A guide to the bushwalking trails, mountain bike tracks as well as the best swimming holes and waterfalls in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Sydney's north.

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, located in Sydney’s north, is the largest park in the Sydney metropolitan area 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 (at West Head). 

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park has over 200km of bushwalking tracks as well as mountain-biking trails and waterways supporting kayaking and boating.

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. Made famous by the long-running “Home and Away” drama series shot largely on Palm Beach, it’s also home of the iconic Barrenjoey Lighthouse. There’s not much walking here – but it’s a great place for picnicing and swimming.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is a short, easy and popular loop walk that offers sweeping views over the Barrenjoey peninsula, Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River. It’s a popular and often busy walk, so avoid weekends if you can – and sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit.

Length: 2.4km return (approx 1hr)
Grade: Easy

Bobbin Head bushwalks (St Ives / Turramurra / Wahroonga)

The Bobbin Head section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, located between Ku-ring-gai Chase Road and Cowan Creek, is the most developed area of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. In the middle is Bobbin Head itself, 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.

BushwalkLengthGradeDescription
Rainforest Track1.6kmEasyBoardwalk descends through mangroves to rainforest area around creek
Sphinx Loop3.2kmModerateA short, partly off-track loop from Sphinx Memorial to Cowan Creek
Christies Pool4.7kmModerateCairned route off Warrimoo Track down to waterhole on Kierans Creek
Apple Tree Bay Loop5.5kmModerateLoop walk up to ridge from Apple Tree Bay using an unofficial track
Under the Motorway6.0kmModerateAn interesting and secluded walk ending in a tunnel under the M1
Darri Track7.7kmEasy/ModerateOut-and-back walk along Cowan Creek (can loop back via the road)
Gibberagong Track8.4kmEasyShaded track from Bobbin Head along Cockle Creek to a waterhole.
Sphinx to Bobbin Head Loop9.8kmModeratePopular bushwalk from Sphinx memorial that descends to Cowan Creek
St Ives to Mt Ku-ring-gai13.2kmModerateOne-way walk along the Warrimoo Track and Mt Ku-ring-gai Track
Pylons Loop13.5kmModerate/HardInteresting but complex route though varied terrain
Gibberagong & Murrua Trail Loop14.6kmModerate/HardChallenging but very scenic loop walk
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Sphinx Loop

This is not the the popular Sphinx to Bobbin Loop, but a short bushwalk that descends to Cowan Creek. It connects the popular Sphinx Track and the less-used Sphinx Trail with an off-track section.

Length: 3.2km (allow two hours)
Grade: Moderate (short, off-track section)

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Christies Pool

A rough side-track from the popular Warrimoo Track leads to Christies Pool, a tranquil swimming hole at the confluence of Ku-ring-gai Creek and Kierans Creek. The steep track down to Kierans Creek is marked by rock cairns.

Length: 4.7km (allow two hours)
Grade: Moderate (part of route on indistinct track)

Apple Tree Bay Loop in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Apple Tree Bay Loop

A nice loop walk from Apple Tree Bay in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park which partly avoids the crowds, as it combines a “secret track” up to the ridge with the the Mt Ku-ring-gai and Berowra Tracks. Some nice views and interesting caves and rock formations.

Length: 5.5km (allow two hours)
Grade: Moderate

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Under the Motorway

An interesting bushwalking that goes descends to an idyllic natural pool in Cockle Creek, before reaching a graffiti-covered underpass that crosses the F3 motorway. It uses some informal bushwalking tracks which are ocassionally a bit indistinct.

Length: 6.0km (allow 2-3 hours)
Grade: Moderate (some informal/indistinct tracks)

Darri Track in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Darri Track

The Darri Track is a reasonably varied bushwalking track which follows a thin section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park along Cowan Creek, before it meets the much busier Warrimoo Track. You can return the same way (9.4km) or via Warrimoo Avenue to make a shorter loop.

