Taree MTB trails | A guide to Kiwarrak State Forest

Located on the Manning River, tucked away just a half hour north of the popular coastal town of Forster, you’ll find Taree. Home to a large area of agriculture, ranging in dairy and cattle farming, you won’t find this place on many bucket lists. That is, unless you’re a mountain biker! And if it’s not… things need to change! Offering one of the most extensive networks of single track available in Australia – over 40km to be exact – Taree MTB trails have enough to keep everyone entertained.

We know what you’re thinking, such a large network doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all worthy trails, does it?

Well here is our answer for you, this time it does! To our surprise, we didn’t come across a single neglected area and considering the size, we were astounded. Of course, there are sections where some will feel at home and others bored. Sections where some will be scared and others in their element. But one thing’s for certain, the variety provides something for everyone!

mountain biking down 3x3 run at Taree MTB trails

Manning Great Lakes Tip Riders is the club we can all thank for this. Beginning in 2004 as a couple of locals gathering at Kiwarrak State Forest and riding casually of a weekend. Now the club has successfully grown into a determined group providing some of the best mountain biking New South Wales has to offer, along with hosting many casual ride and event days.

Taree MTB trails features an abundance of flat, free-flowing and well sign posted runs for beginners. Some intense climbs with the occasional rocky segment for our Cross Country loving friends, and many well dug gravity trails hosting countless awesome features for the rest of us folk. Unfortunately there isn’t any double black downhill runs here, but believe us, you won’t need them after what we’re going to walk you through.

Enjoy our sneak peak of the Taree MTB trails. This is but a glimpse of what you will encounter!

As always we have split Taree MTB trails into two distinct categories. For those after an in depth overview of the network continue scrolling, but if you are looking for some excitement and want to see the absolute best Kiwarrak State Forest has on offer, head straight to the Gravity section.

Download Trailforks for the best experience in following along our journey.

Taree MTB Trails

Being so massive, the first question you will be asking is where do I park? The answer is quite related to the size in that there are several options. The main being ‘Kiwarrak trail head parking’. This car park is, well… pretty much in the worst spot you could imagine. Located at the far north eastern corner, it isn’t central to anything. About the only thing going for it is a delicious drinking fountain – which would be way more beneficial in the middle of your ride! Unless you’re in it for the long haul like we were, head to the parking at ‘Bike Tree’.

drinking fountain at kiwarrak trail head parking
parking at bike tree in Kiwarrak MTB Park

20KM CROSS COUNTRY

For the purpose of this blog and for no other reason we are going to begin at the ‘Kiwarrak trail head parking’. So as always, use us as an example of what not to do!

The first run on the menu is ‘Plumbers Crack’. As seems to be a common theme with most bike parks we have ridden, an easy going start awaits you. Beginning along a flat single track, nothing is out of the ordinary. There are no berms, jumps or anything to get excited about. However, one thing you will notice is how tight the trails really are. To the naked eye it may not appear this way, but when riding commences, the nippy nature of the turns and trees brushing past your shoulders are extremely noticeable.

After finishing on a slight incline, pop across the road and head straight back into the trees. Adjacent is ‘Mayhem’. A seemingly flat run featuring a sequence of very small berms and balance beams allow for entertainment along the descent. This gentle downhill is a perky little trail and if anything, it’s just a warm up preparing you for what is to come later in the day.

Turning right onto ‘Basin Way’, you’ll already start to notice the shift in terrain and become aware of that oh so large hill staring you straight in the face. Not even a third of the way along ‘Basin Way’ make the shift onto ‘Logz’. Initiating with a series of tight switch backs, home to rocks and you guessed it… LOGS. This is the change in terrain we were talking about. More than a few fallen trees lay across this trail, forcing you to call upon sudden bursts of energy to propel yourself over.

pedaling up Logz in Taree MTB trails

As ‘Logz’ continues, the easier it becomes. And before you know it, you’re at the top. Finally after 3.5km of riding you’ll begin to experience what Taree MTB trails are all about! What was most certainly a creek back in the day, has formed the perfect platform for a mountain bike trail. As the name suggests, you will be winding your way through ‘Willy Wally Gully’. Twisting in and out of the gully, dodging the maze of trees scattered all around, one can only look back with amazement after completing this unique run.

