Run Warburton for the best vertical kilometre training
|Trail||Donna Buang Walking Track|
|Type||One way / Out and Back|
|Grade (if available)||Difficult; TrailScore technical* Black 38/45, TrailScore general* Black 8/10|
|Start||Warburton Main St|
|Finish||Mt Donna Buang Viewing Tower / Summit|
|Distance||9km (one way) / 18km (out and back)|
|Ascent||1170 m (one way)|
|Descent||70 m (one way)|
|Max Elevation||1265 m|
|Features||The best hill climb close to Melbourne, steep single track, lush tree fern forests, gigantic mountain ash and myrtle beech, Mt Donna Buang Summit and viewing platform|
|Facilities||Toilets: Warburton township, Donna Buang Summit, 10 Mile Picnic Area (accessible en route), Rainforest Gallery (car access on return, Donna Buang Rd), Car parking: Warburton township, Donna Buang Summit, 10 Mile Picnic Area|
|Notes||Best completed in summer and shoulder seasons; muddy, slippery, potentially snowbound and difficult going in winter; car shuttle required if walking one way|
*Check out how TrailScore works and what the ratings mean here.
There’s an element of the trail running fraternity – the mountain goat class – who seek to run the steepest gradients on offer Down Under. While super slopes aren’t for everyone – nothing wrong with preferring flat, flowy and fast, of which Warburton Valley has plenty to choose from – anyone looking to train for events with steep inclines needs a steep training ground. The best and longest steep trail climb within goat’s bleat of Melbourne is found shooting up the flanks of Mt Victoria and Mt Donna Buang, only an hour from the CBD.
Beginning on the banks of the Yarra River, the Donna Buang Walking Track stretches 9km and rises an impressive, if lung and leg busting, 1170-vertical metres. Perfect fodder for mountain goats.
Those tackling its length rise up through towering mountain ash and ancient myrtle beech trees, pushing on into a dense rainforest jungle populated by gigantic tree ferns. The trail reaches Mount Victoria then one final saddle featuring a mystic atmosphere, especially when the mist rolls in as it often does, before Donna’s 1245m summit.
The finale is stepping up the viewing tower, a 21m rise that on a clear day delivers views across the Upper Yarra Valley back towards Melbourne.
- You can begin the Donna Buang Walking Track from anywhere in Warburton, but we recommend a coffee or tea and sustenance from one of the many Main St cafes before departing. From the Main St, drop down the alley opposite the police station and turn left at the river to head west towards Story Reserve.
- This will get you to the iconic and very photogenic Swing Bridge located beside the tennis courts. Cross it, taking note of the extra bounce in your step as you run.
- On the other side of the river turn left, running riverside through the park until you are opposite Martyr Rd, a bitumen road you can’t miss – it’s the one blasting sharply up the mountain side, across Dammans Rd. Known as one of the steepest suburban streets in the Southern Hemisphere (it has cousins in Tasmania and New Zealand), Martyr Rd is a favourite challenge for hill climbing cyclists with its 62m vertical ascent in only 300m giving a 19% gradient. Try running it!
- Push on to the very top of Martyr Road. Where it turns sharply right there is a small singletrack entrance signposted ‘Donna Buang Walking Track’.
- The trail drops down a small gully before rising up again alongside a fenced paddock. Nearing the top, be sure to look back for magnificent views across the Warburton township.
- The trail turns right along the top of the paddock before popping runners out on the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail (which itself forms part of an excellent ride/run/walk route).
- Cross over O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail and push back into the thick green bush. The trail cinches across the incline some before turning defiantly up, becoming quite steep.
- You can’t get lost on, really, the trail leading through the stunning mountain ash bushland for 3.5km (from the Aqueduct Trail) before punching out on to the sealed Donna Buang Rd.
- Look straight across and pick up a management vehicle track (gated) that will lead you up toward Mt Victoria and its communications towers.
- To the rear of the radio installation clearing, pick up the singletrack again, the route undulating through spectacular forest canopy above a carpet of low ferns.
- You will come across a junction, the trail left heading down to 10 Mile Picnic Area and car park (facilities available). Continue on straight to pass some ruins before exiting into the summit car park. It is well worth making the effort to climb the final 21m of stairs to catch a view (pending clouds!) from the top of the viewing tower.
ALTERNATIVE: For an easier, shorter run that does not require a car shuffle, drive to the summit car park. Run back along the trail towards and over Mt Victoria, eventually popping out on Mount Donna Buang Rd. Walk roadside uphill for approximately 1km until you reach the 10 Mile Picnic Area. Pick up the linking trail at the rear of the car park taking you back on to the main Donna Buang Walking Track you came down on. Run back to the summit. Approximately 6km.
INFORMATION Parks Vic info sheet
Download the zip file and then upload to use on your GPS or KML-enabled device or Google Maps.