Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, located in Sydney’s north, is the largest park in the Sydney metropolitan area and the and the second oldest national park in Australia. Named after its original inhabitants, the Kuringgai or Guringai Aboriginal people, it is rich in Aboriginal history with over 1,000 Aboriginal engraving sites. It also has diverse flora and fauna, with over 900 species of plants and one of Sydney’s few remaining koala habitats (West Head). 

The national park has over 300km of bushwalking tracks as well as mountain-biking and kayaking potential…

Barrenjoey

Barrenjoey is at the end of a a headland, and separated by a kilometre of water (Pittwater) from the rest of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Arguably most famous for the long-running “Home and Away” drama series shot largely on Palm Beach, it’s also home of the iconic Barrenjoey Lighthouse.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk (2.4km) Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ... Scenic View Icon

There are two routes to the Lighthouse, at the end of the narrow Barrenjoey peninula. The Access Trail (vehicular trail) is longer, but less steep than the Smugglers Track (walking trail). The best views are from the Smugglers Track, with multiple lookout points on the way up.

Ou Sundays, you can join a guided tour of Barrenjoey lighthouse which includes access to a museum and to the top of the lighthouse tower.

Location Northern end of Governor Phillip Park car park (near The Boathouse cafe)
Distance 2.4km return. Approx 1hr
Grade Easy. Total ascent of 80m
More Info National Parks web site

Bobbin Head (St Ives / Turramurra / Wahroonga)

The most developed area of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, between Ku-ring-gai Chase Road and Cowan Creek. In the middle is Bobbin Head, the location of an information centre in the historic Bobbin Inn, as well as two restaurants and a picnic area. Within this area are two Council-managed reserves which adjoin the national park (Wahroonga Reserve and the St Ives Wildflower Garden). It’s the most diverse area in terms of bushwalking tracks, from challenging off-track walks to interpretative boardwalks. 

Bobbin Head walks summary

  • Peninsula Track1km return. Easy. Short track from Cliff Oval to an interesting rock platform with great views.
  • Frog Hollow Firetrail1.2km return. A rather boring firetrail that can be used to form some more interesting loop walks.
  • Rainforest Track1.6km return. Easy. Interesting track that starts with a boardwalk through mangroves descending to rainforest area.
  • Solander Trail2km loop. Easy. Sealed path that’s ideal if you’re with a stroller or young kids on bikes!bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Cliff Connection2km return. Moderate. A rough track that connects Gibberagong Track and Cliff Connection Track.
  • Anembo Reserve Trail2.3km loop. Easy. Mixed walking/horse-riding circuit through Anembo Reserve. Side-trail to Bibbenluke Track.
  • Sphinx Track2.4km return. Easy. Bushwalking track down to Cowan Creek where it meets Warrimoo Track.
  • Ryland Trail2.4km one way.  Maintenance trail that services electrical pylons. Bushwalking track connects to Warrimoo Trackbicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Cooyong (Neverfail) Trail / Callamine Trail – 2.5km one-way. Pleasant multi-use fire trail between St Ives & Duffys Forest.bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Sphinx Trail3km return. Firetrail down the ridge to a small cliff above the valley. There is a route down to Warrimoo Track. 
  • bicycle-road-cycling-icon-pngShowground Trail3.2km one-way. Bushwalking track then service trail that runs behind St Ives Showground.
  • Mueller Track4km loop. Interesting loop track in St Ives Wildflower Garden through a varied landscape.
  • Darri Track4.2km one-way. Easy. Mix of fire trail and bushwalking track following upper reaches of Cowan Creek.bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Christies Pool4.7km return. Moderate. A rough track (marked by cairns) down to a swimming hole.
  • Bobbbicycle-road-cycling-icon-pngin Head Track – 5km return. Easy. Mostly a firetrail before a steep bushwalking to Bobbin Head. Aboriginal engravings.
  • Murrua Firebicycle-road-cycling-icon-png Trail5.6km return. Easy. Boring firetrail; can continue along rough track down Gibberagong track (hard)
  • Under the Motorway track6km return. Moderate. Unnamed, interesting trail off Gibberagong Track that goes under F3 motorway. 
  • Gibberagong Track6.5km one-way. Easy. Nice track from North Wahroonga to Bobbin Head, mostly along Cobicycle-road-cycling-icon-pngckle Creek.
  • Warrimoo Track6.6km one-wbicycle-road-cycling-icon-pngay. Moderate. Fire trail from St Ives, then bushwalking track along Cowan Crk to Bobbin Head. 

Peninsula Track (1km) Scenic View Icon

Part of the Wahroonga Reserve (which adjoins Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park), the short Peninsula Track leads to a spectacular rock platform just below Cliff Oval – a popular spot at sunset. Continue down the track and around some interesting rock formations to reach a firetrail and the Cliff Connection Track.
Suggested Walk: Combine this with Frog Hollow Fire Trail to form a 3.5km loop walk.

Location Starts at the northern end of Cliff Oval, North Wahroonga
Distance 1km return. 30min.
Grade Easy.
More Info Detailed walk description of longer 3.5km north loop from Frog Hollow Fire Trail

Frog Hollow Firetrail (1.2km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

Part of the Wahroonga Reserve (which adjoins Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park), Frog Hollow Fire Trail follows Frasers Brook downstream, before crossing the creek and joining another fire trail which goes up to Grosvenor Street. An easy walk or bike ride (and dogs allowed on-leash) which provides access to a number of bushwalking tracks.
Suggested Walk: Combine this with Gibberagong Track or Cliff Connection to form a 3.5km or 3.9km loop walk.

Location Starts at the end of Lister Street, North Wahroonga
Distance 1.2km return. 30min.
Grade Easy.
More Info Detailed walk description of longer (3.5km / 3.9km) loops from Frog Hollow Fire Trail

Rainforest Track (1.6km) Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

Starting at Bobbin Head, the Rainforest Track is also known as the Gibberagong Track (but is much shorter). It’s an interesting walk that crosses Cockle Creek on a suspension bridge before a boardwalk (with interpretative signage) through the mangroves. The track then passes some interesting rock formations, an Aboriginal axe-grinding site and a rock engraving. Just after the Gibberagong Track continues up Cockle Creek, the Rainforest Track descends to a rainforest area beside a small (unnamed) creek.

Location Starts at Bobbin Head carpark (North Turramurra)
Distance 1.6km return. 45min.
Grade Easy. 80m total ascentt.
More Info Wildwalks track notes for Rainforest Track.

Solander Trail (2km) – St Ives Wildflower Garden Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

It’s perhaps a bit generous to describe this as a bushwalk…. this sealed track in the St Ives Wildflower Garden is not particularly exciting, but it’s a good option if you’re walking with a stroller or for younger children riding bikes. The track passes a picnic area and playground.
Alternative: The Mueller Track is a longer bushwalk that also connects to the Solander Trail.

Location Start at Caleys Pavilion in the St Ives Wildflower Garden (North St Ives)
Distance 2km loop. 30min.
Grade Easy. Sealed path.
More Info Detailed walk description

Cliff Connection Track (2km)

The Cliff Connection Track is a little-known and little-used track, which is not surprising as it has no signage. The narrow and sometimes overgrown bushwalking track starts on the Gibberagong Track (in the Ku-ring-gai National Park) and descends to Frasers Brook in the Wahroonga Reserve, before ascending to the Peninsula Track. A nice track that’s best combined with other tracks to form a circular route.
Suggested Walk: Combine this with Gibberagong Track and Frog Hollow to form a 3.9km loop walk.

Location Between Gibberagong Track and Peninsula Track
Distance 2km return. 1 hour.
Grade Moderate. Rough and sometimes overgrown track
More Info Detailed walk description of longer (3.5km / 3.9km) loops from Frog Hollow Fire Trail

Anembo Reserve Trail (2.3km)

A very easy walk through the Anembo Reserve, which adjoins Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, on a mostly level track that’s also used by horse riders. Some nice views to the west from the track, which follows the top of the ridge. A much rougher side-trail leads to the Bibbenluke Track.
Alternative: For a longer circuit, take the side-track to Bibbenluke Trail & return via Booralie Trail.

Location Between Gibberagong Track and Peninsula Track
Distance 2.3km circuit. (4km circuit via Bibbenluke & Booralie Trail). 45min.
Grade Easy. 40m total ascent. (Moderate / 120m ascent via Bibbenluke & Booralie Trail)
More Info Refer signage at start of trail.

Sphinx Track (2.4km)

A popular and pleasant bushwalking track from the Sphinx Memorial in North Turramurra down to Cowan Creek, where it meets the Warrimoo Track. The last part of the track has a number of rough timber steps and is fairly steep. Nice swimming spot at the bottom.
Suggested Walks:
– Combine this with Sphinx Trail to form a 6.5km loop with a short off-track section
– Combine this with the Warrimoo Track and Bobbin Head Track for a 10km circuit.

