East Kowen Forest is a great spot for cyclists of all skill levels. The many trails of the forest guarantee that there is something for everyone, from beginner trails with minor obstacles to more adventurous ones. The forest is comprised of mainly hardpack singletrack mountain bike rides, connected by some fire trails. You will run into the occasional stock gate on fire trail sections to negotiate. Whilst there are several old trails in this area, an 18km loop was built in early 2011. The original 18km trail has been extended to 20km with some optional extras, and there is a shorter but excellent 7km loop for those wanting a shorter ride.
- The entrance to East Kowen is on the Kings Highway.
- Leaving from Queanbeyan, after about a 10km drive, you will come to a bend and see the gleam of light reflecting off the cars parked in Sparrow Hill’s main car parking area, a dirt area off the main road.
- To get to the trail once you’ve parked, ride West along the King’s Highway on the left-hand side of the road for about 100 meters. When you see a couple of gates a short distance down a gravel road, climb through the right-hand gate (please note the one on the left is private). Then ride another 100 meters or so, where you will get to a junction and pick up the trail signage.
- The ride can be divided into two sections. You are going to experience a downhill terrain in the first section with sharp turns and switchbacks near the junction of two sections. The second one seems easier at first, but the more you get closer to the ending point, the rougher the terrain will be.
Food and drink
- Since there is no permanent catering facility in the area, we recommend you come with plenty of water and snacks.
- If you want to have a picnic, you can find a spot in the picnic area complete with gas barbecue facilities, picnic tables and picnic shelters.
- The main loop has been ‘built’ to ride anti-clockwise (and this is the way the arrows at the junctions point) but some trails are pretty nice riding both ways.
- Once you know your way around, you can change your route a bit by backtracking or using some of the fire trails around the place.
- There are some trails in East Kowen Forest that could well become classics. Kowalski’s Sideshow is already well-known for its steep, tight switchbacks, and is a tribute to Sparrow Hill’s much loved, but alas former, classic Bobsled. If you ride a 29’er or love big, fast, flat curves, the final 2km’s or so once you hit Sweet Apples must be hit in the big ring. There are no sustained steep hills, but you will find short steep pinches and sustained but relatively shallow singletrack climbs. Of course, there are also some excellent descents too.
- There’s no mobile coverage in the forest, so come prepared with a map if you’re not familiar with the area beforehand and follow trail signage until you feel confident enough to explore the numerous fire trails on your own.
- The forest is accessible by car or bike and has car parking and toilets, making it a great starting point for exploring the forest.
- If you have extra time in your hands, check out the Glenburn Heritage Precinct, also situated just off the Kings Highway. The precinct’s three signposted trails can be explored on foot or on a mountain bike, which means you can learn about the region’s history and heritage on two wheels.