5 Terrific Mount Macedon Trail Runs to Get Your Heart Pumping

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Love running outdoors surrounded by nature and fresh mountain air? Local trail runner Libby Nuttall reveals five trail running tracks on Victoria’s Mount Macedon.

There’s a new era dawning in the Macedon Ranges. Locals are realising there’s a whopping great big mountain in their backyard. And there’s more to do there than visit on snow days.
 
I’m referring to trail running.
 
People have been running on Mount Macedon forever. But only in more recent years has it come into popular culture.
 
In fact, the entire Macedon Ranges region offers exceptional mountain running. It has the best in elevation, views, single track goodness and variety.
 
An hour north of Melbourne, you can find trail running tracks in about every corner of the region. You just need to know where to look.

Throughout the Macedon Ranges you’ll find trails in the:

  • Wombat State Forest
  • Macedon Pine Plantations
  • Lerderderg State Park
  • Cobaw Ranges
But today I’ll start with my five favourite trail running tracks on Mount Macedon.
 
Once you get to know the trails on the mount, it’s easy to piece them together to plan a trail running route that suits. 

Disclaimer

Not all of these routes are part of a formalised trail network. If you’d like to run these routes with locals that know the terrain, see below for details about the Macedon Ranges Trail Runners group.

1. Macedon Ranges Trail Runners Group (image credit Grant Tappin) 2. Mount Macedon trail runs (image credit Jen Dowling) 3. Peaceful forest views on Mount Macedon (image credit Libby Nuttall)

1. The Macedon Loop

This iconic route gets you all the good bits of Mount Macedon on a clearly-marked trail.
 
There’s splendid views across the Macedon Ranges, a variety of terrain and some big hills.
 
And being a loop, you can start anywhere you like.
 
If there’s quite a few people joining you on the run, park at the Mount Macedon Hotel where there’s more parking spots.
 
Or park at the base of the Goat Track on Bawden Road to get the heart started immediately.
Tip: The Goat Track is the original and the best for training yourself on the hills.

Trail run instructions

  • If you decide to start at the Goat Track, park half way down Bawden Road. Then wind your way up the 1.7km track, which will give you 342 metres elevation
  • You’ll then find yourself at Memorial Cross
  • Follow the walking track under the Top of the Range Tea Rooms and around the mountain
  • You’ll first hit Camels Hump, then cross the road over to Days Picnic Ground (here you’ll find toilets and water)
  • Follow the signs to Sanatorium Lake and then it’s down to Zig Zag Track
  • Once you’ve zigged and zagged, continue on to Hemphills Track. This lovely fire trail meanders along the side of the mountain for one or two kilometres
  • Now you get to hit the single track over Mount Towrong – don’t forget to add a stone to the cairn for good luck!
  • Once you pass over Mount Towrong, you’ll get to see one of the best views on the mount and make your way down the rocky steps
  • You’ll end up on Anzac Road where you can make your way back to Mt Macedon Road and your car

Trail running track notes

You should get about 17km with 800 metres elevation on this route. Expect it to take between 2 and 2.5 hours running where possible. 

2. Middle Gully

Between Bawden Road and Middle Gully Road is an area fondly known as Middle Gully.

It’s in a section of bush that runs from Woodend to Macedon and Mount Macedon. The best part about this route is that you can’t really get lost. It’s a triangle of bush with a road on either side, which can fill in several hours of running if you want it to.

You can begin in a number of places but there’s a good spot to park at the old Macedon Scout Camp or where Middle Gully Road begins on Bawden Road.

Note that Middle Gully Road is not passable by car, despite what the maps tell you!

This section of bushland offers fun-to-run-on tracks and fire trails.

You won’t face any major hills like the Goat Track, but don’t expect it to be easy. The up and down nature of the mountain bike tracks will have you begging for some flats as you dip into deep gullies and climb your way back out.

Mount Macedon Trail Running Victoria

3. Top of the Range Tea Rooms to Camels Hump

The ultimate “beginner” trail run or good for just a quickie.

Less than 10 kilometres, it’s mostly runnable and quite achievable for newbies.

You’ll experience meandering single track, fire tracks, some big dips and some bigger hills.

The journey up to Camels Hump is steep but worth it, with some of the best views on the mount.

This is the ‘go-to run’ for newbies on the mountain because it’s easy to find and navigate.

Trail run instructions

  • Take a break here and enjoy spectacular views of the Macedon Ranges, before heading back down.

Trail running route notes

Expect the run to take around 60-90 minutes, 4.6 kilometres each way. You’ll find toilets in the car park. Top of the Range Tea Rooms is a great spot for lunch or a light meal afterwards.

4. The Cherokee Loop

If you want to explore something new, head over the eastern side of the mountain towards Cherokee.

There’s a beauty in the remoteness of this area. It feels untouched to tourists and can become a real adventure.

