Horseshoe Rd and Darkwood

Traverse the high ridge lines on Horseshoe Road, then return by the peaceful Bellinger Valley on Darkwood Rd.

Trail information

  • 65km
  • 3 hours
  • Grade 2 - Family friendly
  • Ascent 700m
  • Descent 700m
  • Loop
  • Start location: Bellingen NSW, Australia

Beyond Bellingen on the Waterfall Way, a sign points to Horseshoe Road. Its an old logging road, a beautiful curling 4WD or adventure motorcycle loop that traverses the ridge tops to Killiekrankie Mountain before descending to Bowraville.

We ride the Horseshoe road from Bellingen, but our plans are thwarted by a substantial tree fall that completely blocks the road. It’s too big to clear, so we backtrack to a nearby peak.

There’s both an Irishman and a Scotchman in these ranges. Today, we walk up a 1km track from Horseshoe Rd to the summit of Scotchman’s Peak (756m) where we eat our picnic lunch and enjoy the view across the New England wilderness. Looks like someone might have lived here once with the remains of a shelter, but fire has burnt it out.

In the 1990s, Horseshoe Road was the site of a significant blockade by the North East Forest Alliance. For more than 30 years, the volunteer forest conservation group NEFA have been working to protect rainforest, oldgrowth forest, wilderness and threatened species.

After lunch, we descend Orama Rd to Darkwood in the Bellinger Valley. Back on the bitumen for a pretty ride that twists and turns past farms and across low bridges as we follow the river back to Bellingen. One creek is named DieHappy – lucky are those who also LiveHappy in this beautiful place.

The Great Koala National Park is a wonderful vision to protect the forests and wildlife of northern NSW, while also accommodating diverse recreational needs. In addition to bushwalking, mountain biking and horse riding trails, two four wheel drive routes have been proposed one of which route follows Horseshoe Road.

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