I’m taking a few of our Cubs Scouts on a bushwalk, and they’ve proposed Cowan to Berowra as the walk they want to do. It’s one of the more challenging sections of the Great North Walk. We’re off relatively early in the morning, so we can make the planned rendezvous with our Support Crew at Berowra Waters for a BBQ lunch. The walk starts directly opposite Cowan railway station, and heads down a wide firetrail that roughly follows the Old Pacific Highway.
After 600m we veer right, off the fire trail and onto a narrow bushwalking track, signposted with a small Great North Walk marker. The walk is initially pretty flat, with some interesting sandstone caves and overhangs.
After about 2.4km the track descends into a valley, past a sandstone cliff and around a giant boulder, before crossing Joe Crafts Creek.
There’s the occasional view toward Berowra Heights as the Cowan to Berowra route follows the ridge, passing the Berowra Reserve campground (one of the many Great North Walk campsites). It’s a nice campsite, but as with many other Great North Walk ridge campsites, there’s no water nearby. Not long afterwards we encounter a large group of Duke of Edinburgh hikers heading to the campground.
The track soon starts to descend, passing between two large sandstone boulders as it negotiates a path through a small cliff.
There’s some fairly steep sections, with iron rungs in the sandstone to assist with the descent down the side of the ridge. The descent to Berowra Waters is one of ths steepest bits of the Cowan to Berowra walk (or a very steep ascent if walking from Berowra to Cowan!)
At the bottom of the ridge is a small, unnamed creek which has a trickle of water. It would be a nice spot for a break, but we are running a bit late and keen to get to Berowra Waters for lunch.
The track ascends again after the creek, and there’s a nice view of our lunch destination below from the ridge above Berowra Creek.
Then we’re descending again to Berowra Creek, a short but steep section down to the water. We follow the creek for just under a kilometre until we reach the Berowra Waters car ferry, which will take us across Berowra Creek.
We’ve allowed enough time in our Cowan to Berowra itinerary for a BBQ lunch at the Berowra Waters picnic area. Berowra Waters is also our emergency exit point: if anyone is really too tired to continue, there’s an option for them to stop here and go home by car. However, all the Cubs have enough energy left to continue the walk, and after an hour we hit the road (track?) again.
The track continues along Berowra Creek for a while, and is initially easy walking.
But, it doesn’t take too long before we start climbing again, with steps hewn into the sandstone taking us past an impressive rock overhang.
The Cubs are starting to get tired as we climb up the spur to the firetrail along the ridge, and frequent breaks are required!
We finally reach the Berkeley Trail (firetrail) and there’s a renewed burst of energy as the Cubs sense the end of the Cowan to Berowra bushwalk is in sight!
There’s a short break and photo-stop at the Naa Badu Lookout, which provides a view up Berowra Creek. It’s not as picturesque when it’s low tide, with more mudbank than water visible!
A last section of narrow bushwalking track, the Crowley Trail, takes us up a small spur to the end of the track near the junction of Crowley Road and Berowra Waters Road. Now it’s just the home stretch to Berowra railway station!
Today’s been a pretty challenging bushwalk, but the Cubs have (mostly) enjoyed it – although there will be a few sore legs tomorrow! While 14km is not a huge distance, Cowan to Berowra is one of the more challenging sections of the Great North Walk, with many valleys to traverse and (steep) ridges to climb.
0.0km Cowan Station (track starts directly opposite station) 4.5km Berowra Reserve campground 7.1km Berowra Waters ferry 7.7km Berowra Waters picnic area (side-trip - also a cafe here) 8.4km Berowra Valley National Park trackhead 10.0km Berkeley Trail 12.5km Crowley Trail 13.3km Great North Walk track head on Crowley Road 14.0km Berowra Station
More information on Cowan to Berowra bushwalk
The Cowan to Berowra section is one of the more challenging sections of the Great North Walk, with about 640m of elevation gain and some steep sections. There’s slightly less elevation gain going from Berowra to Cowan – but you’ve still got a steep climb up from Berowra Waters to Cowan. The main advantage of walking from Cowan to Berowra is that the trains from Berowra back to Hornsby are much more frequent than those from Cowan – and there’s a few more shops and places to get a drink at the end of the walk at Berowra.
Other sections that make a great day-walk include:
For more detailed informatuion on the Cowan to Berowra bushwalk and other sections of the Great North Walk:
- Wildwalks Berowra to Cowan track notes
- Great North Walk – summary of all sections of the route with overnight options.