The Great Valley Trail – A Path up River

Dec 7, 2022
Buff Farnell
Mandy Lamont

Go on an adventure with Buff Farnell as he rides the Great Valley Trail from Harrietville to Bright.

Great Valley Trail - Bright to Harrietville

I love riding bikes, and I love when I find an adventure ride that is able to be ridden by anyone. Through beautiful sub-alpine valleys, on any type of bicycle. Doing multi-day adventure rides and camping beside my bike in the bush is amazing. But I also like riding my bike to do my veggie shopping, or going fast downhills on my mountain bike. But when I think of a ride beside a beautiful river that is accessible to any level of bike or rider, I realise that bikes can be so many things to so many people. The Great Valley Trail from Bright to Harrietville is a ride that can be enjoyed by anyone, as well as giving safe access to local kids between towns off the busy roads.

First ride

The first time I rode this trail was a year ago at midnight. With a powerful set of lights I set out from Bright and within 1 km I had seen several Kangaroos. The further I got into the ride, I saw many large Sambar deer, wombats, rabbits, yabbies in the streams under the bridges and also some cats and a fox (uncool). It’s alive with lush forest and many animals (don’t worry most of these animals sleep during the day).

Start the ride in Bright

So on this warm spring day I left Bright on a type of fun Bike I’d never ridden before. It was a Norco rail trail bike, very upright, super comfy for anyone. Thanks to All Terrain Cycles in Bright. It was great to try out a bike that’s accessible and affordable to anyone who feels like a pleasant day in the saddle, without having to be a complete bike nerd.

The Path begins in Bright town centre and heads up along the Great Alpine Road towards Mt Hotham. After a couple of kms passing pine forests and the fringe houses of Bright it crosses the river. Therein starts its beautiful winding journey to Harrietville through tall Eucalypts and over bridges, back and forth crossing the Ovens river.

The complete trail is 27 kms. With 16 kms of that being the new section of super smooth hot mix that can be rollerbladed, or ridden on a skateboard, scooter, wheelchair or any type of bike. It is so smooth with many fun turns and rad little sections. Which make it one of the more fun bike tracks I’ve ridden. Keep your eyes peeled ahead as some sections have tight corners with little blind spots. So watch for folks coming the other way.

The best bits

One of the great things about this ride is it has many sections. If it’s your first longer ride or you have young kids or folks who only want a few kms of riding, you can join the trail at many locations along its journey. Park your car and ride, or do the whole journey. This trail extends the Murray to Mountains trail for a full long adventure.

The trail pops out just before Harrietville. There are several great spots to enjoy food, drinks and coffees there. Bella’s Cafe next to the River and Dolly the Coffee caravan, or if you like a lunchtime beer try Harrietville Hotel Motel or the Hilltop Hotel.

At a minimum I’d pack a windshell jacket in case the weather turns and wear sunnies or clear riding glasses. A full puncture repair kit, small tool kit, pump, and a tube just in case. At least one full water bottle if not two to be safe, and a small first aid kit.

The beauty of this ride is it feels remote but it’s really close to help, or roads if you need to rest or escape. And that’s a great way to get into adventure cycling or just enjoy nature, ride on.

You might also be interested in reading the Falls Hotham Crossing here

For a directory of places to eat around Bright and Surrounds, see our mountain guide here


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