West of the M7 Cycleway are two good riding areas. Emu Plains and the Sydney Regatta centre gives you lots of easy riding (25km). Further north of this is the Windsor area and the Hills District. Once you leave Windsor you can ride back to the North West of Sydney and the M7 Cycleway.
Emu Plains and Sydney Regatta Centre
Just after 7am I arrived at Bondi Junction station and headed for Central Station. After I realised that Emu Plains was in the country trains area, I just made the train. Then I tried to get my bike on board and the inner doors were narrower than my handlebars. A guard pointed to pictures of cycles on some carriages and I found I could hang my bike in a narrow space. The old train then flew to Emu Plains in 45 minutes. At one stage a whole school of kids boarded the train and surrounded my bike making me anxious that it would still be there when they all got off at Penrith. It was.
I got off at Emu Plains and I headed for the dreaded Victoria Bridge that crosses the Nepean. But as of the end of October, 2018, a new bridge is OPEN and its called Yandhai Nepean Crossing. Its a 200m suspension bridge that spans the Nepean. It will only take bikes, walkers and probably a lot of prams. After crossing the new bridge, you can ride to the Sydney International Regatta Centre, home of the Olympics Rowing and other paddling sports.
Sydney Regatta Centre and two cormorants drying themselves in the sun
The trail north starts with a mad dash across the busy road and then you go down to a decent trail that heads north along the river. First picture stop is the Penrith Weir which is nice. Then the trail goes up and down a bit and crosses some metal bridges that I found slippery on a sunny day. Heed the warnings, go slow. I met a nice Canadian chap who was riding a huge Giant eBike and we rode together to the Regatta Centre. After a couple of kms on the river, you head through some factories and then down Old Castlereagh Rd to the entrance to the Regatta Centre that is inconveniently situated at the far end of the lakes.
Then you can ride around the lakes which is a very pleasant 5km. Walkers go on a different track and the bike track is wide. It looks a good place to take your kids for a ride but they can skip the factory section from the river track. Got some great shots of the lakes, the lane ropes and a few great birds. It wasn’t busy at all and no cafes open on a sunny Tuesday in April.
I returned to the main gates at the western end of the lake and headed up the road again. Very few cars but they really need a pedestrian gate to the lakes at the eastern end. I was soon back on the river taking it easy and taking lots of shots of the almost completed suspension bridge. I passed under the Victoria bridge and got to some steps which I duly pushed my bike up. The trail on the eastern side then goes past some big houses on a very quiet road. There was lots of walkers around. A shared path starts up and you ride all the way to the Western Motorway bridge where you will find a Coffee Club that is huge near the bridge. The Western Motorway is separated path and I think you need to go on the far side if going west.
The last bit of the path was the river on the west side. There is a really good concrete separated shared path that is really popular, everyone was on that. I darted down the hill and followed the part bitumen, part gravel path along the river side all the way to Emu Plains. I really enjoyed this on my MTB as it was in the shade and not busy. I suspect most people stuck to the top track as they were doing a 8km walk and would be slowed down by the gravel path.
I returned to Emu Plains station, a really enjoyable 25km flat ride completed.
Now for the train back. Here is the low down. Most trains are going to be full at anytime of the day and Emu Plains is the last stop on the Blue Mountains line. So I recommend getting on the first train that you can fit your bike on and worry about the city leg from Blacktown. This may be slower but the express train has odd shaped carriages. I ran from one end of the express train to the other trying to find a place I could push my bike into the train. Guard was not amused. I stood all the way home in some odd area and listened to some girl singing tuneless Karaoke. Another alternative is finding your way to Penrith Station which has normal carriages.
This is the new bridge as photographed on opening day by Tamara.
On our last visit to this area, we stopped the car in Glenmore Park at Glenmore Loch. We didn’t see any Loch Ness monsters but I did see a small fish jump. We headed down to the Nepean River on some bike paths and Factory Rd. It added another 6km to our trip which made it a round 30km. There are quite a number of bike paths in the Glenmore Park area. We only used the one that went to the airconditioned shops. It was so hot. I would rather ride around the lake at the Regatta Centre but this area is fine for a bit of a suburb explore. Find the purple path here >>
I read a few posts about Windsor and the farm lands nearby and then when I realised it was going to be a warm winters day, I loaded The Big Easy (the eBike) into the back of the Honda Odessy and set off from the eastern suburbs on the ring road that runs around Sydney. 15$ in tolls and 45 minutes later I was at Wright Reserve, Quakers Hill. This is a good spot for going on rides through the Western Parklands and the 40km long M7 cycleway. It is also handy to the Quakers Hill station which has lifts and is handy for a train to Richmond and Windsor and also to Parramatta and Seven Hills for ride there and train back options. So I started this ride by heading to Quakers Hill station and as I arrived at the station, the train was pulling in and I clearly was going to miss it. I went over the bridge to the other side and bought some sweets at the Indian Restaurant. If you have never had Indian sweets, give them a go. 10 minutes later I caught the train to Windsor. It was a nice comfortable 20 minute ride and the train was empty which is good cause The Big Easy is quite big. What follows are my notes on the trail
This is a ride for the people who like roads because the roads are almost car free. The surface is at times bumpy bitumen but there are very few pot holes. It is bumpiest nearer Windsor heading north on Cornwalls Rd. Once it heads west it gets better. You are doing this for the country atmosphere and this you will get in spades and becuase you will not see many cars (I saw 5 over 15 km).
The path between Richmond and Windsor
The path between Richmond and Windsor is a really good separated path that winds rather than goes in a straight line. Then it stops 3km from Windsor and you have to ride on a reasonable verge on the edge of a busy road. So disappointing, you may even like to just ride the roads around the river and not do a loop.
Distance 30km and pretty flat and lots do it on road bikes.
Windsor to Schofields Rd is a very good separated path on the edge of a busy 4 lane road. I really liked the first 4 km of this trail and you could certainly call it a day at this stage and turn back. From then on it starts to feel like you are on the edge of a busy road even though you are on a separated pathway, you just end up grinding out the kms.
The Ponds and Quakers Hill
The section through The Ponds is really good for an urban area and the final little run back to the station was a bit confusing until I worked out I could cross the busy road near the high school.
Distance: 45.9 km for Windsor loop back to Quakers Hill
What I Missed Out On
Both the townships of Windsor and Richmond are probably worth an explore. I had no time. You could just do the Richmond Windsor loop and explore the towns and be satisified with just under 30km of riding. Another way to do the big loop is to keep going down Windsor Rd which turns into Old Windsor Rd and then ride back along the M7 Cycleway to the Quakers hill turnoff. Probably 48km.