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    Into the wild: The best walks outside of Melbourne
    Once you’ve satisfied your coffee cravings and enjoyed some much-needed retail therapy around the city, put on your hiking boots and head to Melbourne’s picturesque trails for a nature escape
    Hikers. Credit: Getty Images
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    Surrounded by world-class national parks, travellers can take their pick from a wide variety of trails and landscapes, from epic coastal walks to breathtaking day hikes in the mountains. Here, we reveal some of the best and most scenic hikes near Melbourne, for hikers of all levels.

    Peninsula beach, Melbourne.

    Credit: Getty Images

    Lighthouse Mornington Peninsula

    Credit: Getty Images

    The Mornington Peninsula  

    An hour out of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is a rich and varied place to visit, no matter what time of year you happen to go. With a picturesque coastline, nature reserves and charming villages galore, it’s particularly popular with Aussie hikers seeking a weekend getaway. There are dozens of hikes and walking trails, coming in a variety of terrains to suit all kinds of hikers. 

    Challenge yourself with the 100km, multiple-day Mornington Peninsula walk that will take you to most of the region’s best-known scenic spots - from the lighthouse at Cape Schanck to the Bass Strait coast - learning a little bit about Victoria’s history along the way. If that sounds like too much of a challenge, there are dozens of walks that are much more accessible and just as lovely, with a good range of lengths and difficulty levels to choose from. 

    Werribee Gorge
    Werribee Gorge

    Credit: Getty Images

    Werribee Gorge  

    One for geology enthusiasts, this state park is situated on ancient land with rock formations dating back 500 million years. It has a wild and rugged terrain that offers bushwhackers a tough, yet highly satisfying challenge or a taste of the real outback, complete with koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. Depending on which route you take, you might be faced with a rock scramble as you go upriver from the Meikles Point Picnic Area, or a steep climb up the James Whyte Island Reserve - where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the entire gorge. 

    The walks take around two to four hours each, so make sure to pack plenty of water and sun protection and leave enough daylight for you to get back out of the park. Looking for an adrenaline fix? Falcons Lookout is a wild and challenging rock-climbing area where proficient climbers are welcome to tackle the cliff face.

    Lerderderg State Park
    Lerderderg State Park

    Lerderderg State Park 

    Though only located an hour outside of Melbourne, Lerderderg State Park feels truly remote, with tough but rewarding routes that are ripe for seasoned hikers to explore. Named for the Lerderderg River, which has worn a deep gorge into the landscape over several millennia, you’ll find plenty of picnic spots, walks of varying difficulties, camping grounds and an abundance of local flora and fauna to admire. For an all-day adventure, take the 13km East Walk and Cowan Track Loop, which follows the Lerderderg River downstream and features amazing views of the gorge along the way. Expect to scramble here and there - the track can get obstructed with debris, particularly after flooding. 

    Warrandyte State Park
    Warrandyte State Park

    Warrandyte State Park

    For a slightly more relaxed foray into the great outdoors, Warrandyte State Park , known to the locals as Wonga Park, lies just outside of Melbourne. A popular spot for weekending Melbournites, it offers plenty of leisurely, family-friendly activities: set up a picnic on the banks of the Yarra River, shaded by manna gums and tea trees, paddle a canoe, or tackle one of the gentle hiking trails to explore a little deeper into the park. For those seeking more of a challenge, ascend Mount Lofty, Warrandyte’s highest point, on a 4.7km, 2.5-hour circuit that follows the river upstream, followed by a sharp clamber along the ridge to the top. Plenty of bird species can be seen along the way, and with several scenic points to rest at on your way up, you’ll be too busy admiring the scenery and wildlife to notice the ascent. 

    The Yarra Valley  steam train
    The Yarra Valley  from above
    The Yarra Valley forest

    The Yarra Valley 

    While wine might be the first thing that springs to mind, the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges are home to an astonishing variety of spectacular hikes and walks. One local attraction is the Ada Tree, a 75-metre-tall mountain ash that is believed to be more than 300 years old. There are three options to choose from: if you’re feeling ambitious, tackle the multi-day, 75km “Walk Into History” hike that begins in the town of Warburton and takes in fascinating ruins of old bush mills and tramways that are slowly being reclaimed by the forest. 

    Alternatively, the much shorter 24km route starting from Starlings Gap allows you to tick off the main highlights of the Walk Into History hike over a much shorter distance. Or, if you just want to get in and out, there’s a pleasant 5km loop from the Ada Tree picnic area.  

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