Some of the best adventures are the unexpected ones! I felt pretty good after riding the Douglas Trails in the morning and while refueling on a Coke and burger on The Strand decided to check out the trails at Pallarenda before heading home to Ayr. I didn’t know much about the ‘Under the Radar’ trail other than local ‘outtacontrol’ saying it had incredible views over the ocean. That’s enough for me!
Under the Radar is located in the Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park, 10km north of the Townsville city centre and ~20mins drive from the trails at Douglas. The 44 hectare park borders the Town Common creating a huge expanse of coastal woodlands, vine thickets, deep water lagoons, seasonal wetlands and sheltered beaches. All up it’s an awesome location for a dedicated MTB trail.
Under the Radar literally sits beneath a radar station which makes for a handy point of reference throughout the ride (cue the 1980’s hit song by Underworld). Make your way to the very end of Cape Pallarenda Road, park at the beach picnic area and turnaround, ride through to the end of the historic military station, cross the footbridge and follow the signs to the trail. Before long you’re riding past World War II searchlight and gun fortification ruins that overlook the beach then it’s onto 10km of sweet single track.
The single track winds its way up and down the hillside directly beside the Pacific Ocean. The 180 degree ocean, beach and island views are gobsmacking, but wait there’s more! The trail itself is a lot of fun to ride with lots of flowey sections, similar in style to the Douglas trails but with less vert. The surface is a mix of rocks and coastal soil. All up, good fun!
After hugging the coast for a quite a while the single track heads inland, circling back in and around the hills towards the Town Common. Under the Radar finally comes to a dramatic end as you emerge from the woodlands into vast seasonal wetlands which were super steamy and hot when I passed through. Keeping to the dirt road which skirts the hillside you then pass deep water wet lagoons filled with huge numbers of birds before returning to the picnic area on Cape Pallarenda Road.
While there is less climbing than the trails at Douglas I’d reckon intermediate fitness and skills allow you to enjoy all the loop has to offer. There is limited shelter and shade – ride early or late or like me, be prepared to cook in the midday sun!
Under the Radar is an awesome MTB ride packed with stunning and ever changing scenery. Hopefully I’ll get to ride it along with the Douglas trails a few more times before heading back to Victoria.