Located in the mid-north of South Australia, this is a 12 kilometre section of the partially open rail-trail that will (when finished) link Melrose and Wilmington, a distance of 24 kilometres along a disused rail corridor.
At the time of writing (Jan 2017) only the section from Melrose to where the trail crosses Horrocks Highway was open.
The official start to the trail is about 3 kilometres north of Melrose at the end of Cordon Road, but you can also go via the Showgrounds Trail which traverses some very picturesque country before bringing you back onto Horrocks Highway for the last half a kilometre to the trail head.
This is a wonderful trail to ride for the more experienced rider sections of round terrain, creek crossings and some quite rough terrain to be covered.
The roughest part is at the start and like me, you may prefer to walk your bike through some very deep ruts, but after that, even though the trail may be overgrown in places, you should not have to get off your bike again.
The gradients, as with most rail trails is so slight that you could be forgiven for thinking that it was flat. There is though a gentle rise as you travel north from Melrose before being returned to the highway and the return trip to Melrose.
From what I could see, the section from the highway crossing to Wilmington, although posted as a trail, is so poorly maintained as to make me question if it was even ready for use.
You will need to make that decision for yourself, but in 40 degree temperatures and having long grass to ride through, the risk of snake bite turned me off finishing the full route.
Remember also that the trail is reasonably remote, so make sure you have sufficient food and water for the return trip of about 20 kilometres as there are no facilities along the trail.
- Name: Melrose to Wilmington Rail Trail
- Region: Southern Flinders Ranges
- Start: Melrose
- Finish: Wilmington
- Length: 24km (however, in my opinion, only the first 12 kilometres is currently ridable)
- Time: 2-3 hours return
- Type: Linear
- Surface: Fine gravel, hard dirt or grass.
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Suitable for: Off road bikes only.
- Hazards: Some creek crossing and steep descents, long dry grass in summer. Ride with care and according to your skill level.
- Signage: Well posted at the start
- Facilities: no facilities along the route.
- Best Times: All year round but it will be hot in summer and muddy in winter