Secrets of the Chiltern Trail (Ku-ring-gai NP)

An easy walk along the Chiltern Trail (a firetrail) is combined with some challenging off-track detours to Crystal Creek, rock outcrops and a trig station.

This is the only formal trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase that I haven’t yet explored, as it doesn’t look particularly exciting… it’s a firetrail that goes from the end of Chiltern Road in Ingleside down to McCarrs Creek Road. But I’ve found an old trig station that I want to explore, and after my quest to find Crystal Creek Falls a week ago I’m keen to see if I reach the top of the waterfall and find the start of Crystal Creek.

I’ve spotted a narrow trail that starts further down Chiltern Road, near the end, so I park here to see where this goes.

The trail leads to a sandstone outcrop with some caves…

…and some nice views over the park, complete with a couch and chairs that someone has lugged 300m!

The track doesn’t seem to go any further and the undergrowth is pretty thick, so I backtrack a little and find another track that heads south towards the Chiltern Trail.

After half of kilometre of easy walking down the wide Chiltern Trail, I notice there’s a huge outcrop to the left (west) of the track, so I decide to make another little detour. After a short distance through the scrub (there’s not too much undergrowth) it’s an easy clamber up onto a massive rock platform. I wander around exploring the outcrop: it’s a nice spot up here with views in all directions. To the south-west is Ingleside, and I can hear faint traffic noise from Mona Vale which follows the distant ridge. To the north-east (below) I can just see the end of McCarrs Creek.

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I descend back to the Chiltern Trail at the northern end of the rock platform, and walk down to the locked gate where it meets McCarrs Creek Road. Directly across the road there’s a view of Lower Gledhill Falls, where McCarrs Creek plunges over a cliff into a pool. It’s an impressive sight, which you can also access from the other side of the creek by following McCarrs Creek from The Duckhole.

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Then it’s back up the Chiltern Trail, the next detour being to explore Crystal Creek, which is to the east of the trail as it flows down to McCarrs Creek Road, and then under the road and into McCarrs Creek. I pick a spot where the creek is closest to the trail, and push through the thick bush. After almost giving up three times, before mustering the effort to continue battling with long grass and prickly undergrowth, I reach Crystal Creek. The creek itself is very picturesque: the water looks (and is) clean, with the creek originating not far upstream within Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

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What I’m hoping to find is the “shallow six metre pool that drops twenty metres down a waterfall into another shallow pool.”  I’m a little upstream of the waterfall though, and progress downstream is challenging due to a small waterfall that’s surrounded by more thick bush. So I head upstream, where there are a couple of shallow pools.

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I’d planned to follow the creek upstream as far as possbible, but after skirting around a moss-covered waterfall I, umm, lose the creek. I know it sounds hard to do, but with the thick scrub and no obvious valley, I can’t see where the creek has gone once I manage to find a way around the waterfall.

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I decide to head back to the Chiltern Trail, and manage to find Crystal Creek again, which made a sharp turn above the waterfall. I give up trying to follow it any further, though… it’s just too hard going with the creek almost hidden in long grass and partially covered by fallen branches.

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My last detour is up to another outcrop near the start of the Chiltern Trail: TS3018 MCCOWEN at 184m above sea level. It’s another clamber up onto the rocks, where the top is covered by low trees blackened by recent bushfires. It doesn’t take long to find the white concrete pillar, but there’s not much of a view.

A litte further to the east there’s a better view, looking east toward McCarrs Creek.

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It’s not a bad spot to watch the sun setting, before finding an easier route back down to Chiltern Trail.

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I’ve got just enough time before it’s completely dark to do the Chiltern North Trail

Location Starts just before the end of Chiltern Road, Ingleside
Distance 3.3km return (without any side-trips) and 6.6km as walked
Grade Easy (150m total elevation gain). Hard with side-trips.
Season/s All year. Avoid leaving main trail in summer due to snakes.
Map/s Interactive topographical map [AllTrails]
9130-1S Mona Vale (1:25K)  Buy / Download
GPS Route Gaia GPS map with option to download GPX / KML file

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