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21 best day hikes near Melbourne: lace up your boots

Looking for the best day hikes near Melbourne? There are plenty of places to head to, if you want to get out of the city and into nature. Lace up your hiking boots and get exploring.

People sit astride a craggy rock formation in Victoria known as Hanging Rock. This is one of the most popular day hikes near Melbourne.
People hanging out on Hanging Rock in Victoria, one of the best day hikes near Melbourne.

Melbourne is a great place to live in and visit, but sometimes you just gotta get out of the city… and stretch your legs.

Fortunately the best day hikes near Melbourne are a short drive from the city. Some are even accessible by public transport. Very easy to head to, to get your head in nature.

There are also some great treks within the city, as an added boon.

Victoria is a fairly dog-friendly state, so I’ve included notes on which parks and tracks you can bring your pooch to.

If permitted, remember to keep your best fur-iend on leash and pick up their waste, for the health of the natural environment and critters that call it home.

Keen hiker and a bit of a bookworm? For more, check out these books about walking.

Disclosure: This guide to the best day hikes near Melbourne may contain affiliate links. If you click through for additional information or make a purchase, it may result in a small commission, at no extra cost to you. See my privacy policy if you require more information. Thank you for supporting a small content creator.

Need a set of wheels to reach your day hike destination?

Best day hikes near Melbourne

I’ve broken up the best day hikes near Melbourne into those west, north, east and south of the city.

And as a bonus, I’ve also included some day hikes in the city itself, which you can hit if you’re unable to travel.

Best day hikes from Melbourne: west of the city

Let’s start with day hikes located west of Melbourne, around the Bellarine Peninsula.

A woman stands with a dog on top of the You Yangs in Victoria.
View from the You Yangs.

You Yangs Regional Park

Distance from Melbourne: around 1 hour, 10 minutes from the city centre
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The is one of the best day hikes in Melbourne, making it very popular indeed.

The You Yangs as they’re known, are an easy drive along the M1, with a turn off before Geelong.

Once there, you’ll find a range of different hikes to choose from, suitable for many different levels of fitness.

I highly recommend the East and West walk, which will take you around one of the mountains.

Keep an eye out for a piece of art featuring Bunjil, the creator being in local Indigenous lore.

For views of Geelong and beyond, climb to the top of Flinders Peak.

There are plenty of facilities, including picnic tables, so bring a spread to enjoy after your hike.

Dog-friendly? Yes, you can take your pooch with you, when hiking the You Yangs.

A woman with a backpack looks out over Werribee Gorge in Victoria, a popular day hike near Melbourne.
Looking out over Werribee Gorge and feeling thankful to have reached the top.

Werribee Gorge Circuit

Distance from Melbourne: 1 hour
Difficulty: Medium

Another one of the best day hikes near Melbourne is a short drive from the city centre.

While it’s a popular walk, it’s also quite challenging; there’s some rock scrambling involved. There can be a bit of a wait for this on weekends and public holidays, plus it’s hard to see people coming from the opposite direction.

I highly recommend wearing shoes with grip, so proper hiking boots (I swear by my Teva’s). Don’t be like the people I once saw attempting this walk in Converse sneakers.

Dog-friendly? Unfortunately, you’ll have to leave Fido at home for this one.

Lerderderg State Park

Distance from Melbourne: 1 hour
Difficulty: Challenging

Lerderderg State Park is another great day hiking destination west of Melbourne.

If it’s your first time out there, get your bearings on the 8 kilometre long Lerderderg Gorge Circuit.

Keep in mind, this trail involves river crossings. So perhaps not entirely advisable to head here in winter, or after heavy rainfall.

Regardless of when you do it, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the gorge on the way up and down.

Dog-friendly? Unfortunately dogs are not permitted in the park.

View along the Brisbane Ranges Circuit Walk in Brisbane Ranges National Park.
The Brisbane Ranges are very pretty.

