Bushwalks are a great family outing for many reasons. Firstly, you’re outdoors so if you pick a good day for it, it can prove a stunner! Secondly, it gives all the family a chance to be technology free for a few hours, with no distractions and not much else to do but talk and take in the view. Thirdly, it gets kids (and parents) moving, so even if you don’t have a sporty kid they can still do something active.
Here are our favourite kid friendly bushwalks in the area – and there’s something for everyone! Remember, plan ahead and take a phone to make sure you are on track using Google maps.
PLATYPUS TRACK | BIDJIGAL RESERVE CASTLE HILL
The Platypus Walking Track in Bidjigal Reserve is one of our favourite tracks for a family bushwalk. It isn’t pram friendly, but if you have a baby carrier and your hands free for young kids this one is great for most ages.
There are multiple walking tracks in Bidgigal Reserve with the most kid friendly being the Platypus Track. The Platypus Track is a 1.7km loop which starts at the end of Excelsior Avenue Castle Hill near Eric Mobbs Reserve playing fields.
The track is pretty easy to walk and there’s some fun stuff on the way for kids to manoeuvre over. Our kids loved the stepping stones across the creek and were interested in Loch Bruce – once a popular swimming and picnic spot.
Full details on this walk can be found here.
BALAKA FALLS | HUNTS CREEK RESERVE
After a downpour of rain you are likely to see some spectacular photos of Balaka Falls. Landscape photographers flock from near and far to take photos of this natural beauty which is hidden within Hunts Creek Reserve, a stretch of bushland nestled behind homes and roads in the suburbs of North Rocks and Carlingford. To be honest we were a little bit underwhelmed with the Falls. It was one of those times that you see amazing photos on Instagram and the reality is significantly different. Obviously the level of rain impacts on the flow of the waterfall but our advice would be to lower your expectations then you are likely to be more wowed by what you see. And be prepared for no waterfalls at all if it hasn’t rained.
Don’t immediately discount this one though as Hunts Creek Reserve is a beautiful place to explore. There’s a creek to cross and bush paths to navigate.
More information can be found here.
BLUE GUM WALK | HORNSBY
The Blue Gum Walk, a small section of the Great North Walk, is a well known track and very popular with walkers for good reason – it’s stunning! If you’re keen on a solid bush walk then this is a great option.
While a bit of a drive from some parts of the Hills, this bushwalk is absolutely fantastic and worth the trip if you’re making a day of it. As the crow flies, it’s actually very close to certain areas of the Hills like Dural and Westleigh, but unfortunately you can’t access it from these suburbs and must enter at Hornsby.
In summary, the walk is approximately 4kms. Our kids are 6 and 8 and handled it well – there are parts that are a little more challenging, but in a good way. For example, there are a few steep sections and one or two bits where you have to work out how you’ll navigate it and the 6 year old wanted to hold hands a couple of times. It took us about 2.5 hours (including about a 10 minute stop for morning tea) and it was only at the last 20 minutes that the whinging started – so a pretty good effort. We did see kids that were younger doing it. It’s not pram friendly at all and you can’t take your dog, although we actually did see a couple – one being carried!
You can also opt to do two smaller sections of the walk – the Ginger Meggs loop (950m) and to and from Fishponds (2.4kms).
Read more details about this walk here.
CUMBERLAND STATE FOREST | WEST PENNANT HILLS
Cumberland State Forest is Australia’s only metropolitan state forest and it’s right here on our doorstep! It contains 40 hectares of native forest and is located at 95 Castle Hill Road West Pennant Hills.
There are 3 main walks in forest. The sensory trail is the best in the Hills if you have a toddler and a pram! It’s only 350m and pram friendly. Then there are the Palm Gully Trail which is 1km and the Forestry Trail which is 1.3km. All walks are easy with kids. In addition to the walks there are picnic areas, toilets, a cafe, a nursery and perhaps one of the biggest draw cards for families these days, Tree Tops Adventure Park.
You can read more about this one here.
WHALE ROCK | CHELTENHAM | NORTH EPPING
This is one of our favourite bush walks and is great if you are looking to social distance. And you guessed it, there is a rock on the walk that looks like a whale. From Day Road in Cheltenham it is 1.2km to Whale Rock along the Devlins Creek Trail. It’s mainly flat and nice and wide.
You can read more about this walk here.
WATERFALL WALK | RICHARD WEBB RESERVE, WEST PENNANT HILLS
This is less of a bush walk and more of a 30 minutes walk in trees to a waterfall but we’ve added it to the list anyway. It’s a great one for prams and for kids with little legs and it starts and ends with an upgraded playground. You can find out more here.
CITY VIEW LOOKOUT | THORNLEIGH | PENNANT HILLS
At the back of Thornleigh Oval, this 1.2km walk leads you to City View Lookout where, you guessed it, you get a view of the City!
You can read more about this walk here.
CALLICOMA WALK | CHERRYBROOK
We have only just done this one for the first time and it was excellent. Slightly more challenging it is a 5.1km loop track, takes about 2 hours and graded as medium. The scenery is beautiful including lush forests and sandstone woodland. Kids will love the raised cylinder crossing stepping stones that take you across the river and the overhanging rocks. The track comes with mini challenges including climbing rocks, walking through big boulders, ducking over or under fallen trees and walking on bridges. You might even spot a mini waterfall.
And just when they are starting to complain of sore legs you pop out at The Lakes of Cherrybrook and there are ducks to spot to take their mind of their tired legs! Read more here.
FLORENCE COTTON RESERVE LOOP & LISGAR GARDENS | HORNSBY
This is a gorgeous spot hidden away in Hornsby that’s well worth a visit. Lisgar Gardens is a stunning hillside garden with a rich history and bordering this is Florence Cotton Reserve, a valuable piece of remnant urban bushland offering a lovely bushwalk for families. You can do a bush loop which takes under an hour. It’s worth noting that that are a lot of stairs in this walk, but they’re quite manageable as they’re the wide boardwalk-style stairs. You can enter the bush at different points in the loop including off Hornsby streets Pretoria Parade, Frederick Street and Pinera Close, as well as from Lisgar Gardens. You’ll cross over a creek and see blackbutts, blue gums and ferns. Our kids enjoyed spotting cockatoos and bush turkeys and even a shy echidna.
BERRY ISLAND RESERVE | WOLLSTONECRAFT
While a little more of a drive, about half an hour from the Hills, this short little track – the Gadyan Track – at Berry Island Reserve is a perfect introduction to bushwalking, as well as Aboriginal culture and heritage for little ones. There’s plenty to see, it’s short and there are stunning harbour views with glimpses of the Harbour Bridge. And it’s part of a larger reserve with a playground and lots of space so it makes a lovely day out. Find out more here.