Murray to Mountains Rail Trail – The Ultimate Guide

Make no mistake, the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail - or M2M as it's often referred - is the best multi day rail trail ride in Australia.  In fact, we believe it is better than the more famous Otago Rail Trail in New Zealand (find out why on our blog post).

Below we will explore this wonderful cycling adventure and provide all the information you need to tailor the perfect getaway cycling the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail.

What we cover in this guide below:

  1. Where is the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
  2. How to Get There
  3. Why the name 'Murray to Mountains'?
  4. What is the Best Bike to Ride?
  5. Highlights along Australia's Best Rail Trail
  6. Cycling Tour Options
  7. Plan Your Visit: Places to Stay, Eat & Drink
  8. Sample Cycling Itineraries
  9. Murray to Mountains Rail Trail Maps
  10. Need Help?

Where is the Murray to Mountains Trail

The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is located in North East Victoria, and runs between Rutherglen all the way down to Bright (at the foot of Mt Hotham).

The M2M includes the towns Rutherglen, Beechworth, Wangaratta, Milawa, Myrtleford, Porepunkah and Bright.  The variety across these towns alone should be enough to ignite your interest.

Murray to Mountains Rail Trail location map
Murray to Mountains Rail Trail location map

Beechworth is the highest point of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, standing at 560 meters above sea level.

This historic town is also an ideal starting point with a variety of accommodation options (see below), places to eat, wine bars, pubs and 2 breweries!  Any cycling from here will be downhill.

Tour De Vines Australia Tourism Victoria Murray To Mountains Rail Trail
Cycling the iconic Murray to Mountains Rail Trail

How to Get To The Rail Trail

Access to the region to start and end your cycling trip on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is very easy.

You have the following options

  1. Drive:  Wangaratta or Beechworth are around 3 hours easy drive up the Hume Highway from Melbourne.
  2. Rail: The Melbourne to Sydney line stops at Wangaratta (3 hrs from Melbourne) and Albury (3.5 hrs) where a Vline bus service will take you to Beechworth and return from Bright.  See Vline for timetables and rates
  3. Fly: Albury is home to a regional airport with regular flights from Melbourne and Sydney.  It's a 30 min drive to Beechworth and 1.5 hrs return from Bright if finishing there (which we recommend).   Check the Albury Airport website for more info

Why is it called 'Murray to Mountains'?

The 'Murray' part of the title refers to the starting point of the rail trail in Rutherglen, a charming gold mining town located on the Murray River.   Rutherglen and surrounds is a mix of traditional cattle farming and historic wine making and a growing food and wine scene.

The 'Murray' section of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
The 'Murray' section of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail

The 'Mountains' part of the name refers to the Victorian Alps that surrounds you as you ride east toward Bright.   This is the 'High Country' part of the rail trail.

The Mountains section of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
The Mountains section of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail

What is the Best Bike To Use?

One of the great things about the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, is that it is paved from start to finish.  The old rail line has been pulled up and the Rail Trail follows the old rail route (mainly).

Being a paved surface means just about any bike will do.  It isn't a super smooth surface, but more like an old country road, so skinny road tyres might be a touch uncomfortable on a longer more relaxed itinerary.

We recommend a hybrid style bike with 32" tyres if possible, but mountain and/or road bikes will certainly work.

Murray to Mountains Rail Trail tour
Murray to Mountains Rail Trail tour

Murray to Mountains Rail Trail Highlights

The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is surrounded by things to see and do.

Here's our short list of highlights, but there are many more we could easily add to this list.

Visit Historic Beechworth

This small historic town is a real gem.  Walking the cobbled streets is a thrown back in time, and visits to the Old Beechworth Gaol and fully restored Courthouse are worthwhile.   There are numerous food and drinking options in this compact town (see below for Places to Stay & Where to Eat & Drink).

Beechworth on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
Historic Beechworth on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is the ideal starting location.

