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Castlemaine to Maldon Railside Trail

Victoria - West

3.3 based on 31 reviews
Location: 120 km north west of Melbourne
Length: 18 km
Surface: Compacted earth, Crushed granite, Fine gravel
Start / End: Castlemaine to Maldon
Public Transport: Coach, Train
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Horse RidingHorse Riding
  • WalkingWalking

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Potential RT
  • Other Trail
  • Former Railway
View Map

You can’t ride or walk closer to a steam train than this, with the Maldon Railside Trail running near the historic Victorian Goldfields Railway, along which steam trains run between Maldon and Castlemaine

  • Catch a V/Line train to Castlemaine, ride to Maldon for lunch, then return – or catch the steam train back if lunch runs a little longer than expected

Nearby Attractions

  • The Victorian Goldfields Railway restored the track and the steam engines that run along it
  • The attractive towns at both ends have significant historical interest
  • Mt Tarrengower
  • The Goldfields Track for walkers and cyclists runs past Castlemaine Station
  • Chewton’s preserved Victorian buildings
  • Buda historic house and garden
  • Old Castlemaine Gaol
  • Castlemaine Art Gallery and Museum

Last updated: 14 July 2024

  • The trail and railway line pass through box ironbark woodland and provide glimpses of grazing land. As the trail is not on the railway formation there are steep sections to get around the railway bridges etc.
  • Muckleford Railway Station has a picnic table and is a good place to stop and rest; there are toilets but they are only open when tourist trains run – there are no other toilets or drinking water along the trail.
  • It is possible to ride/walk in one direction and take the train back to your starting point.  Bikes can be taken on the train.  It is mainly downhill from Maldon to Castlemaine, so take your pick.
  • ESTA Emergency Markers are installed along the trail. In an emergency, call 000 and quote the alphanumeric code on the marker post nearest to you, eg CMT501

Section Guides

Castlemaine to Muckleford (8km)

  • Starting at Langslow St, the trail follows the railway line
  • To get there from Castlemaine Station, go through the subway, turn left and ride through Camp Reserve, where there is a bike repair stand and toilets
  • After crossing Forest Rd, the pleasant Campbells Creek Trail will take you under Elizabeth St and then along it to Langslow St. Watch for the yellow arrows
  • The trail follows the railway line to the Pyrenees Hwy and then up Martin St before resuming on the railway corridor
  • It passes through woodland and gently undulating open farmland
  • In places there are singletrack options for mountain bike riders

Muckleford to Maldon (9.7km) 

  • This section has more forest than farmland. After reaching Maldon Station, there is a short section through the remains of the historic Beehive Mine, with its intriguing brick chimney
  • Maldon has a number of good cafes and hotels
  • You may be able to see the railway’s engines in the yard
  • Mt Tarrengower hosts car hillclimbs and mountain bike descents

The Victorian Goldfields Railway runs heritage trains

Do you know of a bike hire or transportation service on this rail trail that should appear here? If so, let us know at admin@railtrails.org.au.

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32 reviews of “Castlemaine to Maldon Railside Trail”

Beautiful trail and lots of fun to ride up to Maldon and then take the train back. The trail was in better condition than expected but still a few stretches with lots of rocks and gravel.

This is an enjoyable ride on a mountain bike or hybrid through bush and farmland – with great cafes in Castlemaine and Maldon and interesting historic sites in Maldon.

Rail trail number 5 for this trip was the Castlemaine to Maldon Railside Trail. We’ve done this trail a few times as our daughter and son in law are based in Maldon. So, we headed off from Maldon on Sunday morning under sunny skies on a CX acoustic bike (me), hybrid electric bike (my wife) and MTB e bike (our grand daughter). Yes, the track is still rough in places, but smooth dirt in others. Yes, it goes up and down more than your usual trail, but it’s also an easy gradient in others. But, what it does have is glorious riding through the forest and beautiful historic towns at both ends. We had a choice of cafes at Castlemaine (can recommend Togs) then we made our way back to Maldon. All up 41km for the day including making our way between the trail heads and the towns.

