Cycle Melbourne, Rail Trail Ride, Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail Ride
The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is an easy trip from Melbourne by car or train and is a not too arduous ride through country ranging from forest to open farmland and vineyards, with good views to the nearby Yarra Ranges, all of which makes it one of the best and most popular rides around. There are plenty of places on or near the trail where you can enjoy a coffee or culinary delight and some small towns to explore.
The wide and mostly smooth trail is used by all types of riders, including those on road bikes, but the sometimes stony surface suits it more to mountain bikes and hybrids than the narrow tyred species. The trail is generally well signposted with distance markers and names for all the old station sites. Nearby local traders with products of interest to cyclists, have also set up directing signs. The trail is based on the old rail line which was closed in 1965. The riding trail was opened in 1998 and takes advantage of the cuttings, bridges and escarpments originally established for the railway to provide the wide trail with graduated climbs and descents. With the completion of the trail bridge across the Maroondah Highway it is now possible to ride all the way from Lilydale station to Warburton on the separate trail. There are quite a few road crossings, some of which are busy and need to be taken with care.
There is a gradual climb to Mount Evelyn, which may give you an excuse for the first coffee and cake stop, before swooping downwards to the flatter area around Woori Yallock. The trail then ever so gradually climbs to Warburton. It is popular with walkers and horse riders as well as cyclists, so please be courteous to other users. The scenery and the food and drink temptations along the way encourage a relaxed pace and some people might prefer to make this a two day ride with an overnight stay in Warburton. Bear in mind that there is no public transport in Warburton that will carry you and your bike, so unless you arrange a car shuttle you will have to ride back.
Warburton is an attractive little town wedged between the mountains alongside the Yarra River. It had its early beginnings as a mountain escape for Melburnians in the early 1900s and many of the cafés and other shops are housed in buildings dating back to this time. It remains a popular centre for day trippers. It is worth allowing time to explore the town and nearby forest and river scenery.
Lilydale is on the Maroondah Highway. After crossing the rail line in Lilydale turn left into the station car park. If this is full, travel another 200m along the highway and turn in to the reserve next to the hotel. It is in the metropolitan rail system with frequent service and has bike lockers and toilets.
Food and Drink
It’s everywhere! At the start, the finish and several spots in between. Right by the trail there is the Sourdough Café just past Mount Evelyn, or another personal favourite, the Carriage Café in Seville. It is in a train carriage, a good distance in to the ride and serves café latté in big glasses.
At Warburton you will see signs indicating short rides which continue on past the town. There is also an enjoyable walking path alongside the river. Enquire at the information centre adjacent to the finish for other attractions.
38.673 km / 24.03 mi
652 m / 2,139 ft
235 m / 770 ft