On this side of the mountain the trees seem bigger, the ferns wider and the air clearer. It’s probably no different to anywhere else on the mountain, but there is a stillness and a quiet that is stunning.

Trail run instructions

  • Drive past Mount Macedon village and continue up Mount Macedon Road. Look out for the turn off to Lions Head Road and Sanatorium Lake on the right hand side.
  • The turn off takes you onto an unsealed road that immediately forks at the entrance. Baringo Road is on the right, Lions Head Rd forks to the left.
  • Head down Lions Head Road to the end.
  • Approximately 50m before the end of Lions Head Road is a barrier gate (on right hand side) that provides four wheel drive (4WD) access. This is where you enter the trail.
  • Make your way down the 4WD tracks.
  • Towards the bottom of the mountain you’ll notice the track becomes a clearer road, which is Hesket Boundary Road.
  • Turn right when you hit Shannon’s Lane. Now you’re entering gorgeous farming country and gravel roads.
  • Turn right into Tunnel Hill Road.
  • When you hit the Cherokee CFA turn left.
  • Then turn right and head up Mountains Road.
  • Follow Mountains Road until it slowly turns back to a rough 4WD track.
  • You’ll eventually find yourself back on Hesket Boundary Road heading back up the mountain and up to Lions Head Road.

Trail running route notes

This is a run in a remote location ideal for experienced trail runners only. You’ll need to map out your route before going using apps such as Strava or maps.me, as you can easily find yourself far from home. The adventure is definitely worth it!  

The route is just over 10km with 330m elevation. Trail runners often join it up with the Macedon Loop or a trip over Mt Towrong!

Trail Running Tracks in Victoria

5. The Hoods Loop

This particular loop is a great one for speed training and just sneaking in a quickie when you haven’t got time for too much!

It’s also easy to navigate, with stunning tracks along the side of the mountain.

In the spring, wildflowers overtake the sides of the tracks and Hoods Track becomes a sea of blue and purple.

Hoods Track meanders along the side of the mountain with easy rises and falls, perfect for faster running or enjoying the scenery.

Trail run instructions

  • Start at the base of the Goat Track on Bawden Road – you’ll find a place to park approximately 1.5km along Bawden Road if coming from the direction of Douglas Road in Mount Macedon. It’s a couple of kilometres before you reach Mount Macedon Winery, so if you reach the winery you’ve gone too far!
  • Make your way up the Goat Track to Memorial Cross and head towards the Top of the Range Tea Rooms.
  • Just before you reach the wrought iron gates at the entrance to the Memorial Cross footpath, take the track that veers off to the right and drops down to the right of the car park.
  • Follow this until you reach the end of the dirt path and it meets Cameron Drive.
  • Here you’ll see Francis Road on your right – now is your opportunity to fly down Francis!
  • At the base of Francis Road you’ll turn right into Alton Road, but only for a few short meters, when you will see a barrier gate and small track veer off to the right.
  • Well done, you’ve found Hoods Track!
  • Follow this in a straight line until it ends and you’ll see a small single track continuing on. This is the Goat Track. Head down to your car.

Trail running route notes

This is a 6.5km loop, which you can expect to take between 50-80 minutes. The Goat Track is a challenge, but it’s all down from there.

It’s short and snappy and easy to navigate, so go and hit those trails!

For trail running track information and support

This article is just a taste of the trail running experiences available in the region. If you’re not sure where to start, jump into the Macedon Ranges Trail Runners Facebook group. Ask a question or find a group run to tag along on. We’re a welcoming bunch and regularly host beginner runs. 

You can also download the Parks Victoria trail map for Macedon Regional Park here.

Tip: You can find more runs and pre-mapped routes while on these trail runs, using apps such as Avenza and Wikiloc. Have this open on your phone while you run.

Important safety reminder

Always check the fire danger rating on the Victoria Emergency website. On high and severe fire danger days it would be best to avoid trail running on Mount Macedon.

When running in the mountains always carry basic safety gear, which might usually include an emergency blanket, compression bandage, band aids and tissues. In warmer months it is essential to carry a snake bandage.

All of this can typically be carried in pockets or belts for shorter distances, or running vests for longer distances, where you might also carry food, gels or water. On the topic of water, bring plenty with you. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated. As the scouts say, be prepared!

If trail running during winter, check out these smart tips for staying safe on the mountain.

About the author

Libby Nuttall is a journalist and communications professional. She also happens to be a passionate runner with the Macedon Ranges Trail Runners and bonafide fitness junkie.

Run, play and stay

Mount Macedon may only be a hop, skip and jump from Melbourne. But its convenient location makes it perfect for a quick health getaway with friends. Book a place to stay on Mount Macedon, Macedon or nearby Woodend and turn it into a mini break.

cherokee mountain retreat accommodation macedon

Cherokee Mountain Retreat in Macedon. Just one of many great places to stay in the area.

Find out what’s happening in the Macedon Ranges this month