• Length: 15.8km

  • Duration: 7hrs

  • Grade: 4

  • Style: Circuit

  • Start: Lohs Lane

  • End: Lohs Lane

  • Location: Lerderderg State Park

  • Closest Town: Myrniong

  • Distance from CBD: 77km

  • State: VIC

  • Latitude: -37.56133801

  • Longitude: 144.3639733

Keep the Trail Access info current...

2WD Access
Gravel Road
Winding Road
Small Car Park
Untreated Water

Select items to indicate conditions for access to the trail.

2WD Access

4WD Access

Public Transport

Bitumen Road

Gravel Road

Steep Road

Winding Road

Speed Bumps

Vehicle Ford

Entry Fee

Large Car Park

Small Car Park

Accessible Parking

Accessible Toilet

Public Toilets

Drinking Water

Untreated Water

Picnic Shelter

Picnic Table

BBQ Facilities

Campfire Pit

Camping Area

Keep the Trail Features current...

River Crossings
Rock Scrambling
Rough Trail
Overnight Campsites
Steep Terrain
Goldfields & Mining
Undefined Trail
Exposed Ledges
Scenic Viewpoints
Untreated Water

Lerderderg State Park...

Select items to indicate features found along the trail.

Concrete Path

Timber Boardwalk

Gravel Path

Sandy Trail

Rough Trail

Undefined Trail

Prams & Strollers

Manual Wheelchair

Motorised Wheelchair

Bicycle Trail

Mountain Bike Trail

Historic Rail Trail

Dog Friendly

Urban Walk

Coast & Beach

Historic Lighthouse

Waterfalls & Lakes

Rainforest Walk

Goldfields & Mining

Heritage Walk

Aboriginal Art

Alpine Region

Alpine Huts

Exposed Ledges

Rock Scrambling

Steep Terrain

Bush Bashing

River Crossings

Scenic Viewpoints

Well Marked

Drinking Water

Untreated Water

Fishing Spots

Swimming Spots

Overnight Campsites

Trail Running

Horse Riding


Bears Head Circuit is a 15.8km, grade 4 circuit hike, located in the Lerderderg State Park, Victoria. The hike should take approximately 7hrs to complete.

Hike Summary

This challenging Bears Head Circuit hike is one of my favorite Lerderderg hikes as it descends into one of the remotest and least visited sections of the Lerderderg Gorge.

The surroundings are spectacular and experienced hikers will enjoy a genuine sense of isolation and adventure.

A remote gorge walk along the Lerderderg River. It's a demanding walk into one of the more remote areas of the Lerderderg Gorge. Steep sections, river crossings with some rock scrambling required. Approximately 2.5km follows the river bed so some wading may be required depending on water levels.

About the region

Rising in the Great Dividing Range, the Lerderderg River has cut a 300 metre deep gorge through sandstone and slate, almost bisecting the park. The park has a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife and some interesting relics of gold mining. Lerderderg State Park encompasses scenic and geological gorge formations surrounding the Lerderderg River as well as the volcanic cone of Mount Blackwood. The adjacent and separate block called the Pyrete Range forms part of the park. The Lerderderg is known for its remote setting and the 300m deep Lerderderg River gorge is a dominant feature. Private land abuts the park to the south and the Wombat State forest abuts to the north and west.

Lerderderg State Park (incorporating the former Pyrete State Forest) is a 14,250-hectare park located between Bacchus Marsh and Blackwood, an hour's drive from Melbourne, Australia. There are several maintained tracks for walking through the park and camping is allowed.

The park is named for the Lerderderg River which has cut the 300 metre deep Lerderderg Gorge through sandstone and slate, almost bisecting the park. Parks Victoria maintains six designated walks: three short walks of 3.5 km or less; Blackwood-O'Briens Crossing and return (22 km); O'Briens Crossing-Cowan Track loop (14 km); and the overnight walk O'Briens Crossing to Mackenzies Flat (20 km).

In addition, one leg of the Great Dividing Trail, the Lerderderg Track, passes through the park, entering from Blackwood in the park's northwest, and exiting south towards Bacchus Marsh. Bicycles are prohibited from one section of this track, due to a conservation area.

Getting there

Follow the Western Freeway 9km past Bacchus Marsh and take the Myrniong exit. Continue
along the Myrniong-Greendale Road for 1km, then turn right on the Mount Blackwood Road. Follow this
narrow surfaced road north for 8km and turn right onto Lohs Lane. Drive a further 500m to the gate and
park on the right.


  • Suggested items to pack: Day Pack with Picnic Lunch and at least 2-3 litres of water.
  • The descent into the gorge via Ah Kow Spur is steep and slippery. Take great care in this section of the track. There are multiple river crossings and rock scrambling which make this hike suitable for experienced hikers only.
  • Hiking poles recommended and I also highly recommend water shoes if you have them as it will make the crossings easier.

