1. Woowookarung Regional Park, Ballarat
Distance: Various — 1km to 11km
Meaning 'place of plenty', there's indeed plenty for trail runners of all levels to explore in this 641-hectare park. For new trail runners, park at Recreation Road. This gives you easy access to shared-use singletrack, Crit Loop, a gentle 880m return run. Adding on the Crit Loop Extension brings the run closer to 3km, best completed by running clockwise. The exterior of the park is also runner-friendly, simply marked by yellow arrows on trees, while Australia's first dementia-friendly sensory trail is an excellent post-run cool down spot.
2. Mount Oberon, Wilsons Promontory
Distance: 7km return
One of Wilsons Promontory's iconic hikes, the top of Mount Oberon promises one of the best summit views in Victoria. The rocky but steady summit begins at Telegraph Saddle carpark and winds through tall eucalyptus, granite boulders and finishes with a steep climb up timber steps to the summit. Catch your breath while admiring 360-degree views over Wilsons Prom, including pristine coastline and mountainous ranges. This route also makes for an entertaining sunrise or sunset run, but make sure to bring a head torch.
3. Mount Buffalo National Park, High Country
Distance: Various — 1.5km to 22km
If you're looking to expand your trail running repertoire, look no further than Mount Buffalo National Park in Victoria's High Country. Home to a 90-kilometre network of hiking and running trails, there are plenty of choices to give your legs a real workout. A seamless out-and-back 1.5km return track from The Horn picnic area to The Horn Lookout rewards runners with a panoramic view over the Australian Alps. Experienced competitors should look towards The Big Walk, a rite of passage for Victorian trail runners. This challenging 22.6km out-and-back route starts at the Gorge Day visitor area and winds through tall forest, before runners arrive at Buffalo Plateau.
4. Werribee Gorge, Macedon Ranges
Distance: 10km return
A popular and rugged walking track, Werribee Gorge is situated just an hour’s drive from Melbourne. If you’re heading down on the weekend, expect some of the city crowds to follow. The 10km circuit is a steep loop including rock scrambling, a small section of climbing and varied terrain. You can start at either Quarry or Meikles Point picnic area, but running anti-clockwise is a slightly gentler route. Indulge in a spot of wildlife watching during a post-run cooldown — friendly locals include echidnas, wallabies and wedge-tailed eagles. Alternatively, you can make your way back to one of the sandy river beaches along the walk for a swim.
5. Flinders Peak Loop, You Yangs Regional Park
Distance: 4.5km + 3.2km return
Just over an hour’s drive west of Melbourne lies the You Yangs. Dramatic and wild granite peaks rise abruptly from the flat plains below, making it a popular spot for mountain biking and hikers with their furry friends. Starting and ending at Turntable carpark, the Flinders Peak Loop via the East-West circuit forms the first 4.5km of this loop, finishing with 450 steps up to Flinders Peak which rewards determined trail runners with panoramic views out to Melbourne.