Your guide to walking, hiking and biking in South Australia’s national parks

Your guide to walking, hiking and biking in South Australia’s national parks

If you’ve got sneak­ers, hik­ing boots or a bike, there’s a nation­al park just wait­ing to wel­come you. Here’s where.

South Australia’s nation­al parks pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties to stay active and healthy, as well as catch up with friends and family.

They’re also per­fect if you’d just pre­fer to head out and enjoy the great out­doors by yourself!

So, what trails should you take? We’ve spo­ken to the experts. If you’ve got these items, here’s what trails you should try:

If you’ve got a pair of sneak­ers, try:

Your guide to walking, hiking and biking in South Australia’s national parks

Mount George Con­ser­va­tion Park – Ridge Loop Trail (loop: 2.2 km, 1.5 hours)

Head to the Ade­laide Hills to the Ridge Loop Trail in Mount George Con­ser­va­tion Park, which is accessed at Gate 6 from the Mount George pic­nic ground and fol­lows the Lewis fire track for the first part of the trail. 

It then fol­lows a sin­gle track around the west­ern face of Mt George before wind­ing its way back to the pic­nic ground at Gate 5. 

A fea­ture of this trail is the rocky out­crop just below the sum­mit, pro­vid­ing panoram­ic views to the west of Mount Lofty, the free­way and the val­ley below.

Nav­i­gate this trail using Google Street View

Mark Oliphant Con­ser­va­tion Park – Bandi­coot Trail Loop (loop: 4.5 km, 1.5 hours)

Also in the Ade­laide Hills is Mark Oliphant Con­ser­va­tion Park, with its Bandi­coot Trail Loop. You can access this trail from the car park off Scott Creek Road. Enter via Gate 1.

Fol­low the bitu­men track until you get past the Camp Track sign and from there you will see a totem indi­cat­ing the start of this trail, which heads up into native vegetation.

This hike heads towards Evans Dri­ve and can be quite steep in some places. Fol­low Evans Dri­ve (this is a pub­lic road, so take care) until you find a pic­togram totem show­ing where the trail heads back into the park.

From here, head down towards the old water tank and there you will join up with Camp Track which will take you back to Gate 1.

Aldin­ga Scrub Con­ser­va­tion Park – Coral Lichen Cir­cuit (loop: 1.1 km, 1 hour)

Between Aldin­ga Beach and Sel­l­icks, south of Ade­laide, you’ll find Aldin­ga Scrub Con­ser­va­tion Park, home to the Coral Lichen Circuit.

This self-guid­ed trail is per­fect for explor­ing the local veg­e­ta­tion, includ­ing a rare colony of lacy coral lichen (Cla­dia fer­di­nandii).

Find your way using the trail’s series of green mark­ers, which can be used in con­junc­tion with the walk­ing guide brochure pro­duced by the Friends of Aldin­ga Scrub.

If you’ve got a pair of hik­ing boots, try:

Your guide to walking, hiking and biking in South Australia’s national parks

Horsnell Gul­ly Con­ser­va­tion Park – Old Coach Road Hike (one-way: 2 km, 1 hour)

Begin the Old Coach Road Hike from the gate at the end of Coach Road in Skye or at Gate 3 in Horsnell Gul­ly Con­ser­va­tion Park, 10 km east of the city.

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 locals 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.

Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park – Hardy’s Scrub Hike (4 km, 2 hours)

The Hardy’s Scrub Hike in south­ern Adelaide’s Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park tra­vers­es a very impor­tant con­ser­va­tion area with excel­lent diver­si­ty of plants cre­at­ed by the var­ied soils.

Grey box (Euca­lyp­tus micro­carpa) grows in fer­tile loam or clay soils, pink gums pre­fer soils with a sandy, well-drained sur­face and a clay or rocky base. South­ern cypress pine grows only in sandy loam soil.

You’ll have plen­ty of time on this 4km hike to notice the diver­si­ty of the native vegetation.

Nav­i­gate this trail on Google Street View

Hale Con­ser­va­tion Park – Hale Walk (loop: 4 km, 2 hours)

A trip to the Barossa Val­ley is the per­fect excuse to stop off at Hale Con­ser­va­tion Park for some exer­cise on the way.

