If you've pounded the same uninspired pavement a few too many times, why not swap the city's crowds for a peaceful off-road adventure? You don't have to go far in Victoria to discover thrilling mountainous runs, breezy tracks through unspoiled forest and serene trails along the bay. Whether you're a seasoned runner or a beginner looking to dabble in something fresh, there are plenty of trail running spots in Victoria to tackle the next time your usual route is feeling a bit monotonous.

1. Woowookarung Regional Park, Ballarat

Distance: Various — 1km to 11km

Meaning 'place of plenty', there's indeed plenty for trail runners of all levels to explore in this 641-hectare park. For new trail runners, park at Recreation Road. This gives you easy access to shared-use singletrack, Crit Loop, a gentle 880m return run. Adding on the Crit Loop Extension brings the run closer to 3km, best completed by running clockwise. The exterior of the park is also runner-friendly, simply marked by yellow arrows on trees, while Australia's first dementia-friendly sensory trail is an excellent post-run cool down spot.

2. Mount Oberon, Wilsons Promontory

Distance: 7km return

One of Wilsons Promontory's iconic hikes, the top of Mount Oberon promises one of the best summit views in Victoria. The rocky but steady summit begins at Telegraph Saddle carpark and winds through tall eucalyptus, granite boulders and finishes with a steep climb up timber steps to the summit. Catch your breath while admiring 360-degree views over Wilsons Prom, including pristine coastline and mountainous ranges. This route also makes for an entertaining sunrise or sunset run, but make sure to bring a head torch.

3. Mount Buffalo National Park, High Country

Distance: Various — 1.5km to 22km

If you're looking to expand your trail running repertoire, look no further than Mount Buffalo National Park in Victoria's High Country. Home to a 90-kilometre network of hiking and running trails, there are plenty of choices to give your legs a real workout. A seamless out-and-back 1.5km return track from The Horn picnic area to The Horn Lookout rewards runners with a panoramic view over the Australian Alps. Experienced competitors should look towards The Big Walk, a rite of passage for Victorian trail runners. This challenging 22.6km out-and-back route starts at the Gorge Day visitor area and winds through tall forest, before runners arrive at Buffalo Plateau.

4. Werribee Gorge, Macedon Ranges 

Distance: 10km return

A popular and rugged walking track, Werribee Gorge is situated just an hour’s drive from Melbourne. If you’re heading down on the weekend, expect some of the city crowds to follow. The 10km circuit is a steep loop including rock scrambling, a small section of climbing and varied terrain. You can start at either Quarry or Meikles Point picnic area, but running anti-clockwise is a slightly gentler route. Indulge in a spot of wildlife watching during a post-run cooldown — friendly locals include echidnas, wallabies and wedge-tailed eagles. Alternatively, you can make your way back to one of the sandy river beaches along the walk for a swim.

5. Flinders Peak Loop, You Yangs Regional Park

Distance: 4.5km + 3.2km return

Just over an hour’s drive west of Melbourne lies the You Yangs. Dramatic and wild granite peaks rise abruptly from the flat plains below, making it a popular spot for mountain biking and hikers with their furry friends. Starting and ending at Turntable carpark, the Flinders Peak Loop via the East-West circuit forms the first 4.5km of this loop, finishing with 450 steps up to Flinders Peak which rewards determined trail runners with panoramic views out to Melbourne.

6. Cooks Mill to Neds Peak, Cathedral Ranges

Distance: 10km return 

Located in the spectacular Cathedral Ranges, this stimulating ascent is ideal for experienced trail runners looking for a challenge. The Cathedral Ranges is a breathtaking display of Victorian landscape, home to towering rock walls and ancient caves. The first section along Little River Track to Neds Gully is a gentle warmup, followed by a heart-pumping ascent to Neds Peak via Neds Saddle. Expect uneven and rocky ground including some serious scrambling. Return the way you came to arrive back at the carpark.

7. Two Bays Walking Track, Mornington Peninsula

Distance: 6km return

While much of the Mornington Peninsula is undulating, this out-and-back section of the Two Bays Walking Track is ideal for uninspired city runners looking to lace up somewhere new. Starting at Dromana beach, climb the picturesque 3km to the top of Arthurs Seat along Latrobe Parade, before turning around to make the (arguably harder) descent back down to the foreshore. Reward yourself with a post-run dip in Port Phillip Bay — warm weather not guaranteed. For experienced runners looking for an extra challenge, Two Bays Walking Track is a continuous route running a total of 26kms from Dromana to Bushrangers Bay, breezing through bushland and coastal scenery.

8. East Sherbrooke Forest Walk, Dandenong Ranges

Distance: 6.7km return

This gentle loop which starts and finishes at Grants Picnic Ground is an exceptional choice for beginners. The Dandenong Ranges is home to tranquil forest paths, cool temperate rainforest and eucalyptus trees. Sherbrooke Picnic Ground is just down the road from the ever-popular 1000 steps, but doesn't bring the weekend crowds with it. Soak up the serenity, but be mindful the area can be muddy and slippery after rain. The Sherbrooke waterfall trail from the O'Donohue picnic ground carpark, a short drive away, is worth a detour before heading home.

9. Camels Hump, Mount Macedon

Distance: 5.4km return

Mount Macedon offers some of the best trail running routes in Victoria, but the Camel's Hump rewards runners with views from the highest peak in the Macedon Ranges. It's a popular trail for new runners with clearly marked tracks, some entertaining dips and a steep ascent to the top. To complete this route as a loop, park at Cameron picnic ground and follow the signs to Camel's Hump. After a quick breather, descend the same way back. If you want to extend the loop by an extra 10km, head towards Clyde Track and Alton Road, then follow signs to Macedon station and Cameron picnic ground.

10. Lake Circuit Trail, Lysterfield Park

Distance: 5.5km return

Abandon the bitumen for this sprawling network of gravel parks at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. A popular spot for cyclists and walkers, the Lake Circuit Trail is a great experience for new runners, with distance markers every kilometre and a few short hills. Visit during sunrise or sunset to catch a glimpse of native wildlife, including echidnas and kangaroos.

Plan before you go

Make sure you check weather and terrain conditions and pack plenty of water before you embark on an outdoor adventure. Keep up-to-date with the latest warnings and advice via the Parks Victoria and Vic Emergency websites. 


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