The Brooklyn to Cowan section of the Great North Walk is one of the nicest ones (at least, I think so!) – and one that is easily done by public transport. Starting at the Brooklyn end, there’s about a 300m walk from the railway station 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. (This is the least nice part of the Brooklyn to Cowan walk.)
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.
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.
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.
From Ten Bob Ridge (and the junction with Taffys Rock Track) the Brooklyn to Cowan 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.
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 the Brooklyn to Cowan walk a few times, in both directions – it’s a walk that you can do very easily using public transport. The advantage of walking Cowan to 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, Brooklyn to Cowan is a slightly more challenging bushwalk as it has a greater ascent – and if you want to extend the walk you can continue to Berowra station.
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
More information on Brooklyn to Cowan bushwalk
- Wildwalks Cowan to Brooklyn track notes
For more bushwalks (as well as swimming spots and other activities) visit the Guide to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.