Hill climbs of interest in the suburbs

Some love hills. There is satisfaction found climbing a hill and being rewarded with a magnificent view at the top. The ride down is a real thrill. Here are suggested hill climbs that lie in the heart of the suburbs.

Canberra is a hilly place. Between the Tuggeranong, Woden, Belconnen, and Lake Burley Griffin Valleys there are hills. Out in the west is the Brindabella Range with big mountains and steep climbs for the adventurous, ambitious, and fit.

Some hills in Canberra can be ridden – but not all. The hills are often part of Canberra Nature Park and there are restrictions on where you can ride. The infrastructure will depend on the location. Sometimes there may be a road to the top, sometimes you will share the road with cars, and sometimes the road will be a poorly maintained management trail. The only way to the top is by foot such as Mount Tennent. Mount Tennent is the largest of the climbs on this list.

Road riding hills

The tradition of riding roads to the top of hills around Canberra is strong. The roads are windy and have many blind corners. Sharing the road with a car is problematic at the best of times. On blind corners it can be plain dangerous. Drivers tend to underestimate what cyclists are able to do and drive too fast. Collisions do not appear to be that common, possibly because of the low differential speeds between the cyclist and the motor vehicles compared to the many bike lanes directly along 80 km/h dual-lane carriageways. Drivers tend to find the hills too much work so the roads are generally relatively quiet, particularly during the week. Many are tourist destinations and busier during the school holidays. Considering the popularity of the hills for cycling it would be good if the ACT Government could put in very prominent road marketings and signage warning of cyclists.

Urambi Hills and Lake Tuggeranong 2014. Photo Wikipedia Media. CC BY-SA 3.0 AU
Urambi Hills and Lake Tuggeranong 2014. Photo Wikipedia Media. CC BY-SA 3.0 AU

Mount Stromlo on road

Mount Stromlo
remotenesssuburbs
typeroad ride
climb distance4.3 km
vertical climb175 m
maximum postive gradient7%
ratingeasy
Mount Stromlo on road, list of hill climbs in Canberra. canberra.bike

Mount Stromlo is known to most – and rightly so. From the top, there are tracks to descend in all directions. Some are singletrack but there are also many management trails. The Stromlo Forest Park is well documented and has a dedicated website. Mount Stromlo is popular with mountain bikers, road riders, and gravel riders. The west side is great for gravel riding. 

Riding up Mount Stromlo is popular, not least, because of the low gradient but offers a decent ascend. The road has generally good visibility, except on the climb just before the Mount Stromlo Water Treatment Plant, where there is a tight corner and the road is narrower. The barriers beside the road and cutting on the other side mean there is nowhere for the cyclist to go.

This area has been reviewed on canberra.bike.

Mount Stromlo Road, Mount Stromlo, ACT. Map © OpenStreetMap contributors
Mount Stromlo Forest, Molonglo Valley, Canberra. Map: OpenStreetMap
Mount Stromlo Forest, Molonglo Valley, Canberra. Map: OpenStreetMap
The Mount Stromlo Observatory (MSO), Mount Stromlo Forest, Western Canberra
The Mount Stromlo Observatory (MSO), Mount Stromlo Forest, Western Canberra

Dairy Farmer Hill on road

Dairy Farmer Hill
remotenesssuburbs
typeroad ride
climb distance1.9 km
vertical climb95 m
maximum postive gradient9 % but mostly less
ratingeasy
Dairy Farmer Hill on road, list of hill climbs in Canberra. canberra.bike

Dairy Farmer Hill is the highest point of the National Arboretum. There is a loop road through the National Arboretum. The visibility on the corners is good except descending on the first corner down the front of Dairy Farmer Hill. The road is of sufficient width to make cycling safe should drivers stick to the speed limit. There are no road markings or cycle lanes. The cafe at halfway up the hill is a tourist destination and the road is busy on weekends and during school holidays. The ride is best early morning and evenings as the sunrise and sunsset are magnificent and the views spectacular. No toilets except in the cafe, and they close early. There is water at the side entrance to the cafe. The main gate closes at night for motor vehicles but bikes have access to the National Arboretum at all hours. The road is not lit. The National Arboretum is accessible and centrally located with a bike path right past the main entrance.