With that first piece of excitement out of the way, you’ll need to transition further west via ‘Polly’ and ‘Box’ before meeting ‘The Whip’. Now this is a slight detour from the 20km loop, but one in which you will thank us. Making the climb up ‘The Whip’ and ‘Gotta’ will have you perched on top of ‘Whoa Boy’. A beginner gravity trail supporting many drops and jumps, not to mention the giant bridge to nowhere – as we like to call it – before splitting into three different lines at the base. All of which are very similar so make a decision somehow, even if it’s eenie-meenie-miney-mo!

drifting a mountain bike around a dusty corner in Taree MTB trails

We wouldn’t recommend spending too much energy journeying back up for another run, remember there is still a long way to go.

Back on track for the loop, continue west. Using ‘The Hut’ and ‘Widow Maker’ as nothing more than bridging trails, the destination is ‘Chad’s Route’. As we venture further west, you will notice another major shift in environment. This time from bleak colours and dusty runs, to a much greener forest scenery with dense foliage everywhere. Offering an all-round better experience. Also a greater amount of man-made bridges across creeks, tight technical sections, and beginner level rock gardens are found here.

mountain biker riding down a rock garden in Kiwarrak State Forest
mountain biking through a rock garden in Kiwarrak State Forest

All of which leading you to the most hectic run yet… ‘ROCK GARDEN’!

Don’t let the length fool you, prepare for the first taste of gravity action! Beginning straight and steady into the abyss, entering with complete control is paramount. After 30m of increasingly daunting rocks, a hairpin corner is waiting. Either swing around the tree or glide your way past the inside for a better approach. It doesn’t matter which line you choose, the next step is the same. Release the brakes and freefall down the rock face. Don’t worry if this looks too much when you arrive, rather than taking the hairpin, a B-line option is available straight ahead.

riding down the best rock garden in Kiwarrak State Forest

After completing the 850m climb known as ‘Kizzas’‘3×3’ is waiting. A super fun trail, and while it is quite difficult to maintain flow through the latter stages, you’ll have an absolute ball riding it. Launching straight down the mountain and featuring four man-made drops, a fast introduction is something to expect. Upon acing the drops you’ll want to veer left and blindly fall into the steep chute before completing the final 400m, popping in and out of yet another gully.

Woah woah woah, let’s back it up a little, we almost forgot to tell you a funny story about the chute mentioned above. Picture this, Candace flying down the mountain, maybe the fastest she has ever ridden! Gaining confidence from the gap jumps she is smashing nowadays, she is looking absolutely amazing… (not talking about the riding) Wait, scratch that… she looks bloody out of control and hasn’t scoped this line before. After nearly losing it over the final jump, she drops into the chute at high speed and everything goes eerily quiet. That is except for the rustling of branches slapping her across the face as she takes a wrong turn off the ramp! Of course being the loving boyfriend Dylan is, he quickly runs down to make sure she is alright… HA! Who would actually do that? The first thing he did was point and laugh, then made sure she was alright.

mountain biker falling from the chute on 3x3 at Kiwarrak MTB Park

Important lesson kids – Look where you want to go!

With a bit of comedy out of the way, back to riding and let us tell you, this next part is to die for…

Meeting up with the carpark in which you SHOULD’VE parked, the best is yet to come… But not before some pain. Making your way to ‘Son of Skull’ you’re in for about 2km of climbing, see what we mean by to die for? Don’t pay much attention to the directions on Trailforks, recent changes to Taree MTB trails have warranted an update, so onwards and upwards we go. ‘Son of Skull’ isn’t the main killer here, proving moderately difficult and hosting some steep sections, it is but a baby compared to ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Commencing along a gully, the scenery here is beautiful.

mountain biking through the Kiwarrak State Forest

Better soak all that in while you have the chance, because it’s time for heartbreak hill! Another made up name, but one to represent the true nature. Relentless and steep for hundreds of metres, this climb is going to hurt you. Not to mention the off camber corners in the early stages adding to the pain. No one will blame you for dropping a foot.

riding up the steep trails in Kiwarrak MTB Park

Making matters worse, when you reach ‘Tinonee Road’ the incline doesn’t stop. Another 500m before you reach the peak and fall from your bike in agony!

