Long Loop

Long-loop-pointerLong Loop Map

Large Long Loop map.
Want to print it? Get the A4 high-res PDF map here. (3MB)


Long Loop Videos

Dunny to the Top Gate http://youtu.be/Vrt3QOKhJM8
Big Dipper http://youtu.be/zRI36_jNo-U
Down the Big Dipper http://youtu.be/NLz8DEcGSHc
Spider Web http://youtu.be/Skc5w6p8HaI
My quick Lickety http://youtu.be/ixccnfkjhOs
Behind myself on Lickety Split http://youtu.be/L6MLKU-aBmY
Ali Goes Lickety Split http://youtu.be/4Sh3TWAg5UQ
Kip licks Lickety http://youtu.be/GTFjuxqGEsQ
Rigour Mortis http://youtu.be/lqAHDEhYvy4
Rigour Mortis dog-style http://youtu.be/oNhl-G7MbwU
Tuff Titty http://youtu.be/lTJNdaHCrP4
Tuff Titty looking back http://youtu.be/x5wo6j_z6PI
Jenny takes on Tuff Titty http://youtu.be/jV8_kBKOYOY
Onya toes on Tuff Titty http://youtu.be/mzaXE2s1PbY

More videos

The LONG LOOP can be more than 50km long, varying depending on which optional routes are taken along the way, but there is a basic 40+km arrowed loop.

It’s an exhilarating mountain-biking experience, loaded with features beyond the sensational fast-flowing single-track Sparrow Hill is renowned for.

Some of the special features to look out for: Lickety Split, Tuff Titty, Kip’s Canyon, Heavy Cow Lookout, Down ’n Dirty and the Traffic Jam view. They’re all in our videos department.

As with all of the marked courses at Sparrow Hill, it’s easy to stay on the course. Just follow the red arrows and look for the Long Loop signs at intersections.

If you’re put off by the greater distance, don’t be. It’s easy to take short-cuts along the Long Loop, so you can ride lots of the special stuff without feeling you must do 40km.

40km/h on Big Dipper, at Sparrow Hill, Kowen Forest, Canberra.

40km/h on Big Dipper, at Sparrow Hill, Kowen Forest, Canberra.

All loops start out together from the car park, straight up the fence-line for about 300m, where

they meet the Kings Highway.

On the right corner is a public loo.

Looking towards the highway, you may notice a biggish gum tree with a pine tree growing between its two big trunks. This might actually be a pinegum tree, well-known for harbouring drop-bears.

Turn right past the loo, then left under the highway through the small underpass. At the other side, turn left, and just ahead is an arrow pointing right. It’s the first single-track, the Dunny Track.

You can’t miss the bathroom feature a little way in, but it’s only like an illusion, see, not real.

Higher up is the Kid Stuff intersection, where the sign advises that you can go left or right and end up in the same place. Lower McGinty’s goes left with Kid Stuff, and McGinty’s goes right, working around the hill on higher contours.

Lower McGinty’s parts company with Kid Stuff further along, and later rejoins McGinty’s for the last 200m to the top gate.

Near the start of Lower McGinty’s is an optional diversion. Following the A-Line sign tests you up and down the Lower McGinty’s rock garden. The B-Line sign takes you around it.

If you had decided to take the right turn to McGinty’s for the gentle climb to the top gate, you would have ridden the same distance, on an equally appealing parallel course.

A 2015-built track near the top of McGinty’s goes off to the right, giving you another option as to how you put together your loop. It’s called the Archery Extension, and takes you on a long, winding ride, mostly downhill, to the western end (the start) of the Archery Loop. Check this out on the map.

If you’d rather stay on McGinty’s, you will pass through the top gate, go right, then immediately left into the Big Dipper.

Speeds in excess of 40km/h are common down parts of the Big Dipper.

About 100m in, signs at an intersection point to two very different great rides. Eventually, though, they come together again, but one is 5km longer than the other.

The shorter of the two goes right on Blinky Bill, a link track to one of Sparrow Hill’s highlights – Lickety Split.

Well-named, Lickety Split is a flier — all down. Built around the contours of a long hill, the track is very fast, with wide, gradual corners with berms that make the rider feel safe maintaining a high speed.

