The townships of Sassafras and Olinda are classic Dandenong Ranges spots and are often the first places to visit for day-trippers. The towns are full of antique stores, galleries, cafes and restaurants, there is something for everyone. For runners, this area is close to the popular Sherbrooke and One Tree Hill trails, and the R J Hamer Arboretum Gardens. Two good running options in this area are the track from Sassafras to Emerald and trails in Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Sassafras to Emerald. The full length of this track is 16.5 km (10 miles) one-way; however the highlight is the 3 km section that follows the Sassafras Creek from Sassafras. The full trail will take you through forests, boardwalks and along creeks. If you complete the one-way journey and time it well, the famous Puffing Billy Steam Train can be boarded for the return trip from Emerald or the Emerald Park Lake. The trail can be run in either direction, however it is usually started in Sassafras. If starting in Sassafras, the trail starts where the creek crosses under the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road and continues southwards beside the Sassafras Creek Road. The trail crosses many roads and is not well marked in the middle, less used, section. It can also be overgrown in areas, so you may have to complete some bush bashing. The notes for either direction can be found here.
Dandenong Ranges National Park. This difficult and very hilly loop rewards those who complete the full circuit as it passes through many of the highlights of the ranges. Those who conquer the full circuit (15 km, 1,044m elevation gain) will be rewarded with amazing views of the city, the peak of Mount Dandenong, Olinda Falls, and an arboretum. The route is a mixture of fire trail, single track, steps, boardwalks and river crossing. The climbing is split into two ascents, the first up to the peak of Mount Dandenong and the second back to the starting point in Olinda. We’ve also included detours to get to Sky High, the peak of Mount Dandenong and the loop to enjoy Olinda Falls. FULL ROUTE DIRECTIONS