Head off on the Hale Walk at the War­ren Road Trail­head and look out for birds, ter­mite mounds and echid­na scratchings.

You might notice changes in rock or veg­e­ta­tion type and large tree-stumps, which sug­gest how big the trees were before they were cut for tim­ber in the 19th century.

If you’ve got any sort of bicy­cle, try these trails:

Your guide to walking, hiking and biking in South Australia’s national parks

Onka­paringa Riv­er Recre­ation Park – Wet­lands Loop Trail (Short loop 3 km, 1 hour. Long loop 4.5 km, 1.5 hours) 

Head to Onka­paringa Riv­er Recre­ation Park, 35 km south of Ade­laide and set off on the Wet­lands Loop Trail, which begins near the car park on Riv­er Road.

Fol­low the east­ern bank of the Onka­paringa Riv­er where you’ll see two fresh­wa­ter ponds, which sup­port a vari­ety of wildlife such as birds, frogs and fish, and some uncom­mon plant species.

This flat trail is a mix­ture of board­walks and grav­el paths and is acces­si­ble for wheel­chairs and fam­i­lies with strollers. Dogs on lead are also wel­come on this trail.

Nav­i­gate this trail on Google Street View 

Para Wirra Con­ser­va­tion Park – Lake Dis­cov­ery Loop (loop: 1 km, 30 minutes)

This short loop in Para Wirra Con­ser­va­tion Park, 41 km north-east of Ade­laide, is a slow rid­ing zone, suit­able for young rid­ers and beginners.

It’s a pop­u­lar trail that is great for fam­i­lies and the per­fect spot to soak up the tran­quil set­ting of Para Wirra’s lake.

You’re sure to see many water­birds and bush birds along the way, so make sure you bring your binoculars.

Nav­i­gate this trail using Google Street View

Sturt Gorge Con­ser­va­tion Park – Walk the Dog Trail (1.8 km, 40 minutes)

Head to Sturt Gorge Con­ser­va­tion Park, only 13 km south of Ade­laide, and set off on the Walk the Dog Trail, which begins near Craig­burn Farm.

This is an easy trail for the whole fam­i­ly with sweep­ing views of the hills and valleys.

Nav­i­gate this trail using Google Street View

If you’ve got a moun­tain bike, try:

Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Park – Riv­er Red Gum Loop (loop: 2.3 km, 30 minutes)

Get off the asphalt and back to nature. An easy trail to ride is the Riv­er Red Gum Loop at Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Park in Adelaide’s south­ern sub­urbs, which fol­lows the Viaduct Creek.

This trail is best rid­den in a clock­wise direction.

Note: there is no access through the Archery Club when the red flag is flying.

Nav­i­gate this trail using Google Street View

Cob­bler Creek Recre­ation Park – Bab­bler Loop (loop: 3 km, 1.5 hour return)

On bike or foot, the Bab­bler Loop will take you climb­ing to the top of Cob­bler Creek Recre­ation Park, in Adelaide’s north­ern sub­urbs, through rare mallee box grassy wood­land, weep­ing pit­tospo­rum and Christ­mas bush.

This trail has great views of Sal­is­bury and Gulf St Vin­cent and is a great place to watch the late after­noon sun sink below the horizon.

Nav­i­gate this trail using Google Street View

Anstey Hill Recre­ation Park – Wednes­day Loop (loop: 3.4 km, 2 to 4 hours)

Anstey Hill Recre­ation Park, 16 km north-east of Ade­laide, has an exten­sive net­work of moun­tain bik­ing trails.

The Wednes­day Loop is a great trail for keen hik­ers and moun­tain bike rid­ers alike. It tra­vers­es a vari­ety of land­scapes and show­cas­es areas of restored veg­e­ta­tion car­ried out by the Friends of Anstey Hill vol­un­teers. It is best trav­elled in a clock­wise direction.

Nav­i­gate this trail using Google Street View

Want some extra ideas about where to go and what to do in SA’s amaz­ing nation­al parks? Check out our library for more ideas toSee and Door vis­it theNation­al Parks and Wildlife SA web­sitefor more inspiration.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in May 2020 and has been updat­ed with new information.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living