As my kids get older and want a bit more of a challenge when it comes to the good ‘old weekend bike ride’, we have been on the hunt to find the best kid-friendly mountain bike tracks that our whole family can enjoy. Surprisingly, Newcastle and its surrounding areas are jam-packed with hours and hours worth of fun-filled trails that children from around the age of five can enjoy.
Once your children are confident on a mountain bike (I even take my 2-year-old on some of the more gentle tracks on my bike in her baby seat!), they can take off with you into the bush and get dirty and muddy, whilst enjoying the beauty of the natural environment and wildlife that Newcastle is renowned for.
Here are the best family-friendly mountain biking trails to enjoy in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter.
Tips Before You Hit The Dirt
- Check your bike tyres and take a portable tyre pump with you in case of a puncture.
- Pack helmets and additional safety gear like elbow and knee pads if you have them, and throw in some band-aids in case of scratches and bumps from the sticks and trees along the path.
- Wear sunscreen
- Take water bottles with you (camel packs are great or bike water bottle holders are also handy) and we like to throw in some ‘power pellets’ or a pocket full of chewy lollies for a treat to keep the kids energised along the way!
- Pack plenty of healthy snacks in a cold pack to leave in the car, like cut-up fruit, homemade muffins, dips and rice crackers and sandwiches or wraps for when you’ve finished your bike ride, and everyone is super hungry!
Best Mountain Bike Trails around Newcastle
Probably the most famous mountain biking track in Newcastle, Glenrock has trails for all levels of bike riders. With beautiful bush trails that have glimpses of the ocean, there are over 40km of tracks but for kids, look out for the green level circle. These are signposted and are a great introduction to the lush woodlands, waterfalls and open forests of the Glenrock area, which is a stone’s throw from Newcastle’s city centre. It can get busy here so pick times that are off-peak if you’re trying mountain bike riding out for the first time. For a detailed description of the tracks, read Tracks Less Travelled’s blog about Glenrock MTB Park.
Parking: Available at various park access points, including Gun Club Road and Highfields Parade.
Food and drinks: No water on site so bring your own but plenty of cafes/convenience shops within a five minute drive.
If you fancy a little day trip, head out to the Awaba Mountain Bike Park, around a 30 minute drive from Newcastle, set within the beautiful State Forest. The ‘Tunnel Loop’ has been designed especially for kids and there are also Adaptive and development Trails which are wider than normal tracks and have been built with inclusion in mind. Pack a family picnic and even if the whole family isn’t riding the trails, enjoying a day out amongst the trees at this picturesque spot is worth the effort.
Parking: Available off Jenkins Road at the main entrance to the park.
Food and drinks: No but the small townships of Freeman’s Waterhole and Cooranbong are close by with food and drinks available.
Right smack bang in the suburbs of Newcastle, the Jesmond mountain biking tracks are a great choice if you are keen for a ride close by, if you have other little ones that can enjoy the park and playground while the older children take a run through the nearby bush trails or if your kids want an easy-going introduction to mountain bike bush riding. The trails have steep hills, so a warning for little legs, but there are some really pretty rocky spots that you ride through and even a bordering paddock with horses which is a treat for the kids!
Parking: Available at Jesmond Park car park.
Food and drinks: There are bubblers within Jesmond Park for thirsty riders and Jesmond Shopping centre is a 5 minute ride away with many food options.
A collection of cross-country trails perfectly suited to families, there is something for everyone at this great mountain biking destination. With almost 20 kms of interesting tracks, you can ride through a paper bark forest, over wooden bridges and through muddy puddles, and there’s even some technical features for the more advanced members of your family, like wooden jumps and a wall ride. This is a mountain biking hidden gem that turns into a bustling busy hot spot on weekends!
Parking: Yes at Holmesville Oval on Appletree Road.
Food and drinks: No water on site but a coffee van usually parks each weekend morning to sell drinks, coffee and snacks until 11am.
Just 2km from the centre of Dungog, this Mountain Biking haven is part of a 650-acre community recreation reserve. Known as The Common, there are over 22kms of tracks, including green tracks especially for young or inexperienced riders. These tracks are wide with smooth surfaces and have simple challenges like logs and rocks. This place is the talk of the mountain biking community at the moment, so despite being about an hour’s drive from Newcastle, don’t be surprised by the packed carpark! For a detailed description of the tracks, read Tracks Less Travelled’s blog about Dungog MTB Park. Check trail status before you go on the Ride Dungog website.
Parking: Yes at the park entrance off Common Road.
Toilets: No. New toilet block with hot showers and bike wash due to open soon.
Food and drinks: No but the Dowling Street shops of Dungog is a 2km trip away with plenty of cafes and pubs to refuel.
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When Odette Tonkin isn’t writing, she’s chasing after her four kids on their Newcastle urban acreage, surrounded by her veggie garden, chooks and bees! Odette has worked as a newsreader, public relations officer and spent over ten years as a writer and editor at Pacific Magazines, writing for a bunch of magazines including TV Hits, Girlfriend, K-Zone, Total Girl, New Idea and Famous.