Denman Prospect and Stromlo West

A gravel ride from Denman Prospect shops, to Stromlo Forest and across its western slopes. The route winds its way over hills and across creeks, with uninterrupted views of the Murrumbidgee Valley and the Brindabella Range. The ride is 25.7km, a 500m rise, hilly, and with no locked gates. A mountain bike is recommended.

Getting there

Getting to the starting point at Denman Prospect shops is described in Denman Prospect base camp. The route is shown below and the GPX file can be downloaded from Komoot. If you have a smartphone, install Komoot directly on that.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

The route

From Denman Prospect it is an easy gravel ride to Stromlo Forest. Stromlo Forest Park, the popular mountain biking destination on the eastern slopes of Mount Stromlo, is only part of Stromlo Forest. On the other side of Mount Stromlo, many creeks run off undulating hills into the Murrumbidgee Rive,r and have cut into the clay to form deep creek beds.

Denman Prospect and Stromlo West Komoot, Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
Denman Prospect and Stromlo West Komoot, Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

There are many surprises for those that like a rural landscape. This is a hot tip for gravel riders, with its long hills, sweeping turns, and a well-compacted surface that is far better than that found in Canberra Nature Park. Some fitness is required as the hills can be long.

Denman Prospect to Stromlo Forest

From the Denman Prospect shops head across the bridge and then right up the good gravel road to Uriarra Road. Ride west along Uriarra Road for about 300m. A bike path runs along Uriarra Road but strangely there is a fence blocking access.

Bike and pedestrian gate, Urriarra Road, Denman Prospect, Molonglo Valley
Bike and pedestrian gate, Urriarra Road, Denman Prospect, Molonglo Valley

To gain access to Stromlo Forest without passing through two gates, turn left on to this cycle path where it ends on Uriarra Road (see below) and cut past the parking area to North South Link. Crim Track, marked by a blue sign, is on the left. This is the far corner of Stromlo Forest Park. Singletrack riders go east from here. This gravel ride drops into the valley west.

Avoid two gates by riding around the parking area. Stromlo West Komoot, Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors.
Avoid two gates by riding around the parking area. Stromlo West Komoot, Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors.
LInk track from bike path around, Urriarra Road car park, Stromlo Forest, Molonglo Valley
Link track to bike path from Uriarra Road car park gate (left), Stromlo Forest, Molonglo Valley
Cotter Road car park, western slopes of Mount Stromlo, Mount Stromlo Forest, Canberra
North South Link from Uriarra Road car park gate, western slopes of Mount Stromlo, Mount Stromlo Forest, Canberra
Crim Track single track, Stromlo Forest Park, western slopes of Mount Stromlo, Mount Stromlo Forest, Canberra
Start of Crim Track singletrack, just behind Cotter Road car park, Stromlo Forest Park, western slopes of Mount Stromlo, Mount Stromlo Forest, Canberra

Stromlo Forest western slopes

From North South Link it is all downhill to the lowest point of Stromlo Forest reserve. The ride will snake its way back up to almost the top of Mount Stromlo over a number of hills.

Close to the lowest point. Far north-west corner of Stromlo Forest. Looking towards the Murrumbidgee River across leased farmland.

From the lowest corner, the route follows Stromlo Forest’s western border to Brown Hill (719m) overlooking Cotter Road in the far south. The section along the fence is 2.2km, 101m vertical and an average gradient of 5%. For comparison Glenoch Interchange up the hill to Aranda is 3.3km, 85m, and an average gradient of 3%. Maximum gradients are greater on this route with a maximum gradient of 15% as opposed to Aranda Hill were the maximum gradient is 8%.

From Brown Hill, the Brindabella Range is visible in the distance. An equestrian area and horse paddocks are behind Brown Hill along Cotter Road. Most horse riders do not ride in Stromlo Forest north of these paddocks.

Brindabella Range behind Brown Hill (719m),

From Brown Hill, it is mostly downhill again along Bennett Fire Trail past the intersection with Stevens Break.

A sign on Stevens Break and Bennett Fire Trail management trail, Mount Stromlo Forest, Western Canberra
A signed intersection on Stevens Break and Bennett Fire Trail management trails, Mount Stromlo Forest, Western Canberra

There is now a long climb back up to Cooper Fire Trail. Cooper Fire Trail undulates south to north across the whole length of Stromlo Forest.

Cooper Fire Trail is long and winds its way between Uriarra Road and Cotter Road

Now circle back along Stromlo Pipeline Road to the north across Deep Creek. Deep Creek has cut itself spectacularly into the side of the mountain, and the steepest sections of the ride are found here.

From Deep Creek, the climb continues along Stromlo Pipeline Road to the research station at the end of ANU Ionospheric Trail. The ANU Ionospheric Trail provides a long but easy ascent to the top of Mount Stromlo.

Tower at the end of the ANU Ionospheric Trail, Mount Stromlo Forest, Western Canberra
Tower beside the research station at the end of the ANU Ionospheric Trail, Mount Stromlo Forest, Western Canberra
Open me please, the gate on ANU Ionospheric Trail management trail, western slopes of Mount Stromlo, Mount Stromlo Forest, Canberra
Latched gate on ANU Ionospheric Trail management trail, western slopes of Mount Stromlo, Mount Stromlo Forest, Canberra
Cattle gird on the ANU Ionospheric Trail management trail, western slopes of Mount Stromlo, Mount Stromlo Forest, Canberra
Cattle gird on the ANU Ionospheric Trail management trail, western slopes of Mount Stromlo, Mount Stromlo Forest, Canberra

The final section is the descent from Mount Stromlo Road back down the western slope to North South Link via Forest Trail. This an easy section with good views. North South Link runs parallel to Double Dissolution should you wish to ride it.

From North South Link, leave Stromlo Forest and descend to Denman Prospect.

Emergency phone, intersection of North South Link and Forest Trail.

4 Replies to “Denman Prospect and Stromlo West”

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