A lovely easy beginner bike ride for all fitness levels, the Tiger Rail Trail is a 5km one way ride along a fairly flat rail trail with some gradual hills.
The trail starts in the town of Forrest, continues parallel to the main road before taking you through pretty countryside and some small sections of bush with huge trees.
The Tiger Rail trail is a dog friendly bike ride as it does not enter National Park. Dogs will need to be on lead as it is adjacent to livestock. (When riding with your dog it is imperative you are extremely mindful of breaks and exertion levels as they are not setting their own pace. )
Tiger Rail Trail is about 5km long
You will need to either ride the approximately 10-11km return, turn around at any point to make it a shorter return ride suitable for your fitness level or organise someone to pick you up at the other end to make it a one way 5km or so ride (You will need to walk up a hill at the end of the ride to meet at the main road).
Alternatively, if you are fit enough to ride up and down hills you can also turn this ride into a loop by combining it with some of the Forrest MTB tracks.
There are plans in the future to extend this rail trail however there seems to currently be no certainty on when this will be completed.
How to get to the Tiger Rail Trail in Forrest Victoria
The town of Forrest is located about 1 hour 15 from Geelong and 2 hours from Melbourne on the M1 (the inland route). It is 30 minutes from Colac and around 50 minutes from Lorne. This makes it a totally feasible day trip from many places in Victoria.
However the Otway Region is beautiful and can be easily turned into a weekend away with plenty of walks, rides and food options throughout the Otway towns.
Overview of the Ride
The Tiger Rail Trail starts from the corner of Grant (Birregurra-Forrest Road) and Henry street in Forrest. There is space on the roadside for a limited amount of parking however on busier days you may need to park down Henry street or further along the main street.
There is an information board at the start of the ride (on the corner of grant and Henry) with some information about the rail trail and a map.
From the start of the trail you ride north, parallel to the Birregurra-Forest Road. This first section of the ride is not through bush so if you want a full bush experience you are better of riding on a green MTB track.
The trail stays next to the road and quickly becomes views of the rural landscape with paddocks and rolling hills.
After heading over a wooden bridge you start a gradual uphill climb. I found that the incline was gentle enough that I could ride up with a bad back and overweight so many beginners may be able to ride it.
At the top there is a very short few metre hill you may need to dismount and walk up. It pops up into a slightly bushier section of track with some short information/name area signs.
The track alternates back to open farmland and vegetation.
Then you start to ride back into thicker native vegetation. You are still roughly parallel with the road, just a little further away and down a slope.
This section of the track becomes beautiful native vegetation with towering gum trees.
If you have a picnic lunch, there is a table towards the end of the track. This would be a great spot to eat lunch or a snack or have a rest before turning around to head back again.
At this point you have options to take the exit from the track to cross the main road and join the MTB track network back towards forrest. This is a good point to return back the way you came if you haven’t already (don’t forget, there’s no shame in turning back early to make the ride a length you can manage when you are just starting out).
Alternatively, you can head up the hill (I had to walk my bike, its really steep for an unfit beginner rider) and organise someone to pick you up from the main road. Across the road from the end of the track entrance to the powerline maintenance track so there is a safe off road area for someone to pick you up.
Other things to do in Forrest and nearby
Forrest is a popular Mountain Biking town with lots of Green (the easiest classification) of MTB tracks nearby. You may like to ride some of these trails as well as instead or on your next visit to forest.
The beautiful Lake Elizabeth Walk (which is dog friendly) is a popular nearby walk out the back of Forrest. It has a really nice picnic area near the carpark.
The Forrest Brewery does tasting paddles and dine in meals as well as takeaway beers and dogs are allowed outside at the tables.
The Forrest General Store (just across the road from the Brewery) does takeaway coffees and meat pies as well as vegan pastie option and has lots of beautiful local produce like breads and sauces.
Unfortunately Platypi chocolate is now closed however you can get sweet treats from the General Store.
Places to stay near the Tiger Rail Trail
You can camp at nearby lake Elizabeth, a beautiful dog friendly campground that needs to be prebooked via the Parks Vic website (tent camping only). You can also camp in town at the Caravan Park so you are walking distance from the brewery and pub!
Nearby accommodation includes the Forrest Caravan Park as well as private holiday home rentals.
Alternatively, you can also find accommodation in surrounding areas of the Otways or on the nearby Great Ocean Road