A complete guide to the best Sydney bush walks

Sydney may be known for its stunning beaches, but it’s actually home to some of the best bushwalks in Australia.

Whether you want to unwind amongst nature or get your blood pumping, you’ll find a variety of hidden trails and isolated tracks, perfect for escaping suburbia.

To help you choose which Sydney bush walk to take on, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list, split by region. So tighten up your hiking boots, top up your water bottle and take your pick.

Use our interactive map to find out how to get to each place or find out more about each track below.

Western Sydney Bush Walks

Bidjigal Reserve, The Hills

Sydney bush walks
The creek running through Bidjigal Reserve

Bidjigal Reserve is one of many expansive bushland areas in Sydney. It spans from Parramatta, across to North Rocks and up to Castle Hill.

The reserve is a historic and natural haven, where you’ll find Indigenous rock shelters and stone artefacts dating up to 10,000 years old.

While there are many walking tracks to explore, the most popular is the Platypus track in Castle Hill. The two-kilometre loop track follows alongside the trickling Excelsior Creek, which up until the 1970s was a popular spot to find platypus – hence the name of the walking track.

On this walk, be ready for steep hills, conservation boardwalks, stairs and rocky stepping stones through the water. The area is also home to 370 native plant species and over 140 animals, so keep your eyes peeled.

Cumberland State Forest, The Hills

Who would have known that there was 40-hectares worth of native forest right in the heart of suburbia? The Cumberland State Forest in Pennant Hills is the only metropolitan state forest in Australia.

You can walk amongst it’s freakishly tall trees on three different trails. The Sensory Trail is a 350-metre long track, perfect for families with young children. The flat and wide path makes it easy to navigate.

The Palm Gully trail is one kilometre in length and the Forestry trail is 1.3 kilometres. Both are loop tracks, taking at least half an hour to complete. Check out the trail map for more details.

Also taking advantage of the forest’s colossal trees is Tree Tops Adventure Park. Challenge yourself with vertical obstacles at soaring heights, with some points of the course reaching 25-metres above ground.

Western Sydney Parklands, Eastern Creek

Western Sydney Parklands, also known as Sydney’s biggest backyard, covers over 5000-hectares of land and boasts a combined 60-kilometres of walking trails. Take your pick between 10 tracks spread across the Blacktown, Fairfield and Liverpool areas.

Graded at level 1 in difficulty, the Bungarribee Trail is a good place to start and will take approximately an hour to complete. It’s also wheelchair accessible and dog friendly, with public toilets and playgrounds.

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Another super easy trail is the Pimelea Loop. At around 1.6-kilometres in length, the track takes around 30-minutes to complete. However, if you’re looking for something tougher, the Moonrise Loop is for you. Just over six kilometres in length, travelling through Sugarloaf Ridge, Moonrise Lookout, Ginger Meggs Memorial and Lizard Log Park Nature Playground, you’ll need at least two hours of your day to this one.

The Great River Walk, Penrith

Sydney bush walks
The Great River Walk in Penrith © Destination NSW

Penrith’s The Great River Walk is a seven-kilometre section of a larger 570-kilometre track, which links Broken Bay to Lake Bathurst.

Enjoy uninterrupted views of the Nepean river with a stunning Blue Mountains backdrop. The walk incorporates the architecturally innovative Yandhai Nepean Crossing, designed specifically for pedestrians.

Signs along the pathways are there to educate walkers on the area. Learn about local history and stories as you soak up the sun.

Along the loop, stop for a picnic or barbecue at Tench Reserve, which has great views of the river. Playgrounds and bike paths for children are abundant, shaded by ancient trees. The Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler also departs from here.

Nurragingy Reserve, Doonside

Sydney bush walks
The Chang Lai Yuan Chinese Gardens, Nurragingy Reserve © Destination NSW

Attracting over one million visitors a year, Nurragingy Reserve in Doonside offers walking trails along waterfronts and 63-hectares of parkland.

It’s popular for its scenic picnic areas and wood-fired barbecue spots. And if you’re out with kids, there are a multitude of great playgrounds, including the Splash water play area, and riding paths for bikes and scooters. Refuel at the Lakeside Kiosk, serving coffee, hot food, drinks and snacks.

The main feature of this stunning reserve is the Chang Lai Yuan Chinese Gardens, which boast a stunning gateway, stone bridge, pavilion and waterfall gazebo. The architectural style of the gardens is based on the Ming and Qing Dynasty in China.

Download your map of the park here.

Lake Parramatta Reserve, Parramatta

Sydney bush walks
The Parramatta river © Destination NSW

The Lake Parramatta Reserve is 30-kilometres from the CBD. It is home to some great bush walks and one of the most popular swimming spots in Western Sydney.

