Trail Open

North East Tasmania Rail Trail

Tasmania - north

3.8 based on 13 reviews
Location: Scottsdale, 62 km north east of Launceston.
Length: 26 km
Surface: Fine gravel
Start / End: Scottsdale to Tulendeena (Billycock Hill)
Public Transport: None
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Cycling – Touring and Hybrid BikesCycling – Touring and Hybrid Bikes
  • WalkingWalking

Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • A beautiful trail with lush forest vegetation that still provides views of the surrounding mountains.
  • The trail has a good gravel surface, suitable for all weather and easily ridden on hybrid or touring bikes.
  • There are two highway crossings, both with good sight lines.
  • There are numerous interpretive signs to provide a background on the area and the railway.
  • Plans are well advanced for extending the trail 42km back to Lilydale Falls, which will include a spectacular 800m tunnel.
  • Scottsdale is also close to the world class mountain bike trails of Blue Derby.
  • Scottsdale is the major regional centre with a range of facilities for visitors. There are plenty of accommodation options including free camping (North East Park), a supermarket, bakery and even a micro brewery! Good coffee is not hard to find in this town.
  • There is a small bicycle shop behind the Information Centre (check with friendly folk at the Information Centre for hours of opening). There is also an Electric Vehicle charging point at the Information Centre.

Attractions

  • A beautiful trail with lush forest vegetation that still provides views of the surrounding mountains.
  • The trail has a good gravel surface, suitable for all weather and easily ridden on hybrid or touring bikes.
  • The sculptures at the Legerwood station site
  • There are numerous interpretive signs to provide a background on the area and the railway.
  • Plans are well advanced for extending the trail 42km back to Lilydale Falls and will included a spectacular 800m tunnel.
  • Scottsdale is also close to the world class mountain bike trails of Blue Derby.
  • Scottsdale is the major regional centre with a range of facilities for visitors. There are plenty of accommodation options including free camping (North East Park), a supermarket, bakery and even a micro brewery! Good coffee is not hard to find in this town. There is a small bicycle shop behind the Information Centre (check with friendly folk at the Information Centre for hours of opening). There is also an Electric Vehicle charging point at the Information Centre.

 

Trail Guide

Access Points

  • Scottsdale – the trail starts at the old Railway Station in Ellenor St (accessed between the Mitre 10 Store and the railway crossing on the road).  Also King St (which is the main street) though no car parking.
  • Tonganah – Off Tonganah Rd. (sign posted from highway),7km east of Scottsdale
  • Tulendeena – Snake Track (rail trail sign posted)

Section Guides

Scottsdale to Tonganah (10km)

  • From Scottsdale rail station car park, head south out of town crossing Ellenor and King Streets.
  • This section is generally suitable for hybrid and touring bikes. Take care as it is also a popular walking track for the locals and very small people on very small bikes.
  • The trail descends through picturesque farmland and bushland then behind the old timber mill at Lings Siding and crossing the Tasman Hwy twice then over the Great Forester River at Tonganah (the lowest point of the trail)

Tonganah to Tulendeena (Billycock Hill) (16km)

  • It’s a gentle but steady climb almost all the way from Tonganah up to the former station of Tulendeena at the top of Billycock Hill and then via the Snake Track, a few km into the small town of Legerwood.
  • The Rotary Club is constructing toilet facilities and a water tank at the car park at Tonganah. There are no other toilet facilities until you get to Legerwood.
  • At the start the trail goes off the rail corridor for a short distance to divert around some old clay mining pits that were dug after the line beyond Tonganah was removed. Stay on the signposted trail through this area.
  • This section of the rail trail winds through beautiful tall forests with spectacular tree fern-lined cuttings and huge embankments across gullies, well away from any roads. As it climbs, the trail provides views through the trees to the farmland far below. To gain height, the trail winds back on itself in a huge S-curve. Heading uphill, in the middle of the S-curve, the trail you have been on is far below on your left while the trail to come is above you on your right. At the highest point, you can look out to Bass Strait and on clear days see the mountain peaks on Flinders Island.
  • There are shelter sheds at the old station sites at Trewalla, Kamona and Tulendeena. Water is available at Kamona.
  • From Tulendeena siding at the top of Billycock Hill, you can continue down the Snaketrack road to get into Legerwood, though cyclists should take extra care on the gravel road which is steep in places.  Legerwood has few facilities, though local residents have made the former station site worth a visit with its unique tree carvings. It also has toilets and a souvenir shop operates most days from a former rail wagon, which also sells tea, coffee and soft drinks.
  • Return to Scottsdale the same way you came up
  • Enjoy the16km cruisy downhill run to Tonganah

Background Information

Traditional Owners

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

Development and future of the trail

Funding had been announced some years ago to extend the rail trail another 42km back to Lilydale and potentially all the way back to Launceston linking with the Rocherlea Rail Trail and the Launceston urban cycling network.

