Published on August 9, 2023
The shorter, easier ride to Ophir… but it does have a couple of challenging climbs. Ophir is the location of the first gold discovery in NSW in 1851. Off the bike you can have a look at a few old mine shafts and the cemetery or just chill out under the she-oaks for a while. It’s a beautiful spot. There are some information boards as well if you wish to read up on the history.
I’ve created two Ophir Gravel routes, this is the shorter 68km. You can view the longer, 95km version here.
This ride heads North of Orange to Clergate and Mullion Creek, before heading East to Ophir, and back to Orange via the harvested Kinross Forest (pine plantation).
The roads are quiet (although a bit busier on weekends), and the views are panoramic – this is an absolutely cracking ride.
At the time of riding, the fire trail through to Mullion Creek (16km mark) was highly eroded with large sections of surface water. The road is clay and otherwise quite smooth but there are a couple of slightly challenging sections.
This route is a series of gravel road sectors with connecting sections of bitumen. The gravel sectors are at the time of writing quite good but a bit rough in places, so perfect on a gravel bike, not ideal on a road bike.
One challenge you’ll face is the Ophir Exit Climb. It’s not that long (about 700m) but with sections of near 30% gradient (Strava), it’s a brute. The climb starts as soon as you leave Ophir, on the Southside with a sharp rise of 15 to 20%. It then flattens for a little relief before pitching up sharply again with gradients running up to 30%. Thankfully it’s bitumen.
Before you start: There is a low level crossing on Summer Hill Creek just below Suma Park Dam (8.3kms). If the dam is 100% full (see the Orange Council website – click on the Water Storage tab), there will likely be water over the crossing and you may be better avoiding Bulgas Road and heading back in on Icely Road or through Kinross to Banjo Paterson Way .
Food & Water
No food or water en route, you’ll need to bring everything with you. It gets hot out here in Summer, so make sure you have enough water with you.
The Mortimers cellar door is in March (at 11kms).
Watch out for
Road Condition: bitumen roads are good, gravel roads mostly good, with some rougher sections (although this can change).
Traffic: Watch the section from Bulgas Road to the Northern Distributor on the way back in to town, there is little shoulder and it can get busy. Otherwise the roads are generally quiet.
Click to enlarge.