Best mountain bike rides for beginners on the Sunshine Coast

If you’re the beginner rider reading this, well, when it comes to visiting the Sunshine Coast as a beginner or in mountain bike lingo, a “rookie”, you’ll find yourself with numerous places to ride and a whole host of trail types on offer while you work out if lycra or baggies are your style. Here’s our pick:

Ferny Forest Mountain Bike Loop, Ewen Maddock Dam

Our top choice for beginners and families is the lush, leafy Ferny Forest loop at Ewen Maddock Dam. There’s no doubt this dedicated mountain bike loop is a super satisfying way to hit pure singletrack for newer riders. Cruise around this flat, 12km trail without taking your loved ones on any hectic descents or lung busting climbs, or anything so technical they’re going to be smashing their pedals and wishing it was time for coffee (although, it’s always time for coffee, right?). Push yourself and your family by riding faster if you’re keen, or simply take your time, riding amongst dazzling green ferns, paperbark forest and towering gum trees home to koalas and black cockatoos. The kids will feel like they’re deep in a magical fairy forest!


Parklands Conservation Park Mountain Bike Trails, Kulangoor

Further up the Coast, head to Parklands - just 20 minutes drive from Coolum Beach. Jump from the trailhead at Radar Hill onto “Rookie Road” - a short and flowy singletrack section, named for the newbie, which leads you down to the dedicated skills park - perfect for honing those skills. From here, hop onto “Lush” - as glorious as the name sounds - a flowy singletrack loop through dense jungle which takes you deep into the rainforest before you pop back out where you started, at the skills park. The wider network here is predominantly for more intermediate to advanced riders, but for families or groups of mixed abilities happy to share a few kilometres on the green loop and then divide and conquer, “Parkies” is a great option to allow everyone to explore at their own level, for maximum froth.


Sugar Bag Mountain Bike Trails, Caloundra

Bring the family to “The Bag” as it's known in these parts and find yourself choosing from a variety of loops which are perfect for rookies… The pump track is a super fun way to get a feel for the bike from body position to braking, before you set off on your trail adventure. Ride from the carpark down onto “Milky Way”. Hang a left into “Party Mix” and ride this loop - and easy does it, watch out for your bars between the narrow paperbark trees! Experienced riders in the group will froth on the “A lines” complete with numerous ramps and wooden features, while newbies can stay close by and cruise their way around the “B lines”. Once you’ve had a sweet roll around “Party Mix”, head onto “Fantales” for a flat and easy ride along the forest floor, littered with palm fronds, before you take on the mainly gravel based, “Sour Power” climb back to the car. You’ll have earned your brekkie at the beach.


Mapleton National Park and Dularcha National Park

If singletrack isn’t the vibe, no worries - head up to the majestic hinterland trails around Mapleton. Feel your tyres spinning on glorious fire trail underneath tall blackbutt forest and soak in up your surroundings amongst the National Park. Alternatively, save the drive up the range and check out the “tunnel ride” - a popular spot amidst the majestic forest of Dularcha National Park. Take yourselves on an adventure ride to find the heritage listed railway tunnel - it’s 93.5 metres long and gets pretty dark in the middle. The kids (and your inner child!) will love the echoes and eerie vibes as you sail along this historic trail - watch out for bats!


Newer to riding?

Top tips for first timers or beginners visiting our Sunshine Coast trails:

Have a chat!

Don’t be afraid to chat to the locals and ask other riders for recommendations. Find yourself at the top of a trailhead and you’re not sure what it’s like? Ask. Home to a heap of keen-as-a-bean mountain bike clubs, the Sunshine Coast mountain bike community is a fun and encouraging crew and you’ll be sure to glean some insider knowledge. You never know, you might even find yourself with an impromptu guide or group to ride with - we’re a welcoming bunch.

Mapleton National Park trails

Mapleton National Park trails

A basic hardtail is just fine:

Don’t stress about your bike, our trails are so accessible, you don’t need flash gear to have a fun time. Even if your partner is riding the latest full squish rig, a basic hardtail will handle any of these green trails. If you’re looking for extra comfort or wanting to push the limits a little more, then a dual suspension bike will always find a place here too. Let’s be honest though, the best bike is the bike you’re riding. If you’re not bringing your own steed and are just looking to hire a bike for a day or two, don’t hesitate to check out Noosa bike shops - Bike On and Spoke N Trail who can kit you out for a whirl on the trails.

Come prepared:

Sunscreen, snacks and water - the staples! Staying hydrated, regardless of the season, is key to feeling great and focused and having the most fun while you’re on the trails. Our Ride the Five feature gives you an idea of what you can expect at each trailhead!

Finally, ride within your limits, breathe in the good vibes of our leafy mountain bike trails and ENJOY.


For any trail closures or warnings please see