Visitors can choose from three different walking tracks. The She-Oak track, approximately 1.5-kilometres long and the Banksia track offers an intermediate walk at 2.4-kilometres long.

The most popular walking track, however, is the Lake Circuit. Covering just over four kilometres, the track encompasses the lake and is for pedestrians only (no bikes).

Keep your eye out for Aussie birdlife such as rosellas, cockatoos and kookaburras. After your walk, enjoy a swim in the lake, a picnic on the shore or a barbecue in one of the designated areas.

Hunts Creek Reserve, Carlingford

Nestled in the middle of the burbs, Hunts Creek Reserve is one of Western Sydney’s hidden gems. This is one of those bush walks that doesn’t require much effort but promises stunning scenery.

Even from the furthest point, the walking track only takes around 45-minutes to complete. The highlight of the 2.5-kilometre walk is in the centre of the reserve; a small cascading waterfall known as Balaka Falls.

This natural watercourse is best viewed after a day or two of rain when it’s flowing steadily into the pool below. Although you can’t swim, take some time to enjoy the tranquillity of the falls on the rocky shore.

Stepping stone bridges across streams and leafy bush paths will have you returned to nature in no time.

North Shore Bush Walks

Balls Head Reserve, Waverton

This Sydney bushwalk is a must if breath-taking views are on your bucket list. Balls Head Reserve in Waverton offers the sanctuary of nature, with stunning snapshots across Sydney Harbour and towards the city. It’s also home to many Aboriginal sites, including archaeological deposits/middens, art sites and rock engravings.

The walk around the headland takes up to 40-minutes, linking the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability and Waverton park.

The Coal Loader is an interesting place to check out before your walk. Once an industrial coal depot, the site has been turned into a local hub, boasting a community garden and native bush nursery.

Along the walking track, you’ll find hidden picnic spots that offer insane views of the Harbour and city. Set off in the afternoon to watch the sunset, interrupted only by sky-scrapers and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Make sure to check out the Berrys Bay lookout too.

Garigal National Park, St Ives

Claiming the title of the fifth-largest park in the Sydney metropolitan area, Garigal National Park on Sydney’s North Shore boasts 35 trails and stunning views seen from all over the park.

Take on the 8.2-kilometre Flat Rock Beach circuit, which follows the Killarney Heights shoreline along Middle Harbour, and features waterfalls and a secret beach along the way.

Or walk The Slippery Dip loop, one of the longer bush walks at just over 10-kilometres. It does, however, incorporate a few of the other tracks, meaning you can make your walk as long or short as you like.

For a quick walk, the Kamber Road trail is just under two kilometres or the Upper Cambourne trail is only 600-metres one way. For more bush walks in Garigal National Park, check out this guide. Locals also hint at another 30+ unofficial tracks.

Lisgar Gardens, Hornsby

Lisgar Gardens is one of those hidden spots that are hard to come across. But once you do, you’ll become a regular. This lush paradise is definitely on our list of great spots for a bush walk in Sydney.

Known especially for its collection of over 300 Camellia species, Lisgar Gardens sit right in the heart of Hornsby. The tiered landscape covers 2.6-hectares, showcasing a variety of native and exotic plants.

The Rainforest walk is perfect for those looking for a leafy escape – meandering through giant trees, over bridges and past trickling streams, this walk will bring you back to nature.

The grounds at Lisgar also boast a shade house containing fish ponds, three waterfalls, informal lawn areas and picnic tables.

Flat Rock Gully, Northbridge

https://www.instagram.com/p/CEOFc7FsbJb/

Flat Rock Gully is rich in both natural and cultural heritage, covering 10-hectares in the North Sydney suburb of Northbridge. Historically, the land was home to the Cammeraygal people, who sourced their food from the estuarine tidal flats

The Flat Rock Gully loop combines both the Dawson Street track and the Wilksch’s walk. The Dawson Street track runs along the southern side of the gully, whereas Wilksch’s walk travels north. Check out a map here.

Along the way keep your eyes peeled for lizards, possibly snakes and over 100 native bird species. As well as The Long Gully Bridge near Tunks Park, which opened in 1892; the Henry Lawson cave where Henry Lawson relaxed after visiting a nearby Tavern (The local council now hold annual poetry reading here); and Fatty Dawson Ruins which are the remains of a sandstone house and garden found just off the Dawson Street track. Mr Dawson ran a piggery above this site in the 1870s. 

Gore Cove Reserve, Wollstonecraft

Only a stone’s throw away from the Balls Head trail is Gore Cove Reserve in Wollstonecraft. This thin slice of vegetation offers sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of North Sydney. In fact, you won’t even know the city is there until you catch a glimpse of it mid walk.

