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Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park
Photograph: Parks Victoria

The best day hikes from Melbourne

Eager for a bushwalk? These are some of the best hiking and walking trails to try near Melbourne

Rebecca Russo
Written by
Rebecca Russo
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Ready to get out of the big city? Try tackle one of these day hikes near Melbourne. Regional Victoria is brimming with picturesque walks great for getting your heart pumping including local wonders and seaside spectacles. Remember: always be prepared when hiking and bring plenty of water, snacks and wear sturdy shoes.  

If you'd rather stay closer to come, here are five great Melbourne walks, a stone's throw from the city.

RECOMMENDED: Go for a drive to the best waterfalls around Victoria

Melbourne day hikes less than two hours away

Flinders Peak Walk

Bring your dog! The You Yangs National Park is a dog-friendly park located between Melbourne and Geelong. The best walk to try (for you and your pupper) is the 3.2-kilometre Flinders Peak Walk, which takes you to the highest point of the You Yangs. It’ll certainly have you puffing, with about 450 steps and an elevation rise of about 200 metres, but you’ll feel like a proper champ once you reach the top. The walk starts and finishes at the Turntable Drive car park.

Drive time from CBD: 1h
Duration (return): 1h (3.2km)
Level of difficulty: Medium to hard

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Cape Schanck

Bushrangers Bay Trail

This coastal clifftop walk boasts picturesque vistas over Bass Strait. To begin, set off from the Cape Schanck car park through sandy outcrops, adjacent farmland and banksia forest. Keep an eye out for whales, chatty birds and maybe the occasional kangaroo as it makes its way across the grassy clearings. Top it off with a dip in the cool waves at the trail’s namesake beach.

Drive time from CBD: 1h 30m
Duration (one way): 45m (2.7km)
Level of difficulty: Easy to medium

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Steavenson Falls
Photograph: Robert Blackburn | Steavenson Falls, Marysville

3. Steavenson Falls

Keppel Lookout walk

You can start this walk at the Steavenson Falls car park, meaning you get to kick off your hike with a look at one of the state’s tallest (and most impressive) waterfalls. Following the signposts towards the Keppel Lookout, you’ll begin your ascent on a rough dirt track passing the De La Rue lookout. There are lots of hills and if there’s been rain, the track can be quite slippery so be prepared: bring plenty of water, snacks and wear sturdy shoes. The Keppel Lookout marks the halfway point on the hike, with views that stretch over towards the Cathedral Ranges on a clear day. Then begin your descent down back towards Falls Road. If you’ve got a little more energy in you, you can tack on a walk through the fern gully. 

Drive time from the CBD: 2h
Duration (return): 3h30m (11km)
Level of difficulty: Medium to hard

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Circuit Walk

This walk features a hiking trifecta: gorgeous views, rock scrambling and, depending on what time of year you visit, a post-hike swimming hole. Start at the Meikles Point picnic area and carpark and follow the path as it snakes around the river and uphill via a rocky crest. Head towards the Eastern Lookout at the gorge rim for a panorama of the park’s best natural wonders.

Drive time from CBD: 1h
Duration (circuit): 4h (10km)
Level of difficulty: Medium to hard

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Melbourne

Organ Pipes circuit

How weird is nature? The beautiful Organ Pipes National Park can be found just off the Calder Freeway, about 20 kilometres north of Melbourne. The 121-hectare park is named after its star attraction: 2.5 million-year-old basalt columns that look strikingly like organ pipes. Take the short circuit walk around the park while you're there. Starting at the visitor centre, you can follow the trail that passes along the main features of the park, including Keilor Plains, the Tessellated Pavement and the Organ Pipes themselves.

Drive time from CBD: 30m
Duration (circuit): 30m (1.5km)
Level of difficulty: Easy to medium

  • Things to do
  • Upper Ferntree Gully

Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk

Done with the 1,000 Steps? This Sherbrooke Forest walk offers up much of the same ferny greenery but without the hordes of fitness fanatics. Start at Grants Picnic Ground, past the bird feeding enclosure, and follow the first section of the track labelled the ‘Lyrebird Walk’. Keep on the sometimes-steep path, heading right at any turn, to see lush vegetation and the occasional kookaburra.

Drive time from CBD: 1h
Duration (return): 2.5h (6.6km)
Level of difficulty: Medium

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  • Things to do

Lerderderg Gorge Circuit Walk

This is bush. Real Victorian bush. As well as some great flora and fauna, Lerderderg is characterised by a 300-metre deep gorge that has cut through the park’s sandstone and slate. This circuit walk begins in the Mackenzies Flat picnic area and mostly follows the natural course of the river. Expect plenty of rock hopping, some relics from the gold mining days and even some river crossing depending on the weather.

Drive time from CBD: 50m
Duration (circuit): 4-5h (13.5km circuit)
Level of difficulty: Medium

Neds Gully Track

There are a bunch of great walks to do around the Cathedral Ranges, but Neds Gully Track is a good place to start. It’s a steady uphill hike that takes you up to Neds Gully and Neds Saddle. From there the track veers off to Cathedral Peak, the park’s highest point at 840 metres elevation. Some bushwalking experience is recommended for this one.

