I’m a walker. I love to get out and explore a place on foot. I also love to walk around my own city. Here are what I consider the five best walks in Adelaide
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Best Walks in Adelaide
The walks that I’ve chosen include four that will appear on almost every list of Adelaide walks, and a fifth that is a little out of the box.
Some of these walks are a little challenging, but not so hard that most people won’t be able to do them. You do not need to be an experienced hiker, but you do need to be of average fitness and have good mobility. If you are looking to spend an active few hours while enjoying the Adelaide scenery, then these trails are for you.
Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty
Distance: 7.8km return
Time: 2 – 2.5 hours
The Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty summit hike is one every Adelaidean is familiar with. Not everyone has actually walked it, but everyone will know about it. If someone asks you if you have “done Lofty” then this is the trail they are talking about. It’s probably the most popular of the walking trails Adelaide has. It is often particularly busy in the early hours of the mornings on weekends. As soon as the sun is up there will be people getting in their weekly climb.
The walk starts from the Waterfall Gully Carpark. You can immediately enjoy a view of the waterfall this area is named after. At 18m, it’s one of the tallest in the Adelaide vicinity, and it flows year round (but of course has a lot more water in winter). You will then start walking through pristine scrub The path is well defined the whole way to Mount Lofty, so there is no fear of getting lost.
The first half of the trail includes some steep sections, but there will also be flatter sections where you can recover. After you pass over a small creek with about 1.5km to go until the summit, the climb becomes continual for the remainder of the walk. You will find seats at some strategic locations along the way, and it is absolutely no shame to take a rest on them (or on any other rock, tree stump or piece of ground!). Over the whole walk you will climb more than 440m.
Once you are at the top you can enjoy sweeping views back over the Adelaide City centre and surrounds. There is a cafe and gift shop here to enjoy, and bathrooms if you just need a quick stop. There is also a water bottle refill station if you need a top up.
Mount Lofty is only the halfway point of your walk – you now need to make your way back down to your car at Waterfall Gully. The good news is that it is all down hill from here! As a reward for your hard work, stop in to the cafe Utopia @ Waterfall Gully for coffee and a snack.
If climbing to the top of Mount Lofty sounds too challenging or if you have mobility issues or children in a pram, try the Steub Trail instead which runs from Cleland Wildlife Park to Mount Lofty.
Third Falls Walk, Morialta Conservation Park
Time: 3 hours
Morialta Conservation Park has some of the best bush walks Adelaide has to offer. There are a range of walks, but since I like a challenge, my favourite is the Third Falls Walk. As its name suggests, this hike will take you to the furthest of three of the waterfalls in the park. The recommendation is to walk it in a clockwise direction, and I tend to agree with that, even though I regularly see people walking it in both directions.
Going clockwise, the first fifteen. minutes or so is tough, continually going uphill until you reach the Deep View Lookout. After that the path is mostly flat or going down hill. The only other section which has a decent uphill climb is if you choose to include the Top of the First Falls. This is a short detour of about 200-300 metres, but it’s all downhill getting there, which means it’s all uphill on the way back to the Third Falls trail.
The trail itself is quite rough. While well defined – you won’t get lost – it is rocky and uneven, so this is best tackled but those with at least some bushwalking experience.
If the Third Falls walk sounds too challenging, there are a whole bunch of other walks in the area, including the First Falls Walk with it a flat, well laid out path that will be suitable for strollers or those with mobility issues.
Look out for koalas in the trees near the beginning of all the walks, and for plenty of birds, including the colourful rosellas and ring-neck parrots.
Hallett Cove Boardwalk
Distance: 5-7km (one way)
Time: 1-2 hours
The Hallett Cove Boardwalk is the perfect Adelaide hiking trail for those without access to a car. This trail is also referred to as the Marion Coastal Walking Trail, and in it’s entirety is 7.2km long. Without a car, the best access is via the train stations closest, Hallett Cove Beach and Marino Rocks. The walk between along the coastal path between these two stations is around 5 km.
This is the most spectacular of all the coastal walks Adelaide has to offer – and there are plenty of them as almost the whole 70+km from Outer Harbor to Sellicks Beach has a coastal path. From up on the cliffs there are great views over the coast both north and south as well as out to sea. Part of the walk is through the Hallett Cove Conservation Park which has some interesting features to see too.
The walk can be done in either direction, but I tend to always walk it from south to north. That means there is a fairly steep climb right near the beginning and the last section is a little less steep, even downhill, but with lots of stairs going up and down over the whole walk, in reality one way is no easier than the other.
Whichever way you choose to go, take a detour right near the southern end of the trail to view the geological features of the Hallett Cove Conservation Park: The Sugarloaf and the Amphitheatre.
Each end of the trail has a cafe which provides the perfect opportunity to grab a drink or a snack after you have completed the trail.
Getting here: Catch the Seaford train from Adelaide Railway Station. If you are planning to get off at Marino Rocks, check that the service you are on stops there as not all of them do. Single adult tickets are $5.70, but there are a range of different prices when using a MetroCard, buying a day ticket, or using a concession card. For more details see the Adelaide Metro website here. Once off the train, walk straight toward to beach and begin the walk in the direction you are planning to go.
River Torrens Linear Park
Distance: Your Choice
Time: Dependent on distance
The River Torrens Linear Park trail runs along the banks of the River Torrens from Athelston to where it meets the sea at Henley Beach. The whole trail is a little over 30km long, but I am not suggestions you walk the whole length (unless you are really keen, then go for it!)
The best part about this trail is that it passes right through the city centre, so even those with no transport and staying in one of the Adelaide hotels can enjoy a section of it. Just wander down the the banks of the Torrens and walk in either direction for as long as you wish. This section from the River Torrens Weir to the Albert Bridge near the Adelaide Zoo is my favourite.
The walk is mostly through a narrow strip of parkland along the edge of the river. Some places there are roads and traffic nearby, but in others you can almost believe you are no longer in the city.
No matter which section of Linear Park you choose to walk, I recommend walking towards the sea. While the path is relatively easy going and you won’t find any big hills or rough ground, it does generally slope downwards from the hills to the sea, making walking in that direction slightly easier.
Port Adelaide Loop Walk
Time: 1 hour
This is a walk that is not usually on these lists, but it is a great way to experience some of the maritime vibes of Port Adelaide. The loop takes you around the inner harbour, crossing both the Jervois and Birkenhead Bridges. There are plenty of signs explaining the history of the port as you go. Keep your eyes open for the local Port River dolphins who are often seen here and see how many pieces of the Port Adelaide Street Art you can spot along the way.
The walk is an easy one on a flat, wheelchair accessible path, so this is great for those with mobility issues. It is well marked with white lines on the ground showing the way. The path can also be used by bikes, so young children can ride along with you too. They will love stopping at the Hart’s Mill playground for a break during the walk. Since it’s a loop, you can start the walk at any point along the way too.
Getting to Port Adelaide is easiest by train, but if you choose to drive, I recommend taking advantage of the free parking right on the wharf between the Birkenhead Bridge and the British Hotel. This is not far from the Folklore Cafe which sites out over the water and it a great place to stop for a coffee once you finish.
While there is a lot of development going on near the loop path at the moment, I expect this walk to become very popular as it is all completed. Visit now to see it in its raw, slightly industrial state.
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Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred. She has lived in the state for almost her whole life, just one short stint away as a teenager with her family. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.