Blue Tier and Atlas | Blue Derby’s Greatest Trail

Here lies the fastest and most gracefully awesome section of the Blue Tier and Atlas adventure.

Words cannot describe the feeling from slashing around these corners at high speed. Soil embedded in the rear tyre is sucked from the forest floor and sent flying up, tickling the back of your neck as you whip through the green wilderness.

No more words need to be said for this absolutely breathtaking trail… except for this – If BIG CHOOK were ice-cream, its flavour would be chocolate… everybody loves chocolate!

Difficulty
Intermediate

Trail Style
Singletrack, Gravity Enduro

Distance
35 km

Time
7 hrs

Total Descent
1, 263 m

Entrance Fee
Free (for personal shuttles), $75 a day for shuttles through Vertigo MTB

Facilities
Trail Map Sign, toilets, food and water available at Weldborough Hotel (mid-way point)

Recommended Gear
Open face helmet, Downhill rated knee pads, Long sleeve jersey, Gravity shorts, Gloves, Camelback


BLUE TIER AND ATLAS OVERVIEW

So you’ve decided to visit Derby and now you are wondering what trails to ride. The main question in your head… Is the Blue Tier and Atlas trail worth it? HELL YES THEY ARE! Descending along a trail 35km in length, with only several small climbing sections standing in the way of the perfectly built flow, this shouldn’t even be a thought!

beginning of the Atlas trail at Blue Derby while completeing the famous Blue Tier and Atlas adventure

Perhaps the most picturesque mountain biking available in Australia, and by far the lushest riding experience we have ventured on awaits when you decide to visit this masterpiece. Running adjacent to crystal clear streams through an almost enchanted forest for much of the descent, one may become confused and ponder whether they have stumbled into a daydream.

If this intrigues your sense of adventure, first read our Derby Tasmania post and find out all there is to know about travelling to this small part of the world.

If you already know this town like the back of your hand, here is a video showing the greatest highlights from our Blue Tier and Atlas Adventure.

After this small snippet displaying what you will encounter as a whole, let’s move on to the day in its entirety.

BLUE TIER AND ATLAS SHUTTLES

The main difference in embarking on this once in a lifetime adventure compared with riding the Blue Derby Black Stump Network is that a shuttle is absolutely necessary to reach the peak. The peak is a great term to describe the trailhead. Perched in the clouds at a whopping elevation of 800m and roughly an hour’s drive through the winding mountainside, Pedalling from Derby’s town centre would be an impossible feat.

Similar to Black Stump, several options are at your disposal when it comes to shuttling. As the downright cheapest and – for some – easiest method of shuttling, throw the bikes in the back of a mate’s Ute and power up to the Blue Tier Trail Head. Obviously for most visiting Derby, this is completely out of the question. So for those without this luxury – like us – another form of transport has to be available.

Vertigo MTBEvolution and Mad MTB are the main commercial providers and we’re sure all would do an outstanding job. If you are looking for more info on these rad bike shops head over to our Derby Tasmania post or visit their websites directly.

Our day began by meeting the Vertigo MTB team at 8:45am and loading our bikes onto the shuttle trailer in anticipation of an unforgettable experience. Our driver Loz was as knowledgeable as she was friendly, making the greetings a delightful beginning. The watch struck 9am and we were off.

The drive leads through several small towns including the historic Weldborough. Weldborough prides itself in originality and is home to a classic old pub still standing from 1860. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, before we can relax with a frosty cold beer we have some mountain biking to accomplish. Time to marvel in what is known as the Blue Tier and Atlas Wilderness Adventure and see why this is an unmissable day in Blue Derby.

BLUE TIER

As we mentioned earlier, the trailhead is located at a chilly height of 800m above sea level, forcing it into the category of sub-alpine. Don’t worry about the shivers though, soon the cold atmosphere will be forgotten as you fall in love with Mother Nature’s finest Blue Tier.

Beginning of the Blue Tier Trail under the Arch before commencing on th Blue Tier and Atlas Adventure

Slowly rolling through the Blue Tier Arch, begin to loosen up those legs because 19km of singletrack bliss must be conquered before meeting the shuttle once again.