Location Sphinx car park (or top of Memorial Road via Sphinx Trail)
Distance 2.4km one-way. 1 hour.
Grade Easy. Bushwalking track (with somes steps)
More Info  Detailed walk description of Sphinx Trail & Track loop.

Ryland Trail (2.4km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

The Ryland Trail runs from the Cooyong (Neverfail) Trail to the end of a ridge above Kierans Creek, where a rough bushwalking track descends to Kierans Creek and then up to the Warrimoo Track. (Some maps incorrectly have the Ryland Trail starting at Mona Vale Road, but this is actually the Cooyong Trail). The maintenance trail services a number of electricity transmission pylons, so it’s not always the nicest scenery as it passes large swathes of cleared land.
Suggested Walk: The “Pylons Walk” joins this trail with the Warrimoo Track & Showground Trail for 13.5km loop

Location Starts as an off-shoot of the Cooyong (Neverfail) Trail
Distance 2.4km one-way. 45min.
Grade Easy. Fire trail.
More Info Detailed walk description of Pylon Loop, which includes Ryland Trail

Cooyong (Neverfail) Trail (2.5km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

The Cooyong (Neverfail) Trail, referred to on some maps as the Callamine Trail, is a service trail that goes from Mona Vale Road at Belrose to eventually join the Sandy Trail in Duffys Forest after a steep descent to Kierans Creek. There’s three major off-shoots from the trail: Ryland Trail West Branch 1, which joins with the St Ives Showground Trail, Ryland Trail West Branch 2, which services some pylons but is a dead-end, and the Ryland Trail which finishes on a ridge above Kierans Creek and connects to a rough bushwalking track down to Kierans Creek and back up to the Warrimoo Track.
Suggested Walk: The “Pylons Walk” joins this trail with the Warrimoo Track & Showground Trail for 13.5km loop

Location From Mona Vale Road (Belrose) it goes to the Sandy Trail (Duffys Forest)
Distance 2.5km one-way. 45min.
Grade Easy. Fire trail.
More Info Detailed walk description of Pylon Loop, which includes Cooyong Trail

Sphinx Trail (3km)

The less-popular sibling of the Sphinx Track, the Sphinx Trail is a fire trail that follows a ridge down from Bobbin Head to a small cliff not far from the bottom of the valley. It’s easy walking and there are filtered view over the valley from the end of the track – but the Sphinx Track (the other one!) is a much more interesting walk.
Compass icon Suggested Walk: Combine this with Sphinx Track to form a 6.5km loop with a short off-track section.

Location Top of Memorial Road or Sphinx car park
Distance 3km one-way. 1 hour.
Grade Easy. Fire trail.
More Info Detailed walk description of Sphinx Trail & Track loop.

Showground Trail (3.2km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

Officially called the “Show Ground Pistol Club Trail”, the Showground Trail runs from the Cooyong (Neverfail) Trail to the St Ives Wildflower Garden (technically, it goes from Ryland Trail West Branch 1 which branches off the Cooyong Trail). It’s an interesting trail, which starts as a narrow bushwalking track before widening to a service trail which is fairly level, before a slight descent to the St Ives Wildflower Garden where it meets the Solander Trail.
Suggested Walk: Combine this with Sphinx Track to form a 6.5km loop with a short off-track section.

Location End of Ryland Trail West Branch 1 to Solander Trail, St Ives Wildflower Garden
Distance 3.2km one-way. 1 hour.
Grade Easy. Fire trail.
More Info Detailed walk description of Pylon Loop, which includes Showground Trail

Mueller Track (4km) – St Ives Wildflower Garden

While technically not in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, the Mueller Track is the longest walk in the St Ives Wildflower Garden and traverses a varied landscape. A significant portion of the track is along Ku-ring-gai Creek and Tree Fern Gully Creek, which includes a few cascades and waterfalls. There’s also Billy’s Bridge, a natural rock arch. Combine with Fitzgerald Track and Bentham Track to form a 4.3km loop.

Location Start at the St Ives Wildflower Garden Visitor Centre (north St Ives)
Distance 4km trail / 4.3km loop with Fitzgerald Track and Bentham Track. 2 hours.
Grade Easy. Approx 150m ascent. Bushwalking track.
More Info Detailed walk description of Mueller Track.

Darri Track (4.2km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

A mix of fire trail and bushwalking tracks, the Darri Track follows Cowan Creek through a narrow “finger” of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in St Ives, eventually meeting up with the Warrimoo Track. While never too far away from civilisation, you rarely see any houses and the bushwalk feels a bit more remote than it looks on the the map.
Suggested Walk: Start at end of Toolang Road or Marlborough Place and return via Warrimoo Ave for 7.7km loop.

Location From end of Bedford Avenue to Warrimoo Track (St Ives Chase)
Distance 4.2km one-way (90min) or 7.7km loop (3 hours) returning via road
Grade Easy. Mix of fire trail & bushwalking track.
More Info Detailed walk description

Christies Pool (4.7km)  Compass icon Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ...

This walk to a little-known pool starts on the popular Warrimoo Track in St Ives, before turning right onto a service trail after 1.2km. The last few hundred metres is off-track, with the route marked by ribbons and rock cairns as it descends steeply to the bottom of the valley. Christies Pool is formed by the confluence of Ku-ring-gai Creek and Kierans Creek; it’s a fairly deep pool surrounded by ferns and trees.
Alternative: Return the same way, or the track continues across the creek to join the Callamine Trail, forming a longer loop.

Location Starts at the end of Warrimoo Road (St Ives Chase)
Distance 4.7km return. 2 hours.
Grade Moderate.  160m total elevation gain. Partly off-track.
More Info Detailed walk description

Bobbin Head Track (5km)  Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Scenic View Icon Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

Most of the Bobbin Head Track is a fire trail, which is fairly flat (it actually ascends slightly) from Bobbin Head Road along the ridge – this was the original road down to Bobbin Head. Along this section is an Aboriginal engraving site, signposted on the left and just off the main track. After 2.6km it starts to descend quite steeply, with the last few hundred metres a steep bushwalking track with some stone steps. The track meets the Warrimoo Track at the bottom; there’s another 600m past the Bobbin Head Marina to reach Bobbin Head.
Suggested Walk: Combine with Warrimoo and Sphinx Tracks for a 9.8km loop (Moderate)

Location Bobbin Head Road near park entry station or Bobbin Head carpark (North Turramurra)
Distance 5km return. 1.5 hours.
Grade Easy.  95m / 254m total ascent (depending on direction taken)
More Info Wildwalks track notes

Murrua Fire Trail (5.6km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

A mostly flat and fairly boring fire trail for the first half which has thick heath on both sides; its primary purpose is accessing a number of electricity pylons. Towards the end the trail reaches a rocky outcrop with views over the valley, before it descends through some nice forest to the last pylon.
Suggested Walks:
A defined walking track connects Murrua Fire Trail to the Gibberagong Track; return via Bobbin Head track (13km loop)
At the end of the Murrua Fire Trail a very rough track continues down to Gibberagong Track (10km loop – hard)

Location Starts at the end of Murrua Road.
Distance 5.6km return. 1.5-2 hours.
Grade Easy. 195m elevation total ascent. Fire trail.
More Info Detailed walk description for Giberragong & Murrua Fire Trail loop

Under the Motorway trail (6km)

An interesting bushwalking track that branches off the popular Gibberagong Track in Wahroonga. The track is mostly well-defined, although there are a few “false trails” and fallen trees and branches. The track descends to an idyllic natural pool in Cockle Creek, then continues across a couple of smaller streams before reaching some interesting rock formations and a graffiti-covered tunnel that crosses under the F3 motorway.

Location End of Grosvenor Street (North Wahroonga)
Distance 6.0km approx. 2 hours.
Grade Moderate. 150m total elevation gain. Track a little rough in places.
More Info Detailed walk description for Under the Motorway walk

Gibberagong Track (6.5km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ... Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

Formerly known as the Grosvenor Track, the Gibberagong Track is a delightful track from North Wahroonga down to Cowan Creek at Bobbin Head. The first couple of kilometres is a wide firetrail, before narrowing to a bushwalking track as it descends to Cockle Creek. The track then follows Cockle Creek past a number of cascades and swimming holes. The last section includes a boardwalk through mangroves and an Aboriginal axe grinding and rock engraving site.
Suggested Walks:
– Combine with Bobbin Head Trail (starting at North Turramurra) for 11km circuit
– Combine with Murrua Fire Trail for a more challenging 15km circuit

Location End of Grosvenor Street (North Wahroonga) or Bobbin Head carpark (North Turramurra)
Distance 6.5km one-way. 2 hours.
Grade Easy. 145m / 310m total ascent (depending on direction taken). Fire trail & bushwalking track.
More Info Detailed walk description for Giberragong & Murrua Fire Trail loop

Warrimoo Track (6.6km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ...