Length: 7.7km loop (allow two hours)
Grade: Easy/Moderate

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Sphinx to Bobbin Head Loop

The Sphinx to Bobbin Head loop is a very popular Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park bushwalk through varied and interesting bushwalk. It goes from the Sphinx Memorial in North Turramurra down to Cowan Creek (mostly on a firetrail) and back via Bobbin Head on a bushwalking track.

Length: 9.8km (2-3 hours)
Grade: Moderate

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St Ives to Mt Ku-ring-gai via Warrimoo Track

A pleasant one-way walk from St Ives (via the Warrimoo Track) to Mt Ku-ring-gai station, which is best done using public transport. The route follows Cowan Creek after a short but steep descent before reaching Bobbin Head, where you can stop for a coffee or snack. The Mt Ku-ring-gai Track takes you up to Mt Ku-ring-gai station.

Length: 13.2km (3-4 hours)
Grade: Moderate

Pylons Loop in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Pylons Loop

The Pylons Loop from Warrimoo to the St Ives Wildlife Garden is a varied and partly off-track loop. It links the Warrimoo Track, Ryland Trail, Callamine Trail and Showground Trail and makes use of a number of fire trails that service electricity pylons. It’s a somewhat complicated route, so a map & navigation skills are essential.

Length: 13.5km (allow 4-5 hours)
Grade: Moderate/Hard (complex route, some off-track sections)

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Gibberagong Track and Murrua Fire Trail Loop

A challenging circuit that descends from Wahroonga to Cowan Creek at Bobbin Head via the Murrua Fire Trail, followed by a rough track that becomes very indistinct in places. The return is via the popular Gibberagong Track. It’s a very scenic loop but allow plenty of time and bring a detailed map. 

Length: 14.6km (allow 4-6 hours)
Grade: Moderate/Hard (complex route, some off-track sections)

Duffys Forest, Terry Hills and Ingleside bushwalks

The area of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park around Duffys Forest, Terry Hills and Ingleside has a lot of longer fire trails suitable for bushwalking and mountain-biking. There are also many options for off-track exploration.

BushwalkLengthGradeDescription
Harvey Trig0.8kmEasy/ModerateRough track to trig point on a rocky outcrop above McCarrs Creek Road
Duffys Wharf Loop2.8kmEasy/ModerateCombines Duffys Wharf Track and Slades Trail with off-track section
Bibbenluke Trail3.6kmEasyFiretrail that descends to Cowan Creek (parts of it are steep)
White Trig Ridge5.5kmModerateOff-track route along White Trig Ridge to lookouts over Bobbin Head
Wilkins Track5.5km+Easy-ModerateEasy firetrail walk; continue off-track along ridge for harder walk
Smiths Creek Trail5.8kmEasyFiretrail down to Smiths Creek; can do harder loop returning via Nerang Track
McCarrs Creek Loop6.6kmModerate/HardOff-track route that follows McCarrs Creek (using Duck Holes Trail to form loop)
Bibbenluke to Anembo Reserve6.8kmHardMostly off-track walk along Kierans Creek
Cowan Trail7.2kmEasyOut-and-back walk on firetrail to views and Aboriginal rock site
Smiths Creek Loop7.3kmModerateCombines Smiths Creek West and Nerang Track with off-track section
Duckholes Trail Loop8.6kmEasyCombines Duckholes Trail with return via McCarrs Creek Road
Cooyong & Callamine Loop9.2kmEasyA loop formed by combining some fireetrails in Terrey Hills
Long Trail10.4kmEasyLong firetrail with some great views at the end
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Harvey Trig

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, with sweeping views over McCarrs Creek Road toward Duffys Forest on the other side of the valley.

Length: 0.8km return (30min)
Grade: Moderate (indistinct track, some easy scrambling required)

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Duffys Wharf Track and Slades Trail

Duffys Wharf Track and the Slades Trail can be combined into a loop; a fantastic little hike that descends to Duffys Wharf on Cowan Creek and back up to Slades Lookout via an off-track route up the spur. (You can also do both these trails separately as out-and-back bushwalks.)

