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Best hikes near Melbourne

Shannon Barker

There are obvious reasons hiking is such a popular weekend activity. Not only is it a great form of exercise, hiking and walking have been shown to lower anxiety, stress and depression. Fresh air and endorphins help lift our moods and clear our minds. It’s also worth mentioning that hiking is a cheap way to feel good and have fun. Need more convincing to go out there and get exploring? We’ve put together the top 10 hikes around Melbourne to help get you inspired for your next hike.

Sugarloaf peak and south Jawbone peak loop, Cathedral Range State Park

Ever wondered what it would feel like to walk along the ridge of a mountain with views sweeping out beside you in either direction? Then look no further. This walk has some challenging steep uphill climbs but it is well worth it for the views from the peaks. Look out for Wells Cave along the way and be prepared for some rock scrambling. This hike is perfect to watch for native wildlife and is also a rewarding hike for those looking to challenge themselves.

Time: 4 - 5 hours
Distance: 11.4 km
Difficulty: Hard

Point Nepean Walk , Mornington Peninsula

Located on the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula, the Point Nepean walk is as beautiful as it is interesting. Steeped in historical importance from its Indeginous history to early colonial settlement, through to fortifications built in World War II, the walk even features a memorial to Australian Prime Minister Harrold Holt who disappeared in waters off Cheviot Beach. With well maintained paths and few steps, this walk is suitable for prams and mobility aids. The walk can also be broken down to smaller walks for those wanting a quick stroll.

Time: 3 hours
Distance: 14.5 km (Can be broken into smaller walks)
Difficulty: Easy

Erskine Falls Photo by Kelly Kay via Unsplash

Erskine Falls Walk, Lorne

The short walk to Erskine Falls, located near Lorne, is a must do for those visiting the region. One of the most popular waterfalls in the Otways and one of the most photographed, this is a great track for novice hikers with a high reward finish. Best visited after recent rainfall to see the waterfall in full action, the area is known for its waterfalls, rivers, ferns and forests and there are many other trails to try whilst in the area.

Time: 30 mins
Distance: 1 km
Difficulty: Easy (some stairs)

Redwood Forest Walk, Great Otway National Park

The Californian Redwood forests are the remnants of a logging industry that operated out of the area in the 1930s. Today at 85 years old and 60 metres high, these colossal trees are still considered Redwood babies! Mature trees can reach over 100 metres in height and live to be over 1000 years old. Walking amongst these gentle giants will transport you to the American north west, and with no set walking routes or durations, you can feel free to wander as long as you like. Take lunch and set up next to one of the winding creeks, trickling along next to ferns and some pockets of native trees. This walk offers a glimpse into the peaceful and primordial lives of ancient forests; it’s a great walk for beginners and old hands alike.

Time: As long as you like
Distance: As far as you like
Difficulty: unlevel ground, some areas slippery after rain.

Dandenong Ranges photo via Visit Victoria

1000 Steps - Kokoda Memorial Track, Dandenong Ranges  

Easily one of the most popular walks in Melbourne, the 1000 step walk is a great weekend activity and offers up a great location for runners and walkers alike. The walk is a memorial to the soldiers who fought and died in Papua New Guinea during World War II. The track represents the ‘golden staircase’, a name given by soldiers to the 2000 stairs cut by Australian soldiers during the war. The walk is also used as a training ground for those wanting to tackle the real Kokoda Track. Plaques also line the walk, offering information on Australian soldiers and their lives. It’s a great educational walk to take with the kids or for history buffs keen to learn a bit more while experiencing a portion of what the Kokoda track was like for the soldiers who walked it.

Time: 1.5 hour return
Distance: 3 kms
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate (steps)

Macedon Ranges Walking Trail, Macedon Ranges

Starting at the Mount Macedon Hotel, this track will first take you on a walk up Mount Macedon. The initial uphill is zig zagged but can still be quite steep. Once you reach the top you will be rewarded with views of the surrounding landscape from Memorial Cross at the summit, and this is only the beginning! The walk takes you through stunning bushland and also offers the opportunity to see some unique wildlife. So keep your eyes peeled and camera ready. This walk can also be shortened or extended as desired.  

Time: 5 hours
Distance: 16 km
Difficulty: Moderate

Stevenson Falls, Marysville

Beautiful waterfalls, stunning vistas and an abundance of wildlife? You’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t do this walk sooner. Located near Marysville, the walk begins with a steep uphill but turns into an easy walk after the initial climb. You’ll be heading past Keppel Lookout, Del La Rue Lookout and the Stevenson falls lookout. This is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, so remember that at times it can get quite busy. Begin your walk earlier in the day or during the week to get the most out of this great walk.

Time: 3 - 4 hours
Distance: 10.3 km
Difficulty: Easy (Initial steep uphill then gentle walk)

Photo by Mitch Braithwaite via Unsplash

Werribee Gorge Circuit Track, Werribee State Park

The wild and rough beauty of the 500 million year old Werribee Gorge make this walk a must for Melbournians wanting to stretch their legs and rekindle their love of nature. Less than an hour’s drive from the city, Werribee Gorge features a flowing river where you can sit and cool your feet while you rest. It also makes a great lunch stop before heading out again. The walk features some interesting (and easy) rock climbing sections, helped out with the implementation of chains in the rock wall to assist you and makes a great walk to do with kids. Rocks can be slippery after rain so remember to wear good shoes.

Time: 2 hours
Distance: 5 km
Difficulty: Moderate

Tongue Point Walking Trail, Wilsons Promontory

Sweeping coastal headlands, stunning ocean views and hidden beaches: there's not much you won’t love about this must do walk. Starting at Darby River carpark you’ll head out towards the headland past the ancient Darby Sand Dunes and low lying coastal heath. Stop at the turquoise waters of Fairy Cove and take a dip. The cove is sheltered by granite boulders, and with many sea creatures also calling these rocks home, it makes a great place to go snorkeling. Head back on the path for the short walk to Tongue Point. This walk can be lengthened by taking the alternate path back through Darby Saddle.

Time: 3 - 4 hours
Distance: 13 km
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

The Pinnacle Walk and Lookout, Grampians National Park

One of the most iconic walks in the region, the Pinnacle lookout walk showcases the best of the Grampians. There are multiple areas to start the walk up to the lookout, but if you are travelling with kids, starting at Sundial carpark is probably the easiest on little feet. The walk contains some exciting water crossings and a few rocky sections but is well worth the effort with views looking out across the Grampians. Remember to pack lots of water and wear sturdy shoes for this walk.  

Time: 1.5 hours
Distance: 2.1 km
Difficulty: Moderate

Header image: Grampians National Park via Visit Victoria