A wide firetrail for the first 1.4km, the Warrimoo Track then narrows to a bushwalking track that descends steeply down to Cowan Creek. The track follows Cowan Creek fairly closely, from its upper reaches down to Bobbin Head and past the Bobbin Head marina. Some nice views over the creek, sandstone overhangs and changing flora along the way.
Suggested Walks:
– Continue past Bobbin Head to Mt-Ku-ring-gai (13km total) or Berowra (16km) railway stations
– Start at The Sphinx (N Turramurra) and return via Bobbin Head Track for a 10km circuit.

Location End of Warrimoo Road (St Ives Chase) or Bobbin Head carpark (North Turramurra)
Distance 6.6km one-way. 2-3 hours.
Grade Moderate. 80m / 230m total ascent (depending on direction taken). Mostly bushwalking track.
More Info Detailed walk description for St Ives to Mt Ku-ring-gai.
Wildwalks track notes for Sphinx, Warrimoo and Bobbin Head loop

Duffys Forest, Terry Hills and Ingleside

This large area to the south-west of West Head, informally bounded by Mona Vale Road and Cowan Creek, is comprised mostly of multi-purpose firetrails. Many of the trails follow ridges, and are often shared with mountain bikes and horses. 

Duffys Forest and Terry Hills walks summary

  • Harvey Trig Point800m return. Moderate. Rough track to old trig point on a rocky outcrop above McCarrs Creek Road.
  • Slade Lookout Track –  1.4km return. Easy. Firetrail to a lookout with Bobbin Head view. Combine with Duffys Wharf Track for loop walk.
  • Chiltern Trail North –  2km return. Easy. Short firetrail with a couple of side-tracks – one lead to some nice caves.bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Duffys Wharf Track2.8km return. Easy. Nice walk down to Cowan Creek. Combine with Slade Lookout Track for loop walk.
  • Chiltern Trail3.3km return. Easy. Firetrail from Chiltern Road to McCarrs Creek Road. Pretty boring as a bushwalk.bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Bibbenluke Track.3.6km return. Easy. Firetrail down to Cowan Creek (bushwalking track last 200m).
  • Kierans Creek Route3.9km return. Hard. Steep and rough marked route down to Kierans Creek.
  • Duckholes Trail5.1bicycle-road-cycling-icon-pngkm one-way. Easy. Fairly dreary fire-trail which has a few nice cascades at the end.
  • Smiths Creek Trail5.8km return. Easy. Pleasant fire trail down to grassy clearing and Smiths Creek.
  • Wilkins Track6km return. Easy. Nice view over Smiths Creek from the end of firetrail (off Perimeter Trail)
  • Mount Murray Anderson6.6km return. Moderate. Rough track past old trig station and Aboriginal engravings to great lookout.
  • Perimeter Trail7.1km one-way. Easy. Mixed use trail best for mountain-biking. Provides access to additional trails.bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Centre Track7.2km return. Easy. Nice lookout near the start, otherwise fairly boring firetrail.bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
    bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Cowan Track8km return. Pleasant walking along fire trail to (average) lookout and Aboriginal engraving site.
  • Long Trail10.4km return. Fire trail (popular with MTBs) leads to an impressive lookout over Cowan Creek.bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png

Harvey Trig Point (800m)  Scenic View Icon

Harvey Trig Point (199m asl) is accessed via a rough track from McCarrs Creek Road. It’s near the middle of a huge rock platform, views over McCarrs Creek Road toward Duffys Forest on the other side of the valley. There are interesting rock formations and I believe some Aboriginal engravings, although I couldn’t find any.

IMG_2434-LR

Location McCarrs Creek Road
Distance 800m return (approx). 30-45min.
Grade Moderate. 40m total elevation gain. Indistinct track.
More Info Geocaching Australia web site

Slade Lookout Track (1.4km)  Scenic View Icon

Branching off the Duffys Wharf Track, the fire trail goes to the top of a sandstone outcrop which offers a glimpse of the Bobbin Head marina on Cowan Creek and a rock engraving of questionable origin. The lookout was named after William Hermon Slade, who served on the Ku-ring-gai Chase Trust from 1933 to 1949.
Suggested Walk: Once back on the Duffys Wharf Track, you can continue down to the site of an old wharf, or combine both tracks into a loop with an off-track section.

Location End of Booralie Road, Duffys Forest
Distance 1.4km return (3.8km with Duffys Wharf Track). 45min.
Grade Easy. 30m total elevation gain. Firetrail.
Moderate. 170m elevation gain as a loop with off-track section
More Info Detailed walk description of loop walk (Duffys Wharf & Slades Lookout Tracks)

Chiltern North Trail (2km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

A short firetrail from the end of Chiltern Road. A side-track leads to some interesting rock formations and caves; another track goes to an informal campgrould. A good mountain-biking trail for kids.

Location End of Chiltern Road, Ingleside
Distance 2km return
Grade Easy (30m total elevation gain).
More Info Detailed walk description

Duffys Wharf Track (2.8km)

Starting as a firetrail before narrowing to a bushwalking track, this is a really nice walk down to the site of the old Duffys Wharf on Cowan Creek. The walk follows a small stream most of the way, which the track crosses via stepping stones near the end. There’s no signs of the wharf left, but there is evidence that this was a huge Aboriginal midden.
Suggested Walk: Rather than returning the same way, head directly up the spur (off-track) to reach Slade Lookout.

IMG_2132-LR

Location End of Booralie Road, Duffys Forest
Distance 2.8km return (3.8km with Slade Lookout). 1 hour.
Grade Easy. 170m total elevation gain. Firetrail & bushwalking track.
Moderate. 170m elevation gain as a loop with off-track section
More Info Detailed walk description of loop Duffys Wharf & Slades Lookout Tracks)

Chiltern Trail (3.3km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

A firetrail that descends from Chiltern Road to McCarrs Creek Road, just above Lower Gledhill Falls. A fairly boring bushwalk, as well as a mountain-biking trail (commonly combined with the Duckholes Trail and Centre Track to form a 21km loop). There are sme challenging off-track side-trips, including Crystal Creek, rock platforms with nice views and a trig station.

Location Near the end of Chiltern Road, Ingleside
Distance 3.3km return. 1 hours.
Grade Easy (150m total elevation gain).
More Info Detailed walk description of Chiltern Trail plus off-track side-trips

Bibbenluke Trail (3.6km) Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ...

A fire trail descends from the end of Bibbenluke Road down to Cowan Creek; there’s an unmarked lookout just off the trail near the start, and the last few hundred metres is a narrow bushwalking track. Where the track reaches the wide and deep creek (opposite the Sphinx Track), there is a sandy beach and a rocky outcrop with a rope from which you can swing into the creek.

Location End of Bibbenluke Avenue, Terrey Hills
Distance 3.6km return. 1-1.5 hours.
Grade Easy. 180m total elevation gain. Firetrail except for bushwalking track last 200m
More Info Detailed walk description

Kierans Creek Route (3.9km) Compass icon Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ...

This route down to Kierans Creek from Anembo Reserve in Duffys Forest isn’t on any maps, and doesn’t have an official name… but there is a very rough and steep track down from Anembo Reserve to the beautiful Kierans Creek. The track is marked by a series of cairns and metal squares affixed to trees. There are some swimmign holes upstream and downstream of where the track reaches Kierans Creek.

Location Anembo Reserve at end of Anembo Road, Duffys Forest
Distance 3.9km return. 2 hours.
Grade Hard. 165m total elevation gain. Rough & steep route.
More Info Detailed walk description

Duckholes Trail (5.1km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

A fairly uninspiring fire trail off McCarrs Creek Road, that’s suitable for bushwalking or mountain-biking. There’s some nice cascades near the bottom, but otherwise not much to see. You can combine make this into a longer circuit by combining it with the Centre Track, which involved some road-walking.
Suggested Walks:
– Continue down McCarrs Creek Road and then up West Head Road, taking the Centre Track back to make a loop (11.5km)
Walk up McCarrs Creek Road to form a shorter loop (8.6km)

Location Parking area near Coal and Candle Rural Fire Brigade sign (301 McCarrs Creek Rd)
Distance 5.1km one-way. 1.5 hours.
Grade Easy. 90m / 160m total elevation gain (depending on direction taken). Fire trail.
More Info Detailed walk description

Smiths Creek Trail (5.8km) Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ...

