There’s nothing quite as magical as watching your kids take their first unassisted pedal strokes on their bike, but once they’re proficient at cycling, riding circles around an empty parking lot or neighbourhood park can become a little boring – that’s when it’s time to start exploring the family-friendly bike trails in Melbourne!
Luckily, Melbourne has some of the best bike trails for little learners, so why not get the family together and spend some quality time making the most of your summer weekends?
From activity-filled rides (that include milking cows) to beachside meanders, to lush green scenery, we’ve put together a list of our five favourite kid-friendly bike trails in Melbourne.
Tips for Cycling with Kids
Both adults and kids should wear a helmet at all times. Not only is it required by law in Australia, but it’s vital to protect against head injuries.
Dress your kids in bright colours. This makes them visible to oncoming cyclists and pedestrians, and also helps you find them if you lose track of them on a busy path.
Lead by example. Along with wearing your helmet, follow the rules of the park and general road safety rules, and make sure your kids know the rules too.
Even very active children can have a hard time keeping up with the distances and speeds adults can manage, so let them set the pace for your ride.
Tired kids might throw tantrums or become restless. You want cycling to be a fun activity with positive associations. If they aren’t enjoying it anymore, cut the ride short or switch to another activity (like playing in the park, breaking out the snacks, or getting an ice-cream).
While it’s good to expand your kids’ comfort zone, don’t push them too hard to tackle challenges they’re not comfortable with. They’ll get there in their own time.
Don’t cycle on traffic-heavy roads with kids. If the only way to get to the trail is by going through busy roads, consider putting the bicycles on a bike rack and taking your car.
Always have snacks, sunscreen, and extra water handy.
1. Capital City Trail
Although the loop is 29.6 kilometres (which may make it tiring for little legs), the trail is smooth and paved, making it an easy ride. Because you can enter and exit the loop at multiple points, you don’t have to do the full 29.6km loop.
The Capital City Trail is an amazing way to see Melbourne by bike. Some of the landmarks you’ll pass include the Royal Botanic Gardens, Victorian Arts Centre, and Herring Island Environmental Park. There are also many places to stop along the loop for a rest or bite to eat, but the most exciting stop for the little ones in the family will likely be the Melbourne Zoo at Royal Park.
In spring and summer, the trail (which is mixed-use) can become quite crowded, so if your kids are just learning to ride it’s a good idea to go early in the morning and stick to the quieter north side of the river.
2. Collingwood Children’s Farm
Collingwood Children’s Farm is a magical place for adults and children alike, and has been operational for almost 40 years. It offers a shared bike and pedestrian path that takes you around the property and can be completed in about 20 minutes.
Once you’re done with your ride, the kids (or adults!) in your group can milk the cows and feed the lambs, as well as interact with the sheep and pigs. There’s even a farmer’s market where you can pick up some chocolates, fruits, and snacks to take home but if hunger strikes immediately, there’s also an on-site cafe that offers meals and coffees.
3. Bay Trail (Brighton to Port Melbourne)
The Bay Trail, one of the most popular family-friendly bike trails in Melbourne, begins in the suburb of Seaford, and takes you on an idyllic 13km (26km return) coastal ride along Port Phillip Bay to the Westgate Bridge in Port Melbourne.
The full trail might not be suitable for little legs due to its length, but you can start and end the trail wherever you want. The real appeal of this trail for a family outing is the fact that a portion of the trail runs along Brighton Beach, so it’s the perfect way to combine a full day spent cycling and hanging out by the sea.
Once you reach Elwood Park, the mixed-use trail splits into two, giving cyclists a dedicated bike lane. This portion of the trail is perfect for children and beginners who might not be comfortable riding alongside pedestrians, especially during the busy spring and summer seasons.
4. Westerfolds Park
Situated on the Yarra River, Westerfolds Park is a fantastic place for cyclists, runners, and pedestrians. Set on 120 hectares, there’s enough room to explore for an entire day and hopefully glimpse some of the wildlife – kangaroo sightings at dusk are common, and you could also see wallabies, possums, echidnas, and wombats. If you’re really lucky, you might spot platypus by the river!
There’s a 4.2km cycling loop in the park, and the Main Yarra Trail also runs through the park. The full Main Yarra Trail is a 38km shared-use path that starts at the Yarra River’s mouth, but for a shorter ride, you can hop on the trail at Westerfolds Park and take the 850m single track green mountain biking trail up to the Westerfolds Observation Platform, where you can watch the Yarra River flow beneath you.
5. Williamstown Beach to Altona Beach Foreshore Trail
If you’re looking for a peaceful family-friendly bike trail in Melbourne with tons of stunning natural scenery, the Williams Beach to Altona Beach Foreshore Trail is perfect. While the trail is often busy in a southerly direction from St Kilda, if you cycle west in the opposite direction, you can enjoy a quiet ride with fewer pedestrians and other cyclists.
Making up a part of the 23km Hobson’s Bay Coastal Trail, this trail is an 8km flat concrete path that starts at Williamstown Beach (where there’s ample parking) all the way to Altona Beach – perfect to combine with a day spent swimming and sunbathing.
There’s very little shade on the path and no cafes until you reach Altona, so it may not be ideal for very young children, but if you’re riding with older children ensure they have a hat, sunscreen, and enough water to last the ride.
Issued by The Hollard Insurance Company AFSL 241436. Consider the PDS and TMD on Velosure.com.au
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