Brisbane Ranges National Park

Distance from Melbourne: around 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy to challenging, depending on which route you take

There are a few different walks in this park.

If you’re new to hiking, I recommend the Anakie Gorge Walk. It’s 8 kilometres and takes around two hours to complete.

For a full day of walking, challenge yourself with the Brisbane Ranges Circuit Walk. This 17.9 kilometre trail should take around four hours to finish.

Dog-friendly? As this is a national park, dogs are not permitted.

Best day hikes from Melbourne: north of the city

A woman in a ski jacket and a dog stand on Mt Macedon, looking out at the view.
The view from Mount Macdon is nice.

Mount Macedon

Distance from Melbourne: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Mount Macedon is a great area to head to, if you’re keen to try some of the best day hikes near Melbourne.

There are several different walks to choose from. Walk to the summit of the highest peak in Macedon Regional Park, Camel’s Hump. Trek to Sanatorium Lake.

Or jump on the Macedon Ranges Walking Trail, a full day walk which takes around 5 hours to complete.

Mount Macedon is also a top destination for autumn leaves in Victoria.

Dog-friendly? Yup! You can take your best fur friend hiking with you on Mt Macedon.

Looking at Hanging Rock from the base.
The base of Hanging Rock in Victoria, a top day hike from Melbourne.

Hanging Rock

Distance from Melbourne: 1 hour drive
Difficulty: Moderate

Victoria’s Hanging Rock is famous due to Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, one of the best Australian books.

The main trail here is the trek to the summit. It’s not a hard walk, but it takes around an hour to do properly, leaving yourself time to take in the views from the top.

It’s a great place to bring the kids – they’ll be fascinated by the craggy rock formation. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the lawns afterward.

Perhaps rather than climb Hanging Rock, you may want to take a llama for a walk around it?

Dog-friendly? Dogs are permitted on-leash around some areas. However, you can’t ascend the rock with your pooch.

Black Hill Reserve

Distance from Melbourne: 1 hour 10 minutes driving
Difficulty: Moderate

This reserve is located in 260 acres of bushland. It’s best known for its granite rock formations, including the ‘Monolith’, one of the largest in Victoria.

There are several walking tracks to choose from. On your first visit, you may want to jump on the Circuit Track, which is a 3.9km trail with only a few inclines.

The Ridge Track is only 2.7km but has steeper sections. However, the pay off is some lovely views.

Head to the reserve in spring to see gorgeous wildflowers in bloom.

Discover more things to do in Kyneton.

Dog-friendly? Yes! You can bring your doggo. Just make sure they stay on leash, as a lot of wildlife call this reserve home.

The columns of Organ Pipes National Park, which give it its name.
These columns, formed by molten lava, give this park its name.

Organ Pipes National Park

Distance from Melbourne: 35 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate

This unique park is located on the edge of one of the world’s largest volcanic lava flows. If you’re after a short day hike near Melbourne, it’s a great place to head to.

It takes around half an hour to trek to the ‘Organ Pipes‘ the park is named after.

These columns were formed when huge quantities of molten lava were ejected from volcanoes a short distance away, then flowed over the plains.

You can also take a wander through woodland to take in the geological landscape of the state’s ancient volcanic terrain.

This national park makes a great stop on your way in or out of Melbourne; perhaps on a weekend getaway?

Dog-friendly? As this is a national park, pets are prohibited.

The Cathedral Ranges State Park, a popular day hike destination in Victoria, where you can also camp.
Looking back at the Cathderal Ranges. Image credit: Visit Victoria.

Cathedral Range State Park

Distance from Melbourne: 2 hours driving
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

After an adventurous day hike near Melbourne? Trek out to Cathedral Range State Park, north-east of the city. It’s one of the best places to visit in Australia.

Take to the Friends Nature Trail for a gentle walk or get the blood pumping on the 5.3 km Razorback Trail or circuit routes.

