Average gradient: 4.3%
Elevation gain: 908m
The average gradient of this climb might give you the sense that you’re in for a reasonably easy ride. And to some extent that’s true … once you get past the tough opening section. Rising sharply out of the fire-affected town of Marysville, the first 4.5km of this climb ascend at a painful 8% before a more gentle gradient takes you to the summit.
Lake Mountain still bears the scars of the devastating Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009 but you’ll still appreciate the great views that are available throughout the climb.
The climb to the Lake Mountain Alpine Resort begins at the roundabout which marks the intersection of Marysville Road (C512), Marysville Buxton Road (C508) and Marysville Woods Point Road (C512).
If you are timing your ascent, start your watch as soon as you turn onto the Marysville Woods Point Road (C512).
The Lake Mountain climb ends at the entrance to the Lake Mountain Alpine Resort carpark.
At a glance
- A climb in two parts: a very tough opening section and a considerably easier second section.
- The first 4.4km of the climb are very steep with an average gradient of over 8%.
- Beyond the 4.4km mark the climbing is much easier with several flat and downhill sections.
- Turn left at 10.3km to continue the climb to the Lake Mountain resort.
A warning to recreational riders: the first 4.4km of this climb are very challenging and should not be attempted unless climbs like Mt. Donna Buang can be completed without too much difficulty.
The pain begins as soon as you turn onto the Marysville Woods Point Road (C512) with the gradient hovering around the 8% mark. 500m up the road the gradient somehow increases, maintaining its pitch for around 600m before flattening off slightly. A further 500m into the climb a sweeping left-hand bend sees the road tilt upward again, remaining that way for several kilometres.
A long right-hand bend at the 2.4km mark holds the gradient at a painful 8% for around 2km until finally, after 4.4km of sub-10km/h grinding, the road flattens off.
With the hardest part of the climb done, you can afford to sit up and relax as the road flattens off and descends for 500m. The road then tilts gently upward again for a relatively painless 4km before flattening out again and descending for over a kilometre to the Lake Mountain turn-off.
After turning left to begin the second half of the climb (at 10.3km), you will notice the road narrows quite considerably. 11.2km after starting the climb you will pass the winter tollbooth before enjoying a short, sharp descent. The climbing resumes with a mixture of easy gradients and short flat sections as the road winds its way casually toward the summit.
As you climb past the 15km mark, some impressive views are possible to the left of the road and by the 16km mark, your hard work is done. As the road escapes from the tree line the gradient decreases and is only altered by the briefly-steeper sections at 17.8km, 19.2km and 20.3 km.
The climb that started so painfully finishes rather innocuously as the road opens out into a massive carpark at the Lake Mountain Alpine Resort.
Lake Mountain is located around 120km north-east of Melbourne and is best accessed via the lovely town of Marysville. The drive from Healesville to Marysville through the Black Spur is one of Australia’s most breathtaking journeys with pristine old growth forest lining the road-side.
Healesville can be accessed by taking Maroondah Highway (B360) through Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and taking the right-hand fork at the Melba Highway/Maroondah Highway junction in Coldstream.
While the drive up the Black Spur is simply magical, it is not a recommended route for cyclists due to its narrow lanes and many blind turns. In addition to this, a ride from Melbourne to Lake Mountain return is well over 200km, a very long day by anyone’s standards.
Follow the link to see the Strava segment for the Lake Mountain climb.