Cycling from Myrtleford to Bright

The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail includes a 30km section from Myrtleford to Bright.  Ride beneath the gaze of Mt Buffalo, passing wineries, produce farms and the growing hops farm.   The trail is flat, lined with poplars, the occasional echidna and beautiful scenery including Feathertop and Hotham in the distance.

Murray to Mountains Rail Trail tour
The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail between Myrtleford and Bright is stunning

Autumn Colours

The Murray to Mountains Rail trail and the surrounding region lights up in Autumn with an incredible display of colour.  See our Bright in Autumn post for images.  Visit between April to June for this gorgeous palette of colour.

Autumn colours on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
Autumn colours near Bright on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail

Indulge in the Food & Wine

The North East Victoria region has become synonymous for quality food and wine.  With deep Italian and European heritage, fertile soils and ideal weather patterns, the local produce and wine making is world class and something you really must take advantage of when in the area.

Scroll down for our list of recommended Places to Eat & Drink whilst cycling the trail.

Food and wine on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
Food and wine on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail

Plan Your Murray to Mountains Trip

Places to Stay

There are many places to stay in the towns that the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail travels through.

Here's our short list of favourties.

Rutherglen

Tulleries by De Bortoli: Art gallery, wine tasting, restaurant on site. Great location, parking.

Beechworth

Armour Motor Inn: Perfect location, great hosts, good value stay.

Beechworth on Bridge: Touch out of town, quiet, cooked breakfast handy.

Freeman on Ford: Amazing building, very central, wonderful hosts, touch of luxury.

Milawa

Lancemore Lindenwarrah Resort: Luxury appointed large resort, wonderful restaurant, ideal end of trail location.

Myrtleford

Motel on Alpine: Ideal locaiton on the trail, clean, comfortable, wonderful hosts.

Panoramia Villas: Beautifully appointed villas, incredible views, slightly out of town.

Bright

Bright on Track: Located right on the rail trail, pool, cooked breakfast.

Colonial Motel: new mid range, great location, caters to cyclists

Bright Bliss: Luxury homes, central location.

Centenary Peaks Apartments: Luxury style apartments, great location.

Places to Eat

The north east region of Victoria is fast becoming a gourmet destination in its own right.

Multiple chef hatted restaurants, some of Australia's best wine makers, no less than 6 breweries, award winning cheese making, iconic cafes and bakeries (think Beechworth Bakery) are just a few of the food and drink delights on offer.  And all these are within easy reach whilst on a cycling trip on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail.

Here's a short list of just a few of the venues we recommend to visit

Rutherglen

Tulleries Restaurant: superb meals in an ambient restaurant setting. Great wine list.

Parker Pies: seriously the best pies in Victoria. Just try them.

All Saints Terrace Restaurant: Chef Hatted fine dining in the gorgeous winery surrounds.  A must visit.

Beechworth

Ox & Hound Bistro: Lovely small restaurant in the heart of Beechworth.

Provenance: Chef Hatted fine dining Japanese style with a corresponding price tag in the beautiful Old Bank building.

Milawa

Milawa Cheese Company: Great lunch destination and of course award winning cheese!

Milawa Providore: A cellar door for RedBank Wines with the bonus of servicing superb lunches including wood fired pizza.

Muscat Restaurant: White table cloth dining inside the Lancemore Lindenwarrah Resort.

Brown Brothers Epicurean Restaurant: Wonderful lunch venue inside the impressive Brown Brothers winery complex.

Myrtleford

Tu Vietnamese Street Food: Charming local, good food and BYO!

Cafe Chakra: Best coffee in the region with amazing breakfasts and curries.

Bright

Dr Mauve Bar & Lounge: Fun, interesting menu, bar drinks list including cocktails and great vibe for dinner.

Tomahawks Bar & Eatery: Popular, small casual dining known for incredible burgers.

Elm Dining: Fine dining in the heart of Bright, superb menu and accompanying wine list.  Has seperate El fresco section for more casual dining.

