Time can be a barrier to getting outside to explore. You may have time constraints on your hike, or are unable to set aside a whole day to drive up to the mountains. But not to worry – there are a number of excellent hikes for all skill levels that are an hour or less from Melbourne CBD!
Werribee Gorge Circuit
Clocking in at just under an hour from Melbourne CBD, Werribee Gorge State Park is undoubtedly one of my favourite hikes. The 10km Circuit Walk offers a bit of everything, with rock scrambling, hill climbs, swimming areas and most importantly, epic views. On weekends this place gets very busy, so get in early to make sure you get a car park!
If you are looking for a shorter hike, the Short Circuit Walk is 5km and offers access to some of the main view points. For more an adventure and a few extra kilometres, adding the Centenary Walk is a 4km detour from the circuit walk to John Whyte Island, with excellent views back across the gorge.
You Yangs East West Walk & Flinders Peak
Just under an hour to the west of the city, the You Yangs pop up out of the surrounding flat landscape. The regional park offers a variety of walking and mountain biking tracks, and is even a popular spot for a bit of abseiling. The 4km East West Walk offers a good feel for the park, and any trip to the You Yangs would be incomplete without a climb up to Flinders Peak for 360 views of the surrounding area. Keep an eye out for Bungil the Eagle!
The Organ Pipes National Park is tucked off to the side of the Calder Freeway, a mere 30 minutes from the CBD. The park features a range of geological formations, including the set of basalt columns formed by the cooling and cracking of molten lava which give the park its name. A 3km walk will take you past the Organ Pipes and other intriguing formations, and the car park features views of the city and the valley below. Oh, and it is an excellent spot for a picnic!
Lerderderg Gorge Circuit
The rolling green hills of Lerderderg State Park are just under an hour from the CBD, located opposite the township if Bacchus Marsh. The 8km Gorge Circuit commences from Mackenzies Flat Picnic Area, following the Lerderderg River to Grahams Dam, and features some tough ascents and descents to the hills above.
For a challenge, the 16km Scenic Rim hike follows the Lerderderg River further into the park, and offers spectacular views across the park.
Dandenong Ranges Circuit
Looming over Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs are the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, which are only an hour from the CBD. Avoid the crowds at the 1000 Steps and explore the true beauty of these mountains by taking on the 16km Dandenong Ranges Circuit. Starting from the town of Olinda, the trail follows interlinking tracks across the mountains, with the trail emerging from the forest for views back across the city. Highlights of the circuit include Olinda Falls, Mt Dandenong (beware the throngs of picnicking families at Sky High), the Arboretum and an abandoned golf course full of doggos. Treat yourself to tea and scones upon your return to Olinda – you will have earned it!
Other great hikes in the Dandenongs include Sherbrooke Forest, and Olinda Falls.
Lysterfield Lake Circuit
At only 40 minutes from the CBD, Lysterfield Park and Churchill National Park are a pop of greenery tucked into the Eastern suburbs. The park is popular among walking families, trail runners, and mountain bikers, so be prepared to encounter everyone out on the trails. The main lake circuit is approximately 8km, however the wider park includes a wealth of well marked trails that can be pieced together to form a larger hike.
If you are after some hill climbing, Trig Point offers some great views across the park and back towards the city.
Are there any other hikes you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!