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Red Hill Rail Trail

Victoria - Melbourne region

3.2 based on 9 reviews
Location: Mornington Peninsula, 90 km south of CBD
Length: 6.3 km
Surface: Coarse gravel, Compacted earth, Fine gravel
Start / End: Merricks to Red Hill
Public Transport: None
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • Cycling – Touring and Hybrid BikesCycling – Touring and Hybrid Bikes
  • Horse RidingHorse Riding
  • WalkingWalking

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Potential RT
  • Other Trail
  • Former Railway
View Map
  • Great excuse to visit the beautiful Mornington Peninsula
  • Wineries, galleries and serene rural and sea views combine to make this a great trail for a day trip or weekend visit
  • Excellent cafes at both ends of the trail
  • Interpretive signs at Red Hill Station Reserve explain the history of the area
  • Best in dry weather but surface has improved

Nearby Attractions

  • Arthurs Seat State Park
  • Coolart Wetlands and Homestead
  • Two Bays Walking Track and many others
  • Portsea Beach
  • Point Nepean Quarantine Station

Last updated: 5 May 2024

You can start at either end of this trail, or in the middle. Merricks is a good option if you want a downhill run for your return trip after a decent lunch at Red Hill! The 2.8km lower section, which is popular with horse riders, does not follow the original alignment so it is steeper than a typical rail trail.  The original line rose at 1 in 44 to Red Hill, steeper than normal for branch lines but quite manageable on a bike. Unfortunately, the rail corridor up to Tonkins Rd was sold and the diversion is even steeper than 1 in 44. The trail is narrow in parts and can also be muddy, so it’s unsuitable for road bikes in winter.

Access Points

  • Merricks: The Merricks Station Ground car park entrance is obscured from Frankston-Flinders Road (C777). Look for the mobile phone tower about 150m east of Merricks General Wine Store. There are public toilets here.
  • Tonkins Rd: There is limited parking but the road is narrow and unsuitable for horse floats. The trail up to Red Hill starts next to #22.
  • Red Hill: There is a carpark with room for horse floats, toilets, BBQ and bike repair station at the Red Hill Station Reserve. It’s off Point Leo Rd and behind the shops.

For public transport options, go to ‘GET AROUND’ below and click on ‘SHOW MORE’ if necessary


Section Guides

  • Look for the ‘Trail’ sign on the timber railing fence, near the phone tower. A narrow track runs beside the equestrian reserve to the start of the trail proper. You can avoid this squeezy section by using the shared path on the other side of the horse riding area, next to Merricks Rd.
  • Turn left, climb steadily for 2km and enjoy the views over Western Port to Phillip Island. After a sharp right turn, the trail continues down a steep hill (with grapevines on the left), where it meets the end of Tonkins Rd. The trail continues to the left after #22 and is now on the original rail easement. It ascends gently for 3.6km to Red Hill, first through pine trees (look for colourful fungi in autumn) and then two small cuttings.
  • Next to the mountain bike pump track at Red Hill, the station has been partially recreated, with a plaque commemorating the 75th anniversary of the railway opening.
  • The trail continues to Point Leo Rd behind the shopping strip. Explore the area, visit the cafés or bakery and either return via the trail or local roads. There are asphalt and dirt shared paths from here along Arthurs Seat Rd.
  • Merricks has a restaurant, cafe and craft shop at the former general store, another restaurant at Pt Leo Estate and several other wineries.


One of the proposals in the massive Peninsula Trail project is to build a 10km shared path along Frankston-Flinders Rd from Bittern to Merricks, more than half of it close to the alignment of the Red Hill Line, but the cost was estimated at $11m in 2022 and other parts of the project are taking priority in what is expected to be a 10-year undertaking dependent on outside funding. If you’re desperate to arrive by train and unwilling to wait for that path, you can already ride or walk the Western Port Bay Trail from Bittern Station to Balnarring Beach and then watch for marker posts featuring a Peninsula PathLinks logo to get you along Library Rd and Bayview Rd to the continuation of Junction Rd. This gets rougher as you approach Merricks, is 6km longer and is only suitable for mountain bikes and experienced walkers.

Public Transport

The nearest railway stations to Merricks are at Mooradoo and Bittern on the Stoney Point Line, which has an infrequent service on a single track. The #782 PTV bus will get you to Merricks but, with bicycle carrying restrictions applying, riders will have to take the circuitous Westernport Bay Trail which gets you most of the way or wait a number of years for the Peninsula Trail.

Refer to the PTV web page for map and timetables, or use the navigation app of your choice.

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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11 reviews of “Red Hill Rail Trail”

Lovely little Rail Trail! Locally known as the Merricks Trail. I made a nice two-day loop starting at Somerville station riding to Somers, Hastings and Balnarring beaches then back to Bittern. A little bit of riding on busy roads so caution is required.

Brilliant little path FOR mountain/hybrid bikes or walking! Very steep in sections, path is strewn with big tree roots and other tyre/foot obstacles and lots of walkers, so need to be great at navigating and braking.

I typically do it one way from Red Hill to Merricks Food Store, but it can be done one way in reverse direction, or back-and-forth. Great cafe at either end of the trail.

The trail can also be extended at the Red Hill end all the way to Red Hill primary school, AND then down to Green Olive (scenic tapas place and cafe with gorgeous garden and great playground) using the wide footpath separated from the road by treeline.

