The best winter hikes near Melbourne

Travelling Well | Megan Whitfield | Posted on 20 June 2019

Best walks from the You Yangs to the Mornington Peninsula.

During the cold, blustery days of winter, the desire to stay under the covers, cup of tea and book in hand, is perfectly understandable. However, don’t write off the idea of getting outdoors.

Warm yourself from the inside out with a beautiful hike – made no less scenic by the crisp (okay, cold) winter air. From the Dandenong Ranges to the Mornington Peninsula, we’ve compiled a collection of Victoria’s best hikes, all within a few hours of Melbourne.

So grab your scarf, pull on your hiking boots and get ready to smell the gorgeous scent of a forest after rain.

A woman stands with her back towards the photographer, looking at at the You Yangs National Park in VIctoria

The East-West walk in the You Yangs provides an uninterrupted view of the surrounding valley.

The 1000 Steps

This will definitely get your blood pumping and that body temperature up. Nestled in Upper Ferntree Gully in Melbourne’s east, the steps have long been used as a training ground for those preparing to tackle the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.

However, the 1000 Steps make a scenic walk for more leisurely wanderers, thanks to its backdrop of the lush Dandenong Ranges.

At the top of the climb there are several paths that lead to other tracks, as well as a picnic ground at the base, so why not make an afternoon of it?

Distance: Roughly 2.8 kilometres (to the top of the steps).
Difficulty: Moderate to hard.

Beware, this walk does have steep sections and can get slippery so wear appropriate shoes.

Sherbrooke Falls Walk

If you’re not walked out after the 1000 Steps, the Sherbrooke Falls walk is another scenic option just nearby.

Also set in the Dandenong Ranges, this gentle walk takes you along a gravel path through the forest. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of a lyrebird, as well as possums and wallabies. The forest is particularly beautiful right after rain with waterdrops on the ferns glistening and the falls more likely to be flowing.

Distance: 2.4 kilometres (return).
Difficulty: Easy.

You Yangs East-West Walk

There’s no shortage of walking paths to choose from in the You Yangs Regional Park (located in Little River). We’ve narrowed down the selection for you.

The You Yangs are a series of granite ridges that rise from flat volcanic plains, named from Aboriginal words meaning ‘big rock in the middle of a plain’. The East-West walk shows off these distinctive plains on a gentle looping walk, while its circumnavigation of Flinders Peak (the highest mountain in the park) rewards you with unobstructed views of the surrounding valley. Basically, it shows off all the best bits.

Plus, there’s not a lot of shade on this path, making it particularly well-suited to a clear winter’s day.

Distance: About 4.2 kilometres.
Difficulty: Intermediate.

A photo of the lush green Dandenong Ranges in Victoria

 Explore the lush forest in the Dandenong Ranges.

An image of the Cape Schanck boardwalk in Mornington Peninsula on a wintery overcast day

 Cape Schanck is beautful even on a wintry day.

Toorongo Falls Reserve

This one is a little further from Melbourne (about 2.5 hours) but we think it’s worth it. Close to Mount Baw Baw, the Toorongo and Falls Reserve and Amphitheatre Walk shows off a gorgeous tiered waterfall surrounded by the lush native bush.

Starting at the end of the carpark, the track slopes slightly but is suitable for a slow, tranquil walk leading to an observation platform to show off Toorongo Falls. If you want to keep exploring, you can continue on to the loop and catch a glimpse of the slightly smaller, but still beautiful, Amphitheatre Falls.

Distance: 1.5 kilometres return (2.2 kilometres with Amphitheatre Falls).
Difficulty: Easy.

Cape Schanck Boardwalk

Nothing is quite as iconic to Cape Schanck as the lighthouse. Any time of the year, head down to one of Victoria’s most charming coastal spots and take a stroll along the Cape Schanck boardwalk, soaking up views of the coastlines and breathing in the gentle sea breeze.

The walk isn’t strenuous, but does involve many steps. The boardwalk takes you right down to the beach and rock platform, where we suggest spending at least a few uninterrupted minutes just taking it all in.

And of course, on the way back, have a look out for the lighthouse.  

Distance: 1.6 kilometres.
Difficulty: Easy.

If you’re coming from out of town, turn it into a weekend away with a night at RACV’s Cape Schanck Resort.