A great little walk that passes an Aboriginal engraving site, offers great views over Pittwater and provides access to two secluded beaches.
Starting at the West Head lookout (at the very end of West Head Road), take the well-marked track to Red Hands Cave. The track descends a little, then climbs about 60m with a long section of well-made steps. At dawn or dusk there’s a good chance of seeing wildlife – wallabies, kookaburras, lyrebirds and a green tree-snake are some of my sightings. Today’s hike is in the late afternoon, so I see a lot more wildlife than usual.
The track reaches the Red Hands Cave after 1km – this natural cave with with ochre hand-prints is one of the most famous Aboriginal heritage sites in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. (The traditional Guringai people of West Head were decimated by smallpox within a year of the arrival of the First Fleet.)
Shortly after the cave, the narrow bush track meets the Resolute Track, which is a wide fire trail. Turn left (going right takes you to the Resolute Picnic Ground, which is an alternate starting point) and follow the sandy fire trail, which descends gradually. Shortly after the turn-off, there’s a sign on the left marking a site of Aboriginal rock engravings. There are views over Pittwater towards Avalon and the Barrenjoey Peninsula from the trail.
After about 900m the fire trail forks; keep to the left (there is a big sign at this junction). Another kilometre of downhill walking, and you’re at the end of the fire trail. A small sign marks the narrow track that continues steeply down, through tall casuarina trees. Soon you reach the North Mackerel Trail which goes to Great Mackerel Beach; turn left and then take the track down to the beach.
Resolute Beach is always quiet, even on weekends. Directly opposite Barrenjoey Beach, it’s a sheltered swimming spot with views across Pittwater, and plenty of shaded areas if you’re spending the day there. It’s been described by Best Sydney Walks as “one of those secluded beaches in Sydney that you should visit at least once in your life”.
You’ve now done most of the walking… from Resolute Beach, head back up the steep track and turn right when you reach the main track. This follows the coastline around “Second Head”, initially crossing a stream and after about 500m the track passes a concrete observation post that was built in WWII to protect Sydney from enemy boats. It’s not sign-posted, but is visible and accessible from the track.
It’s about 600m until the turn-off to West Head Beach, which is down another short but steep track. This secluded beach is very similar to Resolute Beach, but a bit more rocky than Resolute, and always has a few more people (although it too is never busy).
That’s about it… there’s just the final 300m ascent back to the car park at West Head.
Enjoy the view from West Head Lookout before you leave… direcrly in front is Barrenjoey Peninsula and the lighthouse, and to the left across the Hawkesbury River is Lion Island Nature Reserve and the beaches of the Central Coast, including Patonga and Umina Beach.
|Location||Park at the end of West Head Road|
|Distance||4.3km loop (1:30hr). 140m ascent|
|Season/s||All year round|
|Map||Ku-ring-gai & Berowra Valley Visitor Guide (from Info Centre)
Or the free map from entry station
|Resources||Google Street View Trekker|