At the time of writing, the planned extension to Lilydale is being challenged by a Heritage rail group wanting to establish tourist rail services on the old line all the way to Scottsdale. Another government inquiry into the feasibility of this proposal had recommended a compromise with the Heritage Rail group being given access to a short section from Turners Marsh to Lilydale, while the longer section from Lilydale Falls to Scottsdale be developed as a recreational trail for walkers and cyclists but any progress remains stalled.

Many would also like to see the trail continue a further 2km from Tulendeena/Billycock Hill down to the township of Legerwood and then another 10km onto Branxholm via the old rail corridor.

Branxholm has a new, easily ridden 8km cycle trail connection – the Valley Ponds trail – linking it to the mountain bike mecca of Blue Derby with trails suitable for all levels of MTB ability. The small, once dying towns of Branxholm and Derby have taken on a new lease of life and are now thriving with the influx of cyclists to these magnificent trails.

 

Railway history

The 124 km railway to Herrick branched off the Bell Bay railway line at Coldwater Creek Junction, 13km north of Launceston. It reached Branxholm in 1911 and finally Herrick in 1919. It was closed back to Tonganah in 1992, the rails in this section were removed around 1996 and the land returned to the Crown.

The Rotary Club of Scottsdale and other volunteers did an amazing job in developing the first 14km section of the trail in a relatively short time from Tonganah to Billycock Hill, which opened around 2012.

Scottsdale to Tonganah was opened in November 2015 by the Rotary club with funding from the Tasmania Community Fund and assistance from the Dorset Council.

The track continues to be upgraded and facilities improved by the Rotary Club of Scottsdale.

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13 reviews of “North East Tasmania Rail Trail”

We rode this trail in January 2019. We hired a couple of good bikes from the very helpful Scottsdale Art Gallery Café and Bike Hire. We also took up the offer to be transported to the far (Tulendeena) end of the trail. I understand the Red Dirt Cycle Company in Scottsdale which has bikes for sale and hire.
The trail itself was very doable, even for the non-cyclist. Travelling the way we did, the 16km section from Tulendeena to Tonganah was a gentle downhill. This section of the rail trail winds through beautiful tall forests with spectacular tree fern-lined cuttings and embankments across gullies, well away from major roads. There are some mining relics including a pretty dam at Tonganah.
The remaining 10km back to Scottsdale was more open and provided rural views. It was also closer to the Tasman Highway for much of its length. It was uphill in the direction of travel but manageable for the non-cyclist. All in all a very nice 26km Rail Trail.

We rode the trail over two days. The first day we rode from Scottsdale to Tonganah Station and back, and the second day we rode from Tonganah station to Legerwood. We camped at Northeast Park, which had direct access to the track (3km into the start). Six of us rode the the track ageing from 13 – 82. The track on the first day was a little rough, and in parts was made up of large rail rocks. However the second day was smother. Along the last 10km of the track were a couple of huts that we stopped at for morning tea and lunch, with the second one having a tank full of drinking water. The track is very well signposted, however the end of the track is confusing. It comes out beside the Tasman Highway, and you have to ride down the side of the highway until you get to the gravel snake track which leads you to Legerwood.

An easy 26 km from Scottsdale to Billycock Hill, or, as we attempted an enjoyable but tiring 52 km round trip. Well signposted. We cycled to Billycock Hill for our packed lunch, but would suggest stopping at Kamono Station (20km mark) for a more pleasant setting. Billycock Hill stop is on the Tasman Highway with lots of traffic. Take lots of water too, we only had 1 litre each and would suggest 2 litres. The climb to Billycock hill is long and will drain any part time cyclist. Recommended if you are in the area.

Bicycle Network is keeping a close eye on progress of extension of the North East Rail Trail between Launcestion and Scottsdale. Updates can be found here: https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/general/policy-and-campaigns/3124/

We cycled this rail trail ifrom Scottsdale to Billycock Hill in late February and really enjoyed it. However, there was one problem – the signage at intersections was poor, being on the wrong side of the track and therefore not visible. Hence, we cycled a few unnecessary kms on wrong tracks. The signs simply need to be relocated from one side to the other so they can be seen on approach.

We also rode this trail over the New Years Day weekend from Scottsdale to Legerwood and return. Highly recommended and full marks to Scottsdale Rotary Club, Dorset Council and all those who have worked so hard to get it to this stage. Great accommodation and hospitality in Scottsdale and even a micro brewery producing some great local beers. Looking forward to extension of the trail over the last few km into Legerwood to avoid the road traffic. Also looking forward to seeing the trail all the way along the disused line from Launceston (and through the fantastic tunnel at “Tunnel”) to Branxholm, Derby (linking up with the superb mountain bike trails) and Winnaleah. This will be one of the great rails trails of Australia!

