A local’s guide to Melbourne’s Capital City Trail

The Capital City Trail (CCT) is one of Melbourne’s best bike rides. A 30km loop through inner Melbourne, it’s scenic, varied, and takes you past some of Melbourne’s best sights. It’s a great half-day out on the bike, providing an interesting cross section of the inner-suburbs.  There’s drinking fountains at regular intervals, and there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and a coffee.

It is a shared path, and takes in parts of various other paths, such as the Main Yarra Trail, the Merri Creek Trail and the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail. Being a shared path, you will likely see bike riders and pedestrians, joggers and dog walkers, so ride with consideration. You may also encounter exhibitions or events in/around the CBD. Sometimes sections are closed for track or road maintenance, but generally all is A-OK. There’s also one, or perhaps two sections where you have to get off your bike, so be prepared for that (more detail later).

One ongoing problem with the Capital City Trail is that at times the signposting leaves a lot to be desired. (It runs through various local councils, some of which have good signage, whereas other don’t). So, let us help you out with this guide – there can be variations depending up on which side of the river you ride, and where you turn, but this route will get you around no probs.

Starting from Velo Cycles, where you can grab one of our hire bikes, you can go either way—clockwise or anti-clockwise. We’d suggest setting aside around 3 hours, but it does depend upon your pace, and how often you stop. We’ll start with the guide for going clockwise, and if you’re going the other way, scroll down or click here to see the anti-clockwise guide.

Melbourne’s Capital City Trail map & guide—going clockwise

The map above is interactive – roll your mouse along the path and you’ll see the corresponding part of the gradient of the Capital City Trail.  You can also download a file so you can follow using most common devices. And there’s also suggested locations for picturesque stops, or something to eat/drink.

Starting from Velo Cycles, head east, crossing Nicholson Street at the lights and continue on the trail.

Capital City Trail Velo Cycles

Follow the green arrow

 

You’ll cross a few intersections and in 1.3km you will come to Rushall train station. Turn left immediately after the platform entrance and go under the underpass.

Capital City Trail Rushall

 

When you emerge on the other side, continue straight—do not take the bridge to your left. You are now on the Merri Creek Trail. After 1.5km you will come to a short but incredibly steep hill – a good chance to test your gear range or the torque in your e-Bike. At the top of the hill, turn left.

 

After 1.3km, take a sharp left.

Merri Creek Trail Clifton Hill

 

You will immediately come to a bridge across the Merri Creek. At the end of the bridge, turn right.

Merri Creek Trail bridge

 

A few hundred metres further on, turn right onto another bridge.

Merri Creek Trail bridge

 

After the bridge, to your left, is Dights Falls—not exactly Niagara Falls but a good place to stop and have a sip of water. To continue on the trail, stay to the left and the path will take you down close to the river. You are now on the Main Yarra Trail.

After a kilometre or so you will pass the Collingwood Children’s Farm and Cafe, and the Abbotsford Convent. It’s a lovely spot to stop for a coffee, see some farm animals, or check out the historic convent buildings and gardens.Collingwood Childrens Farm

About a kilometre further on you will come to three flights of rather steep stairs. Yes, you are still on the right track, and yes, you need to get up the dreaded ‘Gipps Street stairs’. If you think it’s ridiculous that one of Melbourne’s busiest bike paths has such an obstacle, contact the minister responsible: Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan. He can be called on 03 8392 6150 OR emailed at luke.donnellan@parliament.vic.gov.au

People have been campaigning to replace these stairs for decades – and there’s been plenty of promises, but still no change. Whilst successive Victorian governments continue to throw billions at roads, bike paths get bugger all, despite their incredible cost/benefit ratio.

At the top of the stairs, double back onto the bridge that crosses the river.

Main Yarra Trail stairs

At the end of the bridge, take the second right. This path will take you up next the Boulevard Road.

Main Yarra Trail bridge

About a kilometre further, turn right into what looks like the bush.

Main Yarra Trail Kew

Shortly after you will reach a bridge. Cross the bridge, then double back and go down the ramp to your right.

