Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Bowden Spur Downhill

A dedicated downhill course near Bowden Spur Road featuring fast singletrack and drop offs twisting through a tree line. Spectacular views and good access for support vehicle transport back to the top of the course. An unusual feature of this downhill is that most of the big jumps have bypass routes, so even if you are not an expert DH rider you can still enjoy slamming the berms on your way down the spur as long as you ride within your ability and have protective clothing.

Like many good downhills, this one was started by mountain bike riders who remain nameless, and continuously modified and extended by more nameless riders over the years. Not only did the track builders remain anonymous but they did most of their work in the midst of a windbreak of pine trees that miraculously escaped the 2009 bushfires and even now you can’t spot their handiwork from Bowden Spur Road. It starts about 500m down this ‘four-wheel drives recommended’ powerline access route from Whittlesea-Kinglake Road. The entry to the downhill course is on your left, opposite the Kinglake National Park sign. You’re forgiven if you don’t spot it.

About three quarters of the way down, the course comes out of the trees and crosses the powerline fire trail to a short section of winding singletrack near the road. This was becoming badly rutted last time we were there and many riders seem to be favouring the direct route down the fire trail, complete with erosion jumps, before reaching Bowden Spur Road. This stretch is rocky clay but there is usually a clear line.

Shuttle vehicles can turn around a little further down the road, where there is an access track to the next section of the power transmission easement.

Riders without the luxury of a shuttle either ride back up all the way or cut short their downhill run where the track breaks out of the trees and push back up to the top. As we prepare to go to print there are plans to upgrade the course and give it official sanction.

Access

The course starts near the top of Bowden Spur Road near Kinglake, about 45km north east of Melbourne.Follow Whittlesea-Kinglake Road (C724) to Kinglake Central from Whittlesea-Yea Road (C725) and look for Bowden Spur Road on your right (Melway 380 B4) near the power transmission towers. Two-wheel drive vehicles can use Bowden Spur Road but caution is required.

Drive 500m along Bowden Spur and look for the downhill course on the left hand side of the road in the trees opposite the Kinglake National Park sign.

Food and Drink

No facilities near the course. Café and milk bar at Kinglake East about 3.5km along Whittlesea-Kinglake Road towards Yarra Glen. Bring plenty of water, especially if you are riding back up the spur rather than using a shuttle vehicle.

Side Trip

Vegetation on Bowden Spur was destroyed in the 2009 fires but the transmission line survived. A little way east of Bowden Spur, Bald Spur Road was one of the worst hit areas during Black Saturday. Sixteen people died and only one house was left standing that night, but it is interesting to visit now and see the area’s rebirth.

 

Ride Log

Like all good downhill courses you will have no spare time to avert your eyes from the track to read directions. Just follow your nose from the start point.

Trail map

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1.57 km / 0.975 mi

Total Distance

62 m / 205 ft

Total Ascent

220 m / 722 ft

Total Descent

602 m / 1,973 ft

Highest Point

Ride type:
Sightseeing
Mountain biking
Road riding
Commuter
Kid friendly
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Advanced (Black)
Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
Fitness Level: Ultra Fit
MTB Segment: downhill
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: 1.6
Elevation Gain: 239
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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