Message from Jesse: We just rode from Billycock hill to Scottsdale and it was amazing – thanks!! On the way, we lost our hand held gps. It’s a little black Garmin gps, lost around the clay dam or sometime past that towards Scottsdale (so about 10km before Scottsdale).
If it’s found, that would be amazing!!!! Thanks so much.

I travelled to Tasmania a few weeks ago and on my to do list was to walk this rail trail
sadly when i arrived I was greeted with CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE
is it possible to keep us updated when work is to be carried out

Hello everyone,
I’ve been comiossioned by the Rotary club of Scottsdale to make a web page for the North East Rail Trail. I was wondering if I could use some of your comments as personal experiece quotes for the page. I would also like to link your you tube video ash_shell, if that was ok with you?
Tullendeena Express ( Rohan ) I would appreciate it quite a bit if you would be able to help with some personal comments as well and i will be adding a back story about the history of the railway with pictures if I can get hold of them. Would also like to know what sort of Bikes you used on the trail?

Any personal experience information other than my own would help a lot. e-mail Nicholasambrus@g-mail.com

Cheers
Nic

Agree with all the tips below. I have made a YouTube clip to help!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqNzBQj8mT8

We got extremely lost at the start… Don’t follow the rail trail at the start follow the road past the lakes. (see this intersection on the clip!!)
Rode to approx 16.5km and the track was still going (approx 2.5 hours)
Return was from Ledgerwood end was 50min (very fast and fun down hill!!!)
Track was a lot smoother from 12km plus

Overall very beautiful and scenic!!! Can’t wait for new sections to be completed (Scottsdale – Toonganah and Ledgerwood – Derby)

Our family of 4 (2 kids under 12 yrs) rode this trail today. Yes it is a very lovely trail but totally uphill on a rough surface is hard going. The turnoff is well mark as is the “car park” and every kilometer however there was one vital sign missing in the second kilometer meaning we got quite lost. Once you go past the dam there is a right hand turn, if you go past a saw mill or hit a road you have gone too far. As others have said the surface is really hard going, they need a roller to go over the surface a few times. The website says it goes to 14km but we got to 15km mark and it was still going so obviously they have done more track, I don’t know how far it goes to though as the kids were tired and we turned around.

We rode this trail at Easter. A magnificent trail in the making. A bit rough for our hybrid bikes though – would certainly benefit from some compacted fine gravel to make it more user friendly. Trail bike riders ignoring the access signs was very disappointing – needs some suitable barriers in place. Looking forward to further developments – has the potential to be one of the great rides in the country.

MAGNIFICENT AND BEAUTIFUL–THIS WILL BE ONE OF THE GREATEST RAIL TRAILS IN AUSTRALIA
The railway between Scottsdale and Branxholm was completed in 1912 and later extended to Herrick after the first world war.
The section past Scottsdale, over the Great Forester River beginning at the APPM Claymine and pine siding at Tonganah. This line is best described as MAGNIFICWENT AND BEAUTIFUL . The track curved and double backs on it’s self all the way up through the mountain main of granite, between Hand Dog Hill and Cockatoo Hill, LOOK UP TASMAP FORESTER 1:00,000 topographic for reference. The only other line in Australia with similar track design is the Cains to Kuranda railway.

The ferns, plants, tall string bark, dogwood musk, thick carpets of moss and lycen growning on the railway cutting faces is something special. The line closed in 1994 and pulled up about 1996. I also walked this section 3 times when trains wra still running. There were three sidings up in the mountain: Trewalla, Kamona, and Tullendeena on the top of BillyCock Hill. (Named after the Billy Cook Hat lost by a teamster with pack horses who found his hat the next trip where someone had sat it on top of a fern tree (Manfern)). The Railway Department maintained it’s policy to give indigenous names to new station stops

The Engineer in charge of the construction was Mr Ross Reynolds and built under budget even though there are over 120 cutting through solid granite, rotten granite, mud stone and soil.

THIS IS GOING TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST RAIL TRAILS IN AUSTRALIA and I ask people to support it.

The Scottsdale line from Cold Water Creek or Turners Marsh, Karoola, , Lilydale,Lilydale Falls, Tunnel, Denisons Gorge (Once a popular picnic locatio now over grown with Blackberries) , Wyena, Golconda, Nabowla,Lone Star, to Scottsdale is a great walk. I use to walk the railway track often and sometimes ride in the cab of a locomotive. THe tunnel at tTnnel is about 750 metres long. The water spring flows out of the a pipe in the wall. cool great taisting water all year round. Don’t forget to stop at Lebrina General Store for a coffee. TASMAP 1:100.000 St Patricks topographic.

I HOPE ONE DAY YOU WILL RIDE, WALK, MOBILITY SCOOTER OVER THE BILLYCOCK OVER THE TOP AT TULLENDEENA via THE FOREST ROUTE. GOOD LUCK…..Rohan

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