Dairy Farmer Hill is less than a 100 m ascend from the National Arboretum entrance. The gradient is a maximum of 9%. The ascend has a length of 1.9 km. The roads surface is good. It is a great repeat training loop for those building up their fitness. Just ride around it until you have achieved your goal for the day. The hill has a bit of variety and the descent makes for an excellent recovery period.

This area has been reviewed on canberra.bike.

Dairy Farmer Hill on road, National Arboretum, ACT. Map © OpenStreetMap contributors
The Brindabella Ranges from Dairy Farmer Hill, National Arboretum, Canberra.
The Brindabella Ranges from Dairy Farmer Hill, National Arboretum, Canberra.

Red Hill on road

Red Hill on road
remotenesssuburbs
typeroad
climb distance1.7 km
vertical climb111 m
maximum postive gradient10%
ratingeasy
Red Hill on road, list of hill climbs in Canberra. canberra.bike

Red Hill is in the middle of the suburbs in an old area of Canberra. It was popular once but is less so today. It is not all that well connected to the surrounding area by bike paths, as the area was built before bike paths were even thought of. Mugga Way is a shortcut from Hindmarsh Drive to Yarra Glen, and the Canberra Centenary Trail joins on Mugga Way / Hindmarsh Drive.

Red Hill on road is 111 m ascend from Mugga Way. The gradient is a maximum of 10%. The ascend has a length of 1.7 km. The roads surface is good. The road is a bit narrow for cyclists in my opinion.

This area has been reviewed.

Red Hill Drive, Red Hill, ACT. Map © OpenStreetMap contributors
Red Hill Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap
Red Hill Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap
View from Red Hill
Morning View from Red Hill by Julie Mylchreest

Mount Majura on road

Mount Majura on road
remotenesssuburbs
typeroad
climb distance2.8 km
vertical climb233 m
maximum postive gradient11%
ratingmoderate
Mount Majura on road, list of hill climbs in Canberra. canberra.bike

Mount Majura Road connects the Marjua Parkway with the peak of Mount Majura and is a service road for the radar installation at the top of the hill for Canberra Airport. Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie are part of Canberra Nature Park. The view from the top is limited by trees. The climb is not all that popular which is perhaps why it is worth doing. The Majura Parkway has a 10 km bike path alongside it that provides a good connection to Gungahlin and the Airport. What is not to like?

Mount Majura is 233 m ascend and technically a Category 3 climb. The gradient is a maximum of 11%. The ascend has a length of 2.8 km. The roads surface is good. There is a gate halfway up but bikes are permitted to pass it.

This area has been reviewed on canberra.bike.

Mount Majura Road. The ascent is 2.7km in length, a steady 10% and a climb of about 300m. Mount Majura. Map VeloViewer, Strava and OpenStreetMap.
Mount Majura Road. The ascent is 2.7km in length, a steady 10% and a climb of about 300m. Mount Majura. Map VeloViewer, Strava and OpenStreetMap.
Almost there, the last 100m to the top, Mount Majura, Canberra Nature Park, Canberra
Canberra Airport radar installation at the top of the hill. Almost there, the last 100 m, Mount Majura, Canberra Nature Park, Canberra

Black Mountain on road

Black Mountain on road
remotenesssuburbs
typeroad
climb distance2.7 km
vertical climb240 m
maximum postive gradient14%
ratingmoderate
Black Mountain on road, list of hill climbs in Canberra. canberra.bike

Black Mountain on road is busy, as the Telstra Tower is a tourist attraction. The top is boring because the view is blocked by trees. The ring walk around the contour of the peak about halfway up offers far better views and can only be walked. Black Mountain has a lot to offer walkers and gravel riders. The Canberra Centenary Trail passes through Black Mountain.

