Hiking in Melbourne or getting out for a family bush walk is a great activity if you're in need of fresh air, a change of scenery and some wide-open spaces.
However, not all Melbourne bushwalks and hiking areas are made equal (Parks Victoria grades bushwalks from Level 1 to Level 5). When you're bushwalking with kids or hiking around Melbourne it's best to plan an easy and enjoyable route that suits the youngest family members. I know that the whinging and complaining and need for snacks and water constantly put me off exploring walk trails near me or hiking around Melbourne with kids for a long time!
These are some of our favourite bushwalks and ones we consider to be some of the best hikes Melbourne has to offer. They include a variety of habitats and all guarantee a dose of outdoor adventure and fun!
NB: If you're searching ‘hikes near me' or ‘bush walk near me' while planning an adventure with your family please remember to also check the Parks Victoria website and your local council for updates before setting off on your bushwalk or any Melbourne hikes to avoid disappointment.
Best family-friendly bushwalks in Melbourne – North
1. Gresswell Forest, Bundoora
Some of the best hiking Melbourne bushwalking enthusiasts can experience is at Gresswell Forest, a remnant patch of bushland in Bundoora that has since been surrounded by houses. There are a number of short, flat walking tracks throughout the reserve, either around the boundary (Boundary Track) or through the middle (Centre Track).
The reserve is home to a range of wildlife, including a large number of Eastern Grey kangaroos and many bird species.
Gresswell Forest Nature Reserve, Greenwood Dr, Bundoora
2. Darebin Parklands, Alphington
One of the many fantastic hikes in Melbourne, Darebin Parklands is a 33-hectare bushland reserve along Darebin Creek, on the border of Alphington and Ivanhoe. Once a tip site, it's now home to echidnas, flying foxes, native fish, 70 species of birds and even the occasional kangaroo.
The Darebin Creek Trail runs through the centre of the park and provides shared trail access all the way through to Bundoora Park 10km to the north – though of course you don't have to walk the whole route!
Darebin Parklands, Separation St, Alphington
Best bushwalks in Melbourne for families – South
3. Herring Island, South Yarra
Herring Island is a small island in the middle of the Yarra River near Como House. It can only be accessed via a free Parks Victoria ferry in January of each year, so save it for a sunny summer day!
4. Braeside Park, Braeside
Braeside Park offers a diverse range of walks through Red Gum grasslands, heathland and wetlands. It was also the park Phar Lap trained in so there's even a Phar Lap track!
The self-guided healthland walk starts and ends at the visitors centre, along the formal tree-lined path heading south.
Braeside Park, Lower Dandenong Rd, Braeside
5. The Briars, Mt Martha
For some of the best hiking near Melbourne why not head off and explore The Briars, a 230-hectare National Trust property on the Mornington Peninsula. It is home to woodlands and wetlands and numerous walking trails within the Wildlife Sanctuary and around the property. There is also an Eco Living Display Centre, a historic homestead, café and nursery.
The Briars, 450 Nepean Highway, Mt Martha
Best child-friendly bushwalks in Melbourne – East
6. Currawong Bush Park, Doncaster East
In the middle of suburbia, you'll find Currarong Bush Park!
There are sculptures dotted around the trails, creating a natural play space for kids to explore. There's wildlife to spot too.
The bushwalking trails are short and flat, perfect for kids. Before you set off download the audio guides to enhance your experience.
Currawong Bush Park, Reynolds Rd, Doncaster East
7. Westerfolds Park, Templestowe
Westerfolds Park offers over 120 hectares of native bushland perfect for walking. The Homeshow Trail, a short, signed walk exploring various animals habitats, is a fantastic introduction to bushwalking for young kids. The 5 km of sealed pathways provides excellent conditions for prams.
You can also ride your bike along the river trail, paddle a canoe or climb one of the many scalable trees. Just west of Westerfolds Park is the Wombat Bend Playspace.
Westerfolds Park, Fitzsimons Lane, Templestowe
Find Hotels and Airbnbs near Westerfolds Park, Templestowe
Warrandyte State Park is the closest state park to Melbourne's east and Pound Bend is a great spot to start young kids bushwalking.
The short bush tracks are flat and pram-friendly and twist around and along the Yarra River through Warrandyte Gorge. One popular path leads from the car park to the Tunnel, where you’ll find a swimming hole and huge rocks for scrambling.
Also keep an eye out for kangaroos, koalas and other wildlife.
Pound Bend, Pound Bend Rd, Warrandyte
9. Sherbrooke Falls, Dandenong Ranges
Sherbrooke Falls is best after rain – and if there's been a lot of rain recently, you're more likely to see a lyrebird!
