It’s a bit of a myth that living in Melbourne means long drives to any decent hiking trail. In fact, there are a bunch of great walks in Melbourne itself!

 

We’ve done some digging and sniffed out the best one-day hikes near Melbourne to get you out of the latte-lined alleyways and onto the dirt. 

Don’t worry, we’re not taking the piss, nearly everything on this list is under 2 hours from the CBD (many of these hikes are in Melbourne), because what could be worse than spending longer in the car than on the trail?

Lace up! Whether it’s a salty breeze or nostalgic waft of a good eucalypt, it’s time to get out of the city and hike up a storm.

1. Bushrangers Bay and Cape Schanck Trail

Mornington Peninsula
Distance: 10km return
Time from Melbourne: 85 minutes

This stunning coastal jaunt takes you through the bush to the rugged cliffs of Cape Schanck at the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula. The walk is suitable for beginners but that doesn’t mean you’re not in for a treat. From the cheeky hidden beaches at Bushrangers Bay to the possibility of kangaroo sightings and an idyllic lighthouse to mark your turnaround point, this hike is a must.

 

Photo: Visit Victoria

2. Point Nepean Walk

Mornington Peninsula
Distance: 14.5km
Time from Melbourne: 90 minutes

You can hike all the way out to the tip of the Mornington Peninsula along the Point Nepean Walk. You’ll pass ruins from World War Two bunkers and the quarantine station on the way to Fort Nepean, where you can look back towards Melbourne across Port Phillip Bay or south to King Island and… Antarctica. Not satisfied? You can link up a series of trails through Bunurong country by taking The Coastal Track all the way down to Cape Schanck (an extra 30km if you’re feeling sprightly!).

 

3. Flinders Peak Walk

You Yangs Regional Park
Distance: 3km return
Time from Melbourne: 1 hour

Rising 450 steps above the surrounding landscape, this hike will take you to the highest point of the You Yangs Regional Park. Near the top you’ll be able to look down at the Bunjil Geoglyph from a lookout. Geoglyphs are rock sculptures designed to be viewed from above (like the Nazca Lines), this one depicts Bunjil, the creator spirit of the Wathaurong people, who takes the form of a Wedge-tailed Eagle. 

If that’s not enough to get you in the car there are also BBQs and the whole park is dog-friendly if you keep pup on their lead. You beudy!

4. 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk

Upper Ferntree Gully, Dandenong Ranges
Distance: 3km return
Time from Melbourne: 40 minutes

I know, I know, the 1000 steps is a pretty well-known hike in Melbourne, but with oodles of ferns, heaps of #vert and a tiny commute it’s a shoe-in. It’s about 1.5km to the top of the steps, which have been adopted as a memorial to the 625 soldiers who perished on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in World War Two.

Now all of those stairs are being used to give keen city-slickers a mean nature workout, so pack your activewear and get those glutes firing.

5. Sherbrooke Falls Trail

Dandenong Ranges
Distance: 2.4km
Time from Melbourne: 50 minutes

Starting from the Sherbrooke and O’Donohue Picnic Ground, the Sherbrooke Falls Trail is a peaceful alternative to the Insta-famous 1000 steps. Walk beneath towering ferns and the stunning Mountain Ash trees on your way to the tranquil goodness of Sherbrooke Falls.

6. Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk

Werribee Gorge State Park
Distance: 10km
Time from Melbourne: 1 hour

Resisting the obvious pun here, the Werribee Gorge Circuit hike is impressive. From Meikles Point picnic area you’ll follow the river and scramble over rocks, there’s even a 50m cable-assisted section for when the rock gets too steep. Then it’s time to climb up to the rim.

The Eastern View lookout will give you a stellar photo of the whole park before you’re off again towards the quarry. Don’t forget your bathers for a post-hike swim! 

 

7. Cathedral Ranges Southern Circuit via Sugarloaf Peak

Nanadhong (Cathedral Ranges)
Distance: 10.6km
Time from Melbourne: 2 hours

Jacqui reckons that Barralbarayi (Sugarloaf Peak) might be one of the toughest hikes near Melbourne, lucky it’s one of the best then! The hike features a cave squeeze, adrenaline-inducing rock scrambles and epic views along Victoria’s distinctive razorback ridgelines. Navigation is tricky and it’s a big day so pack your grippiest shoes, check the weather and stash heaps of food and water. Not a hat person? You are now – grab your dorkiest one, who’s gonna see ya out there?

 

8. Lerderderg Gorge Circuit Walk

Lerderderg State Park
Distance: 13.5km
Time from Melbourne: 1 hour

Another epic gorge within an hour of the CBD! Sorry, but the Lerderderg Gorge Circuit walk is gorgeous, it’s lusher than the exposed Werribee Gorge and packed with peaceful pools to ponder. Don’t be fooled though, like Werribee this area has been mined, so do your best to stay on track to avoid falling down a mineshaft!