Main Yarra Trail Kew

At the bottom of the ramp, continue straight. Stay on this trail for about 10km. It meanders following the Yarra River and you won’t have to make any turns. Very close to the city centre at Birrarung Marr, the path abruptly stops. Simply continue over the gravel area next to the river until it becomes paved again. A short uphill will bring you to Princes Bridge. On your right is Federation Square, one of Melbourne’s most popular attractions and its main public square, featuring award-winning modern architecture. Ahead is Flinders Street station, and on your left, the Yarra.

To continue on the trail, turn left on to Princes Bridge. This is still shared path, although the next few kms are likely to be high on pedestrian traffic, so don’t attempt to break any speed records.

Capital City Trail Melbourne

 

At the end of the bridge, turn left down the ramp. Yes, there’s steps, but if you turn early there’s none.

Capital City Trail Melbourne

Don’t worry – that safety barrier isn’t generally there

 

At the bottom of the ramp, swing a broad, 180-degree left and go under Princes Bridge, following the river.

Capital City Trail Southbank

Continue along Southbank Promenade for about 2km. As mentioned, this area is shared with pedestrians, so ride carefully. There are many shops and places to eat and drink along here if you feel like an ice-cream or something more substantial.

A short distance after the historic boat Polly Woodside, ride onto Webb Bridge, also known as ‘eel-trap bridge’ to your right.

Capital City Trail Southbank

 

At the end of the bridge, cross the road and turn right.

Capital City Trail Docklands

 

Take the next left.

Capital City Trail Docklands

Continue straight for 1.8km. When you see the huge Costco on your left, take a right across the main road. Thankfully, the on-path signage is pretty good here.

Capital City Trail Docklands

Capital City Trail Docklands

The trail continues on the other side. You have now entered the scummy section of the Capital City Trail, otherwise known as the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail. If you enjoy unpleasant odours, or have ever wanted to see the underside of a freeway, this is for you.  On the plus side, plenty of waterbirds, the odd eel, and a pair of black swans can be frequently seen, and there are some pleasant vistas if you stay on it and head further upstream.

However, after 2.7km you will come to Flemington Bridge train station so to stay on the Capital City Trail you’ll need to double back and go up the ramp towards the station, then double back again to get onto the Upfield Bike Path.

Capital City Trail FlemingtonCapital City Trail Flemington

After 1.3km including a downward slope, a wooden bridge and then a climb, cross the road and turn right towards Royal Park train station.

Capital City Trail Parkville

 

Cross the tram tracks, cross the train line, and immediately veer left up the hill. To your right is the Melbourne Zoo. Capital City Trail Parkville

 

The track will level off, with a green oval to the right.  There is a turn to the right and a turn to the left in quick succession. Keep going straight, going downhill and through the tunnel.

Capital City Trail Upfield

 

Continue straight for another 2km , until you reach Velo Cycles. You’ve now circumnavigated Melbourne on the Capital City Trail! Reward yourself with a bite to eat and a cold adult beverage at Park Street cafe/bar, located just behind Velo Cycles.

Park Street Dining

Melbourne’s Capital City Trail map and guide—going anti-clockwise

The map above is interactive – roll your mouse along the path and you’ll see the corresponding part of the gradient of the Capital City Trail.  You can also download a file so you can follow using most common devices. And there’s also suggested locations for picturesque stops, or something to eat/drink.

Starting from Velo Cycles, head west on the trail.

Capital City Trail Velo Cycles

Follow the green arrow

Crossing a few roads, and going under another couple (check out the street art), after 2.5km, you will come to Royal Park train station. On your left is Melbourne Zoo. Cross the train tracks, then the tram tracks.

Immediately after the tram tracks, turn left and cross the road. Continue straight down the slope, across the bridge and back up again.

Capital City Trail Parkville

After 1.3km you will come to Flemington Bridge train station. Double back down the ramp, then double back again onto the path alongside Moonee Ponds Creek. Capital City Trail FlemingtonCapital City Trail Flemington

You have now entered the scummy section of the Capital City Trail, otherwise known as the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail (it does have more picturesque vistas upstream). If you enjoy unpleasant odours, or have ever wanted to see the underside of a freeway, this is for you. On the plus side, keep an eye out for various waterbirds, the odd eel, or even a black swan couple who frequent along there.

After 2.7km you will come to an intersection with the Docklands Highway, and an off-ramp from CityLink. Thankfully, this section is well signposted with informative path markings. Cross over, heading for the giant Costco building.