I realised after parking at the end of Martin St that I had failed to read 'rail side' track! So, although the track is pretty good consisting of packed earth and gravel with some corrugations and washout ruts (which were easy enough to navigate with our hybrids and e-bikes) the key difference is the inclines and declines that are steeper than you would find on a rail trail making it a much harder slog especially at the Maldon end. All in all a lovely ride though.

The start from Castlemaine has you on bike paths, suburban streets and well maintained gravel. Once the housing is left behind the track is not much better than a mountain bike track full of ruts, roots, gullies, rocks, water pipes, leaves, stones and sand. At times it’s difficult to find a surface wider than 10cm to negotiate. Gave up as a bad joke!

MBTC had 7 riders on this trail 10'9'23 (early Spring). Viewing some 2022 reviews below, I had trepidation about erosion gullies and level water crossings on the trail. None of it. We had a pleasant ride in undulating territory, with good cafe offerings at trails-end in Maldon; and a wood-fired heater for pre-ride cafe/coffee in Castelmaine. Train arrived 9:26am. It has a mainly gravel/dirt surface, and winds a bit as the recreational train still has original track alignment; so a degree of bike skill is useful to charge hills and negotiate bendy corners with sandy edges. One or two older folks on ebikes hadn't mastered this skill set, so looked a bit bamboozled when regular bikes overtook them. After the RT, we carried on to Maryborough, for a total 58km ride, which proved a bit demanding with a 'light' W-SW'ly headwind of perhaps 15kmh. Wind picked up a notch about 4km W of Maldon, as we popped in front of a hilly range. We trained up on Bendigo line, and returned with Maryborough line; which doubled the scenery outlook by train. Train spotters with cameras on return line were waiting for a steam train appearance; we saw a stoker shovelling coal at one station in prep. Maldon apparently was registered en masse as a historic town in 1970s, and Castlelmaine/Maldon/Marysborough all have interesting house and civic architecture. The RT could prove tricky after decent rain, as multiple creeks were (concrete) level crossings and not bridged. We had an enjoyable day in the saddle, but were happy to kick back on the train home and let muscles recharge. A 3:20pm last train for day, meant we couldn't explore Maryborough as we'd hoped.

Rode this in both directions this week. This is probably the best signposted trail I have ridden. Excellent signs are everywhere. You cannot get lost going in either direction. The trail was in good condition considering the time of year and that it comprises a lot of bush tracks running through the bush alongside the rail. The trail primarily goes through lovely bush settings.

31/10/2022
This is a delightful bush trail but, following unusually heavy rain, the surface was very degraded and, in places, water covering the trail made progress difficult. Allow plenty of time to cover the 17.7km (we parked in Monaghan St.)

It is not a trail for road bikes with narrow tyres.

The Campbell Creek Trail from Castlemaine Station was not navigable due to the heavy rains; when dry this trail would be an enjoyable start before joining the trail to Maldon at Langslow St.

By using Campbell Creek Trail you can ride from Castlemaine station on a bike path to the start of the Maldon RT. It starts at Forest Rd. After going under Maldon Rd you pick up RT signage which takes you along Maldon Rd and then the rail track. Cross Maldon Rd at Maltby and turn up the next road to the start of the main trail.

Rode Maldon to Castlemaine last week on hybrid bikes. Good to be away from traffic and riding through the countryside. Rail trails are great!

Rode from Maldon Station to Castlemaine and return. Great trail but would not attempt on road bike, rough in places. Agree with other reviews about the lack of signage at both ends – it is quite difficult to find the start of the trail, but once on, the directional arrows are clear.

This trail is so much fun!
The surface is just OK, the signage could be better, there is pretty much nothing between the two main towns but they are gems! Both Castlemaine & Maldon offer full services and accommodation. Of course, the tourist railway (if it's running) is a delight to ride beside.
Even though the trail is only <20km long, a healthy apatite is generated when complete – really a great (if not slightly challenging) day out!

