Are you a Man From Snowy River movie tragic? Do you love that idea of seeing a mob of brumbies in the wild, given that wild encounters are a bit thin on the ground these days in life? If you have a hankering for a Snowy Mountains adventure and you are already an avid cyclist or a bushwalking fan, check out the Cascade Hut Trail starting from Dead Horse Gap and finishing at Cascade Hut.
John McDonnell from Avalon Beach in Sydney is a mountain bike enthusiast and has pinpointed this particular ride as one of his favourite in the Snowy Mountains area. He’s done it about a dozen times, but returns to this ride particularly for the scenery and the challenge of the variable terrain.
What is the Cascade Hut Trail?
It’s a typical national parks fire track, one of many in the area, utilised by bushwalk enthusiasts and mountain bike riders who are looking for a rugged, off-the-path adventure. It’s not for beginner cyclists, people too unfit or with medical conditions, for really young children or young families. It is for intermediate to advanced cyclists and walkers. John is a high school teacher and football coach, and when pressed to pick an age range for the ride really preferred not to categorise things in terms of ages.
[caption id="attachment_8831" align="alignnone" width="500"] Source: Thredbo[/caption]
“You could have an awesomely fit 16 year old who could do it, but an unfit older one who would struggle with the hills or the distance”. He confirms it is not a family ride, particularly not for young kids.
Where does it start from?
If you drive past Thredbo Village on the Alpine Way (road) you will reach Dead Horse Gap, which is 5km past Thredbo Village. You can leave your vehicle there and unload bikes for your return trip.
Where does the trail end?
The end point is Cascade Hut. There are a few other huts or cabins in the area, but Cascade Hut is your destination. You can bring a picnic with snacks and water, sandwiches and muesli bars and have a decent break here before heading back to your vehicle and towards civilisation for a shower and a rest.
How long does the trip take?
John says “depending on your riding experience it could take between half a day or at least a couple of hours for the return trip”. He recommends bringing lunch or morning tea to eat at the hut.
Highlights of the trip and terrain?
Riding in the Kosciuszko National Park is still in its infancy in terms of information on the web for riders. It tends to be word of mouth between riding mates and acquaintances or riding groups. John explains the terrain by saying “You start by following the creek, and cross the creek into undulating terrain.
[caption id="attachment_8828" align="alignnone" width="500"] Source: National Parks[/caption]
There are some pretty exciting downhill sections as well as some arduous climbs as well. On the way back home there is a big climb. It’s a picturesque trip because it’s creekside for a lot of the way”.
Time of year?
Obviously you need to wait till the snow melts from the winter snow season, for the snow cover as well as the temperatures while riding. It helps to have the ground thaw out a little, and the closer you get to high summer the more beautiful the local wildflowers are, and they certainly are prolific in the Snowy Mountains. The sound of rushing creek water and small creatures that come out once the season heats up is also a highlight of choosing to ride in this particular part of the world. It is common to see brumbies racing across the landscape, keep clear of them and they will keep clear of you.
This video taken by some riders on the trail has footage of the terrain (watch for brumbies crossing at 2 minutes 40).
Helmets are essential, as is foot wear and some protective clothing such as a light weight jacket that can be taken off once you’ve warmed up and put on again if the weather changes or you cool down during your pit stops. Sunscreen, water and snacks are pretty essential, as are the keys to your car once you return back to the vehicle. Other equipment such as sunglasses, thermals, body armour or riding gloves are really up to you and your own comfort, experience and preferences.
Need equipment or additional cycling advice?
Sacred Ride in Jindabyne is the go-to cycle store for tyres, bikes, equipment, assistance and support. You can find the store as you head into Jindabyne town just across the road from the medical centre on the hill overlooking the shops and the lake or click here for details. Sacred Ride is bringing out an updated trail map of the trails in the area very shortly as there have been so many upgrades and changes to bridges, tracks and other infrastructure for rides in the local area. See the Sacred Ride website for more details.Marty from Sacred Ride urges cyclists to remember that this particular ride as well as rides around it and leading from it are in remote wilderness, and reiterates John’s message that this is not a ride for beginners or unsure riders. “There is a 2km steep ascent and 3km steep descent on this 23km round trip ride. After the first ascent you are in remote wilderness”. He advises riders to hire an EPIRBS (emergency positioning beacon) from the National Parks office, there is one in Jindabyne. It costs $10 and a $20 deposit. he also advises not to ride alone and notify someone where you are headed.
[caption id="attachment_8830" align="alignnone" width="500"] Source: National Parks[/caption]
If you enjoy this ride, Marty advises there is a longer ‘epic’ ride’ further along this particular track, which is one way and is 52km and involves vehicle logistics of driving one car and leaving another for pick up. The ride is to Tin Mine Hut. Contact Sacred Ride for more info about this particular ride.
Prefer the security of mountain biking in Thredbo?
Thredbo’s mountain biking season doesn’t officially start till November 14th, so you can go bananas all over the trails there from that date. If you buy a Thredbo 365 pass for $799 or $499 for under 18s you get the whole mountain bike access for Thredbo all summer season as well as get to come back all next year’s winter season and ski or snowboard to your heart’s content and also use the tennis courts, golf course and leisure centre. Really not too shabby. They’re requiring a $99 deposit now so get into it before the price goes up. You can buy a Thredbo 365 Pass online.If you’re into your mountain bikes in either action, gear or just general vibe, Thredbo’s Cannonball Festival is on again from December 4th to 6th. It’s a three day festival with all things mountain biking. This is a good place to be if you love walking around town in lycra with a bike helmet on. No-one will call the police like they would if you wore the same outfit and walked into a bank.
[caption id="attachment_8833" align="alignnone" width="500"] Source: Thredbo[/caption]
Thredbo has a mountain bike store located in Thredbo Village at the base of the chairlift. You can come into the store and ask them about other trail rides in Thredbo or in the area and they can also assist you with equipment hire or advice. Find out more about Thredbo mountain biking.
Bushwalkers favour this route as well as riders so be sure to keep an ear and an eye out for other people as a safety precaution. Find out more about walking the Cascade Hut Trail. National Parks also provides additional advice on this particular walk. Check the website for all additional info on parking, fishing, suggested walking times and other maps and facts before you leave home. Their suggested walking time for the route is 7 1/2 hours and they rate it as a medium grade track to walk (not expert but not beginner). For walkers, make sure you are reasonably fit, equipped with sunscreen, food and proper footwear and let someone know where you are going to be for the day.
If you are a bike rider unfamiliar to the Kosciuszko National Park then it will help you to know this particular ride is just a stone’s throw from Thredbo Village itself. The Lantern Thredbo Apartments is an extensive range of one to four bedroom apartments located all around the village. All are self-catering, which means they have clothes washing facilities as well as cooking facilities. Most have balconies and many are geared towards mountain bike riding once the snow falls and the skiers and boarders have gone home. Many apartments have bike racks and bike washing bays with hoses so you are welcome to bring your own equipment and bike, and never feel like you need to smuggle your filthy bike into your accommodation. Staff are there to help with advice about rides, restaurants and everything in between.