Black Mountain is a 240 m ascend from the National Botanical Garden entrance. The gradient is a maximum of 14%. The ascend has a length of 2.7 km. The roads surface is good. It is a great training ride and popular as it is close to the city and the ANU.

This area has been reviewed on canberra.bike.

Black Mountain, Canberra. Photo Mark Meng Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Black Mountain, Canberra. Photo Mark Meng Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Mount Ainslie on road

Mount Ainslie on road
remotenesssuburbs
typeroad
climb distance2.9 km
vertical climb218 m
maximum postive gradient15%
ratingmoderate
Mount Ainslie on road, list of hill climbs in Canberra. canberra.bike

Mount Ainslie on road is also rather touristy and plenty of buses drive up this road. There is no food, water or toilets at the top. A famous viewing platform overlooks Lake Burley Griffin. The reserve either side of the road has tracks running through it but is prohibited to bikes. Only now is it being cleared from unexploded ordnances (tender 2020). Mount Ainslie is also famous for the Canberra Centenary Trail which passes by the War Memorial and the suburbs of Ainslie and Hackett at the base of the mountain.

Mount Ainslie is a 218 m ascend from Fairbairn Avenue. The gradient is a maximum of 15%. The ascend has a length of 2.9 km. The roads surface is good. The road is wide and some section has grass verges to allow riders to get off the road if necessary.

Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap
Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap
Mount Ainslie, Civic, Black Mountain, ACT, Australia
Mount Ainslie looking west toward Civic and Black Mountain

One Tree Hill on multi-use track

One Tree Hill via the CCT
remotenesssuburbs
typemulti-use track
climb distance4.1 km
vertical climb207 m
maximum postive gradient18%
ratingmoderate
One Tree Hill via the CCT, list of hill climbs in Canberra. canberra.bike

One Tree Hill is on the Canberra Centenary Trail and this section is a dirt multi-use track. A mountain bike is recommended. The ride starts at Hall, which is a nice suburb of Canberra in the old town style that predates the Canberra suburbs. The Canberra Centenary Trail starts at the highest point of Hall and continues up the hill and onwards to Forde 17 km further on. One Tree Hill is the highest in Gungahlin on the norther ACT border. The hill is a short walk off the Canberra Centenary Trail. A fire tower and seat is found at the top.

One Tree Hill is a 207 m ascend from the edge of Hall. The gradient is a maximum of 18%. Coming down is easier than up. The ascend has a length of 4.1 km. The multi-use track to the top is popular with walkers, so take care.

This area has been reviewed on canberra.bike.

Hall, Canberra. Source: OpenStreetMap
The climb starts in Hall. Hall, Canberra. Source: OpenStreetMap
One Tree Hill, Canberra Centenary Trail, Hall, ACT. Map © OpenStreetMap contributors
The main road to Hall, country road standard with neither bike lanes or separated bike path, Canberra Centenary Trail, Victoria Street, Hall, Canberra
The ride to One Tree Hill starts at hall. The main road to Hall, country road standard with neither bike lanes or separated bike path, Canberra Centenary Trail, Victoria Street, Hall, Canberra

Mount Taylor on road

Mount Taylor on road
remotenesssuburbs
typeroad
climb distance2.2 km
vertical climb214 m
maximum postive gradient21 %
ratinghard
Mount Taylor on road, list of hill climbs in Canberra. canberra.bike

Mount Taylor is a popular walk from Sulwood Drive on the south side but you cannot ride up that way. Waldock Street is a good road from Macfarland Crescent, or follow the dirt track up the ridge from Hindmarsh Drive. The hill is prominent with good views of Weston Creek, Woden Valley and Tuggeranong Valley.

Mount Taylor is a 214 m ascend. The gradient is a maximum of 21%. That is steep and makes the ascent difficult. The average gradient is about 10%. The ascend has a length of 2.2 km. Waldock Street has a good surface.

Mount Taylor Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap
Mount Taylor Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap
Mount Taylor, ACT. Daniel Mullett Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Mount Taylor, ACT. Daniel Mullett Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

3 Replies to “Hill climbs of interest in the suburbs”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s