The first several kilometres of Blue Tier are exactly what you’d expect from any resort riding, and reminded us of the classic All Mountain Trail in Thredbo. Dry, rugged and bare – for the most part – allows for a steady pace through the rocky altitude. Several fast sections encompassing flat corners, small berms and zippy man-made rock jumps is barely an introduction for what is coming next.

Apparently the views from up here are spectacular. A 360-degree playing field of alpine forest, rainforest and the ocean. Yes that’s right, even the ocean is visible from the mountain top… don’t ask us though. Just as our luck entails, we decided to embark on this somewhat enchanted adventure through the arid clouds all the way down into cool dense temperate rainforest on a most miserable day of smoke haze caused by fires to the south.

Can you believe it? As I said… JUST OUR LUCK! This was our view from Blue Derby’s most famous trail.

Standing among the tree tops in Goblin Forest on the Blue Tier and Atlas in Blue Derby Tasmania

Although the views from up top weren’t as spectacular as always, nothing can dampen the magnificent mountain biking on offer. And as the story continues, boy does it get better.

BLUE TIER – GOBLIN FOREST

Creeping into the Goblin Forest and edging along the ever so close creek bank, the trees begin to swell around you. Creating an eerie green tint over not just their leaves but everything in the surrounding vicinity. But what about the trail itself? With the heavenly views diminishing into the beautiful forest, a glorious terrain change becomes apparent.

Mountain biking through the Goblin Forest on the Blue Tier and Atlas Trail in Blue Derby Tasmania

The dark and dense atmosphere transitions to the trail floor during this shift. Moist mulchy dirt compacted tightly barely covers the roots of the forest, yet with this slippery combination massive amounts of traction is available as the tread on your tyres digs in between the grooves.

If you are wondering why the Blue Tier is as famous as it is, THIS IS IT! A perfect example of an entirely unique take on mountain biking.

Unfortunately, the entire 19km isn’t all descending. As you could probably expect, there are some climbs thrown into the mix. None of which are brutal, although for the most part consist of tight switchbacks and rocks scattered throughout. In our opinion, this just makes the ascents interesting at the very least.

Climbing up the technical hills found in the Goblin Forest on the Blue Tier and Atlas Trail

As a general rule of thumb, Blue Tier consists of 70% descent and 30% ascent. Over the course of the next several kilometres, this will be apparent with fast-flowing amazing descents over smooth tracks mixed with intermediately technical climbs.

As you make your way through this vastly undulating run – and just in time for a breather – a creek must be crossed. Don’t worry, only an ankle deep trickle flows through the valley, making for an easy passing. On the other side is a cute little forest bench waiting for you. Perfect timing to scoff down a muesli bar, even if hunger pains haven’t set in yet.

Trust us, you want your sugar levels peaking for this next section…

After fuelling the tank and undertaking a modest rest, only one more climb winding up the mossy surroundings stands in the way of mountain biking glory.

BLUE TIER – BIG CHOOK

Moving onto a new flavour entirely… Big ChookHere lies the fastest and most gracefully awesome section of the Blue Tier Wilderness Trail. We are talking about 5.4km of berms and jumps and berms and jumps. Oh, and did we mention BERMS!!!!

Words cannot describe the feeling from slashing around these corners at high speed. Soil embedded in the rear tyre is sucked from the forest floor and sent flying up, tickling the back of your neck as you whip through the green wilderness.

No more words need to be said for this absolutely breathtaking trail, except for this…

If big chook were ice-cream, its flavour would be chocolate… everybody loves chocolate!

Carving a perfectly formed berm on Big Chook while riding the Blue Tier and Atlas Trails
Corner through the dense Goblin Forest on the Blue Tier and Atlas Trail

If you are looking for more visual stimulants to support our madness, refer back to our YouTube Video and picture yourself in Dylan’s shoes.

With Big Chook coming to an end so has the famous Blue Tier descent. But the fun isn’t over yet, we are only half way back to the little old town of Derby.