The walking track is just under two kilometres long, taking around 45-minutes to an hour to complete. Gore Cove Reserve connects Smoothey, Greendale and Holloway Parks to Berry Island Reserve.

Popular with bird watchers, keep your eyes peeled for Treecreepers, Thornbills and Wattlebirds, who call this reserve home. You might even spot frogs, lizards and the elusive Brown Antechinus, a rare and native ground-dwelling marsupial.

Walk along the bubbling creek amongst tree ferns and Coachwood. Then head deeper in for Red Gums, which eventually give way to mangroves. To experience the reserve at its best, head down after a day or two of rain.

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, Mt Colah

A section of the Ku-Ring-Gai National Park © Getty Images

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park claims the title of Australia’s second-oldest national park. It covers approximately 150-square-kilometres of land north of Sydney. The national park is heritage listed, promising walking tracks and biking trails with breathtaking lookouts.

One of the highlights is the 4.4-kilometre Aboriginal Heritage walk will take you past rock art and engravings by the Aboriginal people of West Head.

While The Great North walk spanning 11 kilometres is a little more challenging but equally rewarding. The track leads past the Rhodes boat shed ruins and down to Jerusalem Bay. Stop here for a rest before climbing up towards Brooklyn.

Discover more tracks within Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park here.

Sheldon Forest, Pymble

In a narrow valley between Turramurra and Pymble, you’ll find the Sheldon Forest walking track. It is one of the few remaining pieces of the Blue Gum high forest in the Sydney Basin, making it an extra special Sydney bush walk.

The Sheldon Forest walking track is just under two kilometres one way. It spans from the first Turramurra Scout Hall to Troon place in Pymble.

Along the way, enjoy rainforest surroundings, following a stream that boasts a number of small waterfalls along the way. You can find a map of the route here.

Manly Scenic Walkway, Balgowlah Heights

Sydney bush walks
A couple enjoying the Spit to Manly walk © Destination NSW

While technically considered a coastal walk, we have included Manly Scenic Walkway because it winds through some of the cities most stunning bushland.

The walk is rich with looming ancient trees, sculptural rock shelves and dramatic cliffs. At points, the forest is so thick that the only way you know you’re near the ocean is the sound of waves crashing.

Starting at the Spit Bridge, which connects Mosman and Seaforth, the track unravels through a mix of bushland and harbourside trails. Small paths off the main track lead to secluded beaches or leafy clearings. Clontarf Reserve is a great spot to stop for a picnic.

Lookouts are dotted along the track as well, offering views of the harbour and city. Also along your walk, keep an eye out for Aboriginal rock carvings, dating back over 1000 years.

All up, the 10-kilometre walk takes just around four hours to complete.

South Sydney Bush Walks

Lambeth Reserve, Picnic Point

Sydney bush walks
Lambeth Reserve © Facebook

The Lambeth Reserve to Picnic Point Reserve track runs parallel to the Georges River, offering water views on one side and bushland on the other. Pine trees, reeds and mangroves are heavily on display.

The walking track follows footpaths and boardwalks, leading to great picnic spots and the Picnic Point boat shed, where small treats can be bought. Fuel your belly and satisfy your taste buds with a pie, sausage roll, ice cream or cold drink.

Bring your fishing gear and grab some bait and tackle at the boat shed. Drop a line at the end of the track and maybe you’ll head back with something for dinner.

This is a bit of a local’s walk, short and sweet at just 1.3-kilometres in length, taking around 30-minutes to complete one way. The entire walk is also wheelchair accessible.

Myles Dunphy Reserve, Oatley

Sydney bush walks
The Myles Dunphy Reserve © Facebook

The Myles Dunphy Reserve is nestled between the Georges River and the suburb of Oatley. The reserve is extensive, covered in well-preserved bushland and a mangrove area.

The land was originally set to be sub-divided, but this move was denied due to its swampy conditions. Instead, local resident and early conservation activist Myles Dunphy presented the idea to turn the land into a reserve. The Hurstville City Council and volunteers now run bush care programs here.

The reserve offers a few short walking tracks on both the eastern and western sides of the creek. Whilst here, check out the new boardwalk, which finished construction in 2019. It provides a connection between the existing informal walking tracks, which have caused erosion over the years from use.

Girrahween Park, Earlwood

Girrahween park is home to a great South Sydney bush walk, just half an hour from the city. This sliver of parklands is a great place to escape, get some fresh air and get your steps up.

Once within Girrahween Park, you can start the Wolli Creek walking track from either the main picnic area or Turrella Reserve. The walk, which is two kilometres one-way, is part of the larger Two Valley trail. If you’re after a longer walk, Two Valley runs from Campsie to Bexley North and is 13-kilometres long.

