A perfect ride for mountain biking lovers, roadies and triathletes to develop strength, endurance, and descending skills. It’s a nice ride on quiet country roads and fire trails with undulating hills, a spectacular climb with outstanding views, and one speedy drop. The climb is on Bowden Spur and zigzags its way from the valley to the Kinglake Ranges, underneath the powerlines.
Jacksons and Rankines roads take you north towards the Kinglake Ranges as you skirt the beautiful Strathewen Valley. This is very scenic farmland and as you ride you see a scar on the mountain ahead. This is Bowden Spur, a four-wheel-drive road that has plenty of hairpins alongside the electricity transmission lines. There is a downhill ride beside the spur and you will see parts of it to your right as you climb. The view from the top is really quite dramatic and at one point, you also have a rather unnerving view into the deep gully on your left. This area was incinerated in the 2009 fires but the powerlines survived and the bush is now regenerating.
Take care on the Beale Avenue descent, as it gets very fast and a fire truck or four-wheel drive coming up the other way is always a possibility so you need total concentration. At the bottom, you pass through the sleepy hamlet of Strathewen where nearly every building was destroyed in the fires. You will notice many very beautiful letterboxes along the road. These were made by the locals as part of a community rebuilding program.
Rolling hills on quiet dirt roads take you back to the finish. Allow half a day for this ride and watch the sun as there is little tree cover.
The trail is a non-technical ride on country roads and fire trails featuring rolling hills, a spectacular climb, and one fast descent. Jacksons and Rankines roads are quiet dirt based country lanes.
The ride starts near St Andrews, approximately 35 kilometers northeast of Melbourne. Take Heidelberg Kinglake Road (C746) north from Hurstbridge into St Andrews, turn left on School Road, and drive a short distance to the start point, at the intersection with Hildebrand Road, Melway 394 D6.
Food and drink
St Andrews has a milkbar and hotel. No other facilities along the ride, so best to stock up before you start. Hurstbridge, on your way, is the closest for general stores, and has some nice cafés also.
This ride is where Cadel Evans did a great deal of his early training, when the young teenager starting his MTB career. He had a thirst for cycling knowledge and uncanny resourcefulness in getting the information he wanted. Rides like this one will do wonders for your fitness; it seemed to work for Cadel. He went on to get formal coaching with the renowned Damian Grundy, who was running a bike shop in the district and riding as a successful elite mountain biking enthusiast. Damien then became the AIS mountain bike coach.
- 0.0 Reset computer at the intersection of School and Hildebrand roads and turn right on Hildebrand Rd, heading northeast.
- 1.5 Go straight ahead at the crossroads onto Jacksons Rd. Please take care at this intersection when returning.
- 4.6 Bear left on Rankines Rd.
- 5.2 Keep left.
- 9.4 Turn right on Bowden Spur Rd and enjoy the climb.
- 14.1 Turn left on Whittlesea-Kinglake Rd. You can use the path along the right-hand side of the road if you prefer but there is a singletrack starting to form on the left hand roadside.
- 16.0 Turn left on Beale Ave. Take care on the descent as it gets quite steep and it is possible to meet a car.
- 22.0 Pass O’Deas Rd, cross the bridge and go up a short hill.
- 22.1 Turn left at the T-intersection on Chadds Creek Rd.
- 24.1 Turn left at Bowden Spur Rd, then keep right at the next intersection on School Ridge Rd, keeping the school on your left.
- 26.0 Turn right onto Bowden Spur Rd.
- 26.7 Turn right at Rankines Rd and return the way you came.
- 30.1 Keep right at the Y-intersection. You will be approaching dangerous crossroads in 4.4km.
- 34.5 Go straight ahead with care at the crossroads.
- 36.0 Finish at School/Hildebrand road intersection.
33.485 km / 20.807 mi
842 m / 2,763 ft
839 m / 2,753 ft
632 m / 2,072 ft