But hey, guess where we are? The beginning of the gravity runs! So have a drink and get some rest because you are in for a treat!

GRAVITY TRAILS

UP RIVER

Firstly, let’s drop into ‘Up River’. Beginning just to the right of the trail map sign and linking up with ‘River’ and ‘Sunbeam’, this is the longest descent in the Kiwarrak State Forest trail network. Stretching 2.4km, this run is jam packed with awesome features including everything from loose natural berms to a GIANT man-made seesaw! But enough background, Time to shred!

Around the first sweeping right there is no time for respite, launching straight through the first rock garden, this trail begins with the same tempo that should be maintained throughout.

mountaing biking down the rock garden on Up River at Taree MTB trails

With barely enough time to gain your bearings, prepare to be shot off a short ski jump with a very technical landing. Loose laying rocks and a tight left in close proximity makes this section extremely difficult to hold velocity. But don’t worry, a couple of quick cranks and you are back at pace, primed for the next series of tight switchbacks. Sending some side hits and gaps along the way will enable you to generate some much desired speed before railing the wall rides!

carving the wood berms at kiwarrak MTB Park

No braking is required nor recommended upon entry or exit of these wall rides, as the next feature is a crowd favourite. This almost bridge like structure is quite intimidating. Not only is the drop blind, the lander is also tucked out of sight behind this monster ramp. Having a blind lander is a worry, as launching a whopping 6m before planting both wheels safely back on the ground is freaky at the best of times! That being said, this jump has been built very well, providing a forgiving and progressive landing. So coming up a tad short shouldn’t ruin your day entirely.

Jumping the large wooden ramp at Taree MTB trails

The fun doesn’t end there. A seemingly never ending series of ski, gap and tabletop jumps follow. Ranging in shape and size, all who venture this deep into Taree MTB trails will find a jump in which they are comfortable attempting.

PHEW time for a breather, but don’t think you’re out of the woods yet. That was ‘Up River’‘River’ is awaiting your arrival… That’s right, we are only half way down.

mountain biker sending it over large gap jump in Kiwarrak MTB Park

RIVER

Starting relatively flat along the winding single track provides a good chance to loosen up once more. Before you know it, a couple of quick berms appear and our pace is accelerated back to the concluding section of ‘Up River’. After being thrown out onto an open straight and lining up some kickers, ‘River’ continues to wind its way through the tight green trees adjacent to ‘Tinonee Road’ until popping out at the seesaw. On first glimpse this looks like a large drop to… well, nowhere. But don’t be fooled, this random and quirky addition is splendid… just take it easy riding over it! Dylan nearly flipped off the back of his bike on exiting.

riding over the Seesaw feature at Kiwarrak MTB Park

Be equipped for some high speeds flying through the gully after said seesaw. And what is waiting for you at the other side? Something we haven’t seen yet at this bike park, a large step up. The landing of this step up is relatively flat, so be sure to have a crack as no consequence results in a slower approach. Dipping in and out of the large gully, you’ll want to veer left onto ‘Sunbeam’ to make the most of this unforgettable run. The trail continues quite level until crossing ‘Green Hill Road’ and if you thought it was tight earlier, you’re in for a treat! Navigating the skinny line, brushing your grips through branches and narrowly avoiding the trunks is surely enough to get your blood rushing, providing the finish everybody so dearly desires.