It’s also possible to pitch a tent at The Farmyard camping area, for sunrise views.

Dog-friendly? No doggies allowed.

Best day hikes from Melbourne: east of the city

Inside the Dandenong Ranges National Park, with lush fernlife.
The fern life inside this park is LUSH.

Dandenong Ranges National Park

Distance from Melbourne: around an hour driving. You can also get here by train – alight at Belgrave.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Choose from an array of top day hikes near Melbourne at this one park.

The most popular trail is the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, which consists of 1000 steps. It’s basically a very steep war memorial, modelled after the real Kokoda Trail located in Papua New Guinea.

Sherbrooke Falls Loop is another good walk, trailing past gigantic Mountain Ash trees and ferns.

For a slightly more challenging walk, tackle the Lyrebird Track. You may even see some of these elusive creatures, if you’re lucky.

Discover other things to do in the Dandenong Ranges.

Dog-friendly? Being a national park, you can’t bring your pooch with you.

Cape Schanck Lighthouse on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.
Cape Schanck Lighthouse.
People walking in Mornington Peninsula National Park.
Trekking through Mornington Peninsula National Park.

Mornington Peninsula National Park

Distance from Melbourne: 1 hour 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

This lovely coastal park has quite a few trails you can attempt on a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula.

I recommend jumping on the Two Bays Walking Track. This moderately challenging hike takes around three hours to complete.

You’ll head towards Cape Schanck Lighthouse, check out the sights there and on the way, then turn around and head back to Bushrangers Bay Picnic Area.

Dog-friendly? Unfortunately this walk is located in a national park. You know the drill by now!

Best day hikes from Melbourne: south of the city

Cape Woolamai beach.
This walking track involves some beach crossings.

Cape Woolamai Circuit Walk

Distance from Melbourne: 1 hour 40 minute drive
Difficulty: Moderate

This walk is located on Victoria’s gorgeous Phillip Island.

The 8.3 kilometre trek generally takes around two hours to complete. Highlights include wildlife, such as migratory birds, wallabies, possums, koalas and perhaps even Australian fur seals.

You should attempt this walk during low tide, as part of it trails along beach.

Between October and April is the best time to walk – Phillip Island has famously fickle weather.

Dog-friendly? Dogs aren’t allowed on this trail.

A woman walks along a trail on French Island.
You may end up having the trail to yourself on French Island (well, as far as humans are concerned).

French Island

Distance from Melbourne: 1 hour 14 minute drive plus the ferry ride. You can also catch a train from Melbourne to Stony Point, swapping at Frankston and jump on the ferry from there.
Difficulty: Easy

Take a loop around a relatively unchallenging trail on an off-grid island.

Along this path you’ll pass wetlands, mangroves and small forest. You will probably also see plenty of wildlife, such as birds and echidnas.

This is one of the quieter trails I’ve been on – in fact I saw no one when I walked it myself.

Find out what else you can get up to on French Island.

Dog-friendly? Unfortunately French Island is a national park and so dogs aren’t allowed.

Best day hikes from Melbourne: in the city

Got no wheels or just don’t want to travel to far? Here are some top day hikes located in Melbourne.

Dights Falls in Melbourne.
Dights Falls can be accessed as part of a walking trail.

Capital City Trail

Difficulty: Easy

This 29 kilometre trail starts in the city centre (in Southbank) and follows the Yarra River (Birrarung) past the Arts Centre, Royal Botanic Gardens and the MCG.

There are some other lesser-known sights along the way, such as Herring Island, Burnley Gardens and Dights Falls, Melbourne’s only ‘waterfall’. Here are some other destinations with waterfalls in Victoria.

It should take you around four hours to complete this walk. I thoroughly recommend stopping for a picnic in a garden or on the riverbank, along the way.

Dog-friendly? Yes, you can bring your dog. Just make sure you keep them on a leash.

Yarra Bend Park Loop

Difficulty: Easy

Did you know Melbourne is technically classified as a forest?

