If you live in South-East Queensland there are a surprising number of rail trail rides within a few hours drive of Brisbane.
Some are short’ish day and weekender trips. Some are longer, offering top multi-day riding holiday options, particularly if you link up with country roads and state forest trails. There are also some exciting rail trail projects in the pipeline which will offer even more choice.
Here is a list of rides close to Brisbane. For inspiration :)
What are Rail Trails?
Rail trails are shared-use paths from abandoned railway corridors that are now being used for horse riding, running, walking, and, of course, cycling.
Free from cars and busy traffic they are excellent, easy-riding trails that help us explore some of our history and enjoy our beautiful countryside safely and peacefully.
Plus they are helping breathe new life into the small country towns and rural communities they link up by providing cyclists like us with safe and interesting riding destinations.
With a rail trail you can expect graded gravel and dirt surfaces most of the way, and some have paved sections too.
On occasion you might need to cross through creeks or embankments and take side roads. Just to add a bit of adventure to the day!
On the whole though these are great trails for everyone - from beginner to experienced riders, and are suitable for many types of bikes.
Our list of rail trail rides close to us in South-East Queensland is grouped as follows:
- The classics – long sections of trail that have helped pave the way for the rail trail movement. Perfect for a multi-day tour or just choose sections for a day or weekend ride
- Shorter rides to ease you into it, or that can be linked up with local roads and other trails for longer riding routes
We also take a peak at some exciting new projects in the pipeline.
Classic Rail Trail rides close to Brisbane
Brisbane Valley Rail Trail
Length km: 161km
Distance from Brisbane: Approx 1 hour drive
Start / End Locations: Wulkuraka (Ipswich) to Yarraman
Trail Type: Compacted Earth, Coarse Gravel, Fine Gravel, Sealed
Attractions and Support Services:
- Old Church Gallery Moore
- Esk Caravan Park
- Out there Cycling
- Tour de Vines
- Outbike Australia
- Blackbutt Bakery
- Linville Hotel
- Roy Emerson Museum
- and many more...
The BVRT is currently the longest section of rail trail in Queensland. You can ride it end to end over a few days or there are some popular sections often done over a day ride or with an overnight stop.
The first 23km leg is from Ipswich to Fernvale and has minimal facilities. However the Fernvale to Lowood leg has ample, including a visitor information centre, bakeries, cafes, ATM, filtered water, toilets, and accommodation.
Riding from Lowood to Esk will pass through native bushlands, so there will be limited support facilities. This leg will pass through the town of Coominya.
While there is no potable water available in town, bikers can purchase supplies from the supermarket or the pub. The station park has toilet facilities, and the Bellevue Hotel can offer accommodations.
Esk to Toogoolawah will take bikers through farmland with a few facilities and undulating trails. Toogoolawah to Moore will shift to a gravel surface, and Moore has several places to go eat, along with a B&B.
From Moore, the next stop will be Blackbutt that offers cafes, supermarkets, and a visitor information centre. The Old Country Style pub offers accommodation, as do several B&Bs along the trail.
Yarraman, which is the end of the line, offers two pubs, two motels, a caravan park, and a bakery.
If you are keen on riding the next trail then its just a 45-minute drive from this location to Kingaroy, the start of the South Burnett Rail Trail.
Alternatively, if you want to keep riding, there is a fantastic 55km link road which rolls along quiet back roads and quite a rugged stock route.
For more information on the trail and support resources including accommodation and shuttling see the BVRT website.
Kilkivan to Kingaroy Rail Trail
Length km: 89km
Distance from Brisbane: Approx 3 hour drive
Start / End Locations: Kilkivan to Kingaroy
Trail Type: Coarse Gravel, Fine Gravel, Sealed
This is another long trail that can be done over 1-2 days or in a day. The first half (Kingaroy – Murgon) is 44km and known as the South Burnett Rail Trail. This is mainly paved surface and suitable for just about all types of bikes.
The next section to Kilkivan if rougher though and will be better if riding an all-terrain or mountain / trail bike.
If you are really adventurous (and ok with country roads) you can continue riding through Kilkivan to Gympie, where you can pick up a train back to Brisbane!
Most of the towns the trail passes through have good facilities and interesting historical facts. Goomeri, Murgon, Wondai, and Kingaroy all have visitor information centres and BNB accommodation is readily available, with camping also available in Wooroolin, Tingora, Goomeri, and Wondai.
If you want some ideas, here is the South Burnett Rail Trail route that Bill and Lesley rode on a weekend away: Murgon to Kingaroy
Day or Overnight Trips
Rail trails need not necessarily be that long to enjoy. Here are some shorter routes that offer a great day trip or overnight trip for you and your bike.
Mary to Bay (Fraser Coast) Rail Trail
Length km: 18km
Distance from Brisbane: Approx 3 hours drive
Start / End Locations: Maryborough to Hervey Bay
Trail Type: Fine Gravel, Sealed
Caboolture to Wamuran Rail Trail
Length km: 10.5km
Distance from Brisbane: Approx 1 hour drive
Start / End Locations: Caboolture to Wamuran
Trail Type: Sealed
Fassifern Rail Trail
Length km: 6km
Distance from Brisbane: Approc 1.5 hour drive
Start / End Locations: Boonah Visitor Information Centre to a Return Loop
Trail Type: Coarse Gravel
Something to Look Forward to
There is currently a proposal to open the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, which will connect Murwillumbah, Byron Bay, Bangalow, Lismore, and Casino. When completed, the trail will span for 128km, and will take bikers through some beautiful scenic northern New South Wales countryside. (More info here)
Construction on the Tweed Valley section of the Rail Trail is almost complete with this 23 km section from Murwillumbah opening in early 2023.
See our article on Rail Trail and Cycling Trails in NSW for further information.
Also see our article on Bike Rides and Rail Trails in Victoria for more ride inspiration.
Electric Bikes for Rail Trail Riding
Depending on what trails you decide to ride most electric bikes will suit. However if you want extra comfort and traction, as well as the ability to carry luggage for touring, then take a look at our excellent selection of adventure and touring ebikes.