Early morning and dusk are the recommended walking times as you can spot the local wildlife. Keep your eye out for pelicans, egrets and tawny frogmouth owls.

Lime Kiln Bay Wetlands, Oatley

Sydney’s bush walks don’t get much better than the Lime Kiln Bay Wetland in Oatley. The walking track meanders through a variety of eco-systems, from marshlands to bushland. Along the way, you’ll spot mangroves, Aboriginal art and historic caves. As well as fungi and flower varieties, ducks, lizards and birds.

Combined with the Oatley Park loop, the track is around six kilometres long. You don’t have to follow the entire trail though; there are a number of intersecting paths that can make your walk longer or shorter.

There are some stairs and rocky paths to conquer, which can take the track from easy to medium grade at points. However, this is where you’ll find the caves and lookouts, which make the extra effort worth it.

Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve, Kareela

Sydney bush walks
The Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve © Facebook

The Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve is one of Sydney’s lesser-known bush walks.

Four kilometres of pathways have been innovatively designed to have minimal impact on the native Australian plants and wildlife in the area.

You’ll easily be able to spot a variety of them along your walk, including banksias, grevilleas and lilly pillies. The canopy is full of smooth-barked apple, red bloodwood, blackbutt and Sydney peppermint trees. While the trickling creek creates a peaceful ambience as you walk.

The reserve is named after Joseph Banks, a botanist who visited Botany Bay in 1770 with James Cook. It was built in 1970 as a bicentennial project to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the event and cover over two hectares of land.

Royal National Park Bush Walks

Winifred Falls Firetrail

Sydney bush walks
Winifred Falls © Facebook

The Winifred Falls fire trail in Sydney’s Royal National Park is one of the easier Sydney bush walks to find, but also, one of the most beautiful.

The trail begins off Warumbal Road, not too far from the Royal National Park Visitors Centre. It winds through almost 4.5-kilometres of bushland, pit-stopping at Winifred Falls in the middle.

Make your way along the rocky path, past blooming banksias and looming gum trees. It can get pretty steep at points, so make sure you’ve got your hiking boots on. Listen out for the rumble of the waterfall as you continue your descent to Winifred Falls, where you can take a rest on the banks of the pool or even take a dip if it’s hot.

Alternatively, follow the creek a further 300-metres downstream to find South West Arm Pool, one of Sydney’s hidden gems. Then find Anice Falls which is about 100 metres down the Mount Bass fire trail off the Winifred Falls trail. After another two kilometres through bushland, the track ends on Mainanbar Road.

The Forest Path

Forest Path is another bush walk that lies within the Royal National Park. The 4.5-kilometre track takes visitors along the Hacking River, loops around Forest Island and ends on Sir Bertram Stevens Drive.

Start at the western entrance, which splits into the Couranga track halfway down, or the eastern, which is also the beginning of Lady Carrington Drive. The Lady Carrington track is 10-kilometres in length if you’re keen on a longer hike.

Wander under native Aussie trees such as eucalyptus, casuarinas and cabbage tree palms. Listen to the Hacking River flowing nearby, creating a natural ambience.

Karloo and Uloola Tracks

Sydney bush walks
Karloo Pools in Royal National Park © Facebook/@themikejeffrey

The Karloo track begins on Wilson Parade in Heathcote, next to the fire station. This one of the more popular tracks in the Royal National Park, and a prime spot for a bush walk in Sydney.

The Karloo track is only around half an hour long, finishing at Karloo Pools – a natural waterhole perfect for cooling off on a hot, sunny day.

After the Karloo Pools, the Karloo track becomes the Uloola track continuing for up to 11-kilometres one-way. It will take about four hours to complete. Spanning the Royal National Park highlands, this track boasts a wildflower display in spring and stunning views all year round. You can even camp overnight at the Uloola Falls campground.

The Uloola track ends in Waterfall, right by the train station. This is handy, as you can catch the train back to Heathcote from here. If you want to start the loop from this end, leave your car in the commuter car park.

Palona Cave Walk

Walking through Palona Caves in Royal National Park © Canva/Cristina Kruse

The Palona Cave walk is one of the most unique trails you can find in the Royal National Park. It is accessed via Lady Carrington Drive (where the Forest path starts), but don’t worry, this doesn’t add much time to your walk.

Once you get to the Palona Caves walk, enjoy looming trees, views of rocky outcrops and giant cabbage tree palms. Around 800-metres after the turnoff from Lady Carrington Drive, you’ll stumble upon the Palona Cave.

The cave is so big that the walk continues through it, weaving underneath mammoth ancient rock walls. As you exit the cave, visitors are greeted by a stunning waterfall. To complete the Palona Cave trail, head back the way you came.

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