A steep, exposed, technical “Razorback” ridgeline feature connected by dirt road on one side and steep but very runnable, beautiful single track on the other. Sheer cliffs and exposure make this a run for the confident or an awesome day-hike for the less confident. Route finding and Navigation skills may be more or less necessary depending on the thickness of the undergrowth on the Northern end of the Ridge traverse (after the “Farmyard” campsite).
Video Trail Report
Cathedral Ranges State Park – Razorback Circuit
Marysville 30km, Healesville 57k (1hr) Melbourne 120km (2hrs)
Cooks Mill Campground
3-4hrs – Depending on: A) how much you enjoy the views, and; B) how comfortable you are with technical terrain
Type of trail:
Circuit, clockwise from Cooks Mill Campground
Moderate to hard, because of the small climbs, technical terrain and route-finding
Cathedral Range State Park (Parks Victoria or Cathedral Range Special: Vicmap 1:25,000 Scale New Series 1st Edition
The closest location for a decent feed and beverage is Marysville, approximately 45minutes away. Try the Fraga Café.
However, if you’re heading back to Melbourne then it’s worth taking the more direct route to Healesville where you’ll find a town dedicated to the Expensive Culinary Arts; Brewery Cellar Doors (Innocent Bystander), Great Bakeries and Good Cafes. Try Mocha and Lime (11 green street) or Essenza for the best cup of Joe.
From the Cooks Mill Campground head west along Cerberus Road (the one you drove in on). This is a wide public dirt road and is pretty hard to miss. It will very soon turn toward the south and put the main Cathedral Range on your right hand side. The road will continue to steadily climb, passing Jawbone Car Park and will reach Sugarloaf Saddle after approximately 5km. There are toilets, information and picnic facilities here.
From Sugarloaf Saddle, continue down the road about 20m before turning right and commencing the climb to Sugarloaf Peak. You can take either the Canyon or Wells Cave track (they both meet up a little way on), though the Canyon track is more direct. Assuming you took the Canyon track you will climb a steep but easy walking track until you reach a short (20m) section of lightly exposed, very easy rock climbing. There is no need for ropes or other protection, just take your time and be confident with your hand and foot placements. At the top of this section you will hit a walking track, admire the impressive views of the Buxton Valley and then turn north, continuing another few minutes to Sugarloaf Peak.
From Sugarloaf Peak the Razorback Trail really begins (and it’s easy to tell why), with views extending more or less all the way to where you will drop off again toward the end of the run. The going from here to the Farmyard is consistently rough, loose and spectacular, requiring good footing, rock hopping and caution. However, the sense of adventure and awesome views make it all worthwhile. While the route is marked with Orange Triangles, if you do get confused keeping to the ridgeline will keep you heading in the right direction (just avoid the turnoff to South Jawbone Peak).
Once you reach The Farmyard campsite, follow the trail toward the Jawbone Car Park for about 20m and then turn left and follow the Ridge Track toward Cathedral and Little Cathedral Peaks. The going here is much more solid underfoot than the Razorback, with less rock hopping and exposure. However, Bushfire Regrowth can still make it quite slow and very scratchy, so consider longer clothing. The terrain through this section is quite moderate with small dips and climbs wrapped around steep drops that provide great views toward the West.
After some time you will reach a track junction a little way before Cathedral Peak. Turning right (downhill) here will take you down the Ned’s Gully Track, but if you have more time you can continue on to Cathedral and/or Little Cathedral Peaks. Descending Ned’s Gully Track is briefly steep and loose until reaching Ned’s Saddle where the track widens and incorporates switchbacks to make the descent gentler.
Continue to follow this track down through changing vegetation until you reach a creek surrounded by lush green ferns and shrubs. Continuing to follow the one and only trail will bring you to a larger creek and intersection. The left branch will take you across a small bridge to the Ned’s Gully Campground but you should take the right branch, which will take you back toward the Cooks Mill Campground, keeping the small creek on your Left Hand Side. Through this final section the terrain is mild, with small undulations and nice, flowing single track. Just before the end you will pop out into an old (but still operating) Pine Plantation that, at the time of writing, was being cleared. Follow the access road the runs along the Eastern border of this plantation and you will walk straight into the Cooks Mill Campground where you started.