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16 Best Bike Rides & Off Road Trails in Melbourne for Kids & Families

I truly believe that bikes make life better! I'm so passionate about getting more people on bikes that for the past 9 years I've run an online bike store CycleStyle with stylish cycling accessories, I've been the face of City of Melbourne's Bicycle Plan and I'm on the Maribyrnong Active Transport Advisory Committee. In our family, there are more bikes than people!

 

As well as being an awesome way to go to school and to get around, family bike rides in Melbourne are a great way for kids (and adults) to get active, breathe in some fresh air to clear the head and explore new areas. 

Woman cycling Maribyrnong River trail Footscray
Photo by Lecinda Ward

A couple of things to note: In Victoria, you can ride on a footpath only if you are under 12 or are accompanying a child under 12. Also everyone, adults and children, must have a properly fitting and fastened helmet that meets Australian safety standards.

Here are the best family-friendly Melbourne bike trails and spots for cycling in Melbourne.

Best Bike trails Melbourne

1. Capital City Trail

Melbourne’s Capital City Trail is a big circular loop that winds through the city’s inner leafy suburbs. The whole track is 29km so with young kids I recommend biking just a part of the bike path Melbourne! 

As we live in Footscray the bike tracks near me involve meeting the Captial City Trail at Moonee Ponds Creek then heading down to Docklands, South Bank and the CBD. Sometimes using bike trails near me is faster than driving and public transport (we can get to The District Docklands is 15 minutes).

The most scenic routes are along the Main Yarra Trail (see below) and through the inner north between Fitzroy/Carlton and Melbourne Zoo in Parkville.

The trail is generally flat with a few smaller climbs in the north-east and north-west. Note that at Gipps Street, Abbotsford bikes need to be carried down a set of stairs, so don't take your cargo bike! The path is shared with walkers, so you do need to be careful in narrower parts. 

Many parts of the track are easily accessible via public transport if you want to take your bike on the train and there are lots of pit stops on the way. Try Canteen in South Yarra (a former toilet block!) and Park Street North Carlton

Best bike trails in Melbourne – North

2. Main Yarra Trail

The part of the Capital City Trail that follows the Yarra River through the northeastern suburbs to Mullum Mullum Creek Trail is otherwise known as the Main Yarra Trail.

The most popular sections are from the CBD to South Yarra, around Abbotsford Convent, Collingwood Children's Farm and Dight's Falls. Our favourite pit stop is The Farm Cafe Abbotsford.

3. Merri Creek Trail

The part of the Capital City Trail that follows the Merri Creek is called the Merri Creek Trail. The 21km one-way trail takes you through the suburbs of northern Melbourne, beginning at Dights Falls.

You'll pass the Brunswick Velodrome, Coburg Lake Reserve with its awesome playgrounds and playground, CERES, hidden horse paddocks and picnic spots. The Merri Creek trail ends in Coburg.

Best bike TRACKS Melbourne – South / South-East / Bayside

4. Bay Trail – Brighton to Port Melbourne

The Bay Trail is a relatively flat ride that follows the coastline of Port Phillip Bay from Seaford to Port Melbourne through Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs. It gets a bad rap sometimes for the MAMILS (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) who zoom along the trail, but to be honest most of them are riding on the road because the shared path is too slow for them.

One of the most popular Melbourne bike paths for families is the Brighton to Port Melbourne route. At Brighton there's an awesome North Road Foreshore playground plus the North Point cafe, there are loads of eateries at St Kilda such as Paper Fish and Piccolina Gelateria or stop off at Plum Garland Memorial Playground at Albert Park for a play. And of course, at any stage you can stop for a paddle and a swim in the water!

The most congested part of the trail is between Elwood and St Kilda – watch out for roller skaters/bladers!

The trail ends just north of the West Gate Bridge in Port Melbourne. Every 20 minutes during weekday commuter hours and on-demand during weekends, the Westgate Punt takes pedestrians cyclists from the Bay Trail's Port Melbourne stop across the Yarra River under the West Gate Bridge to the Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail at Spotswood (near Scienceworks Museum). 


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5. Lysterfield Park Trail

Lysterfield Park is a massive green space nestled in Melbourne’s outer southeast. Mountain bike trails loop around Lysterfield Lake and it features a wide array of trails suitable for XC and trail MTB riding in a natural environment. 

 It’s also well-known for being a great place for kangaroo spotting!

Best family-friendly bike trails melbourne – East

6. Jells Park

Jells Park offers loads of scenic bike paths to explore. The paths are mostly flat with a few gentle slopes, plus a few unfenced ponds and one large unfenced lake. 

Byk Bikes E450 X Byk Helmet Blue 8

Parking is relatively easy and there are a number of playgrounds within the park, plus a kiosk and restaurant for a pit stop.  