Length: 2.8km return (30min)
Grade: Easy/Moderate (off-track route between two firetrails)

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Bibbenluke Trail

The Bibbenluke Trail is a service road that descends (steeply near the end) to Cowan Creek from Bibbenluke Avenue in Duffys Forest. Reaching the creek opposite the Sphinx Track, it’s a nice spot for a swim in summer.

Length: 3.6km return (1-2 hours)
Grade: Moderate (indistinct track, some easy scrambling required)

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Off-track adventure along the White Trig Ridge

An off-track route along “White Trig Ridge” from the Cullamine Trail, which passes the depiled White Trig before reaching some vantage points over Bobbin Head and Cowan Creek. Relatively easy walking, but navigation skills required,

Length: 5.5km return (2-3 hours)
Grade: Moderate (off-track route)

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Beyond the Wilkins Track

This is a fairly easy Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park walk along a shaded firetrail along the Wilkins Track, where there is a lookout at the end over Smiths Creek. Continue along the ridge for a more challenging off-track route that takes you to the remains of an old farm and an Aboriginal engraving site.

Length: 5.5 – 9.6km return (2-4 hours)
Grade: Easy to end of Wilkins Track. Moderate if continuing off-track along ridge

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McCarrs Creek Loop

The McCarrs Creek Loop is a challenging and partly off-track bushwalk. It takes the Duck Holes Trail (firetrail) down McCarrs Creek Road, and then returns by following McCarrs Creek. Some sections of the creek are overgrown and slow-going.

Length: 6.6km loop (2-3 hours)
Grade: Moderate/Hard (partly off-track route through some chllenging terrain)

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Bibbenluke to Anembo Reserve via Kierans Creek

One of a few off-track routes along Kierans Creek, this challenging loop goes from Bibbenluke to Anembo Reserve. It uses the Bibbenluke Track and an informal trail down from the Anembo Reserve to access Kierans Creek. Allow plenty of time to navigate obstacles along the creek.

Length: 8.6km loop (4-5 hours)
Grade: Hard (mostly off-track route following creek)

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Cowan Trail

A popular Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park bushwalking and mountain-biking route which branches off the Perimeter Track in Terrey Hills. While not the most exciting bushwalk there are some nice views and a signposted Aboriginal engraving site at the end. Nice wildflowers in Spring.

Length: 7.2km return (2-3 hours)
Grade: Easy

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Smiths Creek Loop

Combines the Smiths Creek West and Nerang Track in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park with an off-track route along Smiths Creek (there is a rough pad along the creek but it’s easy to lose). It’s nice bushwalk with a variety of scenery, where you won’t see too many other people.

Length: 7.3km loop (3 hours)
Grade: Moderate (partly off-track route)

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Duckholes Trail Loop

The Duckholes Trail is a firetrail in the Ku-ring-gai National Park in Terrey Hills, which is more appealing as a mountain bike trail than a bushwalk. You can return via McCarrs Creek Road to form a loop (it’s not a very nice walk along the road), or go back the same way.

Length: 8.6km loop / 10.2 return via road (3 hours)
Grade: Moderate (partly off-track route)

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Cooyong Neverfail Trail and Callamine Trail Loop

The Cooyong Neverfail Trail Loop combines a number of firetrails to form a bushwalking or mountain-biking route through the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park near Terrey Hills. It’s a pleasant but not particularly interesting bushwalk.

Length: 9.2km loop (2-3 hours)
Grade: Easy

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Long Trail

Branching off the Perimeter Track in Terrey Hills, the Long Trail is a popular bushwalking and mountain-biking route. The long firetrail has some hilly sections, and while not the most exciting bushwalk there are some great views at the end.

