Distance: 3.9 km
Average Gradient: 9%
Elevation gained: 350 meters
Surface: Hard packed gravel with some loose gravel
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Bowden Spur Road is a steep, unsealed climb which takes you up the south side of the Kinglake Ranges. This climb will take you through the Kinglake National Park and is quite brutal at times. This is a climb which would suit those that love gravel grinding, or love taking on the challenge of a very difficult climb. It also offers some of the best views you are likely to see by bike in the northern suburbs, and on a clear day you can see the Melbourne CBD.
Start of the climb: From Strathewen turn onto Bowden Spur Road. You have the option of either taking Bowden Spur or School Ridge Road to get to the climb.
There is quite a bit of very steep, undulating climbing to get to the base of the official start of the climb. Don’t be surprised if your legs are feeling it before you even get onto the climb. The surface is quite hard-packed, with some loose gravel which is easy enough to ride around without too much difficulty.
You’ll come to a cyclist sign to the left hand side of the road. This is the official start to the climb, which you’ll probably figure it out for yourself as the road goes vertical from here.
This area was cleared in order to build power lines, to prevent the risks of fires. These power lines follow the road. This has left the road exposed to the elements.
Please do not attempt this climb in extreme weather such as heavy winds & on hot days.
The power lines join onto the power station at the top of this climb.
The climb starts with a long, straight steep section of road. The area around it has been cleared to reduce the risk of fires and is quite exposed. It can be quite a daunting climb given how stark the terrain is.
At the top of the first straight there is right-handed switchback before the road flattens out and there are some impressive views of the valley bellow (minus the power lines of course). The gradient will get steep again and this is a climb that will be a grind. The road isn’t always maintained and expect the road to get rougher the higher you climb. With stretches of corrugated surface.
There are two very impressive and incredibly steep switchbacks. These offer some impressive views which you may need to distract yourself from the grind.
After the final switchback you will round a bend to the left before the road straightens on for the remainder of the climb. You will see a mobile phone tower to the right hand side of the road which you can use as a beacon to signify the end of the climb.
This ends at the intersection at Whittlesea-Kinglake Road.
At a glance
- Two very impressive hairpins
- Narrow road
- Spectacular views
- Notable for power lines that cross the road on their way up the hill
- Keep an eye out for wildlife
- You can see the Melbourne CBD on a clear day
- The road surface becomes rougher the higher you climb with long corrugated sections
- Tire selection is essential, and you will want to run a minimum of 28mm tires
- You will want to be running a compact
- Toilets available in the Mountain bike carpark at the top of the climb
How to get there:
Bowden Spur Road is located in the town of Strathewen which is located 50 km to the north east of Melbourne.
At the top of the climb is the Bowden Spur Mountain Bike park which was opened in 2012. It has a number of downhill mountain bike trails which offer a 233 metre descent. These trail have dirt jumps, rock gardens, bomb holes, flowing earth berms and has large sections of off-camber riding. . The tracks are extremely difficult and recommended for experts only.
There is a designated parking area for these tracks approximately 200 meters from the intersection of the Kinglake-Whittlesea Road.
During fire season
Bowden Spur Road is 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 www.cfa.vic.gov.au or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.