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.
Location: 7 Mary St, Blackstone
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.
From the carpark you can see a large grassy field and the entrance to the trail network isn’t really apparent from here and there is no obvious signage. To get to the main entrance of the tracks, you go back towards the street, heading a bit further along towards the Railway Crossing. Then on the left, there is a fire road that takes you about 200m to the old Quarry area that is now a Skills Park. The main track network basically branches out from this spot.
The Skills Park
This area has jumps, berms (banked and curved cornering features), a pump track and tabletops. There’s a lot of variety and it’s great for the kids to practice their technical skills, such as cornering. 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!
Scott, an experienced MTB rider who races competitively, found it fun to ride around the Skills Park with the boys. The boys loved the jumps and after a couple of goes, they were able to get plenty of air. Guaranteed smiles!
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 Because of this, though, the Ipswich City Council Map that we were using to find the tracks was outdated and it is probably more useful to use the Trailforks App to locate and identify the trails.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.
Squirrel – When we got to this track, the sign actually said it was a blue (Intermediate) track which is different to the map which says it is green. It was a short, winding track that was really easy except for a 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.
Lucy – This is a short detour off the main fire road on the left as you head up the hill. This track also has signage that says that it is a blue track, rather than green which it is on the map. This is 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 isn’t really interesting or enjoyable enough to entice riders off the fire road as they head up or down the hill.
Blue and Black Diamond Tracks
There are a number of 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, but according to the Trailforks App is rated as blue. 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.
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 residual coal dust from previous mining in the area 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!