Smiths Gully Saunter

Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Smiths Gully Saunter

This ride featured in my first mountain bike book in 1998 and has proved to be hugely popular. It is based around water catchment areas not far from Melbourne’s north-east suburban fringe and has a surprising amount of singletrack, some fine views and quite varied terrain. At times there is a sense of isolation and there is a good chance of encountering kangaroos.

Smiths Gully has a strong gold mining history and there are many old graves from this era in Queenstown Cemetery, which you pass soon after the start of the ride. Further on you pass close by an old goldmine that was recently reopened. There are many places throughout the ride where the remains of old gold diggings can be seen.

Happy Valley Track is a very fast descent and you can see well ahead along most of it which is just as well because you will need to be aware of meeting kangaroos, particularly if riding early in the morning or close to dusk, and this really can happen. I was once riding with a few others down a fast ridgeline when a large roo collided with the rider in front of me. It was quite a sight to see the rider, the bike and the kangaroo flying off into the scrub but it is better to avoid this experience if you can!

There is one short section of sealed road and if you want to extend your ride by a few kilometres, you can turn left at 9.2km to visit Sugarloaf Reservoir. This involves quite a steep climb on sealed road, or alternatively you may want to drive in after your ride. It is a very beautiful sight with a large body of water nestled into the surrounding hills.

As you return to the dirt trail at around 10km, keep an eye open for new singletrack options to explore. Then, as you continue uphill you pass close to the boundary of the Rob Roy motor vehicle hill climb. This is one of only a couple of specially designed bitumen surfaced hill climbs in the world and was constructed in 1939. Historic and vintage cars have regular events at the site.

This ride has gradually evolved since I first researched it in 1998 and you may find new sections of singletrack to explore. On most weekends you will come across other riders at the general store who will share information about recent trail developments.

Access

Smiths Gully is near St Andrews, approx 35km to northeast of Melbourne. Melway 264 E3. Start at Smiths Gully store. You can also get there by the Hurstbridge train. Take Cherry Tree Road to Kangaroo Ground-St Andrews Road. Turn left to Smiths Gully store.

Food and Drink

Smiths Gully general store has all you need and a popular haunt for the many cyclists who enjoy this ride.

Side Trip

Sugarloaf Reservoir (Melway map 273) is close by. It is set in a beautiful location with barbecue and picnic facilities. Sailing small yachts is a popular activity and large mobs of kangaroos roam the area. St Andrews market is an eclectic mix of local produce and alternative lifestyle people. It runs every Saturday near the main road through town.

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Reset tripmeter at Smiths Gully general store. Turn right down Clintons Rd just past the store and then turn left almost immediately into Smiths Gully Rd for a nice descent. Keep to the left as there can be an occasional car or two.
  • 1.0 Queenstown cemetery on your right, ignore side roads.
  • 2.6 Turn right at One Tree Hill Rd. 4.9 Cross Mine Shaft Rd and go around the gate opposite on Happy Valley Track.
  • 5.4 Gold mine to your right, this was recently recommissioned. Keep going straight ahead on the main track and ignore all side tracks.
  • 8.3 Go through the gate and cross the ford. Take care and turn right onto the sealed road.
  • 9.2 Side trip option to Sugarloaf Reservoir.
  • 9.4 Turn right at Clintons Rd.
  • 9.8 Turn right at the green gate and head uphill. Watch for other singletracks to explore.
  • 11.6 Keep going straight ahead as you pass Rob Roy hill climb on your left.
  • 11.8 Continue around the gate.
  • 12.7 Turn right at the end of Rob Roy Rd onto Clintons Rd, passing Spanish Gully Rd on your right. Watch for more singletrack options.
  • 13.8 Turn left at Broad Acres Rd. Be prepared to stop at the bottom of the hill.
  • 16.1 Turn right on the singletrack just before the concrete bridge. This can get boggy in the wet and sometimes the blackberries can threaten.
  • 16.9 Singletrack joins the road, keep going straight ahead.
  • 17.3 Turn left at the Y-intersection.
  • 17.7 Turn left into Boomers Reserve.
  • 17.9 Turn right. 18.2 Ride up short steep hill or take singletrack to the left then continue right along roadside singletrack.
  • 19.5 Finish.
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    18.818 km / 11.693 mi

    Total Distance

    478 m / 1,569 ft

    Total Ascent

    316 m / 1,035 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
    Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    MTB Segment: flow
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance (Kms): 19.1
    Elevation Gain (metres): 497
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire facilities
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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