The great outdoors
Mountain Biking with Kids at Castle Hill
Castle Hill Blackstone Reserve Mountain Bike Park is a hidden gem in Ipswich and it’s one of those spots that you just want to keep going back to because it is so much fun for the kids. Only 5 minutes from Ipswich CBD and 30 minutes from Brisbane, it really is accessible. Scott and I rode here with Eli (11) and Cadel (9) and the park was so much fun for them. There are tracks to suit beginners to advanced riders.
From the carpark you can see a large grassy field and the entrance to the trail network isn’t really apparent from here but if you head downhill parallel to the road you will meet a vehicle track which leads into the Quarry Skills Park. The main track network basically branches out from this spot.
Parking: Plenty of parking at the MTB Park and at the adjacent Scout Hall
Amenities: Picnic table and shelter, drinking water available, bike washing area. No toilets are on site.
The Skills Park
This area has jumps, berms (banked and curved cornering features), a pump track and skills lines. There’s a lot of variety and it’s great for the kids to practice their technical skills, such as cornering and riding on logs. Some of the tracks and features were a bit too advanced for the kids, so I would advise parents to make sure that kids ride within their ability and work their way up to the harder features. Supervision of daredevils is recommended!
The Track Network
There are a number of tracks here that are graded Green (Easy), Blue (Intermediate) and Black Diamond (Difficult). It looks like there have been a number of track that have been developed and more on the way, which is great to see. Because of this, though, the map that we were using to find the tracks was outdated and it is probably more useful to use the Trailforks App to locate and identify the trails. Some of the tracks were officially marked and others weren’t.
Blackleg Gully Circuit – Perfect for kids and beginners, this is a 1km circuit that leaves from and returns to the Skills Park area. It is a nice flowing track that is easy and only has a little bit of gradual climbing and downhill. It’s a shared trail, so watch out for walkers. There are a number of historic mining relics along the track with informative signage. We were riding too fast to read them of course, so I have made a note that next time, I’ll walk this trail with the kids so we can have a proper look. This is the best area for kids to build their confidence, and it can be ridden in either direction.
Miners Loop – This trail is still under development, but it basically follows the perimeter of the grassed area so is good for younger riders to practise on smaller bikes.
Blue and Black Diamond Tracks
Lucy’s – This is a short detour off the Central fire road on the left as you head up the hill. This track is rated blue because there is a small jump/bridge feature. There were a lot of sticks lying on the track so I’d say that this track is rarely ridden and I can understand why because it wasn’t all that fun compared to some of the others.
Squirrel –This one was a short, flat, winding track that was easy and fun except for a narrow wooden bridge over a fallen tree. It’s a good idea to dismount and walk over this unless you are confident to take on this feature.
There are a number of black rated downhill tracks that are more advanced that aren’t really suitable for younger kids. Older kids and teenagers should ride within their abilities and only attempt tracks that they are confident on. When there is a jump or other feature, there is usually a “B line” which is a safer option, but they should still check out a trail first before attempting to ride it. One of the tracks that Scott had a bit of fun on was the “World Cup” track which is signed as a black diamond track. It descends from the top of the hill back down to near the Skills Park area and it is a distance of 740m with a 67m descent.
There are plenty more trails up on the hill but some were too technical for a family ride and would be better suited for advanced riders. Castle’s reputation as a place for technical riding is well-deserved.
Fire Road/Access Roads
Riding the fire road from the southern end of the Quarry to the top of the hill is a challenging ride for kids (and me!) as it is quite steep. If you aren’t quite ready for the downhill tracks, you can also ride on the fire trails which are a good workout, and riding down them is still fun because of the steepness, even if they are not technical.
Heading back to the carpark, we used the bike wash area because apparently the dust can be damaging to your bike’s derailleur, so a thorough clean is a good idea. This mountain bike park is a really fun area to spend a couple of hours with the kids where they can work on their technical skills and ride some fun trails. We will definitely be back!