Metres Climbed: 230
Avg Gradient: 10.8%
Road Surface: Average
Traffic: Almost None
I used to go to primary school the next village over from Cherryville, and we used to make jokes about the place. They took a little bit of Tasmania and stuck it in the Adelaide Hills, there’s one road into Cherryville, but no roads out. That sort of thing. In these jokes was a little bit of truth, but when you’re talking about cycling, this makes for something fantastic. Fernhurst Road is, of course, the one road into Cherryville, and if you’re not feeling good, it probably isn’t a way out. As you go down into the valley, the road gets windier, and narrower, and the whole way down it’s shockingly steep. Then, at the bottom, the road ends at a sign saying Private Property, no Entry. So the only choice is to turn around and climb back out.
The thing about Fernhurst is that it’s relentless. After the first hundred metres or so, you go straight into about 500m of roughly 13%. Then, you get a brief rest at about 7% for a couple of hundred metres, before jumping back up to 12% for the next 800m as you go around the sharpest switchback.
You’ll go around another corner, with lots of signs saying ‘go slowly, dust problems’ or something, and the road levels out a bit – back down to 5%, before settling briefly at 10%. Here you’ll pass Old Road, on your left. If you’re feeling wasted, and your bike can handle the dirt, this provides a bail-out option, but seeing as you’re 2/3 of the way up the hill now, my advice is push on through.
Of course, you’ll still have to climb up the steepest section in the whole climb – about 300m at an average of 14%. The steepest gradient you’ll hit here is just over 16%, and that’s the hardest part of the climb. After that, it finally settles back down to almost flat, and you’ll have reached the top of the hill.
Turn right to descend Montacute Road, or left to head towards Ashton, Norton Summit, and Mt Lofty. Whilst this may not be the steepest climb in town, and there are brief sections about which are much harder, they’re all far shorter. The way this climb just stays steep for the whole two kilometres means that it’s one of the most challenging climbs in the hills. That said, it’s also one of the most satisfying!
Metres Climbed: 180
Avg Gradient: 8.4%
Road Quality: Average
Done Norton Summit (https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/norton-summit/) a hundred times, but don’t really want to kill yourself up Woodland Way (https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/coach-house-drivewoodland-way/)? This neat little climb is a happy in between, harder than Nortons – with some very steep sections, but substantially easier than slogging your way up the top of the ridge. To reach the climb, start going up Norton Summit as you normally would, and then about a third of the way up, instead of taking the bend around to the left, turn right up Valley Road.
You’ll immediately launch into a section about 300m long, at over 10%. At a couple of points it hits 12 or 13%, and you’ll notice that the road here is very rough. Almost nobody lives up here, and it seems that there isn’t much interest in maintaining the road. After this steep section, the road turns sharply to the left, and becomes much flatter. In fact for the next 400m or so, the road is a real flat (not one of those nasty false-flats). Sadly, this ends all too soon, and the final part of Valley Road jumps up at around 13-14%. It’s short though, and then the road descends briefly to a T-intersection.
Turn right, and keep on climbing, you’re not even halfway done yet. If you turn left, you’ll drop onto Norton Summit Road at about halfway up, so I suppose that’s a good opt-out if your legs feel like jelly. The steepest part of the climb is up the first of two switchbacks. If you take an inside line, you’ll reach about 20%, but if you go around the outside, it’ll be a more reasonable 12. Through the rest of the switchbacks the climb is about 11%, and afterwards you’ll get a brief respite at about 3%. The Road steepens twice more though. First at about 15% for around 100m, and then at about 10% for the last 400m.
Google Images failed me for the first time, but the climb finishes as you pass the turnoff to Woodland Way
You’d be coming from the left in the photo above. From here you could, if you wanted to gain a strong understanding of gravity and the limits of breaking power, turn right and descend Woodland Way, but a better idea is to follow the road around to the left, where you’ll meet up first with Teringie Drive, and then Norton Summit Road.
Metres Climbed: 145
Avg Gradient: 11.5%
Road Quality: Mediocre
Short, Sharp, Nasty. Kensington Road is one of a host of steep little climbs along the hill face between Greenhill and Norton Summit Roads. Whilst not as long as Coach Road or Coachhouse Drive/Woodland Way, Kensington Road has one of the longest sustained ramps in town. The road is pretty poor quality, with old tarmac riddled with cracks, but frankly, you’ve got other issues to deal with. Making it to the top also rewards you with a fantastic view over the city, if you’re not slumped over your handlebars trying to catch your breath. Start the climb once you make it around the roundabout that intersects Penfolds and Kensington Road.
The first part of the climb is pretty easy. You get to spend about 300m at around 6%. Of course, with an average gradient of 11.5%, that means that the rest of the climb is going to hurt, and it does. As soon as the road takes a turn to the right, it starts getting steeper. For the next 900m, you’ll be climbing at an average of about 13%, with a sustained section of about 15% at about the 700m mark. After this you’ll get a short respite (only 10%) for about 50m, before the climb ramps up to 13% again for the final couple of hundred metres through the turns. My advice is to take a wide line around the turns. If you go on the inside, you’re likely to hit gradients in excess of 25%, and nobody needs that kind of suffering. The climb ends at the end of the road, as you reach the lookout.
If you’re recording with Strava, go up to the top parking bay, because if you only go to the bottom one, it may not record the segment as completed, and this would be sad. I’ve heard tales that if you have a mountain bike or cyclocross bike you can continue through past the lookout along McBeath Drive, but if like me you have skinny road tires, it’s back downhill from here. The road is noticeably smoother one the downhill side, having been quite recently paved.
