Published on November 16, 2022
Cargo three ways… This is #2, The Mountain Bike Route. Following many of the same roads as the gravel route but including more challenging fire trails. This route takes you out to Cargo around the back of Mt Canobolas, then back via Mt Towac and the Pinnacle.
Cargo is a small village about 35k’s to the south west of Orange (or 45k’s via the dirt). There is not a lot there but it is home to a great little café called Timber Tales as well as The Cargo Inn, making it an excellent midway stop on a longer ride. It also has a small store and public toilets / water refill station.
This ride is a challenging day out with a good amount of climbing, some on rough rutted fire trails, most on the way back. It takes you through established pine forests, over hills with with views of the district and then through the picturesque farming country around Cargo.
The bulk of the route is gravel with bitumen sections near Orange and Cargo.
There are some long climbs on this route such as the 10km Coolamatong Climb (avg 4.4%) which is smooth gravel for the most part but deteriorates into deep rocky ruts on the Glengariffe Road section (resulting in a fair bit of walking for me at least). There are also a couple of steep pinches on the way home as you return to the pine forest on Edinboro Lane, that will test your gearing.
On Edinboro Lane there is a creek crossing (about 36k’s in) which at the time of riding was reasonably deep and silty and just rideable (see photo below). If we have had a lot of rain you may not get through.
The road quality varies from smooth gravel, small stones, slightly loose over hardpack to deeply rutted and rocky. Watch out for random ruts on the descents. Of course this is all subject to change with time & weather (and road maintenance work).
Watch the descent from Mt Towac to the Pinnacle (Northern Boundary Fire Trail), at the time of riding it was deeply rutted in the first section and rocky for large sections on the way down.
Food & Water
Cargo (at 45kms): Timber Tales café is a great place to take a break with an excellent verandah. The Cargo Inn is the option for those looking for a cleansing ale. A water refill station is available outside the public toilets.
Watch out for
Road Condition: as mentioned above the gravel roads vary dramatically, from smooth hardpack to deeply rutted and rocky.
Traffic: Careful on Cadia Rd heading out to the forest which is subject to heavy mining traffic at shift change (early and late) and Cargo Rd on the way in to Cargo. Being a pine forest, log trucks are possible during logging operations.
Getting Lost: you are riding through the Canobolas State Forest well away from main roads. It has numerous fire trails running in different directions. Navigating can be tricky. A lot of signage has been vandalised or removed, make sure you are using a bike computer or phone with good navigation, and carry enough food, water, tools and spares.