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Find a Park > Adelaide Hills

Horsnell Gully and Giles Conservation Parks

  • Picnic Areas
  • Walking Trails
  • Bird Watching

About

Take a bushwalk through the steep gullies in the picturesque Adelaide Hills to discover the history of Horsnell Gully and Giles Conservation Parks. Both the Heysen and Yurrebilla trails wind their way through these parks, offering stunning views of the surrounding region.

Named after the state Governor's coachmen, John Horsnell, relics and reminders of the Horsnell family property still remain. Along the signposted walking trails, you will find the remains of a large homestead, including the coaching sheds, stable and cowsheds. The original garden of the Horsnell property is located at the start of the walking trail, marked by elm trees, plum trees and orange trees.

There is an extensive network of trails within both parks, with two main hiking loops in Horsnell Gully Conservation Park.

Opening hours

Open daily.

Closures and safety

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may also be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

You can determine the current fire danger rating by checking the Fire Ban District map on the CFS website.

Check the CFS website or call the CFS Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 for:

Listen to your local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety.

Contact details

Visitor information, bookings and park management:

North Lofty District Office - Black Hill Conservation Park
Phone: (+61 8) 8336 0901
Email: DEW.NPWSNorthLofty@sa.gov.au

Emergency contacts:

Medical, fire (including bushfire) and police emergency situations
Phone: Triple Zero (000)

Police Assistance
Phone: 131 444 for non-urgent police assistance

National Parks and Wildlife Service SA –  Duty officer
Phone: 0427 556 676 

Injured wildlife:

Within the park
Please contact North Lofty District Office - Black Hill Conservation Park on (08) 8336 0901 or the duty officer on 0427 556 676

Outside of the park
Please contact a local wildlife rescue group

Getting there

Horsnell Gully and Giles Conservation Parks are located 10km east of Adelaide. 

Parking and access to Horsnell Gully Conservation Park is via Horsnell Gully Road and Coach Road.

Access to Giles Conservation Park is via Woods Hill Road and the Heysen and Yurrebilla trails along Ridge Track.

Dogs not allowed

Dogs are not permitted in this park.

Discover which parks you can walk your dog in on our find a park tool or read 12 dog-friendly walks in Adelaide Parks by Good Living for inspiration.

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are permitted in most public places and are therefore welcome in South Australia’s parks and reserves. Assistance dogs must be appropriately restrained on a lead and remain under your effective control at all times while in a park or reserve.

As per the dogs in parks and reserves policy, if the dog is not an accredited assistance dog, they must be trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate that disability and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for a dog in a public place. However, refusal may be given if the person with the disability is unable to produce evidence the dog is an assistance dog with the appropriate training.

Before taking your assistance dog into a park that does not normally allow dogs, it is highly recommended that you contact us so we can provide you with the latest information on any potential hazards within specific parks that may affect your dog. Please contact the park via the contact details provided under the contact tab or contact the visitor service centre via email or on Facebook, or you can live chat with a customer service representative on the website Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Facilities

Take a packed lunch and enjoy an open air meal in the picnic areas within this park.

Useful information

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for animals and adding nutrients to the soil.

Plants and animals

Keep an eye out for the local wildlife which includes western grey kangaroos, koalas and short-beaked echidnas.

Flora and fauna species lists

To download flora (plants) and fauna (animals) species lists for this park, use the 'Create Simple Species List' tab under 'Flora Tools' or 'Fauna Tools'  in NatureMaps

Pests and diseases

Phytophthora (fy-TOFF-thora), otherwise known as root-rot fungus, is killing our native plants and threatens the survival of animals depending on plants for food and shelter.

This introduced fungus can be found in plant roots, soil and water. Help stop the spread by using hygiene stations, staying on tracks and trails and by complying with all Phytophthora management signs.

Traditional owners

Aboriginal peoples have occupied, enjoyed and managed the lands and waters of this State for thousands of generations. For Aboriginal first nations, creation ancestors laid down the laws of the Country and bestowed a range of customary rights and obligations to the many Aboriginal Nations across our state. 

There are many places across the State that have great spiritual significance to Aboriginal first nations.  At some of these places Aboriginal cultural protocols, such as restricted access, are promoted and visitors are asked to respect the wishes of Traditional Owners.

In places where protocols are not promoted visitors are asked to show respect by not touching or removing anything, and make sure you take all your rubbish with you when you leave.

Aboriginal peoples continue to play an active role in caring for their Country, including in parks across South Australia. 

