One Tree Hill (Ferny Creek)

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Distance: 2.1 km
Average Gradient: 7%
Elevation gain: 159 meters
Traffic: Light traffic
Surface: Sealed
Category: 4

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

One Tree Hill is one of the most popular areas in the Dandenong’s.  Which is visited by a large number of exercise junkies who flock in their thousands to visit the famous 1,000 steps walk in Ferntree Gully. It is also a popular climb for cyclists.  Who use it as an extension for a number of the Dandenong’s most challenging climbs.  Which include the Devil’s Elbow (part of the Crucifix), the Satan’s Elbow & the Devil’s Advocate climbs.

The name “One Tree Hill” is a bit deceptive.

You’ll notice straight away that there are in fact thousands of trees in the area.  Back in the 1860’s the forest was cleared except one solitary tree which was left as a survey marker.  This is where One Tree got its name.  The forest has since regrown and One Tree Hill is now part of the Ferntree Gully National Park.  Occupying almost 600 hactares of land.  The area experiences high rainfall.  Due to its geography its forests and fern gullies remains lush all year round.  Making it one of the most scenic roads to ride in the Dandenong’s.

The climb commences at the intersection of the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road & Churchill Drive

Churchill Drive is one of the most pleasant climbs to do in the Dandenong’s. Although its gradient is quite steep.  It has one of the best road surfaces in the Dandy’s and offers one of the most consistent gradients.  Which makes it easy to find a good rhythm on.

The climb gently winds its way up to One Tree Hill through some stunning fern gullies.

Turn right at One Tree Hill Road

There is a short descent before you turn right onto One Tree Hill Road.  Here you will experience well over a kilometer of undulating climbing before the road descends towards the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.


One Tree Hill once supplied navigational assistance to boats sailing up to Port Philip Bay. The trees around One Tree Hill were cut down to make it possible to see Western Port and Port Phillip bays from its peak.

A lookout tower was erected, but was left to go to ruin and was shut down after urgent repairs were needed. No funding was made available to make the necessary repairs and the tower went to waste.  Park management decided to stop trimming trees in front of the tower.  This significantly reduced the views of Melbourne and the bays and the tower was dismantled after a couple of people climbed the tower and an incident occurred.

Original tower lookout @ One Tree Hill


One Tree Hill’s most popular attraction is the Kokoda Track memorial walk “aka the 1,000 steps. It’s always a running joke that there aren’t actually 1,000 steps.  If you want to know the exact number you’ll have to go and count them yourself.  Plaques along the trail depict the lives of the soldiers who fought and died on the real Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea.  During World War II and the area has historical significance.

The walk was created in the early 1900’s and goes from Ferntree Gully to the top of One Tree Hill. The path was originally made from the trunks of tree ferns laid along the wetter areas of the track.  In order to make the climb a little easier.  Concrete steps were installed in 1950.  The walk is incredibly challenging and continues to get steeper and steeper as you get to the top .  It is one of the most popular walking tracks around Melbourne and isn’t for the feint hearted.  Averaging a whopping 25% in gradient.  The 1,000 steps continue all the way to the top of One Tree Hill.

Public transport

Train services available to the Dandenong Ranges, either using the Belgrave or Lilydale lines. Click here for Public Transport Victoria for train timetable.

During fire season

The Dandenong Ranges are in a fire district. Anyone entering parks and forests during the bushfire season needs to stay aware of forecast weather conditions. Check the Fire Danger Rating and for days of Total Fire Ban at or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

How to get there

Churchill Drive is located approximately 41 km east of Melbourne, and accessed from Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.

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