The Northern Beaches has some of the most extraordinary coastal walks in the world, but if you’re finding your favourite track is a little crowded right now or you just want a change of scenery, a hike in one of our National Parks will open up a whole new world of natural beauty. Expert hiker and creator of hikingtheworld.blog, Oliver Descoeudres was kind enough to share many of his favourite walks…

“There are worse places to be stuck in a lockdown than the Northern Beaches, which is bounded by the ocean to the east, and bushland and Cowan Creek to the west. As well as having 145 bushland and wetland reserves (covering 1700ha), the Northern Beaches Council LGA includes Garigal National Park, and a large part of Ku-ring-Chase National Park. The amazing hikes listed below are a mix of the best bushwalks in the area, and some lesser-known walks to help you avoid the crowds.

    • All bushwalks below start within 10km of the Northern Beaches LGA, but you need to confirm the distance from your residence to ensure compliance to NSW Health orders.
    • For more bushwalking suggestions once restrictions have ended have a look at the 80+ bushwalks in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Garigal National Park guides

Caleyi Trail Loop (Garigal NP)

Distance: 3.9km

Duration: 1-2 hours

Grade: Easy

A short-ish loop bushwalk down the Caleyi Trail in Garigal National Park, returning via the Ya Right and Coopers Blue mountain-bike tracks to form an interesting loop.

Walk popularity?

Quiet. Limited parking at the trailhead and a not-very-nice starting point means you’ll probably only see a few mountain-bikers. Keep an eye for MTBs on the unofficial tracks used to form this loop.

Alternatives: You can also reach this trail from Deep Creek, where there’s more parking – but a lot more people.

Features: Aboriginal heritage, Rock formations, Waterfall

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Carroll Creek Loop (Garigal NP)

Distance: 8.6km

Duration: 2-3 hours

Grade: Easy

A pleasant loop along Middle Harbour and Carroll Creek from St Ives, returning via the Davidson Track.

Walk popularity?

Mixed. Parts of this loop (like the Governor Phillip Walk) will be super-busy on a weekend. But the loop also follows some trails which will be relatively quiet.

Alternatives: The Casuarina and Lyrebird Loop is a similar loop which shares some of the same tracks.

Features: Swimming, Waterfall, Waterhole

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Casuarina and Lyrebird Loop (Garigal NP)

Distance: 9.1km

Duration: 3-4 hours

Grade: Moderate

An interesting loop walk through Garigal National Park, combining the Casuarina Track, Lyrebird Track and Carroll Creek Track. Some nice sections along Middle Harbour and Carrol Creek.

Walk popularity?

Mixed. This one of the best walks in Garigal National Park, so it will be fairly busy especially along the Lyrebird Track.

Alternatives: You can also access this loop via the Pipeline Track in St Ives.

Features: Rainforest, Rock formations, Waterhole

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Deep Creek Loop (Garigal NP)

Distance: 8.3km

Duration: 2-3 hours

Grade: Easy

A loop walk in Garigal National Park combining the Slippery Dip Trail and Caleyi Trail with some bushwalking / MTB tracks. Some varied terrain and nice viewpoints over Narrabeen.

Walk popularity?

Moderate. Deep Creek Reserve is a popular spot, and many mountain bike trails start here. As you continue along the Dep Creek Trail you’ll find you have the tracks mostly to yourself.

Alternatives: You can also access the Slippery Dip Trail from Belrose; the eastern end of the trail used by this loop is generally less busy.

Features: Aboriginal heritage, Rock formations, Trig Station, Views, Waterfall

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Five Mile Creek Loop (Garigal NP)

Distance: 11km

Duration: 3-4 hours

Grade: Moderate

The Five Mile Creek Loop is a somewhat complicated circuit through the northern part of Garigal National Park, incorporating formal trails and unofficial tracks to form a loop walk.

Walk popularity?

Not busy. You may encounter a few mountain-bikers, but this loop combines many unofficial tracks to form a loop walk. Make sure you being a GPS or map!

Alternatives: A shorter loop is Down to Five Mile Creek, which also uses a mix of firetrails and unofficial tracks.

Features: Aboriginal heritage, Off-track walks, Rock formations, Views

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Gibberagong Track & Murrua Fire Trail loop (Bobbin Head, Kuringgai Chase NP)

Distance: 14.6km

Duration: 3-4 hours

Grade: Moderate/Hard

A challenging circuit that descends from Wahroonga to Cowan Creek at Bobbin Head via the Murrua Fire Trail and returns via the popular Gibberagong Track.

Walk popularity?

Mixed. The popular Gibberagong Track will be busy on weekends, but you won’t see many people on the other trails. Parts of the loop are on minor tracks and some navigation may be required.

Alternatives: A shorter (10km) and less challenging loop is possible by returning via the Murrua Fire Trail.

Features: Aboriginal heritage, Off-track walks, Rock formations, Views, Waterfall, Waterhole

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Heath Trail and Bare Creek Loop (Garigal NP)

Distance: 7km

Duration: 1-2 hours

Grade: Easy

A circuit in Garigal National Park, combining the Heath Trail and Bare Creek Trail, and returning via a bushwalking/MTB trail which has some nice views over the park.

Walk popularity?

Mixed. Bare Creek is a popular trail, but for most of this loop you shouldn’t see too many people, as it uses secondary trails.

Alternatives: You can also access the Bare Creek Loop from the Cascades Track in St Ives.

Features: Rock formations, Views

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Pylons Loop (Warrimoo to St Ives Wildflower Garden, Kuringgai Chase NP)

Distance: 13.5km

Duration: 4-6 hours

Grade: Moderate/Hard

A varied loop that links the Warrimoo Track to the Ryland Trail, returning via the Callamine Trail and Showground Trail. Makes use of a number of fire trails that service electricity pylons and connecting bushwalking trails.

Walk popularity?

Once you’re off the Warrimoo Track, you won’t see many people. A map and basic navigation skills required, as the walk involves some informal and indistinct tracks.

Features: Waterhole, Wildflowers

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Smiths Creek Trail (Ku-ring-gai Chase NP)

Distance: 5.8km

Duration: 1-2 hours

Grade: Easy

The Smiths Creek Trail is a pleasant bushwalk in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The firetrail descends through eucalypt forest to open grassland and a tidal creek.

Walk popularity?

Quiet. You may see a few people, but this is not not a well-known or popular trail.

Alternatives: Although the nearby Cowan Trail and Long Trail have a nice view at the end, this is a nicer trail and far less busy.

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St Ives to Mt Ku-ring-gai via Warrimoo Track (Bobbin Head, Kuringgai Chase NP)

Distance: 13.2km

Duration: 3-4 hours

Grade: Moderate

A pleasant one-way walk from St Ives (via the Warrimoo Track) to Mt Ku-ring-gai station. It follows Cowan Creek and traverses Bobbin Head, where you can stop for a coffee or snack.

Walk popularity?

Busy. This is a great walk with a variety of scenery, but it’s popular.

Alternatives: Get away from the crowds by veering off the Warrimoo Track to Christies Pool, for an off-track adventure

Features: Cafe, Views, Wildflowers

View Walk Details

With huge thanks to Oliver Descoeudres for allowing us to share his favourite hikes. Stay tuned for Oliver’s list of best Coastal and Harbour walks in the area.
Head to hikingtheworld.blog for many more hiking options in Sydney and surrounds (after restrictions have lifted of of course).
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