Drive time from CBD: 1h 40m
Duration (one way): 1h (2.2km)
Level of difficulty: Medium to hard

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Fingal Beach Walk

Those who like a lot of bang for their walking buck will rate this hike, which offers pretty breathtaking clifftop views and a secluded beach to play on. Start at Fingal Picnic Area, 2km north of Cape Schanck, and meander through the scrub forest. Take advantage of lookout spots – not only will they give you a chance to catch your breath, but they provide jaw-dropping views over the end of the Mornington Peninsula. The path will take you down a lot (and we mean a lot) of steps to Fingal Beach, which you are likely to have entirely to yourself. You can either return the same way (which, yes, means climbing all of those steps) or, if it's low tide, walking down the beach another two kilometres or so to Gunnamatta Beach, where a loop path will take you back to the start. Advantage of this approach: You avoid the stairs. Disadvantage: It's twice as long.

Drive time from CBD: 1h 30min
Duration (return): 1.5-2h (5km) if you go only as far as Fingal Beach; 3hr (10km) if you take the loop to Gunnamatta
Level of difficulty: Easy to medium

Deadman’s Loop

Don’t be put off by the name – this walk is a pleasant way to explore the Brisbane Ranges, a park that’s home to one of the state’s richest wildflower habitats. Start at the Stieglitz Courthouse and walk along Stawell Street to the creek to begin. Here you’ll find an interesting mix of rocky gullies and unusual geology that’s managed to preserve flora that’s long since disappeared from other parts of Victoria.   

Drive time from CBD: 1h 15m
Duration (circuit): 1h 45m (5.4km)
Level of difficulty: Medium to hard

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Hanging Rock Summit Walk

This region north of Melbourne is stacked with natural beauty – the best of which can be seen from the top of Hanging Rock. Banish the thought of picnics and white dresses and instead focus on the beautiful rock formations that you’ll spy as you make your way up to the top of Hanging Rock’s summit. The path can be steep at points so it will get the heart pumping, but seeing these 6 million-year-old rocks up close is well worth it.

Drive time from CBD: 1h
Duration (circuit): 40 mins (1.8km)
Level of difficulty: Medium

  • Things to do
  • Portsea

Point Nepean Walk

This part of Boonwurrung country has some of the earliest European settlement in Victoria. You can explore it all (and spy some killer bay views) via this 14.5-kilometre return walk. Starting at the Point Nepean entry gate, the walk takes you on both coastal and bush tracks that run past the old Quarantine Station and some World War II military buildings. The walk is pretty flat and quite variable, so you can stop and turn around at any point along the way.

Drive time from CBD: 1h40m
Duration (return): 3h (14.5km)
Level of difficulty: Easy to medium

Melbourne day hikes a little further afield

  • Travel

Mount Oberon Summit Walk

Starting from Telegraph Saddle car park, this walk follows a windy and shaded path up Mount Oberon towards a postcard perfect view over Tidal River, the coast and local offshore islands. What this walk lacks in exciting terrain it makes up for in astonishing vistas at the summit.

Drive time from CBD: 3h
Duration (return): 2h (6.8km)
Level of difficulty: Medium to hard

  • Things to do
  • Grampians

The Pinnacle

There’s a reason the Grampians bring bushwalkers back time and time again. Rough and rocky on first glance, it surprises visitors with hidden waterfalls, hollow mountains and incredible natural amphitheatres. The walk towards the Pinnacle starts at the Sundial car park where hikers can climb through fun geological terrain towards a big lump of rock overlooking Fyans Valley. If you’d like to test your fitness, there’s also a harder climb to the same destination that starts at the Wonderland carpark.

Drive time from CBD: 3h
Duration (return): 2h (4.2km)
Level of difficulty: Medium

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  • Travel

Beauchamp Falls walk

Descending towards Beauchamp Falls can feel a little like you’re falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. The good news is the reward is one of Victoria’s best-hidden waterfalls. Take the marked path through mountain ash forests, down a constructed staircase and over a few rocks and you’ll reach this awe-inspiring 20-metre tall cascade. The rocks will be slippery when wet, and keep in mind the walk back is a little steep, so take your time.

Drive time from CBD: 2h 30m
Duration (return): 1h (3km)
Level of difficulty: Easy to medium

Note: At the time of writing, the Beauchamp Falls area is closed for maintenance. Check with Parks Victoria for up-to-date information. 

  • Travel

The Big Drift

Did you know there are sand dunes only two and a bit hours south of Melbourne? Named the Big Drift, this extensive series of sand dunes is pretty hidden from the tourist track, and it’ll take you a bit of bush bashing to get there. Start at the back of the Stockyard campsite and follow the path as it snakes through bushland and open fields until you get to a final, very steep sandy hill. The sand is tough to walk up, so take your time (we suggest crawling up, it’s that steep). Once you reach the top, you'll be greeted by a seemingly endless view of sand, punctuated by the occasional green treetop and ocean view.

Drive time from CBD: 2h30m
Duration: 1h (2km)
Level of difficulty: Medium

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Mount Feathertop razorback trail

Ready for a challenge? This eye-poppingly long 22-kilometre walk is located in Victoria’s Alpine National Park and, for obvious reasons, can only be attempted in the warmer months. Start at the Diamantina Hut, just 2.5 kilometres from Hotham Village, and begin the trail that follows a ridge towards Victoria’s second highest mountain. The path is mostly above the tree line, so you’re very exposed – the benefit of this is that you get to enjoy incredible views all the way to the peak.

Drive time from CBD: 4h 30m
Duration: 7h (22km)
Level of difficulty: Hard

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