I rode from Merricks-Red Hill-Merricks on a longish weekend in April 2023. The trail guide sums it up exceedingly well.

Firstly, it was extremely busy with lots of walkers, dogs (mainly off-leash) and horses and I have not seen a more well used trail, even the outer circle would be less frequented.

This means those who yearn for Strava cycling KOM's may be disappointed as you slow for foot traffic and you really do need to come to a stop for the horses as there is limited passing space.

The trail surface, whilst decent, can be a little patchy here and there however the transition between different scenery and foliage is well worth the effort to visit this trail. I grabbed a great coffee and snack at "Food On The Hill", near the Red Hill station and you won't be disappointed.

It's on 6km but it's well worth the visit

Hi Ewen,
Glad you enjoyed the trail. I have added some information on the webpage under 'Bonus Track' regarding the Peninsula Trail plan for this area.

This is a fun, pretty little trail. We started at Merricks. There are some longish uphill sections, but not too bad.
The return ride is great with nice, intermittent views Port Phillip bay.
The track is a little rough and overgrown in places. Get off your seat and you'll be fine!

Visited today 26-10-'21
Very disappointed with the maintenance of the track. Lost of washouts, mud and tree roots sticking up.

Whoever is responsible for the maintenance here needs some encouragement to get into it.

8/27 Next Railtrail on my journey to ride every trail in Victoria in my 60th year to promote organ donation. Red Hill Railtrail is on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. I started at Red Hill to take advantage of the downhill run. Lovely sunny conditions but a rough surface with tree roots and rocks mean it’s not a great cycling track. At the point the track leaves the railway verge there is a gate that is too narrow to ride through before a very steep (but short) climb. Signage is pretty poor once you leave Red Hill, and I had to consult Google Maps once near the end when there seemed 2 options to go on. To get to the rather non-descript end you need to ride around the equestrian centre, which was pretty busy on the day I was there. But it is an interesting ride with beautiful views, and probably better tackled on foot. 6.5km.

You can follow all my railtrail rides on FB Warwick Duncan – The 2nd Chance Man or Insta @warwick_rides

With 2 friends I cycled this trail on Tuesday 3rd January 2017, but we soon became concerned that it was not very suitable for riding on a hybrid bike. We started at the Merricks end and were immediately confronted by bumpy impressions left in the ground from horses hoofs, which would have been made when the trail was wet. Further on there were many sections with exposed tree roots which made for a rough ride. Then near a vineyard there was a big hill and very loose gravel, so we played safe and walked our bikes on the grass beside the trail. The trail became a bit flatter and better at the Red Hill South end, and after a coffee, it was mostly downhill riding back to Merricks. Even though some people regard it as a rail trail, we saw very little evidence of station buildings or signs, cuttings, track or sleepers. Officially the 5km trail is known as the Peninsula Equestrian Trail. I would recommend you leave it to walkers and horses, and for safety sake ride on the very pleasant Warringine Park Coastal Wetlands Boardwalk at Hastings, which we did on Wednesday 4th January. The only good long cycle/walking path on the southern Mornington Peninsula is the one from Safety Beach to Sorrento. But being summer and school holiday, we decided to postpone this ride to a quieter time. I would like to see Mornington Peninsula Shire create some other long off road shared paths for walkers and cyclists. This would attract more tourists to the area and provide a healthy activity for them.

Rode the Red Hill trail on November 9th 2014. A good short trail with a great down hill ride from Red Hill – the gradient is deceptive and you pick up speed very easily. The short rise along the vineyard is in poor quality and bikes are liable to slip when climbing. Agree about the dog owners being everywhere – but had no problems with any dogs.

A small pleasant trail that runs uphill from Merricks to Red Hill, on a dirt/pebble/tree root covered trail, used by horse riders and dog walkers. You need to be careful coming back down the hill from Red Hill as you pick up speed and there are a few corners that present trouble if people are coming the other way.
It is difficult to find, with little to no signage marking the trail start and end. If you park at the winery and head towards station ground reserve the trail begins on your left before the reserve entrance. Enjoy!

Although this is a great trail, I have found lately that there are alot of dog owners who are using this rail trail as a leash free run. I had a dog have a go at my horse, the dog came off alot worse than the horse. I asked the owners “what if a child was riding a bike past and the dog got nasty” they stated that I should get lost and mind my own business.

Background Information

Traditional Owners

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

Rail Line History

The line to Red Hill was built after a long campaign by local people, beginning in the 1880s. Opened in 1921 as a branch from Bittern on the Stony Point line, it mainly carried fruit such as apples, pears and strawberries to market in Melbourne. Six hundred people gathered to greet the first steam train climbing the steep 1 in 30 gradient to Red Hill.

As roads improved the train timetable was reduced to one train a week and the line closed in 1953 after only 32 years of operation. The rest of the former railway land between Bittern and Merricks is now in private ownership.

Red Hill Rail Trail (VIC) Seeking Feedback on Station Reserves

Posted: 25/05/14

Anyone who has ridden the Red Hill Rail Trail (Mornington Peninsula, VIC) and gone through ...

Trail descriptions are maintained by volunteers. Please consider a donation to help improve this website. Rail Trails Australia gets no government funding.

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