The hill roads around Hurstbridge are popular with those who keen to develop their climbing skills. The network of mainly bitumen roads appeals to road riders and they are out in force on weekends, but the dirt roads around Sugarloaf Reservoir also give the wider tired brethren a chance to flex their muscles. There are several small towns in which you could base yourself to explore this area, but Hurstbridge is accessible by train and is convenient by car.
Part of this ride is out and back on the unsealed Ridge Road, which you climb on the way and descend on the way back. The destination is the Sugarloaf Reservoir, which is a great spot to break the ride. The reservoir was completed in 1981 and includes a water treatment plant and pumping station. It acts mostly as a transfer reservoir and water is pumped from the Yarra River and also transferred from Maroondah Reservoir.
There are picnic areas at each side of the dam, both reached easily from the main access road, Simpson Road. Both are equipped with shelters and toilets and Ridge picnic area, near the main entrance, has wood and gas barbecues.
The road is winding and the surface can be loose, so take care. For this reason, it’s probably best ridden on a mountain bike or touring bike.
The rides start at Hurstbridge station. If driving, the Greensborough Bypass will lead to Diamond Creek Road and then follow the signs to Hurstbridge. Sugarloaf Reservoir Park gates open daily at 8.30 am but closing times vary (contact Parks Victoria on 13 1963).
Food and drink
In Hurstbridge, there are several places to enjoy refreshments. Outrageous Cakes is a good value for a meal or coffee and cake. On Ride Two, you’ll find several choices at St Andrews.
If you want a break from riding, there are several walking trails. If you decide to walk the entire 18km Sugarloaf walking track, you’ll need to obtain permission from Parks Victoria prior to setting out. After leaving the reservoir, you retrace your route along Ridge Road to Eltham-Yarra Glen Road. Here you’ll find Watsons Creek Antiques & Café which may well be worth stopping at since the next five kilometers is uphill. After that you’ll enjoy the downhill along Flat Rock Road back to Hurstbridge, but don’t let rip too fast as there are blind, tight corners and plenty of driveways.
This loop is typical of many road rides you can do in the area. Once again, if you don’t like hills this isn’t the area for you. The climb up Flat Rock Road is a lung buster and this is the hardest bit. From there you still have some climbing over the undulating roads but the trend is downhill as you loop around through Panton Hill and St Andrews back to Hurstbridge.
There are no particular scenic highlights, but it runs through attractive wooded, hill country and through the two small hamlets where you can take a break. On a Saturday morning you could also stop off at the St Andrews market for a massage or Thai curry to fire you back down the hill to Hurstbridge.
23.379 km / 14.527 mi
430 m / 1,411 ft
455 m / 1,493 ft
218 m / 714 ft