Capital City Trail Docklands

On the other side of the road, turn left, passing Costco on your right, headed towards the CBD.  This bike path numbers about 4,000-5,000 riders one way, at peak times of the year, returning again of an evening.Capital City Trail Docklands

Continue straight on the trail, passing the waterfront to your right. After 1.8km, take a right.

Capital City Trail Docklands

Take a left immediately afterwards.

Capital City Trail Docklands

Go across Webb Bridge (also known as Eel Trap Bridge) ahead of you.

Capital City Trail Webb Bridge

From the exit of the bridge, continue straight along the waterfront for 2km. This section is known as Southbank Promenade, and has many shops, and places to eat and drink if you feel like an ice-cream or something more substantial. You will share this section with many pedestrians, so ride carefully.

After crossing under Princes Bridge, do a wide, 180-degree turn to the right and take the ramp up to the bridge.

Capital City Trail Southbank

Capital City Trail SouthbankCapital City Trail Southbank

This ramp has steps at the top, but if you move towards the right of the path you’ll see it’s just ramp.  Cross Princes Bridge (that is a contraflow, shared path), and at the end turn right.

Capital City Trail Princes Bridge

To your left is Federation Square, one of Melbourne’s more popular attractions and its main public square, featuring award-winning modern architecture.

Go down the short hill along the river. When the river leaves the paved path at Birrarung Marr, swing right onto the gravel, following the river. The path will magically re-appear a little further on.

Capital City Trail Birrarung Marr

Continue along on the trail for about 10km. You won’t have to make any real turns, it just meanders alongside the Yarra. This part of the Capital City Trail is known as the Main Yarra Trail and is Melbourne’s highest-trafficked bike path of a morning. You will eventually come to a ramp going up and to the left. Go up the ramp, and at the top, double back onto the bridge. Main Yarra Trail KewMain Yarra Trail Kew

 

At the end of the bridge, turn left. After another few hundred metres, turn left again.

Main Yarra Trail Kew

The trail follows the Boulevard Road down hill. At the bottom of the hill, turn left away from the road.

The trail follows the Boulevard road down hill. 

A few hundred metres on, turn left onto the bridge.

Main Yarra Trail Kew

At the end of the bridge turn left, then left again and go down three flights of rather steep stairs – the dreaded ‘Gipps Street Steps’.

Main Yarra Trail Stairs

Yes, you are still on the right track, and yes, you need to get down those stairs. If you think it’s ridiculous that one of Melbourne’s busiest bike paths – the Main Yarra Trail, and part of the greater Capital City Trail – has such an obstacle, contact the minister responsible: Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan. He can be called on 03 8392 6150 OR emailed at luke.donnellan@parliament.vic.gov.au

People have been campaigning to replace these stairs for decades, and there’s been plenty of announcements over the years, but still no change. Whilst successive Victorian governments continue to throw billions at roads, bike paths get bugger all, despite their incredible cost/benefit ratio.

At the bottom of the stairs, continue straight back on to the Main Yarra Trail. After a kilometre or so you will pass the Collingwood Children’s Farm and Cafe, and the Abbotsford Convent. It’s a lovely spot to stop for a coffee, see some farm animals, or check out the historic convent buildings and gardens.

Collingwood Childrens Farm

Another kilometre further on you will come to Dights Falls—not exactly Niagara Falls but a good place to stop and have a sip of water. Stay to your right and cross the bridge. At the end of the bridge, turn left. Main Yarra Trail

About 200 metres further, turn left down towards another bridge, then turn left onto the bridge itself. Main Yarra Trail

Immediately after the bridge, take a sharp right up the hill. You are now on the Merri Creek Trail. Continue straight. 
Merri Creek Trail

After 1.3km, take a right down a very steep hill – signed accordingly. Be careful to keep your speed in check , as there is a tight corner at the bottom.

Merri Creek Trail Clifton Hill

Continue on the Merri Creek Trail until you get to Rushall train station. Don’t take the bridge to your right. Turn left and go through the station’s underpass.

Once on the other side of the station, turn right and you will see a sign for the Capital City Trail. Capital City Trail Rushall

Continue straight for 1.3km until you get to Velo Cycles. You’ve now circumnavigated Melbourne on the Capital City Trail! Reward yourself with a bite to eat and a cold adult beverage at Park Street cafe/bar, located just behind.

Park Street Dining