Length: 10.4km return (2-3 hours)
Grade: Easy

North section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (Mount Colah to Brooklyn)

The northern-most section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (between Ku-ring-gai Chase Road and Brooklyn) has some of the most challenging bushwalks. Part of the Great North Walk traverses this part of the park,

BushwalkLengthGradeDescription
Myall Trail4.0kmEasyShort firetrail that leads to the end of a ridge with some valley views
Mt Ku-ring-gai to Berowra9.0kmEasyNice walk which follows Cowan Creek. Nice views.
Shark Rock Ridge9.2kmModerateRough trail along ridge. Tessellated pavement, rock engravings
Want Trig12.5kmModerateContinues along Shark Rock Ridge to trig station & great views
Brooklyn to Cowan (GNW)13kmModerateScenic & challenging section of Great North Walk
Taffys Rock15.6kmModerate/HardDemanding walk along ridge to large sandstone platform with great views
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Exploring the Myall Trail

The Myall Trail is a short firetrail that leads to the end of a ridge in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, with views over the park. A pleasant but not particularly interestng Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park bushwalk.

Length: 4km return (1-2 hours)
Grade: Easy

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Mt Ku-ring-gai to Berowra

Mt Ku-ring-gai to Berowra along the Berowra Track is a pleasant bushwalk that follows Cowan Creek for most of the way, with views on the descent from Mt Ku-ring-gai and the remains of a metal boat hull at Waratah Bay.

Length: 9km return (3-4 hours)
Grade: Easy

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Shark Rock Ridge

A rough track along Shark Rock Ridge to a huge tesselated rock platform that has multiple Aboriginal engavings and the remnants of an old telegraph/telephone line. (You can continue along a sometimes indistinct pad along the ridge to Want Trig.)

Length: 9.2km return (3-4 hours). 12.5km return to Want Trig (6+ hours)
Grade: Moderate

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Brooklyn to Cowan

Brooklyn to Cowan forms part of the Great North Walk, with the track ascending from Brooklyn and traversing a number of ridges before descending to Cowan Creek. The final section is a steep ascent from Jerusalem Bay to Cowan.

Length: 13km return (4-6 hours)
Grade: Moderate

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Taffys Rock

A fairly demanding walk along an undulating ridge to Taffys Rock, a large sandstone platform that provides panoramic views over the Hawkesbury River and Cowan Creek. The rock platfirm has a number of Aboriginal rock carvings of footprints (mundoes) and a plaque commemorating bushwalker Taffy Townson.

Length: 15.6km return (4-6 hours)
Grade: Moderate/Hard

West Head bushwalks

West Head is my favourite part of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, and has so many bushwalks that it gets two additional pages dedicated to this area.

Swimming in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

There’s a diverse range of swimming spots in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, 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… Most of the swimming spots are best avoided for a few days after heavy rain.

Bobbin Head

Cowan Creek (via Bobbin Head)

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.

Distance: 2.2km return
Access: Bushwalk from Bobbin Head carpark (North Turramurra)
Ease of Access: Easy

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Cowan Creek (via Sphinx Track)

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 (accessed via Bibbenluke Track from Duffys Forest)

Distance: 2.4km return
Access: Sphinx Trail from Sphinx car park, North Turramurra
Ease of Access: Moderate

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Gibberagong Waterholes

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.

Distance: 3km return
Access: Gibberagong Track from end of Grosvenor Street, North Wahroonga.
Ease of Access: Moderate

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Christies Pool

Mostly on a firetrail, 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.

Distance: 4.7km return
Access: Warimoo Track from the end of Warrimoo Road (St Ives Chase)
Ease of Access: Moderate

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Duffys Forest & Terrey Hills

Cowan Creek (via Bibbenluke Trail)

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.

Distance: 3.6km return
Access: Bibbenluke Trail at end of Bibbenluke Avenue, Terrey Hills
Ease of Access: Easy

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Smiths Creek

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.

Distance: 5.8km return
Access: Smiths Creek Trail from end of Booligal Road, Terrey Hills.
Ease of Access: Moderate

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

Waratah Bay

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 stop for a swim here in summer.

Distance: 3.8km return from Berowra
Access: Mt Ku-ring-gai Track from Berowra railway station
Ease of Access: Moderate

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Brooklyn Dam

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.

Distance: 4.4km return
Access: Great North Walk from Hawkesbury River railway station
Ease of Access: Moderate

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West Head beaches and swimming holes

Duckholes Picnic Area

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.

