9 Incredible Walking Trails in Sydney You Should Try This Weekend

Healthy Lifestyle

Tammy George

Couple running around Bondi beach, one of Sydney’s best walking trails

Last year many of us realised the benefits of staying close to home and enjoying what we have in our backyards. Taking a half or full day to explore an area can help us recharge our batteries and feel like we made the most of our weekend. 

Research shows walking in nature rather than urban settings can improve our mental health. Why not connect with nature by getting out to enjoy a walking trail this weekend?  
 

#1 Barrenjoey Lighthouse

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is a short bushwalk overlooking the tranquil Palm Beach. 

Barrenjoey track is a 30 minute, 1 km return walk requiring moderate fitness to reach the top from the Governor Phillip parking area. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, take Smugglers track. It’s a short, steep walk to the lighthouse.    

The Barrenjoey Lighthouse is located in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park which is open from sunrise to sunset.  
 

Things to See: 

If you’re looking for a little history on your walking trail, this could be the one. The Barrenjoey Lighthouse was built in 1881 from sandstone quarried from the site. The lighthouse has had a touch of fame appearing in the opening credits of the TV program Home and Away. The Summer Bay surf club is also nearby if you’re a fan of the show. 

The lighthouse is 91 metres above sea level so the views are magnificent. 
 

What to Take: 

During the months of May to September, it’s worth taking the binoculars to see if you can spot a whale. 
 

#2 Manly to Spit Bridge Walk

Manly Scenic Walkway is one of Sydney’s best coastal walking tracks. 

Manly to Spit Bridge is a Grade 3, 10 km walk that will take you past some of Sydney’s most incredible vantage points for viewing the stunning north and middle of the harbour. The walk passes through the Sydney Harbour National Park so you won’t be able to take your furry friend the length of the walk.  
 

Things to See:

As stunning as the harbour views are, it’s not all blue water. Keep your eye out for Aboriginal rock engravings of a kangaroo, a whale and fish at Grotto Point. The lookout at Arabanoo is worth checking out too for more stunning views. 

Birds eye view of beautiful Manly Cove, Sydney

What to Take:

If it’s warm and you want a swim to cool off, take a towel. There are rock staircases that lead to four beaches that are only accessed by walkers. 

If you’re taking a picnic, plan a stop at Clontarf Reserve, Forty Baskets or Reef Beach. 

You will need to take plenty of water and sun protection. There’s very limited shade on the walk, so if it’s a hot day, you might want to head off early before noon.   
 

#3 Victory Track

Victory Track via Clarinda Falls is a 3.9 km return track which will take you about 2 hours to complete. The track is graded 4 with some steep sections and a difficult climb on the way back, so it’s best completed by hikers with some experience.  
 

Things to See:

The Clarinda Falls make it well worth the effort. The water cascades over a near-vertical wall, into a sandy pool. The falls are best viewed after heavy rain. But the ferns, rocky outcrops and moss make for a perfect walk at all times of the year. 
 

What to Take:

In winter, wear warm layers you can take on and off. Take your camera for some beautiful shots of the falls and lush landscape. Wear shoes that are suitable for creek crossings and be prepared for some very steep sections. On a warm day pack your bathers and enjoy a dip at the Lagoon swimming hole.  
 

#4 Western Escarpment Walking Track

The Western Escarpment track is a quick 1 km walk on a renovated walkway. It makes up part of the Eastern Beaches coastal walkway. Access to the track is via Arthur Byrne Reserve in South Maroubra or Pioneers Park in Malabar. Western Escarpment walking track takes you through an island of pristine bushland. 
 

Things to See: 

Located in the Malabar National Park, there’s an abundance of birdlife including honeyeaters, red wattlebirds, blue fairy wrens, kestrels and sea eagles. You can’t go past the stunning 360 degree views of the Malabar headland, Maroubra Beach and Botany Bay from the walk’s high point.  

If 1km isn’t long enough you can keep going and walk the Boora Point track which is a grade 4, 3.7km track at the eastern end of the national park. The track is closed when the ANZAC rifle range is in use. 
 

What to Take: 

In June and July you may spot a whale or seal so take binoculars. But if it’s swimming weather, take a towel and find a swimming spot in the national park. If you want to take a picnic lunch, there are public parks nearby.   

Dusk at beautiful seaside walking trail in Sydney

#5 Bondi to Coogee Walk

The list wouldn’t be complete without including Sydney’s most iconic and popular walks. It’s 6 km length takes around 2.5 hours to walk. On a weekend when the sun is shining, the track can get busy. The track is a grade 2, suitable for most ages and fitness levels. With the occasional steep section, it’s not suitable for prams or wheelchairs. 
 

Things to See: 

Walkers come for the views of the spectacular coastline of Bondi Beach, Tamarama Beach, Bronte Beach, Clovelly and Coogee Beach.  
 