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I rode this rail-side trail last Thursday with a large group aged 55+. We started from Castlemaine and cycled to Maldon for lunch, then returned to Castlemaine. While the trail was fairly rough in some sections, I managed quite easily on a hybrid bike. Both towns are very interesting and well worth spending some time in each. A kangaroo broke away from its pack and bolted across the path ahead of us which added to the excitement of of doing this ride.

This was not the easiest of rail trails. As it's a combination of management tracks with some linking trails the gravel is heavy most of the way. Makes for a more challenging ride. Going from Castlemaine to Maldon is the hardest direction. Maldon to Castlemaine is far easier. Recommended for hybrid / MTB tyres. A good choice is to align your ride with the train between Castlemaine and Maldon. We would recommend cycling from Maldon to Castlemaine then have a great trip back on the train. The environment around the track is wonderful. Being out in bush is fantastic. A beautiful area to be. But be aware that is not the easiest of rail trail options.

Directional signage at both ends is not clear, it was difficult to find the start. Not a leisurely ride lots of ups and downs and loose gravel tracks. Recommend for intermediate riders with gravel or mountain bike.

Rode this trail last month and broadly agree with previous reviews. We rode a cx bike and e bike. The surface is pretty sketchy in spots and it certainly has more ups and downs than most trails. The km signage is good but directional signage at the Castlemaine end is non existent.

The worst trail I have ridden and I have done all the long ones around victoria. No signage and the surface is shocking. They really need to pick up their game on this one. I would give negative stars

I rode from Castlemaine station and found it unclear where the trail went through town. The path over Campbells creek bridge at the Pyrenees Highway is confusing but worked it out. Next to Maltby Drive appears to be the best route since feral cyclists go there rather than Martin street. Yes its a rocky bumpy ride in parts met cars driving rather fast throwing up dust. That aside the sections with no vehicle access were better. Maldon is always lovely mid week and I will come back on a Wednesday when the train runs. This is still a new trail so I can see room for improvement with new sections without vehicle access

Two of us rode about three quarters of the way to Maldon from Castlemaine and back yesterday: it was a good ride. We were on hybrid bikes, my tyres are quite slick and while the surface is a bit rougher some some rail trails, it was no problem at all. Because the trail isn’t on the rail line, there are some steeper climbs than on a rail reservation, so it it does require a bit more energy and strength in places, but nothing too bad. It is more slightly more downhill going into Catlemaine than going towards Maldon. There is a section on a back road with sparse traffic, not a problem. The ride out of Castlemaine was good – following the Campbell’s Creek trail to where it meets the Pyrenees Highway and then the rail line. We needed to check the map (from the brochure downloaded in this site) a couple of times, and had to use Kennedy St on the town side of the V/line station to access it, but that is a very pleasant and easy section of the trail. Will do this again and go the whole way next time – probably do it on a day the tourist railway is running and go bike one way, train the other. Took the bikes up and back on the V/line train, and that worked perfectly.

Rode this trail from Castlemaine to Maldon return yesterday. Very enjoyable ride with steam train passing a couple of times for photo opportunities. The track is great for mountain bikes and whilst more underlating and rockier than normal rail trail, it is an easy out and back ride with plenty of lunch places in Maldon. More downhill on way back from Maldon! Wild flowers throughout the state forests. It was a challenge to find some parking near the start in Langsley Rd (ended up parking across the highway which gave access to track into town – not marked as a carpark though). The track seems to start just before you cross under the rail bridge – once on it, it is very well marked. Whilst we didn’t ride it, the track seems extend back into Castlemaine some 2km. Maybe some signage visible to drivers would be helpful. very enjoyable ride.