Distance: 50m
Access: Parking area at start of West Head Road (near junction with McCarrs Creek Road)
Ease of Access: Easy

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Upper Gledhill Falls

A secluded pool and waterfall 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.

Distance: 200m return
Access: Near the junction of McCarrs Creek Road and West Head Road
Ease of Access: Easy

Best waterfalls in Sydney - Upper Gledhill Fals

West Head Beach

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 (especially at low tide) but still a nice swimming beach.

Distance: 800m return
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
Ease of Access: Easy

West Head Beach from walking track

Flint and Steel Beach

I think this is the nicest of the West Head beaches, accessed via the pleasant Flint and Steel Beach 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.

Distance: 2km return
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
Ease of Access: Easy.

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Flint and Steel Bay (Whitehorse Beach)

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.

Distance: 2km return
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
Ease of Access: Easy.

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Flannel Flower Beach

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… Best at low tide.

Distance: 2km return
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
Ease of Access: Hard

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Resolute Beach

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.

Distance: 2.2km return
Location: Park at the end of West Head Road (West Head Lookout)
Ease of Access: Easy

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Lovetts Pool

A crystal-clear natural rock pool formed by an unnamed creek. Accessed via the Fredricks Track (which branches off the Elvina Track).

Distance: 3km return
Location: Elvina carpark near the start of West Head Road (on the right)
Ease of Access: Easy

Lovett Bay Falls

The Basin

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.

Distance: 5.6km return
Location: Right-hand (east) side of West Head Road, near the end
Ease of Access: Moderate

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Waterfalls in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Most of the waterfalls and cascades are within West Head – some (like Upper Gledhill Falls) also are a nice spot to swim. Below are just a few of the waterfalls in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

America Bay Waterfall

America Bay waterfall

The America Bay Waterfall is at the head of America Bay, where the creek drops off a tall cliff onto the rocks below. The waterfall itself itself isn’t spectacular, but there are some shallow swimming holes above the falls and nice views over America Bay.

Distance: 2km return
Location: American Bay Track on West Head Road
Ease of Access: Easy

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Elvina Waterfall

The Elvina Waterfall is the tallest in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, with the creek tumbling 25m down a sheer cliff. At the base of the falls is a sandy area surrounded by lush vegetation. Above the falls is the Lovetts Pool swiming hole.

Distance: 5.5km return (to base of falls)
Location: Elvina Bay Trail on West Head Road
Ease of Access: Easy/Modeate

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Lower Gledhill Falls

Below the Upper Gledhill Falls swimiming hole is a much less popular waterfall, which I think is the most spectacular waterfall in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. McCarrs Creek is forced through a narrow chute and plunges into a small pool far below.

Distance: 0.8km return
Location: Rough (not signposted) track from Duckholes Picnic Area
Ease of Access: Moderate

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Refuge Bay Waterfall

An impressive waterfall at West Head, which plunges onto the back of the beach. It’s possible to walk behind the waterfall, or climb up to a swimming hole above the falls. You can reach the waterfall by boat, or a 10km (return) via the informal Refuge Bay Track.

Distance: 10km return (or boat)
Location: Bushwalk via Salvation Loop Track
Ease of Access: Moderate if walking in

Mountain Biking in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

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 MTB tracks / Suitable for 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 Trail (9.6km return) –  easy and flat firetrail; ideal introduction to MTB for beginners. Nice views at the end.

Moderate MTB tracks

  • 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.
  • 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 MTB tracks – 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 and boating in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

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.

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 in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Par 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 can 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 Marina 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 and no public boat ramp. But you can hire a kayak or tinnie 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 is much further than Parsley Wharf if you’re coming from Sydney. This 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 in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

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 National Park is an interactive topographical map that has every bushwalk listed.

Books & Resources

The books listed below provide more detail on some of the bushwalks in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park – some may be out of print or hard to find…

daywalkssydney Guide to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
5.5. Section on Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Snowys
sydney to port macquarie Guide to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
5/5. 15 Ku-ring-gai Chase NP walks  Ebook
0959916075 Guide to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
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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