Brooklyn to Cowan (Great North Walk)

Brooklyn to Cowan forms part of the Great North Walk, with the track ascending from Brooklyn and traversing a number of ridges before descending to Cowan Creek. The final section is an ascent from Jerusalem Bay to Cowan.

From Brooklyn railway station there’s about a 300m walk to the start of the trail, with the option of taking the Brooklyn Dam Trail from Brooklyn Road or the Hobo Hill Track from the corner of William Street and Bridge Road. Some of the initial steepest sections are concreted, before the trail becomes a wide management trail as the first kilometre ascends steadily to the top of the ridge.

The Brooklyn Dam Trail then descends slightly to reach Brooklyn Dam, winding around the dam and past two campsites (north-west and north-east) – the first camping area coming from Cowan is the larger one. The dam was constructed in 1884 to provide water for steam trains on the northern railway line, 500m to the north, and was enlarged six times between 1884 and 1924. As well as being a water source for the campsites, it’s nice swimming hole in summer.

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Just after Brooklyn Dam there’s a view of Long Island Nature Reserve and the heritage-listed Hawkesbury River railway bridge, which is downstream of the Peats Ferry Bridge and the adjacent modern F3 freeway bridge.

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The Brooklyn Dam Service Trail, still a wide management trail, continues gradually ascending the ridge toward the freeway. There’s some views of Brooklyn Dam below and Peats Ferry Bridge in the distance (which carries the single-lane Old Pacific Highway across the Hawkesbury River).

After about four kilometres the rack reaches an interection with a narrow bushwalking track (Great North Walk) that continues to Jerusalem Bay, and the Brooklyn Dam Service Trail which goes up to the top of a large cutting that overlooks the F3 freeway. The bushwalking track traverses a couple of ridges, descending to Campbells Creek before climbing up to Ten Bob Ridge. There are occasional views to the east and north-east and some glimpses of the Hawkesbury River – but nothing very exciting.

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From Ten Bob Ridge (and the junction with Taffys Rock Track) the trail starts descending to Jerusalem Bay, through a mix of eucalyptus and coachwood forest and past a few sandstone formations.

There’s a nice view of Jerusalem Bay (Cowan Creek), with the track then following the contour of the inlet.

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The bushwalking track then climbs up to Cowan with a series of timber steps near the top. The last few hundred metres is a wide maintenance trail, which crosses a freeway overpass before reaching Cowan station.

I’ve done this walk a few times, in both directions – it’s a walk that you can do very easily using public transport. The advantage of finishing at Brooklyn is that there’s lots of options for a meal or a drink at the end, there’s slightly less elevation gain and you’re finishing the walk with a downhill section. Conversely, if you’re up for a more challenging walk you can start at Brooklyn, and finish at Cowan station… or Berowra station… or far as you feel like walking with a number of exit points as you continue south along the Great North Walk.

 0.0km Brooklyn (Hawkesbury River station)
 0.3km Start of Brooklyn Fire Trail on Brooklyn Road
 2.6km Brooklyn Dam
 7.6km Junction with Great North Walk bushwalking track
10.4km Jerusalem Bay
12.7km Freeway overpass
13.0km Cowan railway station
Location Hawkesbury River railway station / Cowan railway station
Distance 13km one-way. (27km for Berowra to Brooklyn)
Grade Moderate. 550m total elevation gain (650m gain from Brooklyn)
Season/s All year.
Map/s Interactive topographical map [AllTrails]
9130-4N Cowan (1:25K)  Buy / Download
GPS Route Gaia GPS map with option to download GPX / KML file
Resources Wildwalks Cowan to Brooklyn track notes

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