A nice bushwalk down Smiths Creek Trail in Terrey Hills through light eucalypt forest. The firetrail is initially flat with some views over the valley to the west, until it descends near the end to a large grassy clearing and Smiths Creek. As well as the tidal Smiths Creek, you can explore a picturesque (unnamed) creek that flows into Smiths Creek.

Location End of Booligal Road, Terrey Hills. Limited parking available.
Distance 5.8km return. 2 hours.
Grade Easy. 180m total ascent.
More Info Detailed walk description

Wilkins Track (6km) Scenic View Icon

The Wilkins Track, a wide and sandy firetrail, branches off the Perimeter Trail. It leads to a wide rock ledge from where there’s a view over Smiths Creek (a tributary of Cowan Creek). It’s a nice view – but not spectacular; the Long Trail offers a much better outlook.

Location Starts at end of Bulara St (Duffys Forest)
Distance 6km return (including section of Perimeter Trail). 2 hours.
Grade Easy. 180m total ascent.
More Info Detailed walk description

Mount Murray Anderson (6.6km) Scenic View Icon Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

A rough and unsigned (but fairly distinct) track leads to the end of the Mount Murray Anderson ridge, which overlooks Cowan Creek and Smiths Creek. On the way is the old “Arthur” trig station and multiple Aboriginal engravings sites, located on huge rock platforms below and on top of Mount Murray Anderson.

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Location Track starts off the Perimeter Trail at 33°39’21.4″S 151°11’58.6″E
Distance 6.6km return from Perimeter Trail. 2 hours.
Grade Moderate. 150m total ascent.
More Info Detailed walk description

Perimeter Trail (7.1km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

This popular firetrail skirts the perimeter of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (hence its name) from Terrey Hills to Duffys Forest. Popular as a mountain-biking and horse-riding track, it’s fairly boring as a bushwalk and best avoided on weekends when it gets very busy. The generally flat firetrail also provides access to a number of more interesting bushwalking trails, including the Wilkins Track, Cowan Track and Long Trail.

Location Starts/end at end of Nerang Avenue and end of Cullamine Road. Additional access points at Durumbi Road, Kulgoa Crescent and Booligal Road.
Distance 7.1km one-way. 2 hours.
Grade Easy. 170m total ascent.
More Info Wildwalks track notes

Cowan Track (8km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Scenic View Icon Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

The Cowan Track branches off the Long Trail, which branches off the Perimeter Trail… the firetrail ends at a lookout with a view that’s marginally better than the nearby Wilkins Track – but for the best view ignore the Cowan Track turn-off and walk to the end of the Long Trail. There is a marked “Spirits Rock” engraving site just before the lookout.

Location Starts at end of Bulara St (Duffys Forest)
Distance 8km return (including sections on Perimeter Trail and Long Trail). 2-3 hours.
Grade Easy. 215m total ascent.
More Info Detailed walk description

Long Trail (10.4km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Scenic View Icon

Branching off the Perimeter Trail and popular with mountain bikers, the Long Trail is also a pleasant bushwalk. The generally flat and sandy firetrail makes it way through eucalypt forest; near the middle is a huge rock platform with views over the valley. The second half of the track is more interesting with occasional water glimpses through the trees and sandstone rock formations along the track. There are stunning views from the  “Peach Trees” lookout at the end of the trail.

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Location End of Booligal Road, Terrey Hills. Limited parking available.
Distance 10.4km return (from starting point – Long Trail itself is 8km return). 3 hours.
Grade Easy. 210m total ascent.
More Info Detailed walk description

West Head

A headland at the north-eastern tip of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, West Head offers a large variety of short walks and a couple of picnic areas. It can get busy on weekends (especially at West Head Lookout), but it’s possible to find a secluded beach or a remote lookout if you know where to go! Camping is only allowed at The Basin and gates are locked overnight. I’ve written a separate Guide to West Head.

West Head walks summary

  • Red Hands Cave Track0.6km return. Easy. Short track to cave with Aboriginal hand prints
  • Duckhole Falls0.8km return. Moderate. Short walk along McCarrs Creek to swimming holes and an impressive waterfall.
  • Koolewong Track1.1km return. Easy. Short walk to a lookout with great views over Pittwater.
  • West Head Army Track – 1.3km return. Easy. Steep walk down to West Head Battery (WHB), a WWII defence complex. 
  • Willunga Trig Track – 1.5km return. Easy. Short walk to the highest point in the park, with views over West Head.
  • Flint and Steel Bay and Beach2km return. Easy (beach) / Moderate (bay). Nice walk to swimming beach or secluded bay.
  • America Bay Track – 2.6km return. Easy/Moderate. Aboriginal engravings, waterfall & views
  • Jims Track – 2.6km return. Easy to lookout; Moderate/Hard if descending to Little Pittwater Beach or Hungry Beach
  • Challenger Trail – 3km return. Easy. Pretty boring firetrail with average views at the end
  • Hungry Beach3.6km return. Hard. Follows coastline from via Flint and Steel to a nice swimming beach with WWII ruins.
  • Salvation Loop Track4km loop. Easy. Firetrail through heathland and past hanging swamp. No views.bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Birnie Lookout 4km return / 6.5km loop. Nice walking trail from Towlers Bay Track to spectacular lookout and interesting cave.
  • Resolute Loop Trail4.1km loop. Easy. The best loop walk: Aboriginal engravings, nice views and two sheltered beaches.
  • Topham Track5km return. Easy. Pretty boring firetrail; continue past the end of track for a cave and nice viewsbicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Elvina Bay5.4km return. Elvina Bay Track (Easy), Fredricks Track & off-track option (Hard). Swimming hole, waterfall, views, beach.
  • Basin Trail5.6km return. Easy (but steep road). Boring service trail to a nice beach, campground & picnic area with BBQ facilities.
  • Mackerel Track6km return. Easy. Firetrail and bushwalking track down to beach and coastal community. Some nice views.
  • Wallaroo Track – 9km return. Moderate. Cowan Creek views from the end of a fairly long management trail.
  • Towlers Bay Track9.4km return. Easy. Picturesque bay with old jetty (not good for swimming)bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Waratah Trail9.5km return. Easy. Long and fairly boring walk along firetrail. Views at the end. Suitable for mountain bikes.bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png
  • Yeomans Track9.5km return. Moderate. Rock outcrop with view of Cowan Creek. Part service trail and part rough walking track.
  • Bairne Trail9.6km return. Easy. Ridge walk with two lookouts over Pittwater (can be combined with Basin Trail for 12km loop)bicycle-road-cycling-icon-png

Red Hands Cave Track (0.6km)  Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

A very short but popular walk from the Resolute Picnic Area, leading to the Red Hands Cave. A natural cave with ochre hand-prints is one of the most famous Aboriginal heritage sites in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Location Park just before the end of West Head Road at the  Resolute Picnic Area
Distance 600m return. 30min.
Grade Easy.
More Info NPWS “Red Hands Cave walking track” web site

Duckhole Falls (0.8km) Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ...

Just outside the West Head toll station, this short walk along McCarrs Creek starts with a popular swimming hole, before reaching some small cascades and a wide pool. The dramatic finish to the walk is an impressive waterfall, where McCarrs Creek plunges over a steep cliff into pool far below. (It’s possible with great care to reach the bottom pool, with the aid of a rope.)

Location Parking area at the bottom of West Head Road (near junction with McCarrs Creek Road)
Distance 800m return. 30min-1hr.
Grade Moderate. Some scrambling (especially if you descend to the pool below the waterfall)
More Info Detailed walk description.

Koolewong Track (1.1km) Scenic View Icon

The Koolewong Track, one of the shortest walks at West Head, leads to one of the best lookouts over the Hawkesbury River. From the lookout platform there are views across the Hawkesbury River to Patonga and up to Lion Island and the entrance of Broken Bay. It’s a loop track so you can return the same way or via an alternate track that finishes a couple of hundred metres further down West Head Road.

Location Two trackheads opposite Resolute Picnic area near the end of West Head Road
Distance 1.1km return or 1.2km loop. 45min.
Grade Easy. 60m total ascent.
More Info Detailed walk description.

West Head Army Track (1.3km)  Scenic View Icon

A short but steep track, opened in 2016, follows the original wartime trail down to the West Head Battery. There’s great views on the way down, including sweeping views across Broken Bay to the Pacific Ocean from the Observation Post. Along the coast at the end of the track are additional structures you can explore, including two gun casings and the ammunition magazine.

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Compass icon You can extend this walk by continuing along the coast (best at low tide) to Flannel Flower Beach.  As there’s no official track to the narrow and secluded beach, and the beach is quite rocky (making it hard for larger boats to land) there is a good chance you’ll have the sliver of sand to yourself!