With the longest and possibly best run done and dusted, take a left on the fire road to link back up with your car. Assuming you took our advice and parked at ‘Bike Tree’! We are sorry to say, but to continue on these amazing gravity trails… back up the mountain you go.

TRAMPOLINE

This time, looking dead at the trail map sign, bounce to the left and try out ‘Trampoline’. We are now back on track with the 20km XC loop, however, these next runs are considerably better described as Gravity Trails.

Beginning in a completely different fashion than ‘Up River’‘Trampoline’ moves straight and fast into the first of many jumps. An almost cascading run of ski jumps to be exact, offering the perfect warm up for the latter stages of this run.

mountain biker nailing the gap jumps in Taree MTB trails

After having all momentum ruined by the annoying little hill in the way, you’ll find yourself weaving along the trail until it breaks out into a flowing line once again. Only this time doubles are on the menu. (See Candace above) These gaps gradually increase in size as you plough down the mountain, and all are shaped extremely well. Launching from these beauties is like gliding off a cloud and landing on another… really making you comfortable, not to mention forget how big they actually are.

Jumping the first road gap along the run Trampoline at Kiwarrak State Forest

BRAIN DAMAGE

One last hard right berm and you’ve landed on ‘Brain Damage’. A line featuring outstanding berms found in quick succession, and some big jumps… in fact, the biggest Taree MTB trails has on offer. Including road-gaps, side hits, step-downs and just one big f***ing gap.

An absolute stand out area and even while Candace wasn’t hitting these A-line kickers, this run was a combined favourite. Who knows, at the rate she is improving, she might be up for the challenge next visit!

clearing the huge gap jump along brain damage in Taree MTB trails
flying through the berms in Taree MTB trails

LOBOTOMY

Before we continue, we need to back track to ‘Lobotomy’ which is actually the correct route to take if you are following the 20km XC loop. So trot back up the hill, there is more descending to attend to. As you can see on Trailforks‘Lobotomy’ snakes down a long and steep decline hosting some very tight and technical corners. Obviously too tough for Dylan, trying to show off and ending up on his face! He thinks he’ll be a professional downhill racer someday, he’s got a long way to go!

mountain biking stack on Lobotomy trail in Kiwarrak MTB Park

All jokes aside, ‘Lobotomy’ is quite a steady run and you should have no issue navigating down in one piece… unless you’re and idiot like Dylan. Take a left turn at the base onto ‘Skull’ and continue to follow the 20km XC loop signs before meeting at the conclusion of ‘Brain Damage’. Once again, pay no attention to the direction on Trailforks, this is the correct way… we promise.

We guess having these two completely different lines is a great perk. For those that love flying through the air, your best bet is pinning it straight through ‘Brain Damage’. And others that love a technical descent or are afraid to become detached from the ground, ‘Lobotomy’ will be your best friend.

With all that said and done, we are now solely back on the XC loop. The remaining trails back to ‘Kiwarrak trail head parking’ are much the same as the beginning stages of the cross country loop, so we don’t see the need to go into depth. But not all the fun is over. Several log jumps and bridges are scattered throughout, providing great entertainment to end with.

mountain biker sending it over a log jump in Taree MTB trails

By the way, create your own line! You may be surprised how much fun it is trying something completely random and out of your comfort zone!

pedaling across a fallen tree fail in Taree MTB Park

And in the presence of Christmas who could ever hold a grudge.

mountain bikers enjoying the Christmas decorations scattered in Kiwarrak State Forest

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW


taree MTB trails strava overview


RECOMMENDED GEAR

  • Open face helmet
  • Lightweight knee pads
  • Short sleeve jersey
  • Shorts
  • Gloves
  • Camel back

RECOMMENDED BIKE

All Mountain 150/140mm travel with lockable suspension for those heart breaking climbs.

Personal Favourite: Canyon Spectral


AMENITIES

  • No toilets
  • Drinking fountain at Kiwarrak trail head parking

PLACES NEARBY TO STAY – USE WIKICAMPS TO ASSIST

Holiday Parks:

Free Camping


LOCATION


Useful links