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 colored 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.
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. The initial part is a fairly gentle warm up. Buckle Trail is full of tree roots, rollovers, and lengthy granite rock gardens. After Lyster Track, the terrain flattens out into Upper Buckle before Middle Trail takes you back downhill with a few rollovers. There are switchbacks and a lengthy boardwalk section before you leave the race area at Glen Track.
Lysterfield Park is 60 kilometers, or around 50 minutes, drive southeast 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.
From the start point near the main entrance to Lysterfield Park, it is a warm up before you reach Buckle Trail, where it keeps 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 and 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 short-of-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 is 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.
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.
- 0.0 Reset your computer at the information board at the uphill end of Mahogany car park and follow the singletrack around to the left. Pass between pine posts into the 24-hour car park and turn left between more posts on Lake Circuit Trail (look for ‘1’ in white circle on posts).
- 0.5 Turn left and squeeze between more posts on Lake Track (11).
- 0.8 Go up Buckle Trail (2) singletrack, as Lake Track goes left.
- 0.9 Cross Mahogany Track and continue on Buckle, ignoring side track.
- 2.3 Cross Lamberts Track and continue on Buckle.
- 3.9 Cross Lyster Track.
- 4.4 Turn left onto East West Track and right onto Upper Buckle Trail (3), ignoring the sidetrack.
- 4.6 Turn left on the rerouted section of Upper Buckle.
- 5.0 Cross Powells Track and continue to follow Upper Buckle.
- 5.6 Turn right on East West Track.
- 5.8 Turn left onto Middle Trail (4) opposite the ‘East West Track’ sign.
- 6.2 Follow Middle Trail to the left, ignoring side track on right.
- 7.1 Cross Donellan Track and continue to follow Middle Trail.
- 7.9 Cross Lamberts Track onto Red Gum Trail (5).
- 8.6 Cross Tramline Walk and continue up the hill.
- 8.8 Cross Glen Track, still on Middle Trail. Hug Trail (6) to your left.
- 8.9 Bear right as you join Competition Trail (10), which is one-way.
- 9.1 As you approach the top of the hill on Competition Trail, bear right on the singletrack.
- 9.6 Continue to follow the (10, blue square) markers.
- 9.8 Cross Tramline Walk again, continuing to follow Competition Trail.
- 10.2 Go straight ahead as you pass the Granite Link Trail (10, black diamond) on the right.
- 10.6 Cross Valley View Track and follow (10, blue square) around to the right.
- 12.1 Ignore Lysterfield Hills Track on the right, turning sharp left at the big boulder.
- 12.8 Ignore side track on left. 12.9 Stay on Competition Trail.
- 14.3 As you cross a flat gravel area (the start chute for the Games races), turn right onto Valley View Track, and follow it up the hill.
- 14.5 Join singletrack on the left, ignoring side tracks and cross Glen Track after 200m. You are now following Hug Trail (6).
- 16.2 Cross Cloverdale Track at intersection.
- 17.0 Cross South Break as Hug Trail becomes the Upper Blair Witch Trail (8). Lower Blair Witch Trail (7) to left.
- 17.6 Go straight ahead at Lower Blair Witch singletrack on the left.
- 17.7 Keep right and keep right uphill, over small logs.
- 18.1 Bear right as singletrack continues.
- 19.0 Turn right onto Casuarina Track. As you approach the gate, turn left back onto 8.
- 19.1 Cross Lake Circuit fire trail, still on Upper Blair Witch.
- 19.4 Turn right at the bottom of Upper Blair Witch onto Snipe Track and ride below the dam wall, passing the dirt jumpers’ ‘pump’ track on your right.
- 19.8 Immediately after you cross the concrete bridge on the other side of the dam, turn left back onto Lake Circuit Trail.
- 20.0 Cross the access road and continue on Lake Circuit Trail. The side track to Trailmix is at 20.3km, if you want to refuel there.
- 20.8 Cross the entrance road to Mahogany car park and finish at the information board.
17.784 km / 11.05 mi
546 m / 1,791 ft
488 m / 1,602 ft
211 m / 693 ft