The Best Hikes in the Dandenong Ranges
Located just an hour away from Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges boast some of the most beautiful walking trails in Australia. The region’s temperate rainforests are home to superlative examples of native landscape, flora and fauna.
There are over 200 kilometres of stunning bush walks to explore within the dandenongs. But with so many trails and options, it can be difficult to decide which is best for you.
1. Valley Picnic Ground to Eagles Nest Picnic Ground
This is a really easy walk that will take you through some beautiful forest areas. It is a great option for a beginner hike and is a perfect one to do if you have kids. The scenery is amazing and you can see some fantastic views of the Dandenong Ranges.
This walk starts at Valley Picnic Ground, which is accessed via Boundary Road (off Silvan Rd) in Olinda. It is a moderate walk that will take you about 1 hour to complete one way.
You will then proceed onto Eagle Nest Road and walk for 400 metres to reach Eagle Nest Picnic Ground. Here you can sit and enjoy the view or continue to hike for a further 400 metres through the forest.
From here you can either return to Valley Picnic Ground or head back towards the carpark. You can also continue on the Eagles Nest Track which will take you through more of the forest.
The track is a mixture of forest, fern gullies and rosellas. You will also pass through some beautiful forest areas that are full of Mountain Ash and lots of ferns. There are two pretty picnic grounds to stop at along the way and it is very quiet and peaceful. The only thing that might be a bit tricky to navigate is the turn off on Possum Track which is unmarked and a little overgrown. However, if you are familiar with the Dandenong Ranges then it shouldn’t be too difficult to find your way.
2. Birdsland Reserve
One of the best things to do in the dandenongs is to head out on a hike! With breathtaking scenery, cool temperate rainforests and waterfalls, the Dandenong Ranges are perfect for anyone looking for a relaxing day out in nature.
When you’re out on a hike, it’s important to pack a water bottle and wear comfortable walking shoes. It will help you stay hydrated and make the walk more enjoyable.
Birdsland Reserve is a 75 hectare bushland reserve that is home to a wide variety of native birds and animals. The reserve also boasts a lake, a native nursery and numerous walking trails.
This park is a popular destination for families and visitors, so if you are looking for a relaxing time away from the city, Birdsland Reserve is definitely worth checking out. The walking tracks in the park are well-marked and have plenty of scenic spots to take in the scenery.
The 3km Living Bush Nature Trail is a fantastic way to get a closer look at the wildlife and plants in the park. This track takes you through fern-filled gullies and around lofty eucalyptus trees. There’s a variety of wildlife to be found in the area including lyrebirds, cockatoos and galahs.
If you’re looking for a longer hike, the Tourist Track is an excellent choice. It’s a point-to-point trail that crisscrosses Woori Yallock, Menzies and Sassafras creeks.
This beautiful hike is suitable for all ages and fitness levels, and offers spectacular views of the Dandenong Ranges National Park. The track can be walked in a single direction or you can break it up into shorter sections, making this a great option for a family adventure.
3. Hardy Gully Nature Trail
The Dandenong Ranges are home to more than 200 kilometres of hiking trails. They’re a rainforest getaway with breathtaking views, quaint hilltop towns and charismatic animals like lyrebirds.
If you’re new to walking in the dandenongs, there are plenty of walks that are geared towards beginners or people looking for a quick and easy day out. Some are even a fraction under 4kms and are perfect for families with little ones.
A great starter track is the Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk, a 2.4 km return stroll. This trail is dotted with big Mountain Ash trees and has plenty of ferns to keep you busy.
This is a good one to go early in the morning or late at night for the best chance of seeing wildlife. The forest is home to a number of different species including Swamp Wallabies, Wombats, Echidna and Kangaroos.
It’s also a good spot to look out for Superb Lyrebirds, so you might hear their song and get a glimpse of them along the way!
The Hardy Gully Nature Trail is a short stroll through luscious fern gullies and huge eucalyptus trees. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a little nature fix before or after a picnic.
You’ll see a lot of kangaroos and kookaburras on this walk, but they’re not as common as in other sections of the park. The kangaroos and kookaburras can be very elusive so it’s worth going during the drier months of the year to increase your chances of sighting these beautiful creatures.
It’s a 700 metre return walk to Steavenson Falls, which is one of the highest waterfalls in Victoria. It’s an easy walk and the path is floodlit between dusk and midnight so it makes a lovely day out or night stroll.
4. Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk
There are plenty of great hikes in the Dandenong Ranges, from easy walks through bushland to more challenging treks that will take you on a full day adventure. With so many options to choose from, you may find it hard to decide which one to try next.
Sherbrooke Forest is a beautiful area that features magnificent Mountain Ash trees and cool moist tree fern gullies. There are also lots of colourful rosellas, galahs and cockatoos that can be spotted along the way.
This forest is famous for its lyrebirds, who sing a song that’s a collection of the sounds they hear in the forest. Keep an eye out for these incredibly sensitive creatures that lay just one egg each year and are very rare to see.
To start the walk head to Grants Picnic Ground and follow the Lyrebird Track. Then turn right onto Neumann Track and continue through the bush, past cleared areas that were created by wildfires in the early 1900s. The track leads you on a steep climb before heading up to Coles Ridge Track, which is a wide fire vehicle access track.
When you reach the top of this track you will be rewarded with stunning views of the valley below. There’s also a waterfall hidden behind the tree ferns at this point and it’s a real treat to view it!
This hike can be done in under an hour. There are also a few picnic grounds close to the falls so you can stop for a break. This is another beautiful walk to enjoy in the Dandenong Ranges, so don’t miss out on this one!
5. Sherbrooke Falls
If you’re looking for a short hike that takes you through some of the best parts of the Dandenong Ranges, this 2.4-km round trip is one to consider. It is a great option for families and can be completed in less than 30 minutes. Expect cool rainforest gullies, giant Mountain Ash trees and lots of wildlife as you criss-cross creeks.
It’s not a hike that has any particularly spectacular waterfalls, but it is a nice way to see the Dandenong Ranges. It is also a good place to spot Lyrebirds, as they love the ferny forest habitats in this area.
The falls aren’t as big or spectacular as some of the others, but they are a real treat to watch. There’s a small wooden bridge where you can get a closer view and you can also walk over them to see the cascading water.
This is a popular hike and can be busy, especially on weekends. It’s also a little muddy in winter, so it’s important to wear shoes or sneakers.
Sherbrooke Falls is a great short hike in Sherbrooke Forest, the largest part of the Dandenong Ranges National Park. It’s a lovely little trail that takes you through avenues of Mountain Ash, some nice cascading sections of Sherbrooke Creek and a few nice spots to spot Lyrebirds.
It’s a good choice for first timers in the park as there aren’t too many obstacles to overcome. The only thing that may be tricky is the descent, which can be muddy in winter. It’s also a good idea to bring an offline map with you, as it can save you a lot of hassle and confusion.