Ride, walk, or run Melbourne’s Maribyrnong River Trail from Footscray to Brimbank Park. The 23km route is the perfect way to explore this off-the-radar river.


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants, for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Quick Overview

If you’re up for an urban adventure, this trail lets you explore Melbourne’s western suburbs with a leisurely ride alongside the Maribyrnong River. The trail is 23km one way and is a mix of pavement in suburbia and dirt trail through bushland.


‘They’ll see you rollin’, they wavin’, sippin’ on their Chai laaaaaaaaaaattes’

About the Maribyrnong River Trail

The start of this trail is popular with locals – you’ll find them running, walking, riding, and grabbing a latte along the paved section of the trail. There are a few hills thrown in and these tend to be where you leave the crowds behind. A dirt trail continues through bushland and gum trees in the river valley until you reach Brimbank Park.

The trail is well marked and has been upgraded in many sections after flood damage in 2022. There’s no shortage of great places to stop for a break along the way – from cafes and parks to shady river banks. If sticking to the trail isn’t adventurous enough for you, you can explore the river on SUPs, canoes or kayaks, or throw in a line for a spot of fishing.

Read more: 8 Places to Put Your Paddle in Around Melbourne


Wild humans enjoying the urban trail

Maribyrnong River History

The river’s name is believed to have come from the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people ‘Mirring-gnay-bir-nong’ – meaning ‘I can hear a ringtail possum’. The river and surrounding valley supported the lives of First Nations people for tens of thousands of years.


*Hearing a ringtail possum isn’t guaranteed! (Please comment if you’ve heard one!)

How to Get To The Maribyrnong River Trail

By Bike

The Maribyrnong River Trail starts in Footscray and is a 5km ride from Melbourne’s Docklands precinct on the Footscray Road Bike Path.

By Train

You can also catch a train to Footscray Station and then ride 1km to the trailhead.

By Car

If you’re driving, there’s parking near the trailhead – just be aware of time restrictions. If you’re organising a car shuffle, the trail ends in Brimbank Park which is approximately 25 minutes drive from Footscray and has plenty of free parking.

Skill Level


This is a beginner trail because it’s well marked and there’s no experience needed. However be aware that there are a few steep hills which can’t be avoided, and the trail goes from paved to unpaved around the 10km mark.


Goodbye suburbia!

Distance / Duration / Elevation Gain of the Maribyrnong River Trail

23km / 80 minutes of riding / 282m

Essential Gear for the Maribyrnong River Trail

  • Bike and helmet
  • Water bottle – there are places to refill
  • Snacks
  • Tyre repair kit

What it’s Like to Ride the Maribyrnong River Trail

Footscray to Afton Street Reserve

Distance: 8km

The trail officially starts next to Footscray Road alongside the Maribyrnong River. From here you follow the river north on a paved trail that’s usually quite busy. On weekends it can be particularly slow-going as you dodge all the foot traffic.

In many sections the path is on both sides of the river – and it doesn’t matter too much what side you’re on, as long as you keep riding in the right direction! Cruising along the river bank you get to take in all the urban glory of golf courses, playgrounds, cafes, and funky houses.

This section is best for a leisurely ride, and you can stop in at Poyntons Nursery or The Boathouse for a coffee, snack, and water refill.


Cookie cutter urban reflections on point

Afton Street Reserve to Canning Street Reserve

Distance: 5km

From the Afton Street Reserve, follow the still-paved path as it winds up some steep hills. This gets you to Lily Reserve where you’ll get some great views back to the city skyline. You can also see the river and the former artillery barracks on the opposite bank.

As you head down the other side of the hill, the river valley becomes overgrown and full of gum trees and bushland – yippee! This is also where the pavement gives way to dirt. You’ve (almost) left the suburbs behind and get to enjoy a bushland trail.

This is a great section to practise some hill climbs and to find yourself a gum tree to sit beneath for a snack break or picnic.


Dirt trail… no city slickers here!

Canning Street Reserve to Brimbank Park

Distance: 10km

After passing by a momentary view of the suburbs at Canning Street Reserve – with its playground, BBQs, and football oval – you head back into bushland. This cruisy section of the trail winds right through the suburbs but being in the valley means you escape the traffic and noise.

Although you can look up and see houses above, it’s better to keep your eye-line lower and focus on the open trail, gum trees, and the river flowing alongside you. You’ll end up in Brimbank Park where Lumber & Co cafe provides a great post-journey meal or halfway-point refuel.

This part of the trail is best for some dirt action. You’ve left the city behind and avoided the crowds.


Wouldn’t be a Melbourne bike ride if we didn’t stop for coffee!

Tips For Riding the Maribyrnong River Trail

The first part of the trail is just what you’d expect of an urban bike path – plenty of facilities including bike repair stations, toilets, and water bottle refill stations. However, from Canning Street the trail doesn’t have many facilities until you reach to Brimbank Park section so be sure to plan accordingly.

Make sure you’re riding a bike that can handle the pavement AND the dirt sections of the trail. There are places to hire bikes in Melbourne if you’re between wheels or visiting from another state.

Have you tackled Melbourne’s Maribyrnong River Trail? Or planning to ride it in the future? Let us know all about it in the comments.


SUP, walk, or ride – choose your vibe and get out there!

FAQs Maribyrnong River Trail

How long does it take to ride the Maribyrnong River Trail?

The ride took me about 80 minutes to complete, but if you stop for picnics or coffees along the way it will take longer.

How hard is theMaribyrnong River Trail?

The walk is suitable for beginners! It does have some hills and dirt sections, which for beginners more used to flat terrain may find slightly more challenging.

How much does it cost to do the Maribyrnong River Trail?

The trail is free to access – bring your crew!

What’s the best time of year to enjoy the Maribyrnong River Trail?

The trail is open all year. It gets pretty popular on weekends so I prefer to ride it during the week when there’s fewer people around.

What rides are similar to the Maribyrnong River Trail?

For more urban rides, check out our guide to the best bike paths in Melbourne. If you’re after more dirt and thrills, check out the Wombat Loop Mountain Bike Trail.

Where can I go for more information on the Maribyrnong River Trail?

For the most up to date information on the hike, visit the Parks Victoria website.

This piece was brought to you by a real living human who felt the wind in their hair and described their adventure in their own words. This is because we rate authenticity and the sharing of great experiences in the natural world – it’s all part of our ethos here at We Are Explorers. You can read more about it in our Editorial Standards.