Airfield and up to Mini-Ha-Ha Road, which takes us into Katoomba. Unfortunately part of this is Catchment and therefore unridable. It might be possible to go round to the north of the catchment area, however (a project for another weekend)

Overnight in Katoomba

This is relatively short compared to the Six-foot Track option, so maybe take a 35km (+return) jaunt out to the Glow-worm caves in the morning (stopping in Blackheath later), or 14km road out to Lidsdale and Blackfellow's Hand Track back to Glowworm Tunnel Road. Or pop-out to Victoria Falls, Baltzer Lookout or Anvil Rock from Blackheath as part of the ride.

Stage TWO: as for version 1, though Andersons can be swapped for Queen Elizabeth Drive/Murphy's trail, cutting some distance off and giving a better chance of finishing in a reasonable time.

Version 3

The big one-dayer. Early start at Lithgow, Gap Road (tarmac) to Hartley Vale and the climb to Mt York. Fast along Station Street as far as Medlow. GWH (tarmac) to Wentworth Falls. Murphy's to Woodford. Oaks to Glenbrook. Firetrails to Emu Plains. Train home.

Shorter, and lots of blacktop by proportion, but more impressive to say "I crossed the mountains in a day".



The whole thing can be varied wildly - for instance moving the Anderson's Firetrail section to Day 1, making day 1 the bigger day of the two, and staying at a B&B in Woodford. There's accomodation throughout the mountains, so almost any point can be opted for as the overnight.

Note: The gaps between the fire trails are a bit unsatisfactory. There's the Overcliffe track (which may be a non-bike walking track TBC) round between WF and Leura, if there's a way past the golf course. Federal Pass would get us between Katoomba itself and the Narrowneck plateau, but is also walking-only, as far as I can make out. Any ideas for how to do this with the maximum off-road are welcome.



Specific sections

Joining Anderson's to The Oaks

Image

Anderson's Firetrail emerges onto Bedford Road in Woodford. This is followed to Sutton Street, turning right. This then bends left into Taylor road, where the entrance to The Oaks is situated.

Joining The Oaks to "Knapsack Trail"

I don't know what the firetrail from Glenbrook to Emu Plains is called, but since it starts near Knapsack Park, that's what it's being termed for now.

Image

So heading up the big hill from The Oaks into Glenbrook (Bruce Road), we turn right at Euroka Road, which brings us to Glenbrook Park. Cutting through diagonally to Ross Street, we use the lights to turn right onto to the Highway, and head downhill for about 400m to Barnet Street, where we head left past Knapsack Park. There's a left-right kink, shortly after which is the trail entrance, though it looks like there are shortcuts from the park too.

From Glenbrook to Emu Plains

This area appears to be crisscrossed with lots of trails. We're looking to cross Mitchell's pass just west of the Whitton Memorial Place and rejoin just up from the junction with the GWH near the rail crossing

Image

From Megalong Road to Katoomba

According to all I can find out, the Six Foot Track between Megalong road and the Explorer's Tree is off-limits to mountain bikes, so the ride will most likely go up Megalong Road to Blackheath However six-foot appears, from maps at least, to diverge from Nellie's Glen Road. Is Nellie's Glen Road itself rideable? Indeed, do the two actually diverge, or is this a Google Maps problem? Good question. If they diverge, then there's only a relatively short bike push.

So this could be the route to Katoomba I need, if it's not the same thing as six-foot track. Here's trailflix on Six-Foot Track

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