Metres Climbed: 295
Avg Gradient: 5.6%
Road Quality: Average
Far Less popular than the New Norton Summit Road, this climb is narrow and winding, and has far more cars. This is a climb to only attempt at quiet times, and even then it can be unpleasantly busy due to the narrow road. The Climb starts easily enough, and the first 2km or so are rather shallow. After that it gets gradually steeper, until the final kilometre which sits at an average above 10%. Start your stopwatch just after the turnoff to New Norton Summit Road (at the top of Magill Road), as you go past East St.
The first 2km of the climb are an average of about 3%, and for most of this section the road is fairly wide, with a broad shoulder. This would all be pretty nice, except that during weekdays there are cement trucks going up and down this part of the road. After you pass Hornsells Gully Road, life starts to get a little harder. The road noticeably narrows, and it also immediately gets a bit steeper. Thankfully, the cement trucks all turn off here, so at least you don’t have to deal with them. The next 1.5km average a tad over 6%, with a fair bit of undulation. Towards the 3.5km mark the gradient hits about 8% for about 200m, before leveling off for a quick breather before the final climb. You’ve got maybe 400m of relatively easy climbing back at around 4%, before the road rises to around 8% up to the switch-back, after which it’s an average of 10% to the top.
The next kilometre or so is all pretty nasty. The average gradient for the final part of the climb is 10%, but at a couple of points it hits about 13%. You’ll climb up the side of the hill, before turning right, where it gets a little bit easier. It’s tempting to cut the corner, but make sure there are no cars coming up behind you, there’s not really anywhere to hide! The climb finishes as you pass the Scenic Hotel
Turn left to go down Norton Summit Road, or right to continue through to Ashton and beyond. If you’re in need of a water bottle refill, there’s a convenient tap in the park near the statue on your right.
Metres Climbed: 355
Avg Gradient: 4.9%
Road Quality: Good
Montacute Road is, strangely enough, a more popular descent than climb. It’s the third of the big climbs (Category 2 on strava) that will get you into the Adelaide hills, along with the Old Freeway, and Greenhill Road. As such it should be treated with some respect, but hardly feared. To reach the climb, follow Montacute Road up towards the hills. The climb starts when you pass Maryvale Road, and from there on the first half is pretty easy.
The ascent can really be divided into two parts. The first part winds up along the bottom of the valley, roughly following the course of the creekbed. You’ll spend nearly 4km at about 2-4%, except for a short section about 1km in, where it goes up at about 5%. None of this is challenging at all, unless there is a headwind down the valley, in which case it might hurt a little. After 3.8km, the climb starts in earnest, just after you pass the CFS shed.
After this, the next section averages about 6% until you pass the top of Corkscrew Road (https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/corkscrew-road/) The climb goes up in a number of short ramps of around 8-9%, with flatter sections of about 4% where you can recover a little. There is a sustained 500m section at about 9-10% just before the 5km mark, as you pass by Corkscrew Road. As you go around the bend it evens off and goes down hill briefly, before climbing again in two more sections that hit double digits. The climb finishes just before Hill Rd, as you pass the house with the hedge out the front.
From here on, there is still some climbing to go towards Marble Hill, but the road really undulates quite a bit. Once there, it’s all down hill and you’ve got heaps of options – Go down Pound Road and up Burdetts, keep going onwards into Ashton and Norton Summit, or across to Mt Lofty.
Thanks to Google for the photos.
Metres Climbed: 95m
Avg Gradient: 7.1%
Road Quality: Average
This one goes up in a couple of rather steep sections, and so the average gradient doesn’t really tell you much about how hard this climb is. Despite the comparative challenge, it’s a better option than taking the main road through Aldgate to Stirling, because there are far fewer cars. The climb starts on Kain Avenue, at the end of which you turn left onto Old Mt Barker Road, and start ascending in earnest.
The first steep section is between 8-10%, for about 2-300m. After that, the road eases up again, even flattening out for a bit, before the next 200m are at about 6%. Then the climb gets a bit nasty.
The road turns a corner, right into a 150m section of about 13-14%. Once you’ve made it up this bit, the climb lets up a little, and continues on at around 7-8% for the rest of the climb. You finish at the intersection with Arkaba Road.
From here onwards there is still some undulation, but you’ve finished the bulk of the climb. You can turn right onto Old Carey Gully road if you want another nasty tight climb (https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/rangeview-drive/) Or keep going a little further and turn right to cross over the freeway and climb up towards Crafers or descend through Picadilly.
Metres Climbed: 95
Avg Gradient: 6.1%
Road Quality: Good
This little hill between Hahndorf and Bridgewater provides plenty of opportunity for hurting. It starts off pretty easily, and then gets steeper and steeper, topping out at around 8.5% at the top. The Climb is on Mt Barker Road, just after the Roundabout where it intersects with Onkaparinga Valley Road. Start as you pass under the freeway.
The first 400m are pretty easy, going from 1% to about 5%. As the road takes a big right hand bend, it’ll start going up to about 7%
From here you climb through scrub and outer Bridgewater, and the gradient keeps going up, eventually steadying at about 7% but getting noticeably harder before topping off at around 8%. The climb finishes as you enter the township proper, as you pass the car dealership.
Once you finish the climb, you’ve got a bit of a descent, but if you’re planning on getting back to town, you haven’t finished climbing yet. You can turn right as you pass the oval, and climb up towards Carey Gulley, or continue towards Aldgate, where you have all kinds of options to climb.