Little Gem Cycle Trail

Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Little Gem Cycle Trail

A short ride from town on a crushed stone bike path gets you warmed up. Even better, this part is really beautiful riding with very attractive views along the creek valley as you approach Chewton. A brief section of dirt road provides you with altitude for a sensational singletrack experience along the narrow Poverty Gully Water Race Track. Finish this little gem of a ride with a gentle downhill roll back to town.

This trip is short in length yet big on quality. Some technical skill is required however this is the sort of ride where we would encourage you to have a go even if you feel it may be too technical. When ridden with confidence the water race section is exhilarating. Remember to treat it with respect and give way to walkers.

The water race is a relic of the gold rush. Miners dug many kilometres of channels through the rock to move water to help their quest for gold. As they dug, the dirt was piled on either side, and this formed what we now ride upon. In places the riding surface is only a little wider than your handlebars and there is a disconcerting drop to either side. With a little practice, this riding is thrilling. Look well ahead down the track, ride with confidence, relax, and enjoy the experience. Just after the 9km mark, the track gets quite rocky as you descend. If this is too technical for you, use the adjacent road for a short distance then rejoin the water race.

The short, on-road downhill roll is an ideal way to finish, arriving near the coffee shops.


By car: Castlemaine is an easy one and a half hours or 120 kilometres northwest of Melbourne via the Calder Freeway. (Melway X909 D6.) Take the Castlemaine turn off and when you reach town go to the car park in Forest Street, at the rear of the information centre. This is the start for most of our rides in Castlemaine. Set your bike computer to zero at the edge of the car park, near the footpath.

Parking here is limited, however, there is plenty of free parking nearby, beside the tennis courts in Wheeler Street.

By train: A fast and comfortable train service from Melbourne takes around an hour and a half from  Southern Cross station. Bikes can be taken on the train but if travelling in a group you will need to confirm space is available by ringing V/Line on 136 196 or (03) 8608 5011.

Food and Drink

Plenty of options at the start. The car park services the local supermarket; green-grocer with deli-goods and fresh bread also near the information centre. A cycle-friendly café is the Theatre Royal, next door to bike shop, in Hargraves Street just to the left of the roundabout.

Side Trip

Allow plenty of time to explore the historic town of Castlemaine. Pop into the information centre for a wealth of fascinating historical and tourist information. It has interesting displays and is well worth a visit. You may like to check out Chewton along the way.

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Exit car park and turn left onto Forest St (Pyrenees Hwy). Proceed straight ahead at the roundabout and past side roads.
  • 0.9 Turn left onto Happy Valley Rd.
  • 1.1 Turn right onto bike path.
  • 2.6 Keep following the bike path.
  • 3.8 Turn right onto Eureka St (Dingo Park Rd).
  • 5.8 Turn right onto the water race.
  • 9.2 Keep going straight ahead. Take care: there is a rocky section ahead.
  • 9.4 Keep going straight ahead.
  • 10.2 Cross Ajax Track, keep going straight ahead on the singletrack.
  • 11.1 Turn right at the bottom of the descent and keep going straight ahead to the right of the dam.
  • 11.4 Turn left at the sealed road near the TAFE college, then right at the next, Wilkie St.
  • 12.3 Turn left and continue to the end, James St.
  • 12.7 Turn right under the railway bridge then right again at the traffic lights.
  • 13.2 Finish 
  • Trail map

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    13.051 km / 8.109 mi

    Total Distance

    240 m / 787 ft

    Total Ascent

    249 m / 817 ft

    Total Descent

    410 m / 1,344 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
    Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    MTB Segment: flow
    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: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 13.3
    Elevation Gain: 243
    First Aid
    Bike hire
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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