Ah walking, ain’t she grand?
Scientists say it makes you happier, your mate says ‘let’s go for one’ and the shop assistant says ‘ma’am are you going to buy anything or just do circuits?’
That last one aside, walking is loved by just about everyone and to celebrate we’ve compiled a list of the best walks in the Hills District.
Go forth and strut your stuff, guys.
Cumberland State Forest
West Pennant Hills
Grab a mate and prepare to bust out your best gossip with a walk ‘round Cumberland State Forest. Known for being leafy AF, the CSF is a go-to for those who like to know what kind of walk they’re getting in to (aka no nasty surprises like extra kms) and have a thirst for knowledge. There are walks suitable for all ages and fitness types with handy-dandy signposts to let you know how far each jaunt will take you. The sensory trail is easiest as a 350-metre loop across flat dirt with signage for learnin’/to occupy the kids. But if you’re the kind who thinks walking on the ground is soooo passé, these folks also put on a decent tree top adventure park for the kidults (or the actual children).
Hunts Creek Reserve
Perk up buttercup, ‘cause nature has delivered the goods at Hunts Creek Reserve. And by that, we mean a waterfall. Located across Carlingford and North Rocks, Hunts Creek Reserve is a fairly breezy walk at 2.5km (it’s nothing compared to the Great North Walk that’s for sure) but can involve creek crossings and some precarious rocks so no thongs ‘kay? Suggested starting points include Parkland Road in Carlingford and Norfolk Place in North Rocks and don’t worry about brushing up on your smoke signaling; there are plenty of signposts along the way. P.S. Dogs are okie dokie so long as they’re kept on a leash.
This walk goes out to the hiker with an appreciation for long trails filled with history (bless you and your sturdy, high-rise socks). Bidjigal Reserve is named after the original landowners from the Darug Nation and spans numerous suburbs including Castle Hill, Baulkham Hills and Northmead. The main routes are the Platypus track (1.7km aka one-hour walking) and the Murri-yanna track (8km aka four hours walking). Bidjigal contains noteworthy Aboriginal and European cultural heritage including rock shelters and archaeological deposits and in the immortal words of Bring it On: “You can look but don’t you touch.”
Those in the know refer to ol’ Fagan as their backyard farm and… well folks, it’s for a damn good reason. Fagan Park is absolutely chockas with rolling hills, ponds, bridges, a duck pond and the cool, albeit strange, Gardens of Many Nations. These 11 themed gardens including Dutch, Japanese, Chinese and Mediterranean make walking a little more fun, especially when you get lost. Which you inevitably will, ‘cause that place is YUGE (i.e. 55 hectares). But don’t worry, most paths are concrete so at least they’ll be no turned ankles. P.S. If you can get the kids off it there are no kids around, we highly recommend having a go on the ‘swings pentagon’, which is as magical as it sounds.
Baulkham Hills Heritage Trail
Baulkham Hills, what did we do to deserve your bushwalking spoils? Seriously, so many good walks, so little time. The Baulkham Hills Heritage Trail is probably the pièce de résistance of the suburbs’ many walks with 6km of classic Aussie bush to explore. You’ll also get to know all about the original land with signage and guides aplenty. And yes, you can jump onto the walk at a number of points, so there’s no need to do the full six (and back) if your ahem, sneakers aren’t quite up to scratch.
Richard Webb Reserve
West Pennant Hills
Once again, we’re giving preference to those walks with waterfalls #sorrynotsorry. Richard Webb Reserve can be accessed by Aiken Road or Heidi Place (if you want a bit of a shorter go ‘round) but regardless of which entrance you use, you’ll feel like you’re worlds away from the suburbia you’re actually smack bang in the middle of. That’s the Hills District guarantee. It’s also not a long one by any stretch so what are you waiting for? Put aside an arvo to take in the sights (see: waterfall) at Richard Webb Reserve.
Berowra Valley National Park
Berowra may seem far but trust us, when it comes to bushwalking, it’s worth it. The Great North Walk (Sydney to Newcastle) is a favourite for many and although it technically takes 3-4 days to complete, jumping in for an hour or two is still worth your time. You’ll enjoy b-e-a-utiful lookouts, coastal terrain and bucket loads of native flora but be warned, it’s a steep one. You’ll be doing that hand-on-knees hiker move several times, but it’s all part of the experience. Right?
Fred Caterson Reserve
Fred Caterson Reserve is a whopping 58 hectares and lawdy, does it show. Many would know the land as home to numerous soccer fields, cricket fields and baseball diamonds (did we mentioned it was big?) but it also boasts a 3.5km loop; perfect for anyone looking for a walk with oomph. A bush-style track (i.e. no packed dirt or boardwalks), the walk has areas of rocky and uneven ground and takes about 75 minutes to complete.
The Old Great North Road
New South Wales (Yes, Really)
Better lace up the sturdy joggers, we’ve got another bigun’. The Old Great North Road takes walkers on a 9km loop through Dharug National Park—that’s somewhere between three and four hours if you’re counting along at home. Built by convicts during the 1820s and 30s, The Great North Road is ideal for the bush walker who lives for local history (and not ‘that used to be a chip shop’ local history) and also isn’t afraid of a little wilderness. The trail includes structures like the oldest bridge in mainland Australia (near the start of Devine’s Hill in Wiseman’s Ferry), not to mention the engineering marvel that is the track itself—crafting with sandstone in the early 1800s was not easy.
Here we have another classic case of ‘I thought this was a sports field’ set of walking trails (and of Baulkham Hills spoiling us with reserves). Located on the corner of Crestwood Drive and Chapel Lane, the Crestwood Reserve has a range of walking paths that are mostly flat and contained so there’s no need to clamber over rocks and risk your limbs (see: the coffee you brought along). They also have a fairly new exercise station for you to use for fitness/get confused with. Huzzah!
Got no one to walk/gossip with? No biggie, that’s what podcasts are for.
Image credit: Unsplash