WELDBOROUGH HOTEL

Before continuing on the extraordinary mountain biking outing, another fuel stop awaits. And not too soon we might add. The clock has struck 12:30pm, lunch time is upon us.

The Welborough Hotel is an absolute classic old school country pub and if this quote doesn’t tell you that then I don’t know what will – “A laid back atmosphere that befits a township of 18 people”. Now that’s outback Tasmania for you!

Alright, 18 people aren’t enough to keep Weldborogh Hotel in business – even if everyone in the town were alcoholics, this still wouldn’t be enough. That’s where us lovely mountain biking folk come in to save the day. As a result, the most inviting and friendly local staff is on hand, creating the perfect atmosphere for a pint.

Mountain Bikes on bike racks at the Weldborough Hotel overlooking the beer garden
Inside the Weldborough Hotel while mountain biking the Blue Tier and Atlas trail

The lovely little pub prides itself in only selling Tasmania’s local craft beer, ciders, wines and spirits. And as history goes, this was the only hotel to supply every single craft beer brewed in Tasmania.

Obviously with the recent explosion in the craft beer market, this would be impossible to maintain. However only supplying local brews is still a terrific screw you to the big players!

These beers can be enjoyed inside the charming old pub or sipped at one of the many outdoor tables confined to the Welborough Beer Garden. But enough about beer, we are mountain biking so let’s not get carried away. Perhaps the best part of this place is the delicious burgers on the menu!

Burger for lunch at the Weldborough Hotel while mountain biking the Blue Tier and Atlas Trail

We devoured a chicken burger each and it is safe to say we were satisfied… a little too satisfied actually. Our bellies full to the brim from the delicious food would make for an interesting task for the remainder of the day… trying to keep it down!

Friendly advice: Don’t make our mistake, share the bloody burger with a travel companion for goodness sake!

ATLAS

So you didn’t take our advice and now you are sitting on the Vertigo MTB bus with the same regret after scoffing down that oh so tasty meal, in no state for mountain biking! Don’t worry, when we venture back to Blue Derby, we guarantee the same mistakes will be made… again.

Beginning in much the same style of terrain as the Blue Tier, Atlas commences rather steady through dry, loose soil that is light in colour. This beginning sets you up for a truly well-rounded trail and allows for a sneak peek into the more technical descent.

Continuing down the mountain and passing through the undulating nature of the first section, a major terrain change is thrust upon you. Only this time soft, dark, moist dirt isn’t what lie ahead.

A grey line littered with rocks ranging in size, leading you through more open bushland is how the Atlas is extremely varied. However, a lush scenery is still surrounding and as you journey further the experience only gets better.

Mountain biking down the rock gardens found on the Blue Tier and Atlas Trail in Blue Derby Tasmania

Stopping at the first real introduction of tech for the day will bring you back to terms with a true mountain biking trail. Enough of that fairy tale land exposed during the Blue Tier Wilderness Trail, time to get down to business.

Tight, uneven corners form most of Atlas during the first major descent. Slicing past sheer boulders while battering off their smaller cousins, trying to pick the right line in order to spare your wheels from an utter disaster can prove a mission – trust us, Atlas can be unforgiving. But if you’re a novice don’t despair, the nature of this run is steady, to say the least. Becoming only as intense as you make it.

After slowly or quickly navigating the first of the intermediate rock gardens, a much cruisier ride over level ground flows through the open forest allowing more of a chance to take in the colourful scenery.

mountain biking through large boulders on the Blue Tier and Atlas Trail in Blue Derby Tasmania

Another cosy rest stop is reached at a viewing point over the valley before the mountains gradient switches into send mode once again. Similar to the earlier stages, rocks, roots, and more rocks can be expected. Only this time in a more direct manner down. Without the tricky nature of corners thrown in the mix, this latter stage can be considered tamer than the opening descent.

Although here is where Dylan likes to be different…

After blowing out a rim, denting his new one and suffering countless punctures on the way – all within a month of this trip – he decided it was time to add a new look to his DT Swiss M502. After a terrible noise and stopping to check the damage, one more solid dent and a couple of loose spokes were found. This wasn’t even enough to make him take it easy on our last day in Blue Derby!

