Cardinia Reservoir Loop

Cycle Melbourne, Road Ride, Cardinia Reservoir Loop

The ride around Cardinia Reservoir starts in Belgrave and does an anti-clockwise loop around the reservoir, taking in several of the towns in the Dandenong Ranges along the way. The first section follows the route of the narrow gauge, heritage Puffing Billy Railway line as it snakes its way out of Belgrave towards Emerald. If you time it right, you can watch the steam train cross above Belgrave–Gembrook Road on the Monbulk Creek timber trestle bridge about 1.5km out of Belgrave.

The roads are winding and reasonably narrow, typical of the Dandenong Ranges, with often little or no road shoulder for the cyclist. Traffic speeds also vary from 50kph to 100 kph so it’s important to ride carefully and confidently especially in the faster sections. The first five kilometres is a steady climb until you reach the roundabout at Grantulla Road. From there the road descends through rolling hills to Wellington Road in Clematis. Turn right at the roundabout and begin the circuit around Cardinia Reservoir. The traffic is busy along this stretch, but the road is wider and offers cyclists a little more room. This is a relatively easy stretch and at 15.5km you turn left towards Cardinia Reservoir Park.

Opening and closing times of the park vary so it’s worth checking with Parks Victoria on 13 1963 before you go, if you plan being there early or late in the day. Within the park the ride follows the access road parallel with the dam wall. If you decide to spend some time exploring, there are walking trails, lookouts and picnic areas. The park is home to several groups of wild kangaroos which are best seen early morning or late afternoon. There are some great views across the dam and the Dandenong Ranges. There are a couple of steep climbs on the access roads inside the park near the dam wall but you do have the choice of using the flat, shared trail across the wall instead.

As you leave the park the only unsealed section (0.5km) is manageable for narrow tyred bikes. The section through the park and the next 4km is relatively quiet, until you turn left on to Beaconsfield-Emerald Road. On this you pass Elephant Rock, a distinct landmark close to a small lookout over the dam. This rock changes colour regularly as locals use it as a painted notice board to declare their love or whatever for their partner, football team or mate. At the top of the climb that follows there are plenty of spots to stop for a coffee or a break in and around Emerald before retracing your steps back to Belgrave.


Take the train to Belgrave or if you decide to drive, there is parking at the station, or off Main Street in Belgrave. To just ride a loop around the reservoir, you could drive there via Wellington Road where there’s plenty of parking available in the reservoir park.

Food and Drink

You can find plenty to eat and drink in Belgrave or if you decide to take a break half way, Emerald is perfectly situated before the final ride back into Belgrave.

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45.208 km / 28.091 mi

Total Distance

981 m / 3,219 ft

Total Ascent

972 m / 3,189 ft

Total Descent

386 m / 1,267 ft

Highest Point

Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Kid friendly
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
Fitness Level: High
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Mobile Coverage: Excellent
Estimated Distance: 45.8
Elevation Gain: 965
First Aid
Bike hire
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle / uber
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