Local Hills walks you can do, even in lockdown

We’re lucky to live so close to some beautiful bush walks, particularly when lockdowns mean we can only exercise within a 10-kilometre limit of home. Even during normal times, it’s good to know we can fit walking into our busy lives without having to make too much effort – and research has shown over and over again that walking in nature is good for mind, body and soul. In fact, according to a study by the Black Dog Institute, as little as one hour’s exercise a week can improve your mood and help prevent depression.

If you have kids, you’ll know how important it is to factor in outdoor activities and when organised sports are off the table, bush walks are a great option for families. Local nature reserves offer tracks that vary from challenging hikes to leisurely strolls – and if your family includes fur-children, there are some lovely dog-friendly off-leash areas nearby. 

Platypus Track, Bidjigal Reserve, Castle Hill 

There are several walking tracks in Bidjigal Reserve but the most popular for families is the Platypus Track. The track is a 2.4-kilometre loop that starts and finishes at the end of Excelsior Avenue in Castle Hill near the Eric Mobbs Reserve playing fields. It’s graded as moderate, with some steep slopes and two crossings on stepping-stones across Excelsior Creek (kids love these). Allow about 1.5 hours; check the Hills Districts Mums website for some great photos and the Hills District Council website for any closures or special conditions. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

Baulkham Hills Heritage Trail 

This 6.88-kilometre, circular walk is graded easy – it’s on paved paths – and takes 2.5 to 3 hours to do the full route. The walk can be accessed from various points, but the main starting point is Astrid Avenue, Baulkham Hills, where it’s easy to park. Signs tell the stories of colonial settlers and the trail goes through the headwaters of Toongabbie Creek, the first area to be settled in Baulkham Hills. There’s an off-leash area for dogs at Crestwood Reserve, which adjoins the trail. See details on aussiebushwalking.com for more information.

Forest Walk, West Pennant Hills 

Cumberland State Forest is the only ‘urban forest’ in Australia and covers about 40 hectares of native trees and rainforest. The 1.8-kilometre Forestry Trail starts at the Visitor Centre car park at 95 Castle Hill Road, West Pennant Hills and is graded as moderate, with some steep bush tracks and lots of steps. It takes about 1.5 hours. Follow signs for the short Sensory and Palm Gully trails along the way. Facilities include picnic areas, toilets, a café and nursery; it’s also home to TreeTops Sydney (check the Treetops website for bookings and temporary closures). 

Richard Webb Reserve, West Pennant Hills 

The reserve runs along the Darling Mills Creek at West Pennant Hills and forms part of the 8-kilometre Murri Yanna Track (Bidjigal Reserve) that goes all the way down to Hazel Ryan Oval in North Rocks. You can start the 3-kilometre walk at the fire trail behind the playground off Aiken Road, West Pennant Hills; it’s graded as moderate and features broad bush tracks. A highlight is the waterfall, the only one in the Hills District – it’s best seen after heavy rain. Allow about 1.5 to 2 hours. See some great photos and more information on www.parraparents.com.au.

Crestwood Reserve, Baulkham Hills 

Although Crestwood Reserve is mostly used for its sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, skate park and kids’ playgrounds, there are also several flat walking tracks around the reserve. And that off-leash dog area we mentioned before, which is divided into fenced off sections for big and small dogs. The perimeter walk is 2.1 kilometres and the walk to Torry Burn Reserve is 6 kilometres, both graded easy. Crestwood Reserve is located at the corner of Crestwood Drive and Chapel Lane, Baulkham Hills and there’s plenty of parking. See the Hills District Council website for more details.

Off-Leash Dog Parks

Here are some of our favourite dog parks where your pooch can run around and have fun with other off-leash dogs.

  • Balcombe Heights Reserve, Seven Hills Road, Baulkham Hills
  • Bernie Mullane Sports Complex, Marella Avenue, Kellyville 
  • Coolong Reserve, Coolong Street, Castle Hill
  • Castle Hill Showground (lower dog arenas) 
  • Rutherford Avenue Reserve, Rutherford Avenue, North Kellyville

Having lived and worked in The Hills District for a long time, our team at Westons Property & Co knows the region intimately. If you have any lifestyle, home or property related questions, feel free to give us a call.