 

9. Organ Pipes Trail

Organ Pipes National Park
Distance: 3km
Time from Melbourne: 30 minutes
Traditional Country of the Wurundjeri People

This is so epic. In the time it takes to mainline an episode of Friends you could be parking the car ON TOP OF an old volcano before traipsing through a valley featuring (take it away Parks Victoria) ‘one of the world’s largest ancient volcanic lava flows, stretching 350km from the edge of Melbourne to the western border of Victoria.’

The striking basalt columns of the Organ Pipes are the main attraction, but the Tessellated Pavement and Rosette Rock (with spokes like a wheel) give this walk major bang for your buck.

10. Hanging Rock Summit Walk

Macedon Ranges
Distance: 3.8km loop
Time from Melbourne: 1 hour

Once you read the definition of a mamelon (stiff magma pouring from a vent and congealing in place) you won’t be particularly surprised that it’s the French word for nipple. Hanging Rock, along with its friend Camels Hump, are two beaut viewpoints just north of Melbourne that climb these cheeky formations.

Learn about their weird geology on the Hanging Rock Summit Walk before hooking in for a picnic at the opulent picnic area.

 

The Macedon Ranges are a Family Friendly Playground, Mattie Gould, Camels Hump, farmland, landscape, bushland, woman, summit

View from Camels Hump | @mattiejgould

11. Merri Creek Trail

Melbourne North
Distance: 19km one way
Time from Melbourne: It’s in Melbourne!

This cute trail follows Merri Creek through Melbourne’s suburbs. As you wind along the trail you’ll pass bubbling waterfalls, native wetlands (much of it thanks to replanting efforts) and even cross a pretty neat cable suspension bridge.

This pamphlet has everything you need to know about the walk, including public transport info, BBQ spots and the location of CERES, a community environmental hub (with a dope café, of course).

12. The Yarra Trail

North East Melbourne
Distance: 38km one way
Time from Melbourne: It’s in Melbourne!

There are a LOT of ways to slice the Yarra Trail, a route so iconic that there’s a shmancy brand named after it. The path roughly follows a dreaming route for the Wurundjeri people based around Bunwurrung, or the Yarra Yarra River. As it winds further from the CBD through the Melbourne suburbs, concrete gives way to dirt and premium views of the city give way to cheeky billabongs and lazy gums.

Heads up, this is a shared trail with cyclists so keep your wits about you as you mosey down the path.

13. Toorongo Falls Circuit Walk

Toorongo Falls Reserve
Distance: 2.2km return
Time from Melbourne: 1 hour 50 minutes

This tranquil little stroll in Gippsland squeezes a lot into its short distance. As you walk beneath ferns and over moss-covered boulders you’ll come to viewing spots for Toorongo Falls and Amphitheatre Falls. There’s a campsite nearby and even places to swim in the warmer months. Day trip or weekend away? That’s up to you.

 

Toorongo Falls Victoria Gippsland LORENZO SANTUCCI, waterfall, rocks, long exposure

Photo by Lorenzo Santucci

14. Ironbark Basin – Bells Beach to Point Addis

Point Addis
Distance: 10.5km loop
Time from Melbourne: 1 hour 30 minutes

The Ironbark Basin Walk is a beautiful section of the Surf Coast Walk that runs for 44km from Torquay to Aireys Inlet. You’ll hike along cliff tops and through coastal scrub, taking in views of the famous surf beach where the Rip Curl Surf Pro is held, before making your way to Point Addis and down onto the beach to complete the loop. Make sure you go at low tide if you’re doing the beach loop!

15. Mushroom Rocks

Baw Baw National Park
Distance: 3km
Time from Melbourne: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Traditional Land of the Gunaikurnai people

Strange mushroom-shaped granite tors abound in this intriguing little playground. The Mushroom Rocks are covered in moss and nestled amongst the ferns, Snow Gums and Mountain Ash of the temperate rainforest. Listen out for Eastern Whipbirds and Superb Lyrebirds as you hike, if you’re quiet you might just see one!

 

16. Cape Woolamai Circuit

Millowl (Phillip Island)
Distance: 8.5km loop
Time from Melbourne: 1 hour 45 minutes
Traditional Land of the Bunurong and Boonwurrung people

Combine all of the hikes on Millowl (Phillip Island) with the full Cape Woolamai Circuit. Cape Woolamai is the highest point on the island and offers stellar views back across the isolated headland. While you’re walking alongside the steep cliffs, look out for nesting short-tailed shearwaters – the birds make their burrows on the island and migrate to Alaska in April.

17. George Bass Coastal Walk

Bass Coast
Distance: 7km one way
Time from Melbourne: 1 hour 40 minutes

This clifftop trail meanders for two hours along the coastline while looking out over the Bass Strait. The Boonwurrung people lived in this area for thousands of years and middens in the coastal dunes offer a small reminder of the region’s history. The George Bass Coastal Walk is named after Bass, who sailed from Sydney Cove in an 8.7 metre whaling boat to dismiss the idea that Tasmania was connected to the mainland.

 

Feature photo thanks to Visit Victoria