Trail running at Mount Buffalo

Mount Buffalo, the “Great Granite Plateau” provides three unique and interesting runs for those looking for something a little different. The three trails explore very different parts of this boulder laced environment: the green route takes in technical singletrack that plunges down past the boulder filled underground river to climb back up and emerge on the edge of the plateau for some great views; the blue route takes in Lake Catani before threading in and under the giant boulders of the Chalwell Galleries and the black route takes the runner further afield, linking together some of the plateaus hidden plains and iconic locations, such as the Giant’s Causeway, Stanley Rock and Og, Gog and Magog.

Accommodation

To book accommodation in Bright & Surrounds visit visitbrightandsurrounds.com.au

 

"This loop trail may be short, but it punches above its weight for sheer beauty, big views and fun technical running."

Distance

3.4 km

Trail Type

Loop

Combined Ascent/Descent

128 metres +/-

Run Rating

15/45

Start

Gorge Day Visitor Area

Finish

Gorge Day Visitor Area

Established Trail Names

Underground River Track

Geographic References

Lake Catani Track (but peel off left before you get to Lake Catani); Underground River Track.

Trail Highlights

Awesome technical singletrack, steps down to and up from Underground River and big views from Billsons and Haunted Gorge lookouts.

Maps Available

Parks Victoria Map (representative only); Mount Buffalo 1:30,000 (SV Maps).

Hover over profile below to follow profile position on map

The Run

This run will take you on a counterclockwise journey of the established Underground River Track. Begin from the lower side of the Gorge Day Visitor Carpark.

There is a trail pointing towards Lake Catani located to the back (away from the view side of the mountain) of the carpark. This is a XC ski trail in Winter and a well groomed, wide, flat underfoot gravel trail. Run down this, enjoying the big boulder scenery on your right shoulder and some towering trees above. Use this section as a good warm-up, given its non-technical nature.

About 900m in you will reach a singletrail turn off to the left, with signs to Underground River and View Point Nature Walk. Here the fun begins.

The trail gets technical as you start to run over boulders. You will reach another turnoff with signage to View Point on your right. You may like to extend your run by taking in an out and back for the views. Otherwise, for a strictly green-rated experience, continue on left toward Underground River. You will cross more big boulders before reaching the top of a steep staircase, recently revitalised by Parks Victoria. Approach with caution: if you are not confident, walk down the stairs. For those proficient at downhill technical, this is a fun set of stairs to run.

At the bottom of the mountainside valley, take care as your cross the boulders that help you get across Eurobin Creek – also known as Underground River. Everyone should walk at this point.

Then it’s a case of what comes down, must go up. A set of stairs that is runnable, but again, if just starting out your trail running journey, walk (noting that in trail running, even the best athletes in the world often power walk steep inclines, as it is often just as fast as running if your technique is correct!).

The trail tapers off as it comes to Haunted Gorge and then Billsons Lookouts, with both offering sweeping views out across the Buckland Valley. It’s Top of the World stuff.

The trail then runs easy underfoot with towering gums above back to the bottom of the carpark where you started.

"This one is what we call a feature run in that it has a technical section very much out of the ordinary: a rock gallery that has you scrambling down small openings amongst gigantic rock formations, as though into inner earth; plus serene lakeside trails. Some good if short sections of technical trail. "

Distance

7.8 km

Trail Type

Loop

Combined Ascent/Descent

187 metres +/-

Run Rating

22/45

Start

Gorge Day Visitor Area

Finish

Gorge Day Visitor Area

Established Trail Names

Gorge-Lake Catani Track (Lake Catani Ski Trail), Chalwell Galleries, Lakeside Walk

Geographic References

Lake Catani Day Vistor Area; Chalwell Galleries

Trail Highlights

Lake Catani; Chalwell Galleries including fascinating rock gallery passages, a rock ladder descent and scrambling.

Maps Available

Parks Victoria Map (representative only); Mount Buffalo 1:30,000 (SV Maps).

Hover over profile below to follow profile position on map

The Run

Setting off from the lower rear of the Gorge Day Visitor Car Park, run down the Gorge-Lakeside (or Lake Catani Ski Trail) route, weaving amongst Alpine Ash and massive boulders on your right, over a concrete bridge across the Eurobin Creek. Forging ahead you’ll soon hit the southern side of Lake Catani. Continue along staying on the trail, which passes a gigantic and inspiring tree before joining the dirt access road to the Lake Catani Day Visitor Area.

Follow the road around until you see the single trail turn to the left with signage for Chalwell Galleries Track. Now the trail starts to get exceptionally interesting. Technical underfoot, it climbs gradually up until suddenly you are at the foot of a gigantic boulder garden. The trail twists and turns and step up amongst them – look for the coloured yellow triangles pointing the way. At one point you will be led to a black hole, and you’ll wonder where to go. The arrow points into the hole. In you go. Once your eyes adjust, you’ll see a yellow ladder bolted to the rockface inside the cavern, or gallery. It’s not overly difficult to climb down and not that high, so take your time and make your way down the thin corridor to the other end. It’s a small scramble as you exit the gallery and get back onto the rail proper.