Location Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
Distance 1.3km return. (45min)
Approx 2km return if you continue to Flannel Flower Beach (2 hours)
Grade Easy. Total ascent of 105m. One set of steel ladders.
Moderate to Flannel Flower Beach (rock scrambling required)
More Info Walk description for West Head Army Track and Flannel Flower Beach.

Willunga Trig Track (1.5km)  Scenic View Icon

A very short bushwalking track to the highest point in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (240m asl). From the trig point there are 360-degree views across the national park, toward Pittwater and as far as the city of Sydney to the south.

Location Left-hand (west) side of West Head Road about
Distance 1.5km return. 30-45min
Grade Easy. Total ascent of 60m
More Info National Parks web site. Google Street View Trekker

Flint and Steel Bay / Beach (2km) Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ...

The bushwalking track down to Flint and Steel Beach is one of the more popular West Head walks, for good reason. The beautiful Flint and Steel Beach has many shaded areas to sit, rock pools at the western end often has wallabies grazing just behind the beach. The track down to the beach is fairly well shaded and has some nice views over Pittwater.

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Turn left at the junction (after 300m) for Flint and Steel Bay, which is accessed via a rougher and less-travelled trail. On the way is the ruins of McGaw House, and a little further at the end of the track is White Horse Beach (a narrow beach that’s best at low tide).

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Location Start at Flint and Steel trailhead near the end of West Head Road
Distance 2km return to Flint and Steel Beach or Bay or 3.4km loop combinng both. 1-2 hours.
Grade Easy. Total ascent of 130m. Moderate for loop walk.
More Info Wildwalks track notes for loop walk.

America Bay Track (2.6km)  Scenic View Icon Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

One of the few West Head tracks that offers Aboriginal engravings, a waterfall, views (over Cowan Water) as well as access to the water. It’s a fairly easy bushwalk up to the rock platform, from where there are views over Cowan Water. Continue 100m past the lookout to access a steep and rough track that leads down through a gap in the cliff to a rocky bay.

Location About half-way down West Head Road on the left
Distance 2.6km return (including down to the bay). Approx 1hr
Grade Easy to lookout. Moderate down to the bay. Total ascent of 125m
More Info Detailed walk description. National Parks web site  / Google Street View Trekker

Jims Track (2.6km)  Scenic View Icon

A pleasant and mostly flat track out along a ridge to a lookout overlooking Cowan Creek and the Hawkesbury River. Two steep and rough side-tracks provide access to Little Pittwater Beach and Hungry Beach

Distance 2.6km return to lookout; 4.7km with Little Pittwater & Hungry Beach
Grade Easy to lookout. Moderate if going to beach/es
More Info Jims Track walk description

Challenger Trail (3km)  Scenic View Icon

The Challenger Trail is a fairly short firetrail that heads out from West Head Road toward the coast. It’s an easy but rather boring, with a filtered view of Pittwater at the end. A faint foot track that from the end of the fire trail leads to the edge of a small cliff, from where there are better views over the Hawkesbury River and Little Pittwater Bay.

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Location Locked gate towards the end of West Head Road.
Distance 3km return. 1 hour.
Grade Easy. Total ascent of 40m.
More Info Detailed walk description. Wildwalks track notes

Hungry Beach (3.4km)  Compass icon Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ...

An off-track extension to the Flint and Steel Bay walk, this walk follows the coastline to reach the secluded and picturesque Hungry Beach (access easier at low tide). Above the beach is an old World War II bunker. While also accessible by boat, the beach is generally pretty quiet.

Location Start at Flint and Steel trailhead near the end of West Head Road
Distance 3.4km return. 2-3 hours.
Grade Moderate. Total ascent of 130m and rock scrambling.
More Info Walk description for Hungry Beach.

Salvation Loop track (4km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ...

A fairly flat and fairly boring firetrail. There’s no views with most of the track going through thick heath, but it does pass by some hanging swamps (which are are not obvious). The Salvation Loop track also provides access to the  Wallaroo Track and Yeomans Track. 

Location Two trackheads on West Head Road about 3.6km from the start; Salvation Creek Picnic Area is in the middle
Distance 4km circuit (including 800m along West Head Road). 1 hour.
Grade Easy. 60m total ascent.
More Info NPWS Salvation Loop web page

Birnie Lookout – Towlers Bay (4km/6.5km)  Scenic View Icon

This walk starts on the Towlers Bay Track (firetrail), but after 1.2km turns off onto a narrow and slightly overgrown bushwalking trail. The destination is a spectacular lookout over above Lovett Bay and Pittwater, and nearby a cave sculpted by the wind. Return the same way, or continue down to Lovett Bay and return via the Towlers Bay Track for a longer walk.

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Location Near the start of West Head Road; right-hand (east) side
Distance 4km return. 1-2 hours. Or 6.5km loop returning via Towlers Bay Track (2-3 hours)
Grade Easy. 65m total ascent.
More Info Walk description for Towlers Bay Loop via Birnie Lookout

Resolute Track (4.3km) Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ... Scenic View Icon Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

The Resolute Track Loop is one of the best West Head bushwalks, taking in an Aboriginal art site (Red Hands Cave), rock engravings, an old WWII observation post, two beaches (West Head Beach and Resolute Beach) and offering some nice views along the way. Most of the circuit is a bushwalking track, with a short section on a firetrail. (The circuit is also called the “Aboriginal Heritage Walk” by NPWS).
Alternative: You can also extend the walk by going to Great Mackerel Beach, or creating a longer (12km) circuit with the Mackerel Track.

Location Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout) or Resolute Picnic Area
Distance  4.3km loop. 1-2 hours. (800m return to West Head Beach / 30min).
Grade Moderate. Total ascent of 130m and rock scrambling.
More Info Detailed walk description. NPWS “Aboriginal Heritage walk” web site

Topham Track (5km) Scenic View Icon

A firetrail that leads to a lookout at the end of a ridge, with distant views of Cowan Creek. You can get much better views by continuing beyond the end of the firetrail to the left (west) where there is a huge sandstone cave.

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Location Start near the middle of West Head Road at the signposted gate (no parking area)
Distance Approx 2.5km return. 1 hour.
Grade Easy. 90m total ascent.
More Info Detailed walk description.

Elvina Bay Track (5.4km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ... Scenic View Icon Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

The easiest way to access Elvina Bay is via the Elvina Bay Track, a firetrail. There’s also a bushwalking track, Fredricks Track, which branches off the Elvina Bay Track near the start and is a much more interesting route. Both provide access to the small Elvina Bay community and its secluded beach. Near the start of the Elvina Bay Track is a short side track to one of the largest Aboriginal engraving sites in Australia.

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You can do a great little walk with an optional off-track section by taking Fredricks Track, with a side-trip to the Lovett Bay Swimming Hole and a series of cascades, before descending to the base of an impressive waterfall (walk description).

Location Parking area near the start of West Head Road (on the right)
Distance Approx 5km (various routes possible). 2 hours.
Grade Easy on marked track. Hard using partly off-track route.0m.
More Info Detailed walk description. Wildwalks track notes for Elvina Bay loop (on-track) from Wildwalks.

Basin Trail (5.6km) Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ... Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

The Basin campground (the only camping ground at West Head) can be reached by ferry from Palm Beach, or via The Basin Trail from West Head Road. Near the start of the track is the Basin Aboriginal Art site, which is worth the short detour. The popular Basin area is nice, but the Basin Trail – a steep and partly paved maintenance trail – is arguably the dreariest in West Head.
Alternative: Combine this with the Bairne Trail to form a longer loop (12km).  

Location Right-hand (east) side of West Head Road, near the end.
Distance 5.6km return. 2 hours. Can be combined with Bairne Trail to form a 12km circuit.
Grade Easy. Total ascent of 220m.
More Info Wildwalks track notes.  National Parks The Basin track and Mackerel track.  Bairne to Basin loop walk description
The Basin Campground information and on-line booking.
Ferry timetable (FantaSea) – Palm Beach to The Basin

Mackerel Track (6km) Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ... Scenic View Icon

Branching off the Basin Track, the Mackerel Track is a firetrail which descends towards Great Mackerel Beach to a clearing with views over Pittwater. From here a bushwalking track winds steeply down behind some houses at the end of the headland, before it reaches the beach. Great Mackerel Beach can also be accessed by ferry.
Alternative: Combine this with the Resolute Track to form a longer loop (11km).  

Location Right-hand (east) side of West Head Road, near the end.
Distance Approx 6km return. 2 hours. Can be combined with Resolute Track to form a 11km circuit (3-4 hours)
Grade Easy. Total ascent of 290m.
More Info Wildwalks track notes.