A word of caution: A local farmer leases Sparrow Hill for his cows, and they can pop up at the most inopportune time.

Add a bit more downhill on the next track, Rigour Mortis, and the Lickety Split smile on your dial is extended to about 2km.

The great Big Dipper downhill leads you into Wonderland, with a fun set of bends, and about 300m along, another intersection sees the Long Loop heading off to the right. Wonderland is a long, winding track of much variety.

Check the view from the fire-road junction between Wonderland and Spider Web at Sparrow Hill, Kowen Forest, Canberra.

Check the view from the fire-road junction between Wonderland and Spider Web at Sparrow Hill, Kowen Forest, Canberra.

As you exit Wonderland, you enter an open grassy area, where two fire-roads converge. Check the view down the hill before entering Spider Web Pt1.

Spider Web Parts 1 and 2 are twisty, sometimes a little rocky, with fast downhills. Part 3 does a gentle bit of climbing, but it has a nice feel to it. It runs into the short, flat Tom Thumb, which in turn meets Bridge Loop.

Bridge Loop rewards you for your climbing, and gives it all back with a fun descent that sees you sprinting across a little wooden bridge. It spits you out on to a short fire-road, where you ride the road to Third Leg.

Third Leg is a gradual climb up to Rock Hopper, which is a roller-coaster across the contour until it meets the merging track for Lickety Split.

Now you join the speedy last 500m of Lickety Split, before continuing the fast riding and tricky bits to the dams on Rigour Mortis. The rest of Rigour Mortis is flattish and twisty, and it meets More Boar alongside a creek.

About 150m into More Boar there’s a popular turn-off to the left. It’s a 1km loop, one of the features of Sparrow Hill called Tuff Titty, a sporty little track that starts off with a couple of switchbacks up the steep creek-side hill, then plunges back to the creek on a steep, bermed track built into the side of the hill. Extreme Caution, says the sign at the top.

Well, the Tuff Titty sign DOES warn that there are some technical sections.

The stars of Tuff Titty are the three dips that dive deeply into and out of the creek. The creek bottom has been armoured with rock to provide permanently secure crossings, wet or dry. If you’ve cracked a smile here, and you want more of the creek, there’s a little return track to take you round and round.

Then you pay for all the fun, on a long, slow, not-too-steep climb back up the hill, ending with an almost scary, headlong plunge back down across the creek to rejoin More Boar, right where you started Tuffy Titty.

More Boar carries on along the creek bank, then seeks more height, gently climbing the contours, and heading off east, ending with a long, winding loop that joins up with Gum Gully.

Near the start of Gum Gully is another of the features of Sparrow Hill. It’s a half-pipe playground built into the gully, and it’s called Kip’s Canyon, after the builder’s ever-present English pointer.

Take notice of the signs. There are steep descents, and the clay creek walls can be as slippery as soap when they’re wet.

But when dry, you’ll be climbing the walls, with eight swoops up the sides of the gully before returning for another go, or resuming your ride on Gum Gully. The highest wall has a sign, The Wall of Death.

Like Tuff Titty, the creek bed has been deeply armoured with rock for secure crossings.

Gum Gully joins Ice Dam, so named because in the year it was built, an extreme winter gave the little dam about half-way round a thick layer of ice, so far not repeated in 10 years. There is a gentle climb for the first half, minimised by the track builders working the contours. From the highest point, the track swings back downhill, and you get it all back. Fast and flowing, the track zig-zags sweetly to the end.

Next is See-Saw, which at first picks up speed, then climb briefly again to reach a downhill rock garden chicane. Slow and careful is best here. If unsure of yourself, walk.

See-Saw is twisty fun and quite fast, eventually crossing a fire-road into Pig Hollow, which continues that flavour.

After a couple of hundred metres of interesting twists and turns, there is an intersection, signposted that Pig Hollow continues to the left, and a 3.5km optional loop, called Heavy Cow Loop, heads off to the right. It returns to Pig Hollow at the same point after treating you to another of Sparrow’s features, Heavy Cow lookout, some quick descents, and a climb or two.

