Around the Lake

How far is it around a lake?  Mathematicians tell us it depends on the size of your ruler:  the shorter the ruler the longer the distance.  Google Maps told us it was about 45km to drive around Lake Samsonvale in a car.  We decided to measure it on our bikes while riding off-road as much as possible.

Since I live near the lake, we started from my place and followed some bike paths through the local parks.

A bunch of joggers were warming up for a regular “park run”.  I was glad we rolled by before they started their run.

With its gentle hills and picturesque lakes, the park is a relaxing place to ride.

There are two dams in this area.  The larger Lake Samsonvale discharges excess water into the North Pine River, which is then piped uphill via a pumping station whenever Lake Kurwongbah needs topping up.

While we rode along the dam wall, rowers prepared their boats on the shoreline.

From the rock wall at Lake Kurwongbah, we enjoyed a short ride over the hill to Lake Samsonvale.


Lake Samsonvale covers a wide area stretching west towards the D’Aguilar Range.  At McGavin View Lookout we could see how areas that were once islands were now connected to the shore by narrow strips of land exposed by falling water levels.

After a brief rest, we followed the shoreline trail to the west.

The grassy track rolled over numerous hills under the power lines, offering impressive views of the mountains and the lake.

Since power lines follow a straight line, some of the tracks under them are quite steep.

When we reached Adsetts Road we followed it down to the water.  This road was once the main road to Dayboro before rising water from the new dam covered portions of it.  These days it is only used by the local boat club, who use it as a boat ramp to enter the lake where the road disappears under the water.

The boat ramp had disappeared.  Falling water levels had exposed the old road.  We were able to ride straight across.

Adsetts Road runs into the remains of Rush Creek Road.

This paved section has been unused for almost fifty years.  Grass and trees are slowly reclaiming it.

We followed what remained of the old tarmac, which still offers a relatively smooth ride through the scrub.

Shells and driftwood littered the road surface, evidence that this section of road is often submerged.

In the past, we’ve had to wade across this old bridge in thigh-deep water.  Today we were lucky enough to be able to ride across.

There are some gaps in the road surface. Russell showed us how to jump them 🙂

Russel got a flat tyre, almost exactly at the same place as he did the last time we were here.

While he fixed it, we relaxed and enjoyed the view.

With a fresh new tube in Russel’s bike, we continued our trek up the remains of Rush Creek Road. It grew smoother and cleaner as we neared civilisation.

A flock of large Black Cockatoos glided overhead, barely flapping their huge wings.  Their song is much sweeter than their raucous sulphur-crested cousins.

After briefly rolling along Strongs Road at Rush Creek, we followed another grassy fire trail over a hill.

The upper North Pine River enters Lake Samsonvale near here.  We rolled down the hill towards the river, hoping we’d be able to cross.

The water was barely flowing.  We didn’t have any difficulty hopping over the stones and up the other side.

The grassy track undulated over several hills.  We slowly pushed upwards, then enjoyed a brief roll down the other side.

At one or two places we had to bash through short sections of tall grass and Lantana.

There is an extensive network of well-maintained trails on the western side of the lake.  We followed them west towards Kobble Creek.

Calum got a flat tyre.  It’s huge and would have taken ages to pump up.  Luckily, he was able to quickly re-inflate it with a couple of large (25g) CO2 canisters.

Kobble Creek was bone dry.  We rode along the creek bed for a few hundred metres.

The creek bed was filled with “baby head” sized rocks.  It was a jarring ride.  Calum soaked up the bumps on his fat tyres, but in the end, I decided to be kind to my tyre-rims and push the bike the last hundred metres.

“A long time ago, we used to jump off this bank into deep water”, Russel said.

There was no water here today, so we had to climb up a three or four-metre embankment to get out of the creek bed.

An old railway line used to pass through here, ferrying people between Samford and Dayboro.

The railway was pulled up a long time ago, but the straight, flat corridor is still there.  We followed it south towards Samsonvale.

The day grew hot.  We had already been riding about 6 hours and were only half-way through our course.

We had planned to bash through the grass here and cross the lake again near the old town of Samsonvale.

But we were getting low on water and energy and needed to alter our plans.

The Mount Samson school was only a few kilometres from the old railway line.

We took a quick shortcut along Mount Samson Road and topped up our water from one of the drinking taps at the school

The old buildings provided cool shade in which we could rest.

At this point, we could have disappeared back into the bush, but we decided to take the easy way out and ride back to the start along Winn Road.

Mountain Bikers don’t enjoy hot busy roads, but in this case, it was the smart choice…

Calum’s place was only half an hour up the road – and he had a wonderful shaded swimming hole hidden among the trees.  It was a temptation we couldn’t resist.

The water was deliciously cool.

It revived our spirits immediately.

Calum had even built a small sandy beach.  What a delightful spot!


Total distance: 53.69 km
Max elevation: 145 m
Min elevation: 19 m
Total climbing: 1522 m
Total descent: -1422 m
Average speed: 15.23 km/h
Total Time: 07:44:34
More data

We cut the ride short at Calum’s place and got a lift back to the cars.

All up we rode about 54km in just under eight hours.  During that time we climbed about 1,000 metres and I burned about 3,100 kcal.

Calum did the whole loop – about 64km.  He’s a strong rider.

On a hot day, and with few spots having clean water available, this is a tough ride.  I’ll rate it 9.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.  It’s not technically difficult.  None of the hills are particularly hard.  But a long day takes its toll in rough terrain with little water.

I’ll rate it 9 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

We should do this ride again – but it would be more enjoyable and easier in the cooler months.

Thanks, Calum, Russel S,  Russel W and Ron for a fun day out.  Thanks also, Calum, for your kind hospitality when we needed to cool down.

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