Centre Track (7.2km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Scenic View Icon Aboriginal Art Symbols - ART ARK®

Following the ridge line off General San Martin Drive near Terrey Hills, the Centre Track provides scenic views over Coal and Candle Creek and Akuna Bay. A short detour to a rocky lookout features Aboriginal engraving (munroes) and a great view west over Coal and Candle Creek. The lookout is worth a visit; the rest of the track is fairly boring.

Location About half-way down West Head Road on the left
Distance 7.2km return (including lookout). 2 hours. 1.3km return to lookout only (from West Head end)
11.5km if combined with Duck Hole Trail to form a loop
Grade Easy. 100m total ascent.
More Info Detailed walk description
National Parks web site / Google Street View Trekker

Wallaroo Track (9km)  Scenic View Icon

Branching off the Salvation Loop, the Wallaroo Track (a firetrail) offers nice views at rhe end from a rocky overhang. A rough trail goes the length of this rocky platform. It’s long way to walk for a fairly average view, but it’s a less popular track so you may have the lookout to yourself.

Location Shortest route is from northern trackhead of Salvation Loop
Distance 9km return via Salvation Loop Track (or 10km with Salvation Loop). 2-3 hours.
Grade Moderate. 300m total ascent.
More Info NPWS Wallaroo Track web page. Wildwalks track notes

Towlers Bay Track (9.4km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Scenic View Icon

A 4WD / management road leads down from West Head Road to Towlers Bay,  (where there are are a few houses that are accessed via water only) and a YHA youth hostel. The track isn’t particularly interesting, other than a nice lookout about half-way. Continue along Bona Crescent past the Morning Bay community to reach a small bay with a derelict jetty.
Alternative: A much more scenic option is to reach Towlers Bay via Birnie Lookout

Location Near the middle of West Head Road; right-hand (east) side
Distance 9.4km return. 2-3 hours.
Grade Easy. Total ascent of 184m
More Info Detailed walk description. Wildwalks track notes

Waratah Track (9.5km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Scenic View Icon

A long fire trail that descends gradually down a ridge from West Head Road. There are views from a sandstone platform at the end over Coal and Candle Creek and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. A fairly boring walk that’s best done by mountain bike.

Location First trail on the left, at start of West Head Road
Distance 9.5km return. 2-3 hours.
Grade Easy. Total ascent of 135m
More Info National Parks web site. Google Street View Trekker

Yeomans Track (9.5km)

The Yeomans Track (aka Wallaroo South Track) branches off from the Wallaroo Track, which branches off from the Salvation Loop… the overgrown firetrail leads to a rocky outcrop with filtered views over Cowan Creek and Yeomans Bay. In short: it’s a long walk for fairly unimpressive views.

Location Shortest route is from northern trackhead of Salvation Loop
Distance 9.5km return via Salvation Loop Track (or 10.5km with Salvation Loop). 2-3 hours.
Grade Moderate. 300m total ascent.
More Info Wildwalks track notes

Bairne Trail (9.6km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Scenic View Icon

A long (but easy) track along the ridge line, with great views over Pittwater. The track splits into two after 2.4km: the best view, across Pittwater to Scotland Island and beyond (below), is from the right-hand fork that goes to Towlers Lookout.

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The left-hand fork becomes the Soldiers Point Track. This firetrail continues to a lookout over Pittwater, from where a narrow walking trail descends to the small community of Coasters Retreat.
Alternative: Instead of continuing the same way back, you can combine this with the Basin Track (Bairne to Basin circuit)

Location Right-hand (east) side of West Head Road, about half-way
Distance 9.6km return (including down to Coasters Retreat). 2-3 hours.
7.2km return to Towlers Lookout / 8.4km return to Coasters Retreat / 12km Bairne to Basin circuit
Grade Easy (Total ascent of 150m). Moderate for Bairne to Basin circuit (Total ascent 205m; one steep section
More Info National Parks web site. Google Street View Trekker.  Bairne to Basin track notes

North (Mount Colah to Brooklyn)

A long stretch of national park between Ku-ring-gai Chase Road and Brooklyn, on the Hawkesbury River. This section has some of the longest and most challenging bushwalking trails, including a section of the Great North Walk. 

Northern section walks summary

  • Jerusalem Bay Track2.5km one-way. Moderate. Bushwalking track down from Cowan to Jerusalem Bay (Cowan Creek). Part of GNW.
  • Mt Ku-ring-gai Track –  3.9km one-way. Moderate. Firetrail then bushwalking track down to Cowan Creek & Berowra Track.
  • Berowra Track7.4km one-way. Moderate. Bushwalking track along Cowan Creek from Bobbin Head to Waratah Bay and up to Berowra.
  • Shark Rock Ridge Track – 7.4km return. Hard. Rough track from Berowra along Shark Rock Ridge to Aboriginal engavings.
  • Brooklyn Dam Trabicycle-road-cycling-icon-pngil7.6km one-way. Moderate. Firetrail from Brooklyn up to Brooklyn Dam and along ridges. Part of GNW.

Jerusalem Bay Track (2.5km)

From Cowan station, the Jerusalem Track crosses the freeway and descends Ethel Spur towards Cowan Creek, crossing a couple of creeks. Once the track reaches Jerusalem Bay, it follows the narrow inlet for about 500m before the track becomes the Great North Walk and climbs up towards the ridge. There’s some nice views over Jerusalem Bay near the end of the Jerusalem Bay Track.
Suggested Walk: Cowan to Brooklyn via Jerusalem Bay is a 13.4km walk (Moderate). 

Location Cowan railway station
Distance 5km one-way. 2 hours.
Grade Moderate. 10m / 175m total ascent (depending on direction taken). Bushwalking track.
More Info Walk description of Brooklyn to Cowan.

Mt-Ku-ring gai Track (3.9km)  Scenic View Icon

The Mt Ku-ring-gai Track descends from the end of Harwood Avenue in Mt Ku-ring-gai, and descends to Cowan Creek where it meets the Berowra Track. Along the way are a couple of lookouts, including Firefighters Rest, and some nice views over Cowan Creek.
Suggested Walks:
– Mt-Ku-ring-gai to Berowra is a 9km walk that mostly follows Cowan Creek (Moderate)
– St Ives to Mt Ku-ring-gai via Warrimoo Track is a 13.2km walk that follows the upper reaches of Cowan Creek (Moderate)

Location Start/finish at end of Harwood Avenue (300m walk from Mt Ku-ring-gai station)
Distance 3.6km one-way (3.9km from Mt Ku-ring-gai railway station). 2 hours return.
Grade Moderate. 30m / 220m total ascent (depending on direction taken). Mostly bushwalking track.
More Info Walk description of St Ives to Mt Ku-ring-gai and Mt Ku-ring-gai to Berowra

Berowra Track (7.4km) Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ...

Following Cowan Creek from Bobbin Head to Berowra, the Berowra Track undulates a little as it follows the shoreline – except for the first/last section when it ascends quite steeply up to Berowra Station. At Waratah Bay is the remains of a rusting metal boat hull, once part of Edward Windybank’s home and boat hire business. Some opportunities for a swim along the way.
Suggested Walks:
– Mt-Ku-ring-gai to Berowra is a 9km walk that mostly follows Cowan Creek (Moderate)
– Bobbin Head to Berowra is an 8.7km walk that continues from Apple Tree Bay to Bobbin Head

Location Apple Tree Bay at Bobbin Head and Berowra railway station
Distance 7.4km one-way. 2 hours.
Grade Moderate.  100m / 310m total ascent (depending on direction taken). Bushwalking track.
More Info Walk description of Mt Ku-ring-gai to Berowra & Wildwalks trak notes for Berowra to Bobbin Head

Shark Rock Ridge Track (7.4km)

After closely following the F3 freeway, the track heads north-east along Shark Rock Ridge. There are no great views, but the track passes many rock platforms, some of which contain Aboriginal engravings. The track eventually reaches a huge tesselated pavement which contains a number of engravings and the remnants of an old telephone line.
Alternative: Continue off-track down Pinta Spur to reach Jerusalem Bay Track, making a loop (Hard). 

Location Berowra railway station – track starts to the north of the station and crosses the freeway.
Distance 7.4km one-way. 3-4 hours.
Grade Hard.  130m total ascent. Rough and sometimes indistinct track.
More Info Shark Rock Ridge (Berowra) blog post

Brooklyn Dam Trail (7.6km) Bicycle Cycling Icon Design, PNG, 512x512px, Bicycle, Area ... Ocean Pools In Australia Swimming Pool, PNG, 512x512px, Ocean ... Scenic View Icon

Ascending steeply from Brooklyn (Hawkesbury River), the Brooklyn Dam Trail forms part of the Great North Walk. A wide maintenance trail with a few concreted sections at the start, the trail ascends (initially quite steeply) for the first kilometre, before reaching Brooklyn Day (two campsites here) after 2.2km.  The trail then continues, generally uphill, to where it meets a bushwalking track which descends to Jerusalem Bay.
Suggested Walk: Part of the Great North Walk, Brooklyn to Cowan via Jerusalem Bay is a 13km (one-way) bushwalk.

