Let’s ride: A beginner’s guide to mountain bike riding in the You Yangs

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Let’s ride: A beginner’s guide to mountain bike riding in the You Yangs

Words by Mackinley Campbell

If you love downhill thrills or just enjoy cruising along a dirt track, the mountain bike trails at the You Yangs are unmissable.

A thirty-minute drive from Geelong, or less than an hour from Melbourne is the You Yangs Regional Park; lands that form part of the Wadawurrung People’s traditional Country. The area is immensely popular with locals and tourists alike, with distinctive granite peaks providing innumerable vantage points to peer out to the flat plains that lie below. Flinders peak is the highest peak of the park, with its views encompassing Melbourne, Port Philip and Geelong. 

While a relaxing stroll or picnic might provide a taste of what the You Yangs has to offer, the people leaving with the biggest smiles are always the mountain bike riders. Before you quash the idea, remember they all started somewhere… And that place should be you, this weekend, at the You Yangs!

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here

Residents of Geelong all know how spoilt they are in their proximity to some of Australia’s most spectacular coastlines, as well as the region being home to some of the countries finest food and wine. But perhaps unbeknownst to some locals, the region is also a mecca for mountain bike enthusiasts, at the You Yangs Regional Park. The You Yangs boast more than 50 kilometres of purpose-built trails that cater for riders of all ages and abilities. 

The comprehensive network of trails has been carefully designed and curated by Parks Victoria in conjunction with You Yangs MTB Inc. and the Geelong Mountain Bike Club. So you can rest assured that the trails were made with every skill level in mind – and yes that means you! (Mr/Miss/Them I’m too old, too scared, too unfit).

While the trail system has been designed to provide the highest quality mountain biking experience for everyone, it also holds the environmental values of the park as paramount, so sustainable long-term use has been carefully considered. To help look after the park only ride on formally assigned trails, and leave the place as you found it – leave no trace!


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Mountain bike riding trails

On your first outing you’ll head straight to the Kurrajong Plantation, which is the ideal starting spot for you soon to be pro’s. Kurrajong is the place to learn, with much easier trails on a flatter surface, all set amongst established Eucalyptus plantations. Consisting of more than 20 kilometres of track, across three loops, you won’t be able to wipe the smile of your face for hours.

On your second outing (which is guaranteed), you can return to the Kurrajong to test yourself for endurance and speed. 

After enough blood, sweat and tears have fallen into the You Yangs lands, you’ll be ready to visit the Stockyards area to the north of the park. This side has a range of trails that involve various technical sections that utilise the rocky terrain. This is where sh*t gets real!

Outside of these areas bike riders can ride on Great Circle Drive and Turntable Drive. Great Circle Drive is a 12km scenic loop taking you clockwise around the park, while Turntable Drive is a sealed 3km one way loop providing access to all major picnic areas. Both roads have steep sections and are open to all vehicles.

Tips before you go

Before your first ride have a quick looksee at the You Yangs Mountain Biking maps, which will give you an idea of where you’ll be parking, riding and eating in advance (before you ask, yes, there are toilets). If you see Eucalypts and learner riders, you’ll know you’re in the right spot (‘You Yangs – Plantations Car Park’ on Google Maps to cut to the chase).

If you don’t have an adequate bike (no, a road bike won’t do), visit a local bike store to hire it – they may even drop off several at the park for you (Geelong Adventure Specialists, Rent My Bike Australia).

Be sure to pack plenty of water, sun protection, and snacks. Flat shoes are invaluable for getting as much grip on the pedals as possible too.

Check out You Yangs MTB Inc. on Facebook and Instagram for the most update information on the park as it relates to riding, and Parks Victoria for any other general info. 

Get to the park early, because it’s guaranteed that you’ll wish you had more time on the trails once you’re en route home!


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