Mount Hotham Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

6.5
FIETS
17.7 mi
DISTANCE
4,511 ft
GAINED
4.5 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Nick Payne, Canberra, Australia

INTRO

Not only epic, Mount Hotham is Australia's 5th most difficult bike climb. 


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ROUTE MAP

MEMBER RATING

Difficulty: Strenuous
4
Road
5
Traffic
4
Scenery

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Jun 1, 2021
difficulty: Strenuous
scenery: 4
traffic: 5
road: 4
Jun 1, 2021
scenery: 4
traffic: 5
road: 4
This climb divides into three parts. The first third is ~10km of mostly 5-7% gradient, with one short steep section at The Meg when crossing the ridge. The second third is 1-3% false flat. Once through the park gates, the more serious climbing of the final third commences. This section is quite irregular with several sections of over 10% gradient and a couple of short downhill bits. Save something for the final couple of kilometres, which average around 10%.
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CLIMB SUMMARY

bike parked in front of road sign for Bright and Mt. Hotham

Cycling Mount Hotham, Victoria, Australia

Ride 29 kilometers gaining 1,370 meters at 4.5% average grade.

Another extraordinary must-do bike climb in Australia’s Victorian Alps along the Great Dividing Range, 350 kilometers northeast of Melbourne. Be prepared for a cool ride, particularly towards the top - Mount Hotham has never recorded a temperature above 30°C (86°F) and it is one of the few locations in Australia that records temperatures below freezing.

road sign for Mt Hotham, Omeo, Swifts Creek, and Bairnsdale

This bike climb is not only scenic, but very popular with cyclists - 17,122 Strava members have ridden up Mount Hotham a total of 41,384 times as of January 15, 2023.  It is also quite challenging and is ranked the fifth hardest bike climb in Australia.

bike with PJAMM Cycling Australia jersey leaned against Hotham km marker

First of six kilometer markers.

Climb begins at the entrance to Harrietville Recreation Reserve.

informational signs and maps at climb start, Great Alpine Road, Harrietville Recreation Reserve

Climb begins by riding south on Great Alpine Road from Harrietville Recreation Reserve.

Climb Summary by PJAMM Cycling’s Brad Butterfield.

There’s no way around it, I’m going to sound like a broken record, but Mt. Hotham is another must-do Australian bike climb. Completely unique from all of the others, yet again. This has the most elevation I have gained on a single climb while here in Australia, at a whopping 1,370 meters of gain for a summit elevation of 5,862 feet. Starting in the town of Harrietville, there are a few small cafes to down some coffee before the long accent. I recommend parking at the small city park just before the very first corner of the climb. There is a public restroom and no restrictions on parking times - very safe.

kilometer marker signs along the climb

The climb has kilometer markers every five kilometers.

views along the climb including dense forestation, mountain roadways, bike parked next to graffitied guardrail reading "One life, live it well"

The first 10k of the climb is steep as you make your way out of the treeline. The middle portion plateaus and depending on how you like to pedal, this is a big ring section of the climb.

The Meg Strava segment

Begins at km 4.9

400 meters at 10.5%.

The Meg Strava Segment 

This section got its name from the nearby former quartz reef mine, Mons Meg.

plateau and mountain ascent

On the plateau you have in view the rest of the climb as it makes a full 180 back onto itself, scaling the mountains to your left as you climb. After the plateau, the climb pitches up briefly, then descends. After that short descent it is a wall up to the summit. Then exposed, the views of the Australian outback extend to the horizon and the cold mountain air whips your face. A true mountain ascent.

warning signs for the Great Alpine Road

There are several signs warning of the hazard of Great Alpine Road near the beginning of the climb.

aerial drone view of climb shows mountain road snaking it's way through densely forested mountain

In addition to being an incredibly windy road, it has seven short descents between kilometers 16 and 27.  The longest descent is 800 meters at -5.5% and the shortest is 80 meters at -1.2%

climb gradient

Average grade is 4.5%, and after eliminating descents the average grade rises to 5.3%.

elevation, warning, and informational signs along the route

There are several elevation signs and information boards along the climb.

elevation and informational signs along the route

views along the climb: mountain roads, old mine buildings, forestation

roadway snakes along a sheer cliff on the mountain

Sheer cliff at kilometer 25.

PJAMM Cyclist stands with bike on mountainside, Tioga Pass, amazing rock formations

Mt. Hotham reminded us of California’s Tioga Pass at the eastern border of Yosemite NP.

mountain views near finish of climb

Views near the finish of the climb.

The summit is nondescript and not marked. I recommend riding just past the PJAMM finish point and taking a slight right onto a gravel road. The gravel road is about a 400m walk to get the tippy top Radio Tower point.

gravel road past finish takes you to real mountain summit, radio tower point

Finish the climb on the road or bike 430 meters up the gravel road to the top.