Location Hawkesbury River railway station
Distance 7.6km one-way / 13km Brooklyn to Cowan / 15.2km return
Grade Moderate. 470m total ascent. Fire trail; concreted on first initial steep sections.
More Info Walk description of Brooklyn to Cowan

Swimming

There’s a diverse range of swimming spots, from freshwater creeks to tidal rivers and beaches. Some can get a but busy in summer, but with many requiring a short walk you’ll probably be able to find a quiet spot…

Bobbin Head area

IMG_2243-LR Cowan Creek (via Bobbin Head)
Distance: 2.2km return. Ease of Access: Easy
Towards the bottom of Cockle Creek, where it becomes quite deep and tidal, there are a couple of sandy beaches providing easy access to the water. You can also reach this spot by kayak from Bobbin Head.
Location: Bobbin Head carpark (North Turramurra)
More info: Gibberagong & Murrua Fire Trail loop
IMG_2537-LR Cowan Creek (via Sphinx Track)
Distance: 2.4km return. Ease of Access: Moderate
At the bottom of the Sphinx Track is a sandy beach on Cowan Creek; on the opposite side is rocky outcrop with a rope to swing off (also accessed via Bibbenluke Track from Duffys Forest)
Location: Sphinx car park, North Turramurra
More info: Sphinx Trail & Track loop.
IMG_2148-LR Gibberagong Waterholes 
Distance: 3km return. Ease of Access: Moderate
Part-way down the Gibberagong Track, the Gibberagong Waterholes are a couple of deep and shaded pools in Cockle Creek. There are more waterholes further down the track. Best avoided after heavy rain.
Location: End of Grosvenor Street, North Wahroonga.
More info: Gibberagong & Murrua Fire Trail loop
IMG_3199-LR Christies Pool
Distance: 4.7km return. Ease of Access: Moderate
Mostly on a fire trail, the last part of this walk is on an  indistinct trail marked by cairns which descends steeply. Christies Pool is a deep pool formed by the confluence of Ku-ring-gai Creek and Kierans Creek, surrounded by ferns and trees.
Location: Starts at the end of Warrimoo Road (St Ives Chase)
More info: Christies Pool

Duffys Forest & Terrey Hills

IMG_2741-LR Cowan Creek (via Bibbenluke Trail)
Distance: 3.6km return. Ease of Access: Easy
The Bibbenluke Trail (firetrail) descends to Cowan Creek, where you can pick from a sandy beach or a rocky outcrop from which to jump into the water! The creek here is tidal.
Location: End of Bibbenluke Avenue, Terrey Hills
More info: Bibbenluke Trail
IMG_2094-LR Smiths Creek
Distance: 5.8km return. Ease of Access: Moderate
You wouldn’t walk all the way here just for a swim… but if you are here, the unnamed creek that flows into Smiths Creek has a few pools deep enough for a dip before it joins Smiths Creek.
Location: End of Booligal Road, Terrey Hills.
More info: Smiths Creek

West Head

IMG_1664-LR Duckholes Picnic Area
Distance: 50m. Ease of Access: Easy
Downstream of the Upper Gledhill Falls and right next to the Duckholes Picnic Area is a deep swimming hole, with a large sandy bank. Venture a bit further downstream to reach another couple of deep pools.
Location: Parking area at start of West Head Road (near junction with McCarrs Creek Road).
More info: The Duckhole
IMG_3586-LR Upper Gledhill Falls
Distance: 200m return. Ease of Access: Easy
A secluded pool accessed via a short scramble down to the creek from McCarrs Creek Road. At the top of the falls is a series of small cascades, and below is Upper Gledhill Falls and a deep swimming hole that’s popular in summer.
Location: Near the junction of McCarrs Creek Road and West Head Road.
More info: Upper Gledhill Falls
IMG_3469-LR West Head Beach
Distance: 800m return. Ease of Access: Easy.
The easiest beach to get to at West Head, this secluded beach is accessed via a short walk down from West Head Lookout. A bit rocky but still a nice swimming beach.
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
More info: West Head Beach
IMG_5358.JPG Flint and Steel Beach
Distance: 2km return. Ease of Access: Easy.
Arguably the nicest of the West Head beaches, accessed via a pleasant bushwalking trail down from West Head Road. Shaded areas and a good chance of seeing kangaroos grazing on the grass. The beach is generally not too busy.
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
More info: Flint and Steel Bay & Beach
IMG_0775-LR.jpg Whitehorse Beach (Flint and Steel Bay)
Distance: 2km return. Ease of Access: Moderate.
Initially sharing the same track as Flint & Steel Beach, the track down to Flint & Steel Bay is a bit rougher. The narrow Whitehorse Beach is a bit rocky but much less popular. Nearby are the ruins of the old McGaw house.
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
More info: Flint and Steel Bay & Beach
DJI_0013-LR.JPG Flannel Flower Beach
Distance: 2km return. Ease of Access: Hard.
You’d go here for the journey, not the destination… from the fascinating West Head Army Track, clamber along the rocky coastline to reach the beach. It’s more a sliver of sand, that is covered at high tide…
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
More info: Flannel  Flower Beach. Low tide best!
IMG_3478-LR Resolute Beach
Distance: 2.2km return. Ease of Access: Easy.
A sheltered and picturesque beach located directly opposite Barrenjoey Peninsula. Accessed from West Head Lookout via West Head Beach (2.2km return) or the 4.3km Resolute Loop.
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
More info: Resolute Loop
IMG_5108-LR Lovetts Pool
Distance: 3km return. Ease of Access: Easy.
A crystal-clear natural rock pool formed by an unnamed creek. Accessed via the Fredricks Track (which branches off the Elvina Track).
Location: Parking area near the start of West Head Road (on the right)
More info: Elvina Bay Circuit or Wildwalks track notes [PDF]
IMG_0800-LR Hungry Beach
Distance: 3.6km return. Ease of Access: Hard
Another walk that’s more about the adventure – rock-hpo along the coast from Flint and Steel Bay. Unlike the similar Flannel Flower Beach, this is much nicer beach whci halso features an old WWII bunker.
Location: Start at Flint and Steel trailhead near the end of West Head Road
More info: Hungry Beach
IMG_5155-LR Elvina Bay
Distance: 5km return/loop. Ease of Access: Moderate.
A sheltered Pittwater bay and beach that’s accessed by the Elvina Trail or Fredricks Track, or by ferry (South Elvina Wharf). There are a number of houses directly behind the beach.
Location: Parking area near the start of West Head Road (on the right)
More info: Elvina Bay Circuit or Wildwalks track notes [PDF]
_MG_9581-LR The Basin
Distance: 5.6km return. Ease of Access: Moderate
A sheltered bay with a sandy beach, accessible by the steep Basin Trail (service road) or by ferry from Palm Beach. Also a campground, there’s lot of shade, toilets, showers, drinking water and BBQ facilities – but it gets pretty busy.
Location: Right-hand (east) side of West Head Road, near the end.
More info: National Parks Basin Track web page

Northern section (Mt Ku-ring-gai to Brooklyn)

P1010442 Waratah Bay
Distance: 3.8km return from Berowra. Ease of Access: Hard
A relatively long way to go for a swim; but if you’re walking from Mt Ku-ring-gai to Berowra (9km) you might want to go for a swim here in summer.
Location: Berowra railway station
More info: Mt Ku-ring-gai to Berowra
IMG_2819 Brooklyn Dam
Distance: 4.4km return. Ease of Access: Hard
Constructed in 1884 (and enlarged a couple of times) to provide water for steam trains on the northern railway, Brooklyn Dam is also a convenient swimming hole on the Great North Walk. There’s two camping sites by Brooklyn Dam.
Location: Hawkesbury River railway station
More info: tbc

Mountain Biking

Many of the fire trails are “shared use” with bushwalkers – and sometimes also horse riders. Although many trails are quite demanding, both in terms of gradient and terrain, a few are suitable for beginners or younger children… Some useful resources for cycling are Ku-ring-gai Council’s Cycling Map [PDF] and the Northern Beaches MTB (NobMob) web site.

