A guide to tracks suitable for bushwalking with dogs in Sydney’s north… Focussed on Ku-ring-gai, Northern Beaches and Sydney’s northern suburbs, this guide also includes a few walks further afield that are worth making the effort to get to. As a general rule, dogs are not permitted in national parks (except for a small number of regional NSW parks) and are allowed in State Forests, while Council reserves are a mixed bag. (Dogs on all bush tracks should be leashed, whether it is signposted or not – the only exception being designated and marked off leash areas.)
KU-RING-GAI: Frog Hollow Loop – 3.3km
A varied and interesting loop through the Wahroonga Reserve, which starts with tall eucalypt forest before descending into Frasers Brook. You can do the entire loop on a wide firetrail (with a short on-road setion to complete the route), or take some of the more challenging bushwalking tracks up to Cilff Oval. (Note that some of the tracks beyond the loop walk go into Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park). These tracks also connect to Lovers Jump Creek in Turramurra.
KU-RING-GAI: Kitchener St to Phillip Road – 3.6km (return)
This management trail in St Ives is a pleasant and shaded walk, which descends into a valley and crosses Ku-ring-gai Creek (it connects to a network of tracks within the St Ives Wildflower Garden, but these are not dog-friendly)! The last part of the trail as it nears Phillip Road is a bit “suburban” and runs behind a row of houses, but most of the walk is through tall forest and is a nice walk.
A nice bushwalk that follows Moores Creek down to Middle Harbour through several reserves in Lindfield and Roseville, before joining the Two Creeks Track. The Little Digger Track passes some small waterfalls and cascades (including Little Falls and Babbage Falls), and is well shaded.
A variety of dog-friendly tracks in Sheldon Forest & Rofe Park in Pymble/Turramurra can be combined to form a bushwalk up to 6.3km long. Although close to suburbia with multiple access points from Pymble and Turramurra, you’re soon deep in the bush on well-shaded tracks. There are some steep sections as you descend into gullies and a long section along Avondale Creek.
This is the longest walk you can do, from North Wahroonga to North Turramurra, and is 13km if you return the same way. It combines part of the Lovers Jump and Frog Hollow Loop walks, and is mostly on firetrails as it traverses bushland between Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the suburbs of Ku-ring-gai. Note: the track crosses briefly into Ku-ring-gai NP at the end of Gwydir Ave.\
Accessible via multiple spots in Turramurra, this relatively long loop along a wide firetrail follows both sides of Lovers Jump Creek. It’s mostly very shaded and near water, and passes some small cascades (the Lovers Jump Falls near Burns Road requires a short but steep scramble). You can make longer bushwalk by taking a firetrail which connects this loop to the Frog Hollow Loop.
Although the Darri Track in Turramurra is never far from suburbia, it (mostly) feels like you’re deep in the bush. The track follows Cowan Creek fairly closely and is generally cool and well-shaded, and is partly on a firetrail and partly a narrow bushwalking track. There are a few access points, but you need to exit before reaching the Warrimoo Track (which is inside Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park).
The Two Creeks Track follows Middle Harbour Creek from Echo Point Park in Roseville to the start of Garigal National Park in Lindfield. It crosses some smaller creeks and traverses a few rainforest-like gullies, offering a real bushwalking experience. You can access the Two Creeks Track in multiple spots.
One of the access points for the Great North Walk from Thornleigh, the Bellamy Trail follows a concrete path through bushland. It passes the site of the Thornleigh zigzag railway (only minor fragments are still visible today) and an old quarry. An easy but pleasant bushwalk suitable for children and prams!
A firetrail betweeen Turner Road and Woodcourt Road in Berowra Heights provides a pleasant walk through a Wildlife Protection Area (dogs must be on-leash). The undulating trail goes through eucalyptus forest, and crosses a large rock platform. You can also take a dog on the nearby firetrail from Lonsdale Ave.
Anembo in Duffys Forest is named after the Aboriginal word meaning “quiet place”, which is fitting for this ridgetop reserve that’s surrounded by Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on three sides. A shared-use trail (walkers, bikes, horses and dogs) makes a pleasant loop around the reserve.
Following a large water pipeline, the dog-friendly section between Prince Charles Road and Garigal National Park varies between suburban (where the trail follows the back of properties) to more natural as the trail nears the national park. If you continue down to the “national park” sign (no dogs past this sign) you’ll need to walk back up a relatively steep section.
Distance: 4.4km return (trail continues through Garigal National Park)
NORTHERN BEACHES: Slippery Dip Loop – 4.5km loop
This loop can get busy: the Slippery Dip Trail in Belrose caters for mountain-bikers and horses, as well as the occasional vehicle accessing the Warringah Radio Control Society (WRCS), a not-for-profit flying club. You can go as far as the Garigal NP sign, or return via the Power Lines Track and an informal MTB/walking track for an interesting circuit. Some nice views from the trail.
More of a “beaches and parks” walk than a bushwalk, this route follows the coast from Spit Reserve to Clontarf Reserve. Part of the Spit to Manly walk, the track passes a few bays and beaches, including the dog-friendly Sandy Bay, as well as passing through a sub-tropical rainforest in Fishers Bay Reserve.
A bit more challenging than the Narrabeen Lake loop, this track circles Manly Dam (the largest freshwater lake in Sydney). The Park Circuit Track undulates through bushlands, wetlands, past Aboriginal sites and across the dam wall for a varied walk.
NORTHERN BEACHES: Narrabeen lake loop – 7.4km loop
An easy and level walk around Narrabeen Lake (or Narrabeen Lagoon, as it’s technically a coastal lagoon). The well-marked trail combines bushland, cultural heritage and historical icons and a “suburban” section with a few cafes and restaurants.
CENTRAL COAST: Strickland Forest (upper section) – 1.6km-6.5km
Multiple tracks can be done individually or combined into a longer circuit. All the bushwalking tracks traverse a mix of dry eucalypt forest near the ridges, and wet gully rainforest as you drop into the cooler valleys. The most popular loop (Strickland Falls Track) goes to the small but picturesque Strickland Falls.
CENTRAL COAST: Strickland Forest (Arboretum Track) – 2.3km-3.5km
The “lower” section of Strickland Forest is easier than the “upper” section, with both tracks being farly level. The Arboretum Loop Trail goes through Australia’s oldest arboretum, while the Bellbird Trail loops around both sides of Narara Creek. The two trails can be done separately, or joined into a longer loop.
The Five Lands Walk follows the coast from Terrigal to MacMasters Beach, combining headlands, five beaches and bush along the route. Most of the route is dog-friendly, including off-leash areas along some of the beaches.