Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Lysterfield Lake Circuit
This area offers an amazing variety of riding terrain in a confined space. There’s everything from rollovers to rock gardens and pump tracks to plastic boardwalks. Despite its association with the 2006 Commonwealth Games as the venue for the cross-country mountain bike races, it has surprisingly few gnarly areas and this ride has just enough easy bits to let you catch your breath before the next challenge.
On a good day this ride will take about two hours – more if you don’t know your way around. Parks Victoria and the Lysterfield District Trail Riders regularly add new side tracks and replace badly eroded sections so it’s not always easy to follow your nose. The main tracks are numbered but some bypass sections carry the same number as the main one, albeit on a different coloured background, such as a green circle instead of a blue square. Our fairly lengthy ride log illustrates the large network of trails here but it really is worth the effort as this ride covers some of the best bits of the park without putting you into ‘double diamond’ (extremely difficult) terrain.
From our start point near the main entrance to Lysterfield Park it’s a fairly gentle warm up before we reach Buckle Trail, where tree roots, rollovers and lengthy granite rock gardens will keep you on your toes, especially in the wet. After Lyster Track, the terrain flattens out into Upper Buckle before Middle Trail takes you back downhill with a few rollovers to let you grab some air. This area has sparser foliage and can get hot in summer. At 10.2km there is a short side loop called the Granite Link Trail that is very rocky and technical and should only be attempted by experts.
The Games course itself has not escaped the gravel trucks but is one-way, so you shouldn’t strike any oncoming traffic. There are regular link tracks across the course, designed for shorter events but handy for shortof-breath riders, while the Valley View Track fire trail offers a get-out clause past the race start/finish area to the event car park at Hallam North Road.
There’s a nice series of switchbacks and a lengthy boardwalk section before you leave the race area at Glen Track and head through the Spotted Gum Forest on Hug Trail. Then Upper Blair Witch completes the technical section of the ride before you head around the lake, below the granite dam wall, back to the start.
Lysterfield does get nippy in winter but it is too early to say how the revamped trails will hold up in seriously wet weather. That said, if you don’t like slippery tree roots you probably won’t like this place in the rain. In summer, it does require sunscreen as the sparse vegetation in sections and the proximity to the lake means UV levels can be high.
Lysterfield Park is 60 kilometres, or around 50 minutes, drive south east of Melbourne via the Monash Freeway, Heatherton Road and Belgrave-Hallam Road (C404). The trailhead is at the top end of the Mahogany car park off Horswood Road. This is immediately north, or to your right, as you drive in the main entrance of the park. (Melway 108 D2)
Train: Take the Belgrave train to Tecoma station; follow McNicol Road downhill and turn right into Birdland Reserve, where Dargon Track will take you across to busy Wellington Road on the northern side of Lysterfield Park near Logan Park Track.
Food and Drink
Trailmix, in the old park information office near the Horswood Road gate, does a fine mix of coffee, muffins, light lunches and inner tubes! Actually they are a full-service bicycle shop with demo bikes and skills clinics, plus a nice outdoor area for eating and relaxing overlooking the lake. They’ve even got their own singletrack entrance from the Lake Circuit Trail. www.trailmix.com.au
During World War Two, this area of Lysterfield was a working dairy property where school leavers could learn how to milk cows and run a farm. Boys Farm Track, off Lamberts Track, takes you to the site of the manager’s house, dormitories and orchard, and is not far from Buckle Trail, which is part of our ride.
17.784 km / 11.05 mi
415 m / 1,363 ft
211 m / 693 ft