My rating for the trail itself is 4-5 stars, but I was only able to give it 2 overall due to the poor connection to town at the Castlemaine end. We caught the steam train from Maldon to Castlemaine with our 3 kids and our bikes and got some incredulous looks when I said at the ticket booth that I wanted a one way ticket and needed to load our bikes on the train. Apparently they hadn’t had a family do this in over a year. I found this a bit strange, but just filed it away for the time being. Getting off the train in Castlemaine, we started making our way to the trailhead. We had to do so with the help of google maps, as there was no signage as far as I could see. Getting to the trailhead involved riding up and down several hilly streets and crossing a couple of busy main roads – a nerve wracking experience when riding with kids. We nearly gave up and turned around before we even got on the trail.
Once we reached the trail it was a different story altogether. The trail is well signposted and maintained and a joy to ride. It is hard going in places and probably stretches the description of ‘undulating’, but the scenery makes it well worth the effort. When we rode the trail, there were wildflowers all through the forest. We had a longer then planned stop at Muckleford to fix a puncture, before tackling the second half, which climbs steadily up to Maldon. The younger 2 (9y) struggled a bit, but made it all the way spurred on by the promise of ice cream in Maldon.
I think this trail is ideal for families capable child riders. The length is just right, the scenery is stunning and there are lots of places to stop and rest, especially the halfway point at Muckleford, which has a lovely open grass are with picnic tables. In combination with tithe steam train, it could well be the ideal weekend family outing. BUT: Please give some thought to routing the trail from the Castlemaine trailhead to the station in a way that makes it safe for riders and easy to follow for out of towners.

My husband and I rode this trail on Good Friday 2018. We started in Castlemaine and rode to Maldon and then back again. Finding the beginning of the trail in Castlemaine was a bit of a nightmare. It does not start at the station and for a short while we were following some other trail out to Campbell’s Creek. Going from Castlemaine to Maldon is mainly up hill, so going back was a breeze. The trail itself was good. However, it is rough and can be a bit tough in places. We rode it ok on hybrids, even though only MTBs are recommended. I enjoyed the trail, but it is not easy. And yes cars can drive on part of it, but we did not see any.

This past weekend I travelled to Castlemaine to ride the new Castlemaine – Maldon Rail Trail. It is described as undulating. Myself and my husband, both good riders found the terrain to be quite hilly and quite physical. We only lasted about 5 kilometers on the trail as we found it quite dangerous when we came upon two vehicles within 10 minutes coming towards us on the trail. It was after the second vehicle that we decided to turn back and abandon this trail. The trail is not wide enough to accommodate both cyclists and vehicles. Bollards should be put in place so that vehicles cannot access this track making it safer to cyclists, runners and walkers. Cheryl

I did the trail on Friday, perfect winter weather. I used my hybrid bike with low tread, no issues. There a couple of ground hazards along the way but nothing major. The return ride from Maldon to Castlemaine seemed a little easier (more down hill action). The signage from Castlemaine, trying to find the beginning of the actual trail was frustration and hopefully will be addressed shortly.
The train journey from Footscray on V/Line was great. Really had an awesome time.

Did this trail yesterday, and loved it. Parked at Muckleford Station where there is heaps of room, there are also great facility’s tables and chairs and toilets although was disappointed to find them locked. Headed towards Maldon , beautiful scenery gravel a little thick in places and I found a least a couple of the hills a little more steep than “undulating” but I am sure those with better bikes and better quad muscles will have no trouble, and it would not put me off doing again, in fact I can’t wait. Castlemaine and Maldon lovely towns, with loads of history and very laid back. Thank you for another great trail for us to enjoy, aren’t we Lucky !!!

Although not fully sign-posted, the trail now links to the Campbell’s Creek Track at the Pyrenees Highway, so you can ride from Camp Reserve all the way out without dealing with busy roads. Signposting mostly completed, although a little confusing near Gowar Track. Overall a good ride with beautiful, quiet bush and only a couple of short road sections. Track is rough and loose in parts so narrow tyres are not recommended. Have done this four times over the last two weeks, and there is still a bit of track grading going on, so hopefully it will be a bit smoother soon.