Easy / Suitable for kids

  • Solander Trail (2km) – Sealed path in St Ives Wildflower Garden; no steep sections. Perfect for young kids.
  • Chiltern Trail North (2km return) – Short and easy firetrail which is fairly flat with no difficult sections.
  • Gibberagong Track (3km return) – Easy riding along a sandy and fairly flat fire trail, until it becomes a bushwalking track that descends fairly steeply.
  • Bobbin Head Track (5km return) – Fire trail that’s flat for the first 2km, then descends steeply (before reaching a walking-only track).
  • Showground Trail (6km)  – A mostly easy fire trail from St Ives Wildflower Garden to the St Ives Showground; challenging sections between St Ives Showground and where the trail joins the Cooyong Trail.
  • Centre Track (6.8km return) – mostly easy and level, with just a few short uphill/downhill sections and a couple of short rocky sections.
  • Perimeter Trail (7.1km one-way) – one of the longest and easiest trails, which is mostly level and suitable for kids. Provides access to some more challenging trails.
  • Bairne Track (9.6km return) –  easy and flat firetrail; ideal introduction to MTB for beginners. Nice views at the end.

Moderate

  • Warrimoo Track (2.8km return) – a popular bushwalking track; the first 1km is flat but then there’s a steep drop before the fire trail ends and the bushwalking track starts
  • Salvation Loop Track (4km loop) – mostly easy and level firetrail, but a few sandy/rocky sections. An 800m section is along West Head Road to complete the loop.
  • Darri Track (4.2km one-way) – fairly easy fire trail from Bedford Avenue to Glenggary access track, then a section of challenging track (steps & narrow track)
  • Duckholes Trail – (5.1km one-way) would be easy if you are doing this downhill – otherwise moderate as you’ve got a steep return via the road or back the same way.
  • Murrua Fire Trail (5.6km return) – a fire trail that’s initial fairly easy before a steep descent near the end. A few rocky sections.
  • Cooyong (Neverfail) Trail and Ryland Trail (7km return) – an out-and-back trail from Mona Vale Road on a service trail. A few rough section but never really steep.
  • Cowan Track (8km return) – a narrower-than-usual fire trail with a few rocky challenges.
  • Towlers Bay Track (9.4km return). First 2km is easy, but then there is a long and steep descent.
  • Long Trail (10.4km return) – accessed by the Perimeter Trail, this popular MTB trail is easy in parts but has some challenging steep and/or rocky sections.

Hard / Experienced riders

  • Chiltern Trail (3.3km return) – short but fairly steep and sometimes rocky trail (typically combined with Duckholes Trail and Centre Track for 21km loop).
  • Cooyong (Neverfail) Trail (5km return) – an out-and-back trail from Mona Vale Road with a very steep and rocky descent to Kierans Creek. Combine with Sandy Trail, Neverfail Gully and Larool Trail for a challenging 7km circuit.
  • Elvina Bay (5.4km return) – short and very steep: “this ride is probably not worth a look unless you are into insane climbs”!
  • Waratah Trail (9.5km return)not as steep as other West Head tracks, but has a number of rocky and sandy sections.
  • Brooklyn Dam Trail (15.2km return) – fire trail that’s not too rough, but is long with some very steep sections (especially at the beginning) and is generally quite undulating.

Illegal Trails

The information below is copied from the nobmob.com Web site, and is also shown on the signage at the start of each trail – riding on these tracks in National Parks is illegal and heavy fines apply:

  • Smiths Creek Track
  • Duffys Track
  • Slades Trail (Slade Lookout Track)
  • Booralie Track
  • Bibbenluke Track
  • Wilkins Loop SOUTH Track

Kayaking

There are a few boat ramps and some dedicated kayak lanch areas that allow you to easily explore the three waterways in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park – Cowan Creek, the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater. There’s a useful interactive map on the Waterways Guide, a paddling guide to Australian waterways.

IMG_1945-LR

Cowan Creek (aka Cowan Waters)

A major tributary to the Hawkesbury River, and one of the calmest and most protected waterways in Sydney. Major side-creeks that can be explored include Smiths Creek and Coal & Candle Creek. The tide will have an impact on where you can go – at high tide you can get all the way up Cowan Creek to where the Warrimoo Track meets the creek; at low tide there will be a few puddles of water in the upper reaches. So check the tides before deciding where to go! As well as fairly easy paddling in calm waters, you can access many secluded bays and beaches that don’t have walking tracks. 

Cowan Creek can be most easily accessed via:

  • Canoe Launch Area at Bobbin Head – best at high tide, as it gets very muddy low tide. From you can go a short distance up Cockle Creek – there are no powered boats allowed past the Ku-ring-gai Chase Road bridge, so it’s very tranquil. Or head under the bridge and around the marina to explore the upper reaches of Cowan Creek (high tide best).
  • Apple Tree Bay Boat Ramp at Bobbin Head – as well as a wide concrete boat ramp (which can get busy on weekends), there’s a series of timber steps next to it that’s ideal for launching a kayak. From here you can paddle to Cottage Point, where you tie up the kayak and have a drink or lunch at the Cottage Point Kiosk (approx 15km return). If you have enough time and energy, you can also explore Smiths Creek from here.
  • d’Albora Marinas at Akuna Bay – there’s a concrete boat ramp here, which is generally not too busy. From here Cottage Point is a 10km round-trip, or continue beyond Cottage Point to explore the lower reaches of Cowan Creek.
  • Cottage Point Kiosk and Boat Hire at Cottage Point – don’t bring your own kayak here as there’s limited parking no public boat ramp. But you can hire a kayak here.

Hawkesbury River

The bottom of the Hawkesbury River adjoins West Head and the northern section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park; north of the river is Brisbane Waters National Park. There are many beaches that can only be accessed by water. Although the waters around the Hawkesbury River bridges are generally protected and fairly calm, as you get beyond Dangar Island it can get pretty choppy, and it’s worth checking the marine forecast.

  • Parsley Bay Wharf at Brooklyn – this is the best option for exploring the parts of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park that adjoin the Hawkesbury River, with both a boat ramp and a sandy beach at the other end of the bay. Also located here is  Hawkesbury River Kayaks if you need to rent a kayak for day trip or a multi-day tour.
  • Patonga Boat Ramp – much further than Parsley Wharf if you’re coming from Sydney. Thiis for the more adventurous, and best for a calm day, as you are paddling across open water with ocean swells as you paddle across to the bays and beaches of West Head.

Pittwater

Unlike the other waterways, Pittwater is flanked by Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on one side (which has a number of coastal communities), and the suburbs of the Barrenjoey Peninsula on the other. Which means you won’t find too many secluded bays or beaches (although there are a few on West Head) – but there are many places you can access the water and a few places you can hire kayaks.

  • Station Beach at Palm Beach North – plenty of (paid) parking and a long beach from which to launch a kayak makes this ideal for exploring the northern end of West Head. Paddle across Pittwater to Resolute or West Head Beach. Avoid days with high winds or heavy swells.
  • Sandy Point Boat Ramp at Palm Beach – perfect for paddling across to Great Mackerel Beach or the bays near the top of West Head. Finding parking will be the biggest challenge here.
  • Church Point Boat Ramp – a concrete ramp for dinghies and kayaks only, it’s well-placed to explore the upper reaches of McCarrs Creek or the eastern coastline of West Head. Parking is fairly limited.
  • Clareville Beach Boat Ramp – easy access to the water from Clareville Beach – the challenge here is getting a parking spot and you’ll need to lug your kayak across the car park and down to the beach. Once in the water, paddle across Pittwater to reach West Head
  • Paradise Beach Boat Ramp at Avalon – very limited parking, but a good option for paddling across to the bays and beaches around the middle of West Head.
  • Rowland Boat Ramp at Bayview – near the southern end of Pittwater, there’s a few kilometres of paddling to get past the waterfront real estate and get to the national park!
  • Maybanke Cove at Bayview – is another option near the end of Pittwater. Less parking than the Rowland Boat Ramp, but if you need to rent a kayak Paddlecraft is located here.

For more options around Pittwater, the Northern Beaches Council has a Boat Ramps page on their Web site.

Maps

For most walks, the free map available at any ranger station should be sufficient; for a more detailed topographical map the Ku-ring-gai & Berowra Valley Visitor Map is normally available for purchase from the Information Centre at Bobbin Head.

For a more detailed 1:25,000 topographical map you’ll need:
9130-1N Broken Bay (1:25K) Buy / Download
9130-4S Hornsby (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9130-1S Mona Vale (1:25K) Buy / Download

AllTrails Ku-ring-gai Chase NP is an interactive topographical map that has all these walks listed.

Books & Resources

The books listed below provide more detail on some of the bushwalks listed above – some may be out of print or hard to find…

DayWalksSydney.JPG
5.5. Section on Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Snowys
Sydney-to-Port-Macquarie
5/5. 15 Ku-ring-gai Chase NP walks  Ebook
0959916075
5/5. Five Ku-ring-gai Chase NP walks in Vol 1 and six in Vol 2.

For detailed track notes on many of these walks, have a look at the Wildwalks Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park Web page.

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