See and do

Bushwalking

Bushwalking is a fantastic way to connect with nature, keep fit and spend time with family and friends. South Australia's national parks feature a range of trails that let you experience a diversity of landscapes.

Both the Heysen and Yurrebilla trails wind their way through these parks, offering stunning views of the surrounding region.

Moderate hikes

  • Old Coach Road Hike (1 hour one way, 2km)

    Begin from the gate at the end of Coach Road in Skye or at gate 3, Horsnell Gully Conservation Park. Walk along what was once the principal road into Adelaide from the east during the 1870s and 1880s. There was a coach gate located on the highest point of ‘Coach Hill’, which is known today as the suburb of Skye. The driver blew a trumpet to tell the settlers that he had been through the gate and they had to climb up to close it. Near the spot where the power lines cross Coach Road, there was a hut for a ‘team’s keeper’ who kept fresh horses for the coaches.

Hard hikes

  • Main Valley and Rockdale Hill Hike (2 hours return, 4km)

    Start at the car park, Horsnell Gully Conservation Park. Follow the Main Valley trail and walk beneath majestic river red gums and South Australian blue gums to the waterfall. Keep an eye out for koalas in the tree tops and a variety of woodland birds in the trees and foraging in the undergrowth. Traverse the waterfall - beware of slippery rocks - and continue in a south-easterly direction to the Mount Lofty to Norton Summit trail. Follow this trail north to Rockdale Hill. From here, traverse along Rockdale Hill Track, which gradually descends into the scenic valley, before turning west and traversing a ridgeline, providing excellent views of parts of the city of Adelaide. The trail then descends back into the main valley to the car park.

Mountain biking

There are no designated mountain biking trails in this park, however bicycles may be ridden on public roads within the park.

Stay in the park

Camping is not permitted within this park.

  • Use Find a Park to discover which parks you can camp in.

Volunteering

Want to help?

To find out how you can help in this park or nearby, please visit Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges – Volunteering.

Want to join others and become a Park Friend?

To find out more about Friends of Parks groups please visit Friends of Parks South Australia.

You could join others to help look after a park. You can take part in working bees, training and other events.

Safety

Bushwalking

Beware the Main Valley and Waterfall Hike track is a Grade 4 hard Hike and may be wet, muddy and slippery in sections; especially during winter and is not advisable after heavy rains. Bushwalking experience is highly recommended and it is safest to traverse this section in an uphill direction starting from the carpark. 

The international Trail Users Code of Conduct is to show respect and courtesy towards other trail users at all times.

Ensure that you:

  • keep to defined walking trails and follow the trail markers
  • wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
  • carry sufficient drinking water
  • be aware of weather conditions and avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
  • Walk, hike or trek - what's the difference?

Fire

 

Can I have a fire or barbecue?

  • Wood fires, solid fuel, gas fires and liquid fuel fires are prohibited throughout the year.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Closures and safety

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may also be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

You can determine the current fire danger rating by checking the Fire Ban District map on the CFS website.

Check the CFS website or call the CFS Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 for:

Listen to your local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety.

Know before you go

Every national park is different, each has its own unique environment, it is important to be responsible while enjoying all the park has to offer.

Please ensure that you:

  • leave your pets at home
  • do not feed birds or other animals, it promotes aggressive behaviour and an unbalanced ecology
  • do not bring generators (except where permitted), chainsaws or firearms into the park
  • leave the park as you found it - there are no bins in national parks, please come prepared to take your rubbish with you. 
  • abide by the road rules (maintain the speed limit)
  • respect geological and heritage sites
  • do not remove native plants
  • are considerate of other park users.

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for animals and adding nutrients to the soil.

Maps

Park

Maps on your mobile

If you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza Map app and have interactive national park maps on hand when you need them.

The app uses your device's built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos and drop placemark pins. 

How to get it working on your device:

1. Download the Avenza Maps app from the app store (iOS/Android) whilst you are still in range (its free!).
2. Open up the app and click the shopping cart icon.
3. Click ‘Find’ and type the name of the national park or reserve you are looking for.
4. Click on the map you are after and install it (all our maps are free).
5. You will now find a list of your installed maps on the home page of the Avenza Maps app.
6. Use our maps through the Avenza Mapa app while in the park and never take a wrong turn again.

Fees

Entry fees

Come and enjoy this park for free. 

Park pass

This park is not included in the park pass system. 

Camping and accommodation

There is no camping or accommodation available within this park. 

Other fees and permits

There are no other fees or permits associated with this park. 

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