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Narrowneck Track is a walking and mountain biking trail in the Blue Mountains, and is one of the best MTB rides in the area in terms of scenery and ride quality. It follows a narrow ridge stretching out above the Jamison and Megalong Valleys, offering fine views from both sides. In terms of the trail itself, It's all firetrail, generally well maintained and with no technically hard sections, though there are a few climbs which will test the legs of most riders.

I've ridden Narrowneck twice at the time of writing, once in torrential rain on my hardtail, another on a fine day on My BMC Speedfox. Both were fantastic. Even riding in a thunderstorm, something that's ordinarily a bit miserable, was made thoroughly enjoyable by the location, the well-drained track, and the atmosphere

Getting There

The trail itself starts on Glenraphael Drive in Katoomba, and there are several ways to approach the start.

  1. Drive in, head all the way to the locked gate, park, and do the track itself
  2. Drive in, Park where Cliff Drive meets Glenraphael Drive (big, but smooth, climb out)
  3. Park in Katoomba, grab a coffee, ride to the start

If you're doing 2 or 3, you'll approach via a long downhill section from Cliff Drive downwards, at the top of which you can get a good view of where you'll be going. This leads in turn to a steep uphill on tarmac, and thence to the locked gate where the trail properly begins.

The Trail

Note: Narrowneck trail is popular with mountain bikers and walkers. Please co-exist peacefully, don't scare the tourists and try not to have any embarrassing accidents.

From the gate, routefinding is simple. Lift your bike over the rail, and follow the trail out along the plateau. That's it.

You'll head south along wooded fire trail past some opportunities for great views, until you reach a narrowing, where sandstone promontories flank the path. At this point, you can get great views of the Megalong and Jamison valleys, and connected riders can make a FourSquare checkin for Narrowneck itself. You'll get a very steep downhill with waterbars (take care) and some mixed climbs and descents, all of which provide fantastic riding and yet more views. You'll then reach the Narrowneck Bushfire Observation Tower (foursquare), which heralds the final stretch down to the final lookout. This is possibly the best riding on the trail, with the scenery opening up around you and a great, quick downhill to the finish and a well deserved break. Take care at the end, as the lookout is unfenced and there's a big drop.

From the lookout at the end, views stretch down to Lake Burragorang behind the Warragamba Dam, and King's Tableland (where the Anderson's, Ingar and McMahon's rides go) and upwards to the Megalong, Jenolan State Forest and Kanangra-Boyd National Park. In early morning, the valleys fill with mist, and in stormy weather, you can be above the clouds, looking downwards to the lightning bolts. It could be worthwhile taking a sunset ride and coming back on lighting, if well timed.

There's a walking track near to the end which heads downwards, but bikes shouldn't be there. Don't even bother trying. You can, of course, explore on foot.

Getting back is more of the same kind of riding, but the big waterbarred hill you came down on the way is now a monstrous climb which only fit riders on good equipment will be confident in tackling. There's no shame in pushing the bike here, but overall the return ride feels easier than the ride out, to me at least.

If you've parked at the locked gate, you've got a relatively easy finish. If you parked at the junction with Cliff Drive, you've got a long, but smooth, climb out to the car.

All up, you'll have done 20 - 30km of fantastically scenic riding, and you should be feeling quite good about it.


Find more Mtn Biking in NSW



Notes

  • Ridden in January on the old hardtail, from the Cliif Drive/Glenraphael junction
  • Ridden 19 Feb 2012 on the BMC Speedfox in the company of Dave The Happy Singer (on a rented full suspension Mongoose) - from Katoomba shops, via the Fire Control Centre returning via Scenic World
  • Rode from Golden Stairs car park 8 Jul 201, which is almost exactly 20km round trip, with the big tarsealed hill as an opener. I did Butterbox Point as a 'warmup', so it didn't hurt too badly. It occurs that 1 hour out and back would be a good target time from here, though I didn't manage that speed on this occasion as I ran out of light (and had very low charge on my bike lights)

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