After a 2 week break from cycling, I was keen to ride again this weekend. Just then on Saturday, I was excited to read a post on FB by fellow cyclists, Kaushik Panchal and Darren Pinto and see their photographs of a new off-road cycling route.
This seemed like a perfect thing to do for the Sunday!
The trail is in the forests to the north of the Vasai creek on the right of the Mumbai – Ahmedabad highway NH8. If you are riding from Mumbai, it is easy to miss it. There is no break in the divider to cross over.
There is a small mud road that takes off into the forest just after the bridge on the right. This is looking back towards Mumbai. You can see the bridge over Vasai creek just ahead
One is supposed to buy a pass to enter the trail – costing Rs. 33/- per head. However, when I reached there around 6:30 am, there was nobody. So I just headed into the trail. As soon as the trail starts, there is a steep climb up the first hill, and then the trail heads down towards the water front.
The trail is well maintained, with a reasonably good surface – not too rocky, but there is loose mud and stones on the steep slopes. All along the trail, there are sign boards that identify the trees and birds in the forest. Someone has taken a keen interest in this for sure.
The downhill ride was great – for the road was wide enough to allow turns at high speed. At the bottom of the hill there is a small clearing where there are a few houses that look like they are built for the forest officials. A small diversion from the trail leads to the waterfront.
Dawn at the water front. The calm water of the creek and the hills behind makes this a great place – could just sit here all day and read a book.
I met two other visitors here, who had come to photograph birds with heavy duty photographic equipment. They were regular visitors and said that the forest official was also an avid wild life photographer and took personal interest in maintaining the trail. That explained the well maintained state of the trail!
After this point, the trail follows the water front for a while before turning back into the forest over small undulating slopes – a great place for mountain biking!
At a few points along the trail, it passes through streams that carry water from the hills down into the creek below. They are mostly dry in summer, but come monsoon they should be brimming with water
The trail ends in a fairly large clearing in the forest. On one end of the clearing, there is a small house built of straw and mud – a typical village home. The door was locked when I reached there. But I fell in love with the place – could imagine shifting out from the crowded city into a home like this
Next to the hut, there was a cute swing made from a log of wood tied to the branches of a mango tree
Though the clearing was quite big, fortunately there were no fields. But there was one small haystack that indicated the presence of some domesticated animals.
Next to the door of the straw hut in the forest, the omnipresent Gods brought some color to the otherwise earthy tones of the straw hut
There was a huge mango tree on one side of the clearing in the forest. There was a bunch of monkeys feasting on the mangoes and I managed to harvest a few mangoes for myself
Along one of the streams in the forest that lies almost at sea level, there grew mangroves with their distinctive roots
A small fledgling tree that is growing fresh new pink leaves that shine in the sunlight
A wild flower grew on the forest floor next to a large tree. Its distinct colors could be seen from a distance, contrasting against the dull earthy colors of the forest floor
At one point, there is a thicket of bamboo that has grown wild in the forest. Its bright green colors seem flourescent in the sunlight
An off road mountain biking trip cannot be considered complete without a bit of blood. Thanks to the loose mud and stones on a steep climb, I managed to get this trophy
That trophy was while climbing the hill on the way back. But the following downhill slope back to the start of the trail was one exciting ride!
All in all, a new trail that is a must for any mountain biking fan. And best of all, it is quite close to Mumbai. The trail itself is quite short – probably around 3 – 5 kilometers. I started from Andheri East at 5:30 pm and took about an hour to reach the trail. I spent about 2 hours on the trail, and headed back at 8:30 am to reach back home by 9:30 am. What a great way to start a Sunday…!