There is one more rock garden section that will have you ducking under rocks. Again keep an eye out for the brightly coloured triangles. You’ll soon pop out from the rock playground onto fun, flowing and technical single track. Bomb down this if you are confident. The trail sweeps down back to the Lake Catani Day Vistor and Campground access road. There is a trail across the road that drops you back alongside the lake edge. Turn left on that, running to the sealed Mount Buffalo Road.

Take care on the verge as you round the corner to the right. Run for approximately 300 metres keeping an eye out for the Lake View Track, which drops down onto the reedy ends of the lake before picking up good running singletrack that takes you all the way back to the Gorge-Lake Catani Track (Lake Catania Ski Trail).

Turn left and run this familiar section all the way back to the car park where you began.

"A big run that will take you out the back on Buffalo’s central plateau weaving between fascinating rock formations and over spectacular plains with big views."

Distance

16.8 km

Trail Type

Loop

Combined Ascent/Descent

574 metres +/-

Run Rating

36/45

Start

Gorge Day Visitor Area

Finish

Gorge Day Visitor Area

Established Trail Names

Gorge Day Visitor Area, Lakeside Track (south side), Long Plain Track, Leviathan, Drill Hole Rocks, Stanley Rocks, Giants Causeway, Macs Point Track

Geographic References

Lake Catani, Long Plain Track, Leviathan, Drill Hole Rocks, Og Gog Magog, The Reservoir, Mt Dunn.

Trail Highlights

Spectacular, flowing single track. Adventurous running, unbelievable rock formations, fern-covered glades and views of the entire plateau.

Maps Available

Parks Victoria Map (representative only); Mount Buffalo 1:30,000 (SV Maps).

Hover over profile below to follow profile position on map

The Run

From the Gorge Day Visitor Area follow the Lakeside Trail (Lake Catani Ski Trail) along the southern side of Lake Catani and turn right onto Mount Buffalo Road. Being careful of the blind corner, follow this road north for 200m and turn left onto Long Plain Track (very well signposted).

Follow the flat, grassy single track that runs next to an alpine stream before veering left and crossing a small bridge.  After a short, sharp climb take the left hand trail toward the Cathedral for 1km.  While not marked with signage, the trail is well trodden and easy to follow.  After a stiff climb through alpine forest and a few little glades into a saddle before descending 100m to another Junction.

Follow the sign toward Stanley Rocks, stopping for little scramble onto Drill Hole Rocks if you’re so inclined.  These give great views back toward the Cathedral and west toward the lowlands.  The trail from here on in is well-signed and some of the best running in the Alps.

Fast, flowing alpine single track, surrounded by grasslands, crazy rock formations and beautiful meadows characterise this section.

Follow the sign left towards Giants Causeway.  At the next sign, ensure you take the trail that leads north towards the Reservoir and not west towards Macs Point. At about the 6.9km mark you will come to an obvious junction, where the trail meets a road and signage gives you the option of turning right toward the Reservoir or left toward Macs/Eagles Point.  Turn left and follow the road for about 500m before turning right toward Og Gog Magog.

This section of trail is again, fast and flowing, starting more densely vegetated and keeping a creek to your right before opening into alpine meadows and following some plastic anti-erosion mesh.  After about 1km you will turn north and head toward Og Gog Magog, passing through a beautiful meadow before climbing around the western flank of the outcrop to a North-facing lookout that offers brilliant views of the plateau.  A few hundred metres past this point you have the option of taking a detour to the right to explore the Og Gog Magog formation.  Well worth a side trip!

From this junction, descend toward the western side of the reservoir, climb briefly into a forested saddle and then descend to a well-signed maintenance trail.  Turn right at this junction, pass through a locked gate, cross a bridge and turn right.

After a few hundred metres you will come to a large turn around point with the reservoir wall visible in front of you.  There is a small trail that is closed in front of you, but if you turn around and pass through the locked gate you will double back on yourself and follow a trail that climbs above the reservoir.  After approximately 700m turn east onto the Mt Dunn/Lake Catani trail.

This trail will climb and undulate, characterised by nice single track and a mix of closed vegetation and grass meadows.  After 1km you will pass the Mt Dunn turn off and then hit a section of epic, downhill, technical single track complete with tree ferns, beautiful rock formations and a need to pay attention!  Make sure you’ve got some left in the tank to have a play here.

Continue to follow this trail to the bottom, climbing briefly and keeping left at the junction where we turned left at 3km in.  Cross the bridge and retrace your steps along the Long Plain track before hitting the road, turning right and returning to the Lakeside Day Visitor Area along the Lakeside Track.

The thing that makes the running up here so amazing is the ability to link different trails, extending or shortening them as you wish.  This means you can push your distance without the risk of getting stuck on a big out-and-back.