What to Take: 

Being on the coast, it can get windy so you may want to take a jumper. During warmer weather, wear your bathers and take a dip at Bronte Pool or Coogee’s rock pools.

Feel free to invite your four legged friend on this walk. 

Busy walking trail in Sydney, Bondi to Coogee

#6 Cape Baily Track

If you’re on a mission to check out Sydney’s coastal walks, don’t leave Cape Baily off your list. You can do the full grade 3, 7.4 km km track in around 2.5 hours or choose to walk sections of the trail

The Cape Baily Track starting point is at the Cape Solander Lookout in Kamay Botany Bay National Park, just north of Cronulla. 
 

Things to See: 

There’s a wide variety of flora and fauna along the way as the track passes through heath forest, bush and sandy dunes. During spring look out for the wildflowers and in June or July scour the ocean for signs of whales.  

The Cape Baily Lighthouse was built in the 1950s. If you want to see the lighthouse without the long walk, it’s 1.5 km from the Joseph Banks Drive car park.  
 

What to Take:

Find a picturesque spot along the way to enjoy your lunch. No dogs allowed on this walk as it’s in the Botany Bay National Park.

Cape Baily Lighthouse in Sydney

#7 Milson’s Point Walk to Lavender Bay

The Milson’s Point Walk to Lavender Bay is a short-relaxing stroll, soaking up the views of the Bay. The 2.5 km walk only takes an hour and is graded easy. If it’s not long enough, walk across the bridge to get back to the city.   
 

Things to See:

If you want a close up look at the Sydney Harbour bridge, this is the walk to do. You can also enjoy the city skyline and other Sydney icons, Luna Park and the North Olympic pool. Combine your walk with a ferry ride to Circular Quay or Darling Harbour.  
 

What to Take:

If you’re thinking of stopping for lunch, make it Wendy’s Secret Garden in Lavender Bay. The beautiful shaded park was built by Wendy Whitely as a memorial to her late husband artist, Brett Whitely and their daughter. Dogs are welcome in the park. 
 

#8 Barangaroo Foreshore 

The Barangaroo Foreshore Walk makes up only part of the entire Barangaroo Reserve, 6-hectares of spectacular waterfront greenery. You can start your walk from either end of the track, Hickson Road or Towns Place roundabout.  

This 2km one-way walk will take you around 1-2 hours to complete. It's fairly flat, an easy walk suitable for every fitness level.
 

Things to See: 

There’s no shortage of things to see on this walk. Stargazer’s Lawn has the best views of the Harbour Bridge. Barangaroo Reserve boasts 75,000 native plants and trees across its multiple levels, so take some extra time to stroll through the lush gardens. 
 

What to Take: 

Bring the bikes with you as many enjoy to cycle around the reserve. Pack a picnic basket and stop on the top of the hill or any of the waterside areas. Barangaroo Foreshore is a dog-friendly reserve but remember it’s on-leash only. 

#9 Coast Track

The Coast Track in Sydney’s Royal National Park is a lengthy multi-day walk between Bundeena and Otford. 

At 26km one way, this walk is for serious, experienced hikers. With its steep, difficult sections, the track is a Grade 5 . Expect to spend eight hours on the track which you can break up with an overnight stay. The first leg to the campground is 18km while the second leg from North Era to Otford is 8km.   

Drone view of woman swimming a natural pool in Sydney’s Royal National Park

Things to See:

Not surprising, the views are spectacular along Coast Track. There’s the beach, ocean, Wedding Cake Rock, Otford Lookout and Wattamolla Falls to check out. During the months of May to November, keep a lookout for whales just off the coast. 
 

What to Take:

Take enough water and food to last two days if you’re camping overnight. There’s no potable water along the track or at the only campground, North Era. 

The Coast Track is situated in the Royal National Park so no dogs allowed. 

Couple walking in Sydney’s bushland on the weekend

Benefits of Getting Back to Nature

All types of exercise provide physical and mental benefits but exercising in the great outdoors offers an extra boost. Research shows getting out into nature provides relaxation and physical activity that is known to have a positive impact on mental states such as depression and anxiety. 

A stroll through the bush or along the coast have been found to have the following benefits compared to walking in an urban environment: 

  • Improved health - reduced levels of anxiety and depression

  • Improved short term memory and concentration - attention and memory found to improve

  • Reduced stress levels - a decrease in heart rate and cortisol levels

  • Resorted mental energy - reduced mental fatigue

  • Better thinking and creative abilities - more accuracy completing tasks after being in nature 

You don’t need to spend hours driving out of town to find a natural setting for a walk. A small patch of bushland or even the local park with some trees and grass will provide mental health benefits that walking around the block can’t offer. But if possible, try to set aside some time every few weeks to go for a long walk in a beautiful natural setting and enjoy the beautiful bush, harbour and coast that Sydney has to offer.

Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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