IT’S OPEN!!!!! After a very warm Welcome to Country ceremony – this rail trail was officially opened today at the Muckleford Station, between Castlemaine and Maldon by Hon. Maree Edwards Member for Bendigo West. My party didn’t ride it but were, along with many others, treated to a free steam (one way) and diesel (the return) train ride(Victorian Goldfields Railway), first class too! with refreshments supplied by the local Mount Alexander Council (I believe). Bikes were accommodated in the rear carriages for those intending to ride one way. I’ve done the ride to Maldon from Castlemaine on a number of roads/tracks both sealed and unsealed but not the trail so can only comment on what it looks like from the train. It looks like a lot of work has been done to improve the trail – graded some and topped it with a sympathetically coloured fine gravel. Signage and barriers at various road junctions has been added. When you get nearer to Castlemaine (where it used to be confusing even for local cyclists to work out where to go) it looks like they have added bitumen surfaces and some bike holding rails and more signage. It looks great and all the cyclist on board were enthusiastic (any improvements or money invested in cycling is great!). We drove to the Maldon Station and that too had improved surfaces and signage. Some very obvious paintwork just outside the Maldon Station on the main road heralds to all that a rail trail or at least a cycling track is afoot. But it only goes for about 30m or so and cyclists are directed back onto a trail into Maldon town. All in all very impressed so 5 stars from above. I intend doing it with my 10 yo within the next few weeks and will update again then. Regarding using the train to go one way (particularly if you are cycling with younger children) I’ve no idea how much a bike costs to transport or if this will be a possibility on a busy weekend.

Rode this Rail Side Trail 8 Nov 2016 from Castlemaine to Maldon and return. Leaving Castlemaine Station there are some town streets to navigate until reaching the trail start proper. Very easy to follow the trail even thought there are no signs erected yet. I found it very rough after the recent rains and many areas with loose sand and gravel. Mountain type bikes will have no problem with the surface. Mosquitoes very bad the entire distance and this made it almost impossible to stop and look around. I would like to have been able to look at Muckleford Station area, but the mosquitoes were vicious. Many brick culverts to stop and look at along the trail and also some beautiful coloured rock formations in the many cuttings. Lovely and quiet in the bushland. Not much work being done to the trail except in one location nearer to Castlemaine, though posts have been erected along some sections. Maldon Station is a hive of activity but unfortunately there was no rail traffic the day I rode. No other riders or walkers seen. Both towns are very interesting to explore and food is available. Castlemaine by Rail public transport is very easy. Without the mosquitoes this will be a good trail for all ages. Another good effort for this mid sixties gent.

Hi there – saw this as something of an update, says its started work – so that’s at least 2-3 months worth already assuming a start in July

https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/general/policy-and-campaigns/4378/

Does anyone at RailTrails have an update?

Looking forward to it as I spent childhood holidays up there and caught the steam engine many times.

Can anyone please provide an update on the works being carried on this Rail Side Trail. It was suggested that the work would take around 3 to 4 months. Thankyou in advance. Gary

Background Information

Traditional owners

We acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.

Development and future of the rail trail 

The trail was built in 2016-17 and officially opened in March, 2017.

Rail line history 

  • Castlemaine Station is on the Melbourne to Bendigo Line and was established in 1862
  • A branch line was built to Maldon and on to Newbridge via Shelbourne from 1km south of Castlemaine (off the Maryborough branch line) and this was completed in 1884
  • Bushfires in 1969 destroyed rail infrastructure between Maldon and Shelbourne, and the line from Newbridge to Castlemaine closed soon afterward
  • The line between Maldon and Castlemaine was preserved, and reopened as the Goldfields Tourist Railway in 2005

Construction to start on Castlemaine to Maldon Rail Side Trail

Posted: 28/05/16

The Mount Alexander Shire has announced that a tender for the construction of the 18km ...

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