The dry zone for junkies

As mountain biking or cross-country cycling gains momentum in Sri Lanka, the search for challenging trails usng the 1:50,000 survery maps has become an enthusiast's pursuit

Sri Lanka’s topography offers excellent mountain biking terrain. Many mountain biking enthusiasts ride off-road or amateur trails around Colombo’s sprawling suburbs on weekends. For those looking to take it to the next level, testing the limits of their endurance and exploring the wilder side of Sri Lanka, the island’s dry zone scrub jungles are ideal. Copal Amba’s country head and avid cyclist Chanakya Dissanayake described to Echelon his three favourite trails, which he says offer an adrenaline fix of the higher kind.

Way to KanthaleWay to Kanthale
Alut Oya – Diyathithewa – Aanolondawa – Kanthale
A 55km ride through one of the largest jungle areas in the Anuradhapura/Trincomalee border

The trail starts from the nondescript Alut Oya junction on the Habarana-Trinco main road. It straddles the Kanthale and Aanolondawa Forest Reserve, and the Hurulu Forest Reserve for the first 20km. After passing the paddy-cultivating villages of Dematawewa and Diyathithewa, a turn into a jungle road leads to the abandoned village of Serunewa. After reaching the Aanolondawa tank, located near the abandoned Serunewa village, the trail leads through a tough jungle path to reach the catchment area of the picturesque Kanthale tank. Cyclists can reach Kanthale town after locating the trail that connects the northern end of the tank bed with the main road. This is an interesting trail with many water crossings and diverse cross-country terrain.

 

Trail Bordering YalaTrail Bordering Yala
Maligawila – Hulandawa – Kebiliththa – Kotiyagala
A 70km trail through the South-Eastern jungles bordering the Yala and Kumana national parks

This trail is mainly made up of an old jungle track tracing the northern bank of the Kumbukkan River, which was used by villagers to visit the ancient Kebiliththa shrine, considered by devotees as the original residing place of Kataragama deviyo. The trail starts soon after passing the Maligawila ancient temple and goes through cultivations until it meets the Hulandawa Oya, a feeder tributary of the Kumbukkan Oya. The trail is surrounded by thick jungle canopy for most of its 70km length, with plenty of water crossings. Cyclists can take a break near the Kumbukkan Oya at the Kebiliththa shrine camping grounds, where a cool river bath is possible. After passing Kebiliththa, the trail continues to the old Kotiyagala village in the general area of Siyamblanduwa town. The trail can get extremely muddy during the monsoon season, when high water levels make some of the river crossings impossible.

Devil’s Staircase

Devil’s Staircase
Kalupahana – Ohiya
An approximately 22km trail, with possible extensions like a descent to the Idalgashinna railway station via a challenging footpath; it can also be combined with the lesser-known Beragala-Kuda Oya trail

Devil’s Staircase is a well-know trail among Sri Lanka’s hiking and off-road communities, with many using it as an off-road trail to reach Horton Plains National Park. With steep climbs and sharp descents spread over a picture postcard-like mountain landscape, this trail will test the limits of endurance. This is also a trail that can be done mainly as an endurance climb (starting from Kalupahana) or as a long descent (from Ohiya).

 

Which trail are you conquering next?
  • 50%
    1 Votes
    Way to Kanthale
  • 50%
    1 Votes
    Trail Bordering Yala
  • 0%
    0 Votes
    Devil’s Staircase

    Total Voters: 2

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