Girl riding a brown horse

Walking, cycling and equestrian trails

Cardinia Shire has two multi-use trails which offer opportunities for riding, walking, cycling and horse riding and are surrounded by bushland.

Please stay on the track and use them courteously.

Remember to keep our trails clean and take all rubbish out with you. Dogs are permitted but must be on-leash at all times.

Cardinia Aqueduct Recreation Trail

Cardinia Aqueduct Recreation Trail, set among eucalypt forests in the Dandenong Ranges foothills, is available for walkers and joggers, and horse and bike riders. Beginning in Thewlis Road, Pakenham, the trail follows a disused section of Bunyip main race aqueduct and maintenance track, and ends near Dickie Road, Officer.

The area has a unique diversity of grassy woodlands, wet gully forests and tall eucalypt forests, containing 28 national and regionally significant plant species, and supporting a wide diversity of native animals. Studies have found 148 native birds, 21 native mammals, 13 reptile and 10 frog species in the reserve, including the rare powerful owl.

Since 2007, Council has been removing sweet pittosporum trees from the trail in an effort to restore this botanically important area to its former natural state. When allowed, this species invades bushland areas and creates a threat to natural ecosystems.

Constructed in 1919, the main race was part of a major water storage and supply project undertaken by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission in Gippsland. It played a major role in providing for the expansion of rural and urban development in the Mornington Peninsula and has historical significance in the creation of Flinders Naval Base. As a major feat of engineering, with many kilometres of aqueducts, the main race provided many jobs for unemployed people during the 1930s depression.

Visitors are reminded to bring water and food as there are no shops in the vicinity. Until a connection is built from the western end of the trail to Dickie Road, visitors will need to return to their starting point or make arrangements for pick up.

Trail features

  • Easy 5 kilometre walk on gravel trail – allow 1.5 hours (each way).
  • One steep section (asphalted) in valley west of Officer Road.
  • Officer Road (10 spaces, Melway ref: 213 C8) car park
  • Thewlis Road (20 spaces, Melway ref: 213 H9) car park

Download the Cardinia Aqueduct trail map (PDF, 850kb)

Emerald–Cockatoo recreational trail

Emerald–Cockatoo recreational trail is ideal for walkers and cyclists and offers access to a range of family fun and recreational activities.

The trail is a comfortable 2.5-hour walk from Kilvington Road (south-east of Puffing Billy station), Emerald to Cockatoo; wandering through natural settings including Nobelius Heritage Park, Emerald Lake Park and Wright Forest.

Some sections near Nobelius Heritage Park and in Wright Forest are more challenging and may not suit all visitors, but the very fit can warm up with a vigorous cycle through the forest to Cockatoo.

Barbecue and picnic facilities are provided at Emerald Lake Park.

Dogs are permitted on the trail but must be on a leash at all times. Only guide dogs are permitted on Puffing Billy.

Ride on Puffing Billy from Belgrave to Emerald station and walk to Emerald Lake Park as a leisurely start to a family picnic or a visit to the cafe. Emerald Lake Park also offers fun on paddleboats, the largest model railway display in the southern hemisphere, and a free outdoor wading pool open during the summer season.

For details on Emerald Lake Park attractions and opening times, visit Emerald Lake Park website

Trail features

  • Moderately easy 7-kilometre walk – allow 5 hours (return trip).
  • Car parking and toilets at:
    Emerald Puffing Billy station, Emerald (Mel ref: 127 E5
    Emerald Lake Park (parking fees apply) (Mel ref: 127 J4)
    McBride Street, Alma Treloar Reserve, Cockatoo (Mel ref: 311 F6).

Download the Emerald-Cockatoo trail map (PDF, 850kb)

Equestrian trails

Cardinia Shire also offers a number of equestrian trails, which are identified in the Equestrian Strategy (Word, 4MB)

Appendice 1: Proposed horse trail network maps (PDF, 4MB) within the strategy is available in PDF format. We acknowledge PDF documents are not accessible for all. If you need assistance accessing these documents, contact us on 1300 787 624. The strategy may take longer to download due to the large file size as a result of the number and complexity of images within the strategy.

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