Pig Hollow crosses the main north-south fire-road, Block 9 Rd. If you need a quick way back to the car, turn left (north) on the road, and it’s nearly all downhill to the car park.

Otherwise, enter Dog Stirred and enjoy some fast, easy riding, with lots of fun corners.

Block 9 Rd, being well into the ride, is often the site of small gatherings of riders taking the opportunity for a break.

You will reach an intersection where the Short Loop stays left, and the next Long Loop track, Nutcracker, goes right. There’s a lot of good riding through Nutcracker, and also around the optional extra along the way, called Out the Back, a meandering loop of 1.5km that rejoins Nutcracker close to where it branched off.

Nutcracker comes back to Dog Stirred, which soon reaches the small gate, near the top gate, which you passed through earlier.

On the other side of the Small Gate are more signs, and while the Short Loop again goes left, the Long Loop goes right on the fire-road for 50m and swings left into Blue Lagoon. This is a long track with great variety, from fast-and-furious to labouring climb, from testing descent to easy rolling.

Blue Lagoon meets The Trig, which meanders up-and-down in spurts around the side of the actual Sparrow Hill, eventually ending up on the other side of the hill. As you reach the high point of the first climb, you’ll come to an intersection that offers an A-Line and a B-Line. The A-Line goes switchbacking further up the hillside through numerous challenging rock gardens and descents, soon rejoining the B-Line, which has gone around them.

Now you get to the exciting Traffic Jam, at first giving you a 180-degree panoramic view across the valley to the hills of Carwoola and Captain’s Flat beyond. Then prepare yourself for a just-in-control twisting descent that at times hits 22 percent, or nine degrees, gradient.

After its short but thrilling run, Traffic Jam crosses to Choc Monte, a lively but gentle climb ducking and weaving its way to the well-named Down ‘n Dirty.

Go faster, invites the smooth downhill track on Down 'n Dirty at Sparrow Hill, Kowen Forest, Canberra.

Go faster, invites the smooth downhill track on Down ‘n Dirty at Sparrow Hill, Kowen Forest, Canberra.

All downhill, with big concentration needed on the corners, Down ‘n Dirty has plenty of interesting twists and turns, most of them urging you to go faster, and every one challenging you.

Then a merge with Brown Water, which swerves and swoops until it crosses a wooden bridge over the creek, then it swerves some more, finally finishing beyond the black stump.

Across an open fire-road triangle and another 50m up the road you enter Barney’s.

Barney’s is all fun, nice and curly, lots of downhill, and at Barney’s end you enter Waterside Way, to take you back to the Kings Highway, with dam wall crossings one after the other, a couple of neat little bridges, on or off the dam walls, and lots of exciting, fast runs, sometimes bordered with rocky outcrops.

You end Waterside Way facing the Kings Highway, and go through the big underpass.

Then follow the road briefly left, and sharp right down the hill and over the little plank bridge at the creek. Be careful down the gravelly hill!

On the other side, you follow the Long Loop (Cont.) sign pointing right, and climb up the fire-road about 100m, where a left turn back into the forest puts you on Meatballs1, the first of the Pink Rock Loop’s five tracks.

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve somehow become involved in the Tour de France, as up you go. And up. It’s not difficult climbing, but gives Sparrow a somewhat different dimension.

After Meatballs1, Cole’s Climb completes the upward grind to the fire-road, where Meatballs2 begins. The pace picks up for a while, and then, with a few more uphill twists and turns, Meatballs Pt2 brings you back to the fire-road, now pretty high on the hill.

That’s why the rest of Pink Rock Loop is so much fun.

An 80m easy ride to the left on the fire-road puts you at the start of the long Home Run. Then it’s down, down, down. Somewhat rocky in places, but when you are floating downhill, that’s part of the fun.

Into Spaghetti next, and the charging bulls thrive. It’s a fast, curvy trip back to the start of Pink Rock Loop, where you swoop downhill from a bermed corner into Creek Run.

It’s a rapid pace to the car park then, diving through the creek bed, catching one bridge at a fast corner exit, then straightening up, at speed, to line up the last.