- Rail Trail
- On Road
- Potential Rail Trail
- Other Trail
- Former Railway
- Rail Trail
- On Road
- Potential RT
- Other Trail
- Former Railway
- A high-standard trail with the historic small townships of Smythesdale, Scarsdale and Linton providing points of interest and facilities
- Visits Nimons Bridge, third tallest surviving timber bridge in Victoria
- History boards with trail information at various points
- Ballarat is Victoria’s largest inland city with many magnificent buildings from the gold-rush era
- The childhood home of Sir Henry Bolte, Victoria’s longest-serving Premier, can be seen beside Emu Creek in the town of Skipton
Last updated: 10 November 2023
This trail has three easy sections:
Ballarat to Smythesdale is 20km, from Wendouree railway station to the township of Smythesdale
Smythesdale to Linton is 17km and crosses historic goldfields and native grasslands
Linton to Skipton is 20km and features pleasant Australian bushland and a kaolin mine at Pittong
Ballarat is a major town with a wide range of services. The section guide provides information on food and accommodation at Skipton.
ESTA Emergency Markers are located along the trail. In an emergency, call 000 and quote the alphanumeric code on the marker post nearest to you, eg BSR4
Please note: the sections from Scarsdale to Nimons Bridge and from Pittong to Skipton have experienced flood damage and care should be taken where the trail is eroded.
Ballarat to Smythesdale (20 km)
- The trail starts on Wendouree Parade south of Wendouree railway station then runs on Gregory St west to Ring Rd, its officially starting point. It then heads south where it crosses the Ballarat to Burrumbeet road (Avenue of Honour). Bordered by pine and cypress trees the trail continues on to the old station site at Kopke, a large gold rush settlement
- Haddon, the next station site, is surrounded by native grassland. A café at the local nursery provides refreshments
- Nintingbool siding is the last site before Smythesdale. Between Smythesdale and Scarsdale you can visit the Chinese graves in the cemetery
- At Smythesdale, detour around the sports oval built across the old railway
- Smythesdale is a historic gold mining village dating from the 1850s. It has a range of services including food, petrol and accommodation.
Smythesdale to Linton (17 km)
- Please note: the section from Scarsdale to Nimon’s Bridge has experienced flood damage and care should be taken where the trail has been eroded.
- After skirting the sports oval at Smythesdale, the trail crosses the Glenelg Highway and continues to Scarsdale
- Scarsdale is a small village with public toilets on the trail
- After crossing the Lismore-Scarsdale road, the trail continues to Nimons bridge, a large restored trestle bridge. There is a ground for horses
- the trail then runs beside the Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary through attractive forest
- Linton is a small village with public toilets and a general store
Linton to Skipton (20 km)
- Please note: This section has experienced recent flood damage to the last 5km section into Skipton, but remains open while Corangamite Shire seek funding to remediate the surface.
- The trail gradually climbs into Linton State Forest
- At Pittong the trail emerges from bushland and crosses the Pittong–Snake Valley road
- The last 5 km into Skipton follows the Glenelg Hwy and ends near the recreation reserve at the site of the former Skipton station
- Skipton has a range of services including a small supermarket (with extended trading hours) and a roadhouse. The roadhouse rents out cabins via AirBnB and Bookings.com. A coffee shop is due to open in late 2023.
The start of the rail trail at Ballarat still has some rusty branchline tracks veering to the left 
One of many shelters with information panels 
Get a better background of the area's mining history with the display at Smythesdale 
Approaching Nimmons Bridge from the west 
Nimmons Bridge 
Cyclists are able to ride across the bridge but horses must use the bypass (2009)
Linton station site 
Cycling between Linton and Pittong [2021 George Turner]
Walking between Linton and Pittong 
Cruising between Skipton and Pittong 
The scenery approaching Skipton 
Departing Skipton 
Riding the trail in 2014
AllTrails Bicycle Tours
AllTrails Bicycle Tours have been running multi-day cycle tours around Victoria and across the country for 25 years and once again return to Western VIC for our Coast, Craters and Gold ‘Six-Pack’ rail trails tour. This group tour takes in six of the best trails in Victoria (Port Fairy to Warrnambool RT, Craters to Coast RT, Old Beechy RT, Skipton to Ballarat RT, Castlemaine to Maldon RT, O’Keefe RT) – a wonderful way to see multiple trails with full support and great accommodation, all with minimal effort and organisation on your part.
Goldfields Bike Tours & Hire – Unique opportunity to experience hybrid or E-bike riding to explore the rail trails and in conjunction with our air conditioned bus and 15-bike trailer.
We acknowledge the Wadawurrung people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.
Development and future of the rail trail
The railway line to Skipton was opened to Scarsdale in 1883, Linton in 1890 and Skipton in 1916.
Passengers and general freight were carried until 1976, then seasonal freight (grain and kaolin mined from weathered granite) until the line was closed in 1986. Scarsdale, the first terminus of the line, had a peak of 20,000 passenger journeys in 1890. Newtown was the junction of the Cressy and Colac line (1911-1953).
Golden Plains Shire Council has secured a $500,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Regional Infrastructure ...More...
The shuttle bus service from Ballarat to Skipton will run again over the summer months ...More...
On the 29th October the newly resurfaced rail trail was opened. The complete distance of 54...More...
On Saturday March 17 a fund raising Walk, Run or Bike ride event will be held ...More...
The Hon John Brumby MP, Minister for State and Regional Development opened the Ballarat - ...More...
Three Community Jobs Programs have taken place on the rail trail since November 2001. Works on ...More...
This 54km rail trail is only 110km west of Melbourne and connects Ballarat and Skipton. ...More...
Murray to the Mountains Opening The official opening of the Murray to the Mountains Rail ...More...
There have been developments on a number of Victorian trails in recent months. A quick ...More...