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Copper Rail Trail

South Aust. Regional

1.3 based on 4 reviews
Location: 100km north of Adelaide
Length: 26 km
Surface: Coarse gravel, Compacted earth
Start / End: Port Wakefield to Balaklava
Public Transport: Coach
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Horse RidingHorse Riding
  • WalkingWalking

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Potential RT
  • Other Trail
  • Former Railway
View Map
  • A ‘bush track’ rail trail that provides a challenge for mountain bikers who enjoy a challenge
  • Forms an important link with other trails in the region and can be part of a larger ride through the Wakefield Plains, Clare Valley and Yorke Peninsula
  • Many historical features and structures
  • Very welcoming community

Nearby Attractions

  • Links with Walk the Yorke Walking and cycling trail in Port Wakefield
  • Links with a back-roads trail to the Riesling Trail in the east
  • Cuts through an area of century plant (Agave americana) with 6 m high flower stalks
  • Caravan parks at Port Wakefield and Balaklava

Last updated: 28 April 2024

Overall description

The trail surface varies from rubble /gravel to a formed natural earth surface, and is suited to walkers and  adventurous riders. Make sure you have water and food; there are no facilities between Balaklava and Port Wakefield.

The trail runs between flat, open grain fields, but thanks to the efforts of the local community, which planted the rail reserve with indigenous vegetation 30 years ago, the trail now provides visitors with shade as well as great scenery.

Balaklava has good parking in Edith Terrace, near shops and amenities, and a short distance from the trail at the junction of Hudson Rd and Balaklava Rd.

Port Wakefield has good parking, cafes and amenities. Construction work will begin soon on the duplication of the Princess Highway through Port Wakefield, so it may be worth parking near the beginning of the path east of the golf course on Balaklava Rd.

NOTE: the Shamus Liptrot Rail Trail, 11 km from Balaclava to Halbury, forms part of the Copper Rail Trail and is described in more detail in its own webpage 

Section Guides

Port Wakefield to Bowmans (10 km from Port Wakefield Golf Course)

The trail will ultimately begin at the start point for the Walk the Yorke walking and cycling trail, but cyclists should start the trail on the northern side of Balaklava Rd just east of the Port Wakefield Golf Course.

This section of trail is flat and has a compacted earth surface. The corridor has some vegetation and Council plans to add new planting.

About 6 km out Port Wakefield Golf Course the trail passes through a dense planting of century plants, easily recognisable by their long, tapered dull grey green leaves and 6 m tall flower spikes.

A further 2 km from the century plants the trail crosses a farm entrance where several railway sleepers were left in place when the rails were removed.

Take care when using the road crossing to cross the rail line just before Bowmans: this is a major freight route and carries many high-speed trains each day.


Bowmans to Balaklava (15 km)

Bowmans was once a thriving railway town and many of the original railway houses are still occupied. The Bowmans railway loading platform is visible on the side of the trail.

Vegetation increases in the trail corridor as the trail progresses to Balaklava; there are small sections of old man saltbush and bullock bush, which were once common in this area.

This section has some sections of compacted earth, but is mainly compacted rubble.

Use Balaklava Road to enter Balaklava. A small section of railway line has been retained from Hudson Rd to Whitwarta Rd on the approach to Balaklava, and the original railway turntable is visible on the corner of Whitwarta Rd and Balaklava Rd.

Do you know of a bike hire or transportation service on this rail trail that should appear here? If so, let us know at admin@railtrails.org.au.

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5 reviews of “Copper Rail Trail”

The trail requires some maintenance as small trees have taken root on the gravel track forcing detours. Near balaclava the trail is better maintained.
Grass Bird species include brown songlarks and singing bushlark, Red rumped parrot. A snake possibly eastern brown was lying across the track.

Having ridden approx 70% of the track my opinion is to avoid at all costs. Caltrop everwhere so bring plenty of tubes if you are brave enough to give it a try

Hi Steve, thanks for your comments relating to caltrop. I will let the local council know. I spoke with them last spring and they were predicting that spring and summer would see excessive and unwanted weed growth.
Regards Mark

While I appreciate the local community and the council providing this trail, unfortunately it is a bit of a goat track. We struggled on our electric mountain bikes – definitely not for road bikes

Rode this today. A "bush track" trail is an appropriate description. Trail best left for mountain bike riders, not recreational riders.

Background Information

Traditional owners

We acknowledge the Kaurna and Ngadjuri people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the trail is built.

Rail history

A private horse-drawn tramway was built from Port Wakefield to Balaklava and on to Hoyleton in 1869. It was later taken over by the SA Government and converted to steam train. The line closed in 1984.

Up to construction of the horse drawn tramway the alignment of the line was used by bullock teams to transport copper from Burra to Port Wakefield.

The Copper Trail continues along an unused rail reserve another 11 km to Halbury as the Shamus Liptrot Rail Trail. From Halbury the trail follows a signed route along back roads, over the range to Leasingham on the Riesling Trail.

Development and future of the Rail Trail

Wakefield Regional Council is planning to extend the trail beyond Halbury, following the unused rail corridor northward. The trail may ultimately connect with the Southern Flinders Rail Trail.

New Copper Rail Trail Opened in South Australia

Posted: 18/07/20

The Wakefield Regional Council, located in the mid north of South Australia, has constructed a 26...

Trail descriptions are maintained by volunteers. Please consider a donation to help improve this website. Rail Trails Australia gets no government funding.

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