Six of Melbourne's Best Bike Parks and Trails for Kids
By Stacey Roberts, ellaslist
The most fun you can have on two wheels is waiting just around the corner: Melbourne is absolutely packed with scenic bike paths and trails from the gentlest sealed tracks to unpaved passageways that present a bit more of a challenge.
1. Royal Park, Parkville
For a wide, flat, short circuit with two playgrounds to hit up after your little one has cycled enough, you can’t go past the track through Royal Park. It is around a lake though, so bear that in mind, but excellent for those days when your little ones just want to have a scoot or bike around somewhere small.
2. Jells Park, Wheelers Hill
Between 3 and 4 kilometres around native bushland, Jells Park is popular with biking families. The trees turn a hundred gorgeous shades of orange in autumn, and is super-shady and pretty in summer. One of the bike tracks circles the man-made lake in the centre of the park, which is an awesome spot to lay out a picnic blanket and rustle up some grub before heading down yet another stunning trail.
3. Ruffey Lake Park, Manningham
Pop your two wheels onto the 2.1km Ruffey Creek Trail, exploring both the Ruffey Lake Park and the Ruffey Creek Linear Park. The ride is doable for even the youngest members to keep up with the pack, so is a good choice for families. Start at one of the three playgrounds (two large, one a bit smaller) and bike to the next before heading home to do it all again another day.
4. Maribyrnong River Trail
If you can drag the kids away from the epic Polly Woodside sailing ship, you can jump on the trail through Docklands and up to Footscray Road. For incredible views though, you want the part of the trail that the Lily St lookout is on – but it’s the reward for quite a steep climb, so that might be better for older, more experienced riders.
For a ride with a pleasant little detour involved, try a little break at Pipemaker’s Park to have a gander at the historic buildings and the Living Museum of the West which documents the 40,000 years of Wurundjeri people’s history there.
The trail is concrete for the 6km between the Canning Reserve Tea Gardens and Footscray, and from Steele Creek at Essendon West up the hill.
5. Merri Creek Trail
The Merri Creek Trail does wonders for feeling like you’re out of the city entirely – from the Ring Road where you ride past estates and horse paddocks, through the tightly-packed inner north suburbs, and eventually out at the Yarra River, it’s one of Melbourne’s prettiest bike trails.
It does get busy through Coburg on the weekend with prams and families and serious cyclists, but it’s no wonder as the Merri trail is super-accessible and a really beautiful place to play.
If you’ve got bike issues, head to Ceres, where there is the volunteer-run Bike Shed, where you can borrow tools, get a bike-fixing lesson, buy parts, or even a fully-restored recycled bike.
6. Bay Trail
It can be hard to choose where to go when there’s 69 kilometres of trail to choose from between Geelong and Carrum, but having too many options can be seen as a plus. The St Kilda area is like a mosh pit on weekends, so if you’ve a nervous rider among your party, it might be best to find another spot or go another day, while the punt that ferries cyclists over the Yarra to Spotswood is a bit fun.
If you’re looking to avoid walkers (I try to, my kids aren’t 100% in control of their riding contraptions!), the trail above Brighton splits into separate tracks for cyclists and pedestrians.
Other Places to Bike with Kids
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