Average gradient: 6.9%
Elevation gain: 377m
Climbing from the start of the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road in Upper Ferntree Gully, the Devil’s Elbows is a relatively short, but deceptively steep climb. Also known as the Devil’s Broken Clavicle, this climb takes in two sharp hairpins as it snakes its way through the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
The Devil’s Elbows climb begins at the intersection of Burwood Highway (C412) and the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road (C415) in Upper Ferntree Gully.
The Devil’s Elbows climb concludes at the highest point on One Tree Hill Road. This crest comes about 100m after the 60km/h signs and is designated by a fire hydrant on the left-hand side of the road.
At a glance
- A challenging and deceptively steep climb with a picturesque second half.
- The first of the devil’s elbows — a left-hand hairpin at 1.4km — has a gradient of roughly 10%.
- Turn left onto Churchill Drive at 2.6km to continue the climb.
- The second devil’s elbow is a sharp right turn onto One Tree Hill Road at the 4.1km mark.
- There are several flatter sections in the final 1.4km of the climb.
From the get-go the gradient sits at around 7% as the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road winds into the national park. 500m into the climb the road bends sharply around to the right before curling back around to the left. The gradient remains at around 7% through these bends and continues until the first of the devil’s elbows, 1.4km into the climb.
The hairpin bend curls tightly around to the left with the gradient increasing noticeably as the road emerges from the corner. As the road continues further into the national park, the gradient sits at a painful 10% in what is probably the most challenging part of the climb. At the 2.2km mark the road flattens off somewhat, bending into a long, sweeping right-hand bend.
As the road straightens out, 2.6km into the climb, you’ll reach Churchill Drive — take a left turn. At this point the road becomes much narrower and considerably more scenic.
Rising at about 7-8% this is the most picturesque section of the climb with native ferns crowding the road side. As the road winds its way beautifully into the Dandenong Ranges National Park the gradient stays fairly constant at around 7-8%. It isn’t until the 3.7km mark that the gradient decreases a little before the road reaches a slight crest 200m later.
From this point the road descends slightly before reaching the edge of the national park and the second of the devil’s elbows. At this T-intersection, 4.1km into the ride, you should turn right onto One Tree Hill Road and begin the final section of the climb.
Having left the sharp corner behind, the road resumes a gradient of 6-7% for the next 500m before reaching a slight crest again. After 300m with an essentially neglible gradient, the road begins to rise again at the 4.9km mark.
Unlike most climbs, the Devil’s Elbows doesn’t have a clearly visible end point and so you need to be vigilant if you are timing yourself up here. Having passed Merimbula Road on the left-hand side of the road, you will then pass a pair of 60km/h signs. The highest point of the road, and the end of the climb, is about 100m beyond these signs, designated by a fire hydrant on the left-hand side of the road.
The Devil’s Elbows climb begins in the suburb of Upper Ferntree Gully, around 50km east of Melbourne’s CBD. For cyclists that are coming from the city, the best approach is probably via Maroondah Highway, Boronia Road, Dorset Road and then Burwood Highway.
For a longer and more challenging ride, climb the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road from Montrose first, following the road all the way to Upper Ferntree Gully before heading back up into the Devil’s Elbows climb.
A Strava segment for this climb can be found here.