Places to Drink

Rutherglen

James & Co: Fantastic cellar door tasting experience on the main street.  The Sangiovese is special.

Beechworth

Bridge Rd Brewery: The original brewery in the region and many say the best.  Fantastic range of locally made beers, and the best pizza in the region.

Billsons Brewery: Relative newcomer producing beer but also gin and other interesting spirits. Stunning original building.

Cellar Door Wine Store: Wonderful main street cellar door tasting room, fantastic array of local and imported wines.

Pennyweights, Cellar Door Wine Store in Beechworth,

Milawa

RedBank Cellar Door (Milawa Providore see above Places to Eat)

Woodpark Wines: Cellar door outlet located at Milawa Cheese Company, well worth a tasting for Italian varietals.

Brown Brothers: Well known & often heavily frequented, large cellar door with restaurant (see above).

Hurdle Creek Gin: the gin revolution has reached north east Victoria, and this place is worth visiting.  Rustic style tasting room adjoining the production facility that's intoxicating (pun intended).

Myrtleford

Gapsted Winery: Popular cellar door, sweeping views, fantastic food and great list of quality wines.

Billy Button & Bush Track Cellar Door: New cellar door outlet for these wonderful wines is charming. Cheese & wine tasting recommended after a day cycling on the Rail Trail.  Outlet also in Bright if you miss out here.

Bright

Feathertop Winery:  Check open times as can vary, but lovely stop right on the Rail Trail between Myrtleford & Bright.  Great wines, even better views!

Ringer Reef Winery: The perfect stop whilst cycling the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail to Bright.  Great wines, beautiful views, platter lunch available also.

Bright Brewery: On a warm afternoon sitting on the deck alongside the Ovens River with some live music in the background doesn't get much better.  Range of locally brewed beers, award winning venue.

Reed & Co Distillery:  Iconic distillery, bar & restaurant.  Must visit for unique gin tasting.

Sample Cycling Itineraries

What is the best way to experience the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail ride?  Of course this entirely depends on what you like, and the options are limitless, from 1 day to many days.  So we have broken it down into the following categories:

Easy Cycling (73kms)

Day 1: Start in Beechworth rolling 16kms downhill to Everton. Over Taylors Gap & roll into Myrtleford. Total 43kms

Day 2: A flat ride from Myrtleford to Bright.  Mountain scenery and vineyards.  Total 30kms. 

Day 3 (optional): A delightful and flat ride to gorgeous Wandiligong for lunch and back.  Total 12kms.

Easy/Moderate Cycling (105kms)

Day 1: Start in Beechworth, riding to Milawa (some sections on quiet country roads).  All downhill and flat.  Total around 35kms.

Day 2: Ride from Milawa, up over Taylors Gap on the rail trail, to Myrtleford.  Approx 40kms.

Day 3: Enjoy the flat scenic ride from Myrtleford to Bright.  Total 30kms.

Moderate/Challenging Cycling (208kms)

Day 1: Start in Wangaratta and ride via Milawa uphill to Beechworth.  Approx 60kms and 450m ascent.

Day 2: Roll out of Beechworth staying on the trail through Myrtleford and onto Bright. Total 73kms.

Day 3: Ride from Bright all the way back to Wangaratta.  Approx 75kms.

Extended Cycling Tour*

Day 1: Start in Rutherglen and ride the Murray section of the rail trail.  It's a flat easy loop ride around 30kms.

Day 2: Transfer to Beechworth and ride to Milawa. About 35kms

Day 3: Ride from Milawa to Myrtleford via Milawa. About 40kms.

Day 4: Ride from Myrtleford to Bright.  Easy flat 30kms.

*See our Tour de Active Luxury which follows the above itinerary

Murray to Mountains Rail Trail Maps

You can download maps of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail on our maps page.

Tour De North East Active Luxury Self Guided

Contact Us

Let us know if we can assist with any of your plans to cycle the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail.

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