GPX File

Total distance: 15823 m
Max elevation: 629 m
Min elevation: 270 m
Total climbing: 638 m
Total descent: -638 m
Download GPX File

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77 thoughts on “Bears Head Circuit (15.8km)

  1. We attempted this hike late March 2016. There was no water in the river but we missed the start and came down MacKenzie’s track instead of Loh’s Lane. This added several hours of rock hoping through the river. It was about 2pm when we finally got to the Bear’s Head track. Bear’s Head is really only suitable for rock climbers and people with no fear of heights. It is extremely precipitous with sheer cliffs dropping off either side. Having already twisted my knee and with shaking ankles after hours of rock hopping, discretion got the better part of valor and we retreated. This presented a problem. Going all the way back was not an option. We opted instead to go up An Kow’s spur. Despite searching we could not find the marker to indicate the beginning of the track. The spur itself is obvious enough – given there is no other way out of the gorge. So we headed off with compass and map. The climb is extremely steep and although we did encounter a cairn at the top of the ridge we could find no obvious path. With compass we simply continued to head on more or less the right bearing, occasionally backtracking to avoid cliffs. It was about 6.30 pm when we finally crossed the Loh’s Lane track. And grateful we were to see it. I had visions of us spending the night. So, I guess my view is, you need to be a rock climber or at least not frightened of heights, don’t rely on markers or maps. It was exciting but I’m too old for this stuff. 🙂

    1. Wow. Sounds like you had an and adventure. Just wanted to comment (for the benefit of other readers) on bears head range and Ah Kow Spur.

      Bears head is challenging but I wouldn’t say you need to be a rock climber to tackle it. But you do need to enjoy a rock scramble and have a head for heights to consider it. I would happily take my young boys in this section (but they love rocky terrain).

      The track on Ah Kow Spur is really steep and well defined. It commences right in the bend of the river at safety market LER513 and continues steeply uk the spur. The track is well worn all the way back to Lohs Lane as in wet weather you can be on all fours climbing up or down the spur. If you download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS you will have no trouble finding it.

  2. Just finished this hike (September 2016) and wanted to say it’s pretty difficult in spring when the river is high.

    The decent into the gorge was tricky as the ground was slippery, so if you’re planning to go when the ground will be wet I’d advise against this route if you’re unfit and particularly if you have injuries.

    We followed the river and had to scout out good places to cross which involved taking off your shoes and wading in the water about knee to half way up your thigh in height. So thanks for the tip to bring footwear for the river crossing!

    It meant the pace was rather slow going. We started the walk at 8am and got to the end of the river part, I.e. the start of bears head track at around 4:00pm.

    We still had a good 4.5 hours of hiking to left at this point, and sundown was at 6:30. Luckily there was a management dirt track connecting bears head and the Ah Kow track which shortcut a good 2 hours of walking.

    It was good fun looking back, but we ran the risk of being stuck if we ran out of sunlight which was a very real possibility. Our pace was on the slow side, sure.. but it’s a good lesson to always pack in case of emergency.. such as being stuck overnight and having gear to keep you warm.

    TL;DR – enjoyable but challenging hike. Steep decent, slippery underfoot. Unmarked river section with several crossings; difficult in spring. Took our group a solid 10 hours of hiking; start very early to ensure you don’t run out of sunlight if you’re not walking in summer. Bring emergency gear in case you get stuck.

    1. Hey Tom. Great feedback on your experience. Thank you. Just a note to others about the short-cut management track mentioned. This is a reference area meaning no one is allowed in there. If you get caught you will be fined for trespassing.

    1. Certainly is! Let’s lock one in soon, even if it’s only the 1000steps. Need to ramp up my hiking, deposit is going down soon for EBC!

    1. Glad we didn’t do this short loop and that we added in most of the Old River – and it didnt take that long either ?

    1. Actually? Is this the one you want to do?
      If yes then all of a sudden the Richmond v Collingwood game looks pretty appealing… Thoughts Nick McKee?

  3. Hiked this trail a few weeks back and absolutly loved it. First trip into Lerderberg and had planned on going down Ah Kow then following the river to Bears head and back to Lohs Lane, as I hadn’t been there before, I missed the turn for Ah Kows (no signpost or markers visible) and ended up doing my hike in reverse (No biggy). I was completly by myself for the whole trip, bar bumping into to 2 other hikers taking a break at the base of Ah Kow spur. (Very hard to spot the trail marker from the river as the vegetaion was pretty tall but knew it was around that spot somewhere. The river was less river and more small pools which made the going along that section a lot quicker.
    overall a great hike and wonderful expierence being out in the bush with nothing but the trail and nature to myself.

  4. Just looking at doing this one as an overnighter this winter. Is there any suitable spots to pitch a couple of 2p tents approximately half way around the loop.

    1. Hey Matt. There is a great spot, just after you leave the river and before the ascent of Bears Head. It is a nice grass clearing. If you look at the photos of this hike, it is the 20th image. Hope this helps.

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