Jells Park, Waverley Road, Wheelers Hill

7. Ruffey Trail

The Ruffey Trail is a short 3km easy cycle routes Melbourne on sealed paths inside the awesome Ruffey Lake Park. After your ride head to one of the three adventure playgrounds plus there are useful facilities such as toilets, BBQs, drinking water and picnic shelters.

The Ruffey Trail joins the Main Yarra Trail if you want to extend your ride. 

Ruffey Trail, The Boulevarde, Ruffey Lake Park, Doncaster

Cycling along a freeway may not sound too picturesque but it's actually a great bike routes Melbourne to experience public art. Check out the sculptures, bridges, architecture and coloured sound screens as you cycle through parks and reserves.

The Eastlink Trail begins at Croydon railway station and joins the Mullum Mullum Creek Trail.

This bike trail loop covers part of the Eastlink Trail and the Dandenong Creek trail. The route starts and finishes at Jells Park, with its playgrounds and expansive parklands.

Highlights of the route include Chesterfield Farm, Koomba Park and Bushy Park Wetlands.

The route is mainly flat and sealed, with a gravel section south along the Dandenong Creek Trail.

10. Gardiners Creek Trail

Gardiners Creek Trail is a 17km shared path that follows the Gardiners Creek through Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. It starts at the intersection of the Main Yarra Trail in Burnley to Canterbury Road in Box Hill.

Markham Reserve Ashburton

The trail is generally flat with a few gentle inclines and is very leafy and green. Stop off for a play at Markham Reserve Ashburton

11. Maroondah Aqueduct

This loop ride includes a decommissioned section of the historically significant Maroondah Aqueduct. The aqueduct has a relatively wide pathway, a picturesque setting, and a constant gradient, aside from the creek and road crossings.

The trail is currently 4km in length between Allendale Rd, Eltham and Main Rd, Research. If you want to go further the Aqueduct trail joins the Research Trail to form a 10.2km trail loop around Research and Eltham North. There are playgrounds, picnic and BBQ facilities located along this trail.

12. Wattleglen to Eltham

The trail from Wattleglen to Eltham includes a couple of adventure playgrounds as well as Edendale Farm (which is right near the North Eltham adventure playground).

For refreshments, there is a Tram Cafe next to the Diamond Creek Regional Playspace and a great cafe at Edendale Farm.

The trail It’s basically all off road with one road crossing. You can access from Wattleglen, Diamond Creek or Eltham train stations.

13. Banksia Park to Heide Museum of Modern Art

This flat, short 5-kilometre track is part of the Main Yarra Trail as it starts heading east. The track starts at Banksia Park Bulleen and follows the trees along the Yarra River and into the family-friendly Heide Museum of Modern Art's Sculpture Park. Or you can start a bit further away at Fairfield Park Drive for a 10km route. 

Best melbourne cycle paths – West

14. Maribyrnong River Trail – Keilor East to Footscray 

The Maribyrnong River Trail is a quiet shared path that follows the Maribyrnong river closely for 21km, though you can join the trail at any stage.

Woman pushing bike Maribyrnong River trail Footscray sunset
Photo by Jess Worrall 

It starts at Brimbank Park in Keilor East and winds through Melbourne’s north-west and inner west suburbs to the Docklands, before connecting to the Capital City Trail at The District Docklands.

Our most-used and most-loved part of the trail is around Footscray Park, circling behind Heavenly Queen Temple. Other highlights include the Pirate Ship Park at Aberfeldie, The Boathouse restaurant and Maribyrnong Park playground at Moonee Ponds. The Maribyrnong River Trail incorporates bike paths Melbourne inner west residents will use to travel between significant spots.

15. Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail – Spotswood to Williamstown

Want to visit Scienceworks in a more unusual way than taking the car or train? Every 20 minutes during weekday commuter hours and on-demand during weekends, the Westgate Punt takes cyclists from the Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail at Spotswood (near Scienceworks) across the Yarra River under the West Gate Bridge to Fishermen's Bend in Port Melbourne. 

From Spotswood you can head north towards Footscray – it's not the most picturesque route but it is mostly off-road and safe. From Williamstown, you can connect to the part of the Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail that takes you along Port Phillip Bay to Altona. 

16. Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail – Williamstown to Altona

The part of the Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail between Williamstown and Altona is technically the western section of the Bay Trail.

Byk Bikes E350 Red X Byk Bikes Helmet Blue 54 38

This part of the bike paths Melbourne follows Point Gellibrand, Williamstown Beach, Jawbone Reserve and Altona Beach (including past Altona Dog Beach). It is mostly flat and offers amazing sunset views. 

At Williamstown grab a coffee and food at Kiosk d'Asporto right on the beach; at Altona stop off at Norfolk Cafe and the playground at Logan Reserve. 


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Melbourne Bike Trails for Families & Kids
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Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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