Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, The Red Hot Rim Run

We have rides checked before publishing. Our reviewer said to his wife after this ride “there is nothing we could do together tonight that would come close to the high I got today.” The real buzz happens on the 984m descent over 12km on a firm wide non-technical track. There are many other contrasting features including a technical singletrack section through magnificent mountain ash forest, stunning scenery and a long mountain climb that gives a real sense of achievement.

Mount St Leonard is a prominent peak in the ranges 65km north east of Melbourne, towering above the town of Healesville where we start the ride. For some years it was the location for mountain running championships and when I ran a mountain bike company we used the same trail for non-competitive downhill rides. The event was called ‘red hot rim run’ because in the days before disc brakes wheel rims would become too hot to touch after the descent. Because of the popularity of the event I have been often asked to include the course in this book and have planned it so the ride to the summit follows the easiest route. If you want a tough uphill ride start at Donnelly’s Weir and ride to the summit. Before going to France to compete in road events through the Alps I would do a couple of laps this way in a day.

The first part of the ride uses a bike path that passes the RACV country club and the quaint horse racing course. After that you get a good view of the mountain summit as you commence a gradual climb past rural properties. Further on the dirt road becomes quite narrow then you turn onto quite a rough dirt track to the potato research facility. Take care here in the wet as this first part of track gets very slippery.

A gravel road then takes you to the next and steeper part of the climb on Monda Track. Keep a lookout for the track ‘11’ sign further on as this is where you turn on your descent. It is very easy to overshoot if you have some speed. At the top of the climb you pass the entrance to a short track up to the lookout that is also on your return trip.

The ride changes dramatically as you turn onto Tanglefoot Track. There is quite a lot of tree litter and some slippery sections. It is a good practice to spend a few minutes clearing some of the obstacles to help improve the trail for others. You brush past some of the tallest mountain ash trees in Victoria which are truly magnificent. A couple of interpretive signs give interesting facts about the forest and if you want a break there is a seat which is an opportunity to have something to eat and drink as you contemplate the beauty around you.

The return trip begins as you turn onto Quarry Road which is more open than Tanglefoot Track and climbs gently back up to Monda Track and a little more climbing to the entrance to the lookout track. This is a 1.4km climb and well worth the effort as the views from the top are fantastic.

The first part of the downhill ride is on Monda Track and it is much steeper and faster than it looks. Keep good control as you can meet traffic coming the other way. After turning onto track 11 the trail is closed to vehicles and you have very good vision ahead but please be prepared for the possibility of meeting a walker or horse. If you have the skills you can hit very high speeds. There is one small climb on the downhill which challenges the legs after the long descent. Donnelly’s Weir is a very beautiful spot that is now almost fully recovered after some damage in the 2009 fires. It is a great spot to return to for a picnic. After the weir there is one more adventure before heading back to town, crossing the ford! Generally the water level is not deep and it is easy to ride straight through.

Access

Take Maroondah Highway to Healesville, around 55km northeast of Melbourne. The start is Melway 270 C12.

Food and Drink

Plenty of options close to the start in Healesville. Drinking water, toilets and picnic facilities available at Donnelly’s Weir on the return ride.

Side Trip

It is well worth staying the weekend and visiting Healesville sanctuary, the many high quality wineries nearby, or sight-seeing many local attractions such as Maroondah reservoir or the beautiful Donnelly’s Weir featured in this ride.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at the intersection of Green St and River St, Healesville. Take the bike path west, passing the bowling club. Stay on the bike path as it passes RACV country club.
  • 2.7 At the end of the bike path, continue in the same direction on the road or on the dirt track on left hand side of the road.
  • 3.6 Cross the aqueduct and continue on the right hand side of the road.
  • 4.1 Turn right up Lowes Rd and continue up for 9km ignoring all side roads. Mt St Leonard tower, your eventual destination can be seen high above you as you turn onto Lowes Rd.
  • 13.1 Turn left downhill at the green gate. This is Spud Track and takes you past the potato research facility.
  • 14.5 At the end of Spud Track turn right onto the gravel road.
  • 15.3 Veer left.
  • 16.2 Cross Myer Creek Rd and continue climbing up Monda Track.
  • 19.7 Keep going straight ahead.
  • 20.2 Pass Quarry Rd and prepare to turn at the next track.
  • 20.4 Turn left at Tanglefoot Track. Give way to any walkers.
  • 24.1 Turn left at the sign.
  • 24.4 Turn left onto Quarry Rd.
  • 27.6 Turn right on Monda Track.
  • 28.2 Turn left and cross over the green gate and ride uphill to the lookout.
  • 29.6 Lookout – enjoy the view! Return down the access road the way you came, 200m on your right you pass a sign to Donnellys Weir. This track is not recommended due to many rocks and fallen trees.
  • 31.0 Cross over the green gate and turn left on Monda track. Please take care on the fast descent as logging trucks and other traffic use this section of fire trail; you can also miss the next turn if travelling too fast.
  • 33.3 Turn left at the track 11 sign. This next section of track is closed to vehicle traffic.
  • 34.7 Cross the gate and follow the track downhill. Ignore all side tracks. The descent is very fast, with good sight lines but needs respect. Be prepared to stop if horses are on the track.
  • 40.4 Keep left.
  • 41.2 Turn left to visit the beautiful Donnelly’s Weir picnic grounds.
  • 41.4 Exit the weir through the timber gate near the car park and keep going downhill.
  • 41.8 Keep right, then cross the park entrance gate and cross the ford and keep going.
  • 43.0 Turn right at the intersection; this is Donnelly’s Weir Rd.
  • 43.8 At the sealed road intersection turn left onto St Leonards Rd.
  • 45.0 Turn right onto Walkers Ln.
  • 45.4 Turn left onto Wilson St then the next right.
  • 46.0 Finish.
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    Back

    42.798 km / 26.593 mi

    Total Distance

    1,627 m / 5,337 ft

    Total Ascent

    1,584 m / 5,196 ft

    Total Descent

    1,026 m / 3,367 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Advanced (Black)
    Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
    Fitness Level: Varied
    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: 46.0
    Elevation Gain: 1584
    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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