Touring Destinations – Mt Buffalo
Mt Buffalo is a high plateau situated close to Bright in north-eastern Victoria. This plateau does not always get good snow, but when it does the cross-country skiing is good. The giant boulders, small valleys, snowy plains and distant views of the Victorian Alps make this an interesting place to ski.
Most cross-country skiing is done at the southern end of the plateau on the marked and groomed trails near Cresta Valley and The Horn, but when conditions allow, skiing can also be done further north near Lake Catani and Mt Buffalo Chalet and in the plateau’s backcountry.
Mt Buffalo is one of the oldest ski resorts in Australia, but a fire in December 2006 which destroyed the Cresta Valley lodge has impacted the downhill skiing at Cresta Valley.
Cresta Valley & Giants Playground
A small network of marked and groomed cross country ski trails start at the cross-country notice board adjacent to the Cresta Valley carpark.
A 1km loop trail provides an easy ski around Kowan Plain. A 4km ski trail follows Bogong Plain around to the Giants Playground, returning via Wirbill Plain and joining back into the 1km loop. The Giants Playground is a valley below The Horn, containing some gigantic rock formations. A 2km extension of marked, ungroomed trail near the Giants Playground forms the 6km trail.
A detour can be made off-track to reach Dickson Falls on the edge of the plateau, which has views east towards Bright and the Victorian Alps.
The Horn is the highest point on Mt Buffalo (1723m), situated at the southern edge of the plateau. From the locked gate near Cresta valley, there is a 3km gradual climb up the Horn Road to the Horn picnic area. The road is groomed in winter and provides easy skiing, with the views improving as one climbs higher. From the picnic area at the top, one can climb up a track to the summit of The Horn, which has 360 degree views of the Buffalo plateau and beyond. From the top there is a great 3km descent down the road back to Cresta Valley.
Lyrebird Plain located to the west of The Horn Road also provides skiable terrain.
Lake Catani Trail
After very good snowfalls on the plateau, the lower areas further north around Mt Buffalo Chalet are sometimes skiable. The Lake Catani Ski Trail is a 5km return trail linking Lake Catani with the Gorge Day Visitor Area at Mt Buffalo Chalet.
From the lower Gorge carpark near the Chalet, the Lake Catani trail provides an excellent ski tour through tall forest, giant boulders, over a bridge, past the dam wall and around shores of Lake Catani to the campground. This trail is mostly flat, sheltered, and provides a lot of variety.
Lake Catani is a man made lake built in 1910 and was popular for ice skating earlier last century, but these days the lake seldom freezes over enough to support people safely. Snow camping is possible at the Lake Catani campground via a permit.
Reservoir Road Ski Trail
From the Reservoir Road gate near the Snow Clearing Depot, a 7 km trail follows the closed road to the Reservoir Picnic Area, and accesses the advanced cross-country ski trails and remote backcountry areas beyond.
From the Reservoir Picnic Area one can head south along the Rocky Creek Track to access Wild Dog Plains and Saltlick Plain, or north along the more demanding Mount McLeod Track on a 16km return ski to the North Buffalo Plateau, where winter camping can be done, which requires a permit.