DAM BUSTERS

With that little tale from us done and dusted, a fork in the road brings you to the conclusion of Atlas and the beginning of something new… AGAIN! There are 3 options to choose from; Black DragonKrushka’s and our choice – Dam Busters. All of which vary immensely and depending on what type of riding you love, this choice is entirely up to you.

BLACK DRAGON

A black diamond technical descent (don’t listen to the direction on Trailforks). Or in other words, a steep, direct route down the mountain consisting of big features, advanced rock gardens and rugged terrain. This may be the choice for our Downhill loving friends.

Dylan would have loved to try this trail, so please tell us of your experiences in the comments below!

KRUSHKA’S

A climb and a decent climb at that. After a day’s mountain biking and pushing it hard, not many people tend to venture this way. But hey, if Trouty is on your bucket list then maybe now is the time to do it!

DAM BUSTERS

Our pick of the bunch and perhaps the easiest way down the mountain is ‘Dam Busters’, alright not the entire 10km loop, just the best part… The flow section. Recent trail upgrades set the ride up to be almost as superb as Big Chook and we only say almost because ain’t nothing as good as Big Chook.

mountain biking off a rock jump on Dam Busters after completeing the Blue Tier and Atlas Trail in Blue Derby Tasmania

Red dirt crunching underneath as you pass through the large sharp berms resembling that of a wall-ride is perhaps the only major difference here. Mix that with larger man-made kickers cleverly positioned at critical points down the run, and you’re left with a thrill-seeking ride in which glorious speed can be achieved.

Sadly, after the sweeping bends and rad jumps, everything comes to an end. And upon reaching the gully your time is up on Atlas and Dam Busters. We hope this gives you an insight as to what you are in for and helps cement your decision to:

MAKE THE EFFORT, RIDE THE BLUE TIER AND ATLAS TRAIL… YOU WON’T REGRET IT!

Our only quarrel with this adventure is that it just wasn’t long enough. Seems kind of funny to say after a 35km ride through the blissfully green and dense area of the world known as Blue Derby. But you’ll understand when – not if – you ride it!

So guess what that means… one final run down Detonate. Even if pedalling up the Black Stump Network stands in our way…

One of the huge rock gardens found on the famous Detonate trail in the Blue Derby Black Stump trail network

PLACES TO STAY NEAR BLUE TIER AND ATLAS

If you are looking for the perfect accommodation as a base for your epic Blue Tier and Atlas Trail adventure, look no further than the town of Derby. The entire community revolves around mountain biking, creating an awesome atmosphere.

Several types of accommodation are available and if you want the complete low down, visit our Derby Tasmania Post.

CAMPING

LODGING

PLACES TO EAT NEAR BLUE TIER AND ATLAS

After a colossal day like this, there is one thing that you’re going to need… And that’s FOOD! That is if you aren’t still bloated from lunch at the Weldborough Hotel.

Finishing the Blue Tier and Atlas Trail in Derby leaves you with plenty of options.

Head over to our Derby Tasmania post to learn more about the different food outlets available.

GETTING TO THE BLUE TIER AND ATLAS TRAIL

Provided you took our advice and are planning to stay in Derby, the Blue Tier Trailhead is easily accessed either by use of personal or commercial shuttles. Roughly an hours drive west of Derby – winding over the mountains, through the Frome Forest Reserve – you’ll find the beginning of the Blue Tier Trail.

After passing through Weldborough, continue following the Tasman Highway south-west before making a turn onto Lottah Rd. Make a left turn onto Poimena Rd at the next intersection, before veering slightly right onto Sun Flats Rd in order to reach your destination.

Don’t worry too much if our sub-par direction skills are a little hard to follow… Google maps is quite good at filling in our blanks.

Visit our Derby Tasmania post If you would like to learn all there is to know about getting to Blue Derby including; where to rent cars, airport shuttles, bus timetables and more info on driving.