This two hour walk takes you through some of the city’s loveliest natural spaces, right near the Yarra River (Birrarung).

Dog-friendly? Good boys and girls are fine to bring along, on leash of course.

Merri Creek Trail

Difficulty: Easy

This is a lovely trail that merrily follows the Merri Creek.

Starting in Fitzroy North, it cuts through the city’s northern suburbs, finishing in Fawkner.

You’ll see some birdlife along the way and perhaps some grasslands.

The walk takes around 3 hours to complete, but is point to point. You’ll need someone to pick you up, or you can catch public transport back towards the inner city.

For more, check out my guide to Melbourne’s best neighbourhoods, particularly Moonee Ponds.

Dog-friendly? Yes and as with any city walk, they must be on lead.

The sun, built to scale along St Kilda's Solar System Trail, a fun day hike in Melbourne.
The sculpture of the sun down by St Kilda foreshore.

St Kilda Solar System Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Here’s a day hike in Melbourne with a bit of a twist.

You may think you’re simply walking along the City of Port Phillip foreshore, but you’re actually travelling along a to-size replica of our solar system. Very cool! See the map (1.2 MB, PDF).

The trail starts with the sun and ends with Pluto. Not technically a planet, but still a part of our solar system!

Built to scale, every centimetre you walk is 10,000kms. Along this trail, Pluto is 5.9kms from the sun. You do the maths on this one.

This is one of the more unusual things to do in Melbourne and definitely worth checking out.

Dog-friendly? Yes, you can bring your dog along with you.

People walking through the redwood forest near Warburton.
Walking through the redwoods near Warburton. Image credit: Tourism Australia/Visit Victoria.

Warburton Redwood Forest Walk

Difficulty: Easy

This walk is located near Warburton, a small village east of Melbourne.

Californian Redwoods were planted here around 100 years ago. They’re about 50 metres tall; not as high as they can grow, but still pretty epic in their young age.

Hop on an easy 20 minute walk through the trees, taking in their splendour.

For more, check out my guide to the Yarra Valley.

Dog-friendly? No, as it’s located within the Yarra Ranges National Park.

Best day hikes near Melbourne: in conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of places to take a hike, that are not far at all from Melbourne. Some are even in Melbourne, so you barely have to travel.

Wherever you go, I hope you have a lovely trek and enjoy Victoria’s gorgeous scenery.

Responsible travel in Australia

Keen to tread lightly in Australia? Here are some tips:

  • Catch public transport where possible. If you’re driving, gather a group and car pool together. Or better yet – consider hiring an electric car!
  • Avoid plastic bottles: Australia’s tap water is safe to drink in most cities and large country towns. Invest in a reusable water bottle, preferably one with a filter like a GRAYL bottle (read my review).
  • Choose accommodation with a green rating. Some places will list their green credentials on their website, or you can filter through the Travel Sustainable option on Booking.com
  • Use ocean friendly toiletries. Please look after our beautiful beaches!
  • Leave no trace. Take your rubbish with you, swap out plastics for reusable items
  • Keep your distance from wildlife. Admire them from afar, but respect their space. And never feed them!
  • Be careful where you tread. Stick to marked paths, don’t go off track. You can end up damaging fragile flora or fungi. If there are signs saying not to climb over a fence and walk around a specific area, it’s usually for a good reason.

For more, check out these responsible travel tips and my guide to zero waste travel.

Australia travel essentials

Travelling to Australia and wondering what to bring on a hike near Melbourne? Here are some suggestions:

For more, check out these eco-friendly travel products and Australia travel essentials.

After more inspiration for Victoria and beyond? No problem:

Have you been on any day hikes near Melbourne? Any favourites?

Planning a day hike from Melbourne? Pin this post 📌

Looking for the best day hikes near Melbourne? There are plenty of places to head to, if you want to get out of the city and into nature. Lace up your hiking boots and get exploring.

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