Skipton Rail Trail Ride

Cycle Victoria, Road Ride, Skipton Rail Trail Ride

The Skipton Rail Trail offers so much varied scenery on a broad well-constructed trail. Starting at the Wendouree train station in Ballarat near Lake Wendouree, the ride heads out through the farming communities of Haddon, Smythes Creek and Scarsdale. There are remnants of early gold mining all through this section. From here the trail heads into splendidly rugged bushland, after crossing the impressive Nimmins Bridge. The trail emerges into historic Linton and onto Skipton. Both towns have accommodation and a night’s stay offers a great country experience.


The trail has a broad well-compacted surface. The gradient is never steep and although the stretch from Linton is up hill for a bit, the majority of the ride is down hill.


There are a few major road crossings along the route and care should be taken at these, particularly if there are bends or crests on the roads.


There are V/Line trains to Wendouree to and from Southern Cross everyday . Ballarat is 113 kilometres from Melbourne on the Western Highway via the West Gate. Pass through Ballarat CBD, past the hospital and Victoria Park, turning right at Gillies Street. Turn left at Learmonth Road and then left into the station entrance. VicRoads Map:565 R3.

Food and Drink

Stock up in Ballarat and replenish in Smythesdale, Scarsdale, Linton or Skipton. There are water tanks at some points along the route.

Side Trip

There is Lake Wendouree or head off for a side trip at Smythesdale. Otherwise if you have a map there is great riding all around this area.


More Details

The start of the ride commences at the Wendouree Railway Station; one of the few “out of town” rides are accessible by public transport. The station is near Lake Wendouree, the recreational heart of Ballarat and worth a visit.

The beginning is pretty non-descript as it passes behind housing and industrial estates, but it is not long before it emerges at the Ring Road and a view out across the countryside to Mt. Buangor in the distance. The rail branch-line to Skipton, closed in 1986 after nearly 100 years, starts here and heads southwest, often sheltered by a line of trees across farmland to Haddon and Smythesdale. You will see mullock heaps from gold mining all through this area as well as hobby farms with many and varied animals. It is not far to Scarsdale and then the impressive Nimmins Bridge, a fine example of early railway bridge engineering.

Straight over the bridge the trail heads into bushland that although a bit scrubby, creates a very serene canopy over the trail. In winter this provides some protection from the elements; in spring dappled sunlight over the wild flowers; summer shade from the sun and in autumn, the setting for assorted bush fungi. There is further evidence of history as you pass beneath the remnants of an old logging rail bridge before you come to Linton. Nestled in the hills the old houses are spread out indicating that once upon a time Linton was a much bigger concern. Ride up the main street to get a feel for the place.

After Linton the trail heads up for a few kilometres and emerges onto rolling farmland heading down to the finish at Skipton. The end of the trail is a bit of an anti-climax, but follow the signs into town and put up your feet outside the general store or the pub. During summer there is a shuttle bus service between Ballarat and Skipton. Bookings must be made and the service will not run if less than 12 tickets are sold. Phone Ballarat Coachlines 5335 5300 for bookings and further information.


Ride Log

  • 0.0 The ride commences at the Wendouree Railway Station. Head east toward Gillies St and cross the railway line.
  • 0.2 Turn right over Gregory St, onto the bike path.
  • 2.1 The path comes to a T-intersection at the Ring Rd. Turn right and ride along the bike path following the sign to the rail trail.
  • 2.8 Just before the railway crossing, cross the road and continue ahead following the rail trail sign.
  • 4.4 Cross Blind Creek Rd.
  • 5.5 Cross Ballarat – Burrumbeet Rd. This is a busy road.
  • 7.4 Cross Cuthberts Rd.
  • 9.7 The trail crosses the Ballarat-Carngham Rd.
  • 13.1 Cross Sago Hill Rd. The township of Haddon is to the right.
  • 15.2 Ride over the Ross Creek-Haddon Rd.
  • 19.7 As you cross Garden St you will see the Smythesdale Recreation Reserve on your right. Toilets, barbeque and picnic facilities are available.
  • 20.1 At the Heales Rd crossing the trail continues around the oval with the tennis courts on your left. The trail leaves the reserve behind the goalposts.
  • 20.9 Take care when crossing the Glenelg Highway.
  • 24.3 You arrive at the Scarsdale Park where there are sheltered barbeque and picnic facilities. Now cross the Scarsdale – Pitfield Rd.
  • 28.5 Continue along the trail onto Nimmins Bridge. Just before the bridge there are picnic tables and a shelter.
  • 36.6 The trail passes the entrance to the Linton Oval.
  • 36.8 Take care when crossing the Glenelg Highway. To the left is the township of Linton. There is a mixed business to your left.
  • 41.0 Cross over Jacks Rd. You can follow the sign to the lookout if you wish.
  • 50.8 Cross Glenelg Hwy.
  • 55.1 Dismount to open gates. Make sure you close them after you have gone through. Cross over the Rokewood-Skipton Rd and continue along the trail as it heads toward Skipton.
  • 56.3 Go through the next set of gates. This is the end of the trail. Follow the road to the left and then follow the ‘town centre’ signs.
  • 57.8 The Skipton Pub, general store and the ride’s end.
  • Trail map

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    57.723 km / 35.867 mi

    Total Distance

    345 m / 1,132 ft

    Total Ascent

    528 m / 1,734 ft

    Total Descent

    468 m / 1,536 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: 57.8
    Elevation Gain: 436
    First Aid
    Bike hire
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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