This is a short, but most enjoyable out and back ridgeline ride on firetrail in the Marrramarra National Park. Turn into the park off Bloodwood Road and ride for 1km until you see the Smugglers Ridge sign on the left. Ride through the small quarry to the firetrail gate.
This ride is suitable for novice mountain bikers on shiny new Christmas wheels and families with children and you may not be aware of it- but this specific trail is a mysterious part of our local heritage… There is a large aboriginal rock engraving of a kangaroo at the ridge lookout (which is sadly disappearing) and in the not too distant past, Murramurra Creek, (which originates off Old Northern Road at Forest Glen feeds into Berowra Creek, the Hawkesbury and finally open ocean)- has been used to smuggle an assortment of illicit things inland via the path winding up onto the ridge from the creek.
Smugglers’ Ridge firetrail has ample rock steps to keep experienced riders happy or novice riders and kids challenged, without terrifying them. The wild flowers along this trail are exceptionally beautiful, whatever season you ride it. Keep turning right when riding out (north) along this trail and at around 6km, you will encounter the rocky singletrack down to the lookout where the kangaroo is. I recommend that most riders walk down this section- but you can ride down all of it if you have good skills. There are lovely views across the creek to Canoelands Ridge- but lots of biting things come with the scenery and you may have to commence the return ride quicker than you’d like to!
SMUGGLERS’ LOOP – 2.5 Hours 15km
For a much more challenging ride, descend the Marramarra track. From Bloodwood Road, follow the signs and powerlines (passing a small dam and homestead on the left) to arrive at the gate. Although the sign says ‘3km moderate’ it’s not! This firetrail is a steep, slippery dip ride down to the creek with a pinch climb or two thrown in for good measure. The slippery sections comprise of assorted death cookie and baby head rocks for onboard cycling entertainment!
Regroup, then turn left and head up the creek for 1km, keeping a sharp eye out for the footpath winding straight up the big hill on your left. If you reach the campsite, you have gone too far! Like a smuggler, you will have to carry your bike 1.5km up most of this steep, rocky walking track. However, there are a couple of very short sections enroute which you can pedal to give your arms a rest. (Just a teensy weensy bit of effort and investment by OEH could produce an excellent cycling trail right up to the top of Smugglers’ Ridge) When you get to the rock sheets of the lookout, see if you can find the kangaroo. It’s another five minute push up to the Smugglers Ridge firetrail and within 30 minutes you’ll be back at Bloodwood Road.
WATCH FOR… If it’s been dry, there are several long sections of thick sand which frequently interrupt the ‘flow’ of your ride. Some cyclists may be forced to dismount.
There are lots of ravenous mozzies and biting things at the lookout! Trail is shared with hikers- be considerate and polite. There is an old orange orchard to harvest, heading east down the creek.
PARKING: Turn left off Bloodwood Road at the National Park sign. Park in the bay on the right at the Waddy Firetrail entrance, or drive further down into the park, turn left at the Smugglers’ Ridge sign and park in the small quarry at the trail head gate.
STATUS: Cycling on existing trails is permitted. No cyclingspecific trails exist to cover 90% of this enormous, 12,000 hectare National Park astride a bicycle. It’s high time some were built, considering all its proximity to waterways and fabulous natural and historical features that could, and should be appreciated by locals and park visitors alike.