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Eastern Dandenong Ranges Trail - Trail Description



Eastern Dandenong Ranges Trail

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Type: Rail-side trail
Location: Clematis to Gembrook
Start/end: Paradise Hotel, Clematis to Gembrook Station
Status: Open
Length open: 15km
Surface: Compacted earth, Coarse gravel, Sealed
Terrain: Hilly
Best seasons: Spring and Autumn
Public transport: Bus
Features: tourist
Contact Region: Melbourne, Yarra Valley, Geelong, Bellarine & Mornington Peninsulas
The scenery between Cockatoo and Gembrook (2018)
The scenery between Cockatoo and Gembrook (2018)
Suitable for walking Suitable for cycling mountain bikes Suitable for cycling touring hybrid bikes Suitable for following by car



  • This trail follows the Puffing Billy steam railway through the Dandenong Ranges from Clematis/Emerald to Gembrook
  • Whilst only 15km long, this trail offers a full range of experiences for users – hills, forests, farms, rural villages, picnic facilities, heritage railway.
  • It does not follow the follow the railway in some locations and has steeper gradients.
  • The lovely country villages of Emerald, Cockatoo and Gembrook have full facilities available.
  • Emerald Lake, Wright Forest and mountain farms are highlights along the way


Access Points
* Car Park of Paradise Hotel in Clematis
* Ample on-street parking in Emerald, Cockatoo and Gembrook
* Car Park at Emerald Lake Park (fees applicable)
* Many other parking & access points along the trail

Clematis to Emerald (3km):
* Unofficial start of the trail is at the Paradise Hotel in Clematis
* Trail originates eastern end of the car park
* Pass along a short section of trail before crossing both the railway and Edenmont Road
* Trail follows on the north side of the railway up Emerald Bank (if you’re lucky, you’ll see Puffing Billy working very hard up this climb) and across Pinnocks Road & the railway.
* Trail is interrupted at Belgrave-Gembrook Road – travellers can cross the road to enter Emerald Station Park (south side of railway) or use the road, turn right at the roundabout (Kilvington Drive) to enter the main street of Emerald.
* Note the many shops & eateries including the famous Emerald Village Bakery
* Official start of trail is on Kilvington Drive at the Gemco Theatre, at the far end of Emerald Station Park (on north side of railway).

Emerald to Emerald Lake (3km):
* Follow the blue signs with yellow arrows along the trail
* After a short distance, cross into Pepi’s Land on the south side of railway
* At Beaconsfield-Emerald Road, cross the railway (again) and road, taking care as it can be very busy.
* Follow the trail past the Emerald museum and down to the Nobelius Packing Shed (previously used for flower distribution but now the home of Puffing Billy’s night train dining experience)
* On entry to Emerald Lake Park, the recommended trail is to the left, down a steep zig-zag section and turn right at the T-junction.
* Follow this trail into the western car park of Emerald Lake reserve.
* Continue along the northern bank of Emerald Lake until arrival at the road intersection (Wombat Corner).

Emerald Lake to Cockatoo (5km):
* From Wombat Corner, pass beside the gate onto a beautiful, fern-lined trail that follows Wattle Creek, before crossing a sweeping bridge to arrive at Wright Road.
* Cross Wright Road and follow the trail to the right until the railway is crossed again, this time at the restored Wright Station.
* Pass through the gates to the left and follow the management road, Wright Track, into the Wright Forest
* Stay on Wright Track until a gate – turn left onto Boundary Track before the gate and follow it, past another couple of gates, down the steep incline to Baker Street.
* Turn left at Baker Street, down another steep incline to cross the bridge over Cockatoo Creek.
* Continue on the trail to Cockatoo, arriving at the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre, after crossing Bailey Road
* Continue on the trail along Bailey Road, across Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road and the railway to enter the Cockatoo shopping precinct.