Sherbrooke Forest walk, Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke
10. Grants Picnic Ground, Dandenong Ranges
Grants Picnic Ground is located in Sherbrooke Forest in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. The shady forest is filled with ferns, sassafrass and mountain ash and there are four short, easy walks that all start from the Visitor Centre. The Margaret Lester Track is suitable for prams.
Note that Grants Picnic Ground used to be famous for bird-feeding but since February 2020 this has ceased following conservation best practice, National Park guidelines and community feedback.
Grants Picnic Ground, Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke
11. Alfred Nicholas Gardens, Dandenong Ranges
The glorious Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens are also part of the Dandenong Ranges National Park. The paths are mostly sealed and while there is a bit of a hike uphill when you're leaving, the scenery is stunning, particularly during spring and autumn with seasonal colours.
Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke
Experience the tallest trees in the world in this grove of California Redwood trees in the middle of Yarra Ranges National Park. The ‘dragons nests' are magical too and are perfect for imaginative play.
Note the closest public toilets are at East Warburton Public Hall.
Redwood Forest, Cement Creek Rd, East Warburton
Best bushwalks in Melbourne for kids – West
13. Newport Lakes, Newport
Newport Lakes is an unexpected wilderness in the midst of suburban Newport.
The walking tracks are easy and mostly flat, with some fun stepping stones crossing the lake. Also look out for bird mosaics, arboretum and the native nursery just outside the gates.
Newport Lakes, Lakes Drive, Newport
14. Truganina Park, Truganina
Truganina Coastal Parkland used to be the Altona Tip!
It is now 25 hectares of parkland with wooded areas, wetlands, walking and biking paths, barbecues and 100 steps to amazing views of the You Yangs, Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay.
15. Cheetham Wetlands Point Cook Coastal Park, Point Cook
The Cheetham Wetlands are 420 hectares of artificial and natural lagoons, created on the site of the Cheetham salt works. The wetlands are part of the Point Cook Coastal Park and it is home to many bird species.
It is a really peaceful spot though the suburban encroachment makes for a jarring backdrop. The highlight is definitely the views of the Point Cook wetlands from the Cheetham Wetlands Tower.
16. You Yangs, Werribee
The You Yangs walking tracks offers magnificent views and abundant animal life.
Start with the Big Rock rock, an easy, flat and pram-friendly 3km (1 hour return) walk from the Park Office car park near the main entrance.
The East-West Walk is a 4.5km circuit (2 hours return) and better for older, adventurous kids who like to rock scramble. If the kids still have energy, you can tackle the Flinders Peak 3.2km (1 hour return) walk with 450 steps to the highest point of the You Yangs for amazing views across Port Phillip Bay.
You Yangs, Turntable Dr, Werribee
17. Organ Pipes National Park, Keilor North
Organ Pipes National Park is located at the eastern-most edge of one of the world’s largest ancient volcanic lava flows, stretching 350 kilometres from the edge of Melbourne to the western border of Victoria.
The actual organ pipes are awesome stone columns hanging over a cliff face over Jackson Creek. Other incredible basalt geological formations include the Rosette Rock and the Tessellated Pavement.
Once you walk the sealed round down from the carpark to the valley the bushwalks and flat and easy. The hike back up to the car park is hard work though!
Organ Pipes National Park, Organ Pipes Road, Keilor North
18. Long Forest, Melton
If you want to tackle longer distances you can join up all the tracks to make a longer circuit walk of 10km.
Long Forest, Long Forest Road, Melton
19. Lerderderg Gorge, Bacchus Marsh
This walk is mostly through native forest along the Lerderderg River. It's great for kids because it's short and the stepping stones across the river are always a hit.
Allow at least an hour to walk to Graham's Dam and back.
Don't be deceived – Werribee Gorge State Park is nowhere near Werribee the suburb! It's actually in Bacchus Marsh.
Although it is one of the best hikes near Melbourne, I think the bushwalking around Werribee Gorge is more suitable for older kids and medium-fitness hikers (it's graded Level 3 out of 5 by Parks Victoria). Start with the 2 hour Short Circuit Walk – which still has quite a few uphill bits and uneven ground – as the other tracks may involve cables, handrails and rock scrambling. Another popular walk follows the Werribee River from Meikles Point picnic area, offering views of the river and the cliff faces of the gorge.
Werribee Gorge State Park, Myers Road, Pentland Hills, Bacchus Marsh
For more nature play join Parks Victoria's Junior Rangers program
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