• Two females completing the Mount Lofty Hike. Photo credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

The best hiking trails in Adelaide.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

You don’t have to wander too far from home for a nature-bound adventure. Adelaide is surrounded by reserves and national parks that are overflowing with native bushland and wildlife, and they’re all just begging to be explored. A network of hiking trails will lead you to impressive lookouts that take in views of Adelaide's gorges and coastlines. And the waterfalls and rockpools will leave you feeling like you are truly away from it all. Lace-up your boots and hit one of Adelaide’s best hiking trails for an unforgettable experience.

Photo credit: Callum Jackson, South Australian Tourism Commission
Photo credit: Callum Jackson, South Australian Tourism Commission

Gorge Hike, Onkaparinga River National Park

Just south of Adelaide, the Onkaparinga River National Park is a hiker's dream. Teeming with walking trails of all skill levels, you can traverse across clifftops and down into rock pools, our pick though, is the Gorge Hike. It’s a hard walk but well worth the effort. From the Sundews Lookout, where you get views of the rocky outcrops and the river flowing through gorge, take a steep descent to the bottom of the gorge and follow the river downstream before returning up to the top of the ridge. 

Distance: 6km
Time: 4 hours

Adelaide Botanic Gardens

There’s no need to head out of town to experience one of Adelaide’s most renowned walks. Framing the city, 50 hectares of maintained gardens display a diverse range of plants from Australia and abroad. You can go it alone, do sections at a time, or join a free guided walk that lasts for 1.5 hours (suspended during Covid-19). It’s a wonderful way to experience Adelaide city and get back in touch with nature.

Distance: Varies
Time: Guided tour 1.5 hours

Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens

Experience the leaves changing colours as you take a casual stroll or a hike through one of the many trails of Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens. One of Adelaide’s most beautiful hiking trails is the Lakeside Trail – a scenic loop of the garden’s main lake, to the Valley View Walk, which has impressive views of the vineyards, orchards and garden. The Botanic Gardens also forms part of the famed Heysen Trail, a 1,200km walk that runs from Cape Jervis to the Flinders Ranges.

Distance: Varies
Time: Varies

Beaumont Circuit, Burnside

One of the greenest suburbs in Adelaide, Burnside’s network of reserves and parklands are a convenient place to explore when you’re not wanting to venture too far from the city. From Hayward Drive and Caithness Avenue, follow the trail up the steep hill into Mount Osmond Reserve through bushland that opens out to views of Adelaide. There are a few options; follow the trail around the contours of the hill or take a shortcut via the fire trail. As far as hiking trails in Adelaide go, this is one popular path.

Distance: 3.5km
Time: 1.5 hours

Three Falls Grand Hike, Morialta Conersation Park
Photo credit: Adam Bruzzone, South Australian Tourism Commission

Three Falls Grand Hike, Morialta Conservation Park 

Within just 20-minutes of Adelaide City, Morialta Conservation Park has an impressive series of walking trails that takes in native bushland, waterfalls and a gorge. Teeming with wildlife, you would be forgiven for thinking that you are hours from the city. A favourite among avid hikers and trail runners is the Three Falls Grand Hike. A 7.3km round-trip, the trail hugs the edge of the gorge (which boasts views of the cliffs) and wanders past Fourth Creek, First Falls, Second Falls and Third Falls.  

Distance: 7.3km
Time: 3.5 hours

Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty Summit Hike

If you had to narrow it down to one, this is the hike to do in Adelaide. The Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty Summit Hike attracts all kinds – hiking enthusiasts to trail runners to casual walkers. Although there are plenty of lookouts along the way, nothing quite beats the views from the summit. Strap on your hiking shoes because there are some steep sections along the trail, but the effort is well worth it. Start at Waterfall Gully Road and follow the signs (or people) along the trail. 

Distance: 7.8km
Time: 2.5 hours (return)

Alligator Gorge Ring Route, Mount Remarkable National Park

Mount Remarkable National Park may be a 3.5-hour drive away from Adelaide, but the Alligator Gorge Ring Route will make the road trip well worth it. The best time to visit is during spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom. The trail itself runs the full length of Alligator Gorge and through the Narrows – a gorge a couple of metres wide that stretches for several hundred metres. It also includes The Terraces, a series of platforms which the creek flows down. 

Distance: 8.9km
Time: 4 hours return

The Coast Trail Adelaide
The Coast Trail Adelaide

Coastal Park Trail, Adelaide’s Beaches

A 70km stretch of walking and cycling paths that hug Adelaide’s coastal foreshore, from North Haven to Sellicks Beach. Passing through beachside suburbs where cafes and restaurants capitalise on their waterfront locales, and parkland gives way to sandy shores, this is definitely one walk you don’t want to miss. It is a relatively flat, easy walk that can be completed over several days or a weekend – Glenelg to Brighton (4.2km) or Henley Square to Glenelg (7.5km) are our picks.

Distance: 70km (one way)
Time: Varies

Yellowtail Loop, Anstey Hill Recreation Park

Yet another beautiful walk surrounded by native bushland and wildlife on the outskirts of Adelaide city, Yellowtail Loop at Anstey Hill Recreation Park is a well-worn trail that passes many of the parks features, such as the ruins of Newmans Nursery. There are some steep climbs, great views of Adelaide Plains, and is dog-friendly (on-leash). Plus, eight mountain biking trails cater to varying skill levels.  

Distance: 7.5km
Time: 2-3 hours

River Torrens Linear Park Trail

Strap on your walking shoes and hit the relatively easy River Torrens Linear Park Trail. From Athelstone in Adelaide’s east, follow the river for 30km through Adelaide city and over to West Beach/Henley Beach. Along the way, there are plenty of places to take a rest – playgrounds, cafes and picnic spots. A popular trail used by walkers, runners and cyclist, our advice, pack your swimmers for a cooling dip at the end of the 30km stretch. 

Distance: 30km
Time: 5 hours

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