Cockatoo to Gembrook (6km):
* The trail continues along Fairbridge Lane, past the new IGA supermarket, to join the main road, Belgrave-Gembrook Road.
* The trail passes through Cockatoo beside Belgrave-Gembrook Road, past the Cockatoo Primary School and into Old Gembrook Road.
* Continue along the trail until Doonaha Road where the trail meets the railway again, at the restored station, Fielder.
* Cross the often-busy Belgrave-Gembrook Road with care and continue on the trail beside Fielder Road.
* Another crossing of B-G Road is needed at the Mapleridge Local Produce Centre (small market of local produce).
* The trail now follows the Puffing Billy Railway all the way to Gembrook.
* Continue on the trail from Mapleridge with spectacular views over the rich farming country in all directions
* At the top of the hill, just after the crossing at Orchard Road, is the Gembrook Sports Ground and the final trail crossing of railway.
* Continue on the trail and again cross B-G Road at the Gembrook outskirts
* Follow the trail along the southern side of the railway along Station Road where the trail ends at Main Street, Gembrook.
* Note the Eastern terminus of the Puffing Billy Railway, Gembrook Station, on the left of the trail.
* Unfortunately, the Gembrook Hotel burned down recently, but there are many shops & cafes available in Gembrook, all on the main street.

Public Transport

* Bus 695 - route from Belgrave (Suburban railway station) to Gembrook with stops at Clematis, Emerald and Cockatoo.
(No bikes allowed to be carried)

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For a visual experience of this trail, take a look at this video.

Cardinia Shire's information on Eastern Dandenong Ranges Trail

Explore the Dandenongs

Eastern Dandenong Ranges Business & Tourism



January 2021

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22 March , 2021 by bikemad

I guess it's time for us all to investigate the use of ebikes. My wife has just purchased one, and she leaves me for dead on the hills. She could not ride up them otherwise. I'm looking forward to tackling this trail with her once she has more experience with her new toy.

08 February , 2021 by SamRu

I couldn't agree more with the comment below. I did this trail with my 9 year old son yesterday and found it much harder than I was expecting. I thought it would take us 2 to 3 hours and instead, it took us 5 hours. We started in Gembrook and both the quality of the trail, especially following this month's heavy deluge which resulted in deep rivets and washed away sections, combined with the steepness of the terrain, especially the Cockatoo to Emerald section, made this ride very hard going. We spent considerable time off our bikes, pushing them up hills. The return leg from Emerald to Gembrook was easier and quicker. As both an avid cyclist and walker, this trail is best suited to walkers or experienced mountain bikers.

18 November , 2020 by c1mcgo

I rode this trail with a friend yesterday . We have ridden many “rail trails” around Victoria but as the description says this does not follow the railway line the whole way and because it is in the Dandenong ranges it is as the site also says “hilly” terrain .Do not think it Is an easy gradient like other rail trails . I would not recommend it for anyone who is not an experienced hill rider and don’t take young kids . There are a lot of road crossings and annoying barriers so you are constantly get on and off your bike in some sections . The signage is poor when you get to Emerald and then at Emerald Lake as well. I recommend downloading the map and taking the description with you. It would be so much better if the signs just continued everywhere . Unfortunately Puffing Billy was not running as we were just out of strict COVID rules but this would be a highlight if you managed to catch it when it is running . On the way back because it was so steep and hilly we rode from Gembrook to Cockatoo ( mostly down hill ) and then we chose to ride on the road back to Emerald . The cars were courteous ( although mostly no shoulder to ride on ) . The road was newly asphalted and beautiful smooth surface . It was uphill the whole way to Emerald and at Avonleigh there was a path to ride on next to the road and then the footpath through town . We then got back on the trail from Emerald to Clematis -up and down but only 3 km . Good bits about the ride -beautiful forest ride after Emerald Lake/ beautiful views and scenery throughout and fresh air . When at Gembrook we sat in the courtyard at the café and had a lovely Devonshire tea. Fifteen Km each way doesn’t sound much but with the hills it is plenty . Good luck if you wish to tackle this ride . Chris and Lee

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