DIFFICULT, 12km: For walkers who want to tick off a summit, here’s a trek that will get the heart rate up, Mt Little Joe – the 469m mini-mountain that stands proudly to the south-west of town, between Warburton and Millgrove.
|Trail||Backstairs Track - Little Joe Loop - Tramway|
|Grade (if available)||Difficult (long) or Moderate (short)|
|Start||Warburton Main Street|
|Finish||Warburton Main Street|
|Distance||12 km (long) / 9 km (short)|
|Ascent||622 m / 500 m|
|Descent||566 m /500m|
|Max Elevation||469 m|
|Features||Historic Dolly Grey Park, lush fern gully on Backstairs Track, steep ascent and tall forests on Mt Little Joe|
|Facilities||Toilets: Warburton township Car Parking: Warburton township|
|Notes||Can be done any time of the year, although Backstairs Track, Little Joe and Tramways trail can get muddy and slippery in winter.|
For walkers who want to tick off a summit, here’s a trek that will get the heart rate up, Mt Little Joe – the 469m mini-mountain that stands proudly to the south-west of town, between Warburton and Millgrove.
The access to Little Joe is one of the prettiest sections of this loop, taking walkers west along the Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail before turning up the Backstairs Track at Scotchmans Creek. Named for a cunning old Scotsman who fossicked for nuggets on this spot, Scotchmans Creek was one of the earliest goldfields in the Upper Yarra district (opened late 1859) and was one of the Valley’s richest sources of gold.
Before starting the climb up the southern flanks of the valley, the route takes you through historic Dolly Grey Park. Backstairs Track itself – once known as Blackstairs Track – used to link Old Warburton to the ‘new’ Warburton, the steps long ago worn down by packhorses.
At the top of Backstairs Track, the route swings off to the rear flank of mighty Mt Little Joe, named after Portuguese Joe, a 'packer' friend of local historical character, Yankee Jim (James McAvoy). Steel yourself here because the wide track up Little Joe plows straight up very steeply to the summit. At least at the top you can catch views across the valley through stands of trees burned in Black Friday and Ash Wednesday as you catch your breath.
The route then loops back around passing under the north side of the summit, heading out to the rear-side entry of Little Joe. For a shorter walk (9km), from here you can head back down Backstairs track and into town. Or for 3km of extra exercise, take the diversion into Old Warburton where you can pick up an old benched tramway that edges along pleasantly back to the high side of the Warburton township. A leisurely drop downhill into town and it’s time for café rest-stop!
As mentioned, you can choose to just complete Mt Little Joe Loop and return down Backstairs Track. If you’re not after too much vertical ascent, cut out the Mt Little Joe Loop, which will save your legs from just over 4km and 312m of vertical.
The Walks eGuide features over 200 walks and trails in the Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley. Covering all ability levels, whether your walk is dog-friendly or where to find your nearest toilet is covered in the Walks eGuide. At $15, it's a steal so grab your copy now!