During self isolation in March, I started to research some local Adelaide hikes that I could tick off my bucket list once things opened up. Day hikes on sections of the Heysen Trail were high on my list, that is, until I took my brother’s dog Harper for a walk one day.
It was so nice to have a hiking buddy, and Harper exhibits such pure joy when she’s out in nature (especially when she’s on the beach), that I’ve wanted to take her out as much as possible since that first walk. So, I’ve reassessed my bucket list, and I’ve been checking out as many of the dog friendly hikes as I can find south of Adelaide.
I have a few criteria when selecting my hikes. I’ve been looking for trails that are at least 5 miles long (I need the exercise, and she’ll walk ALL day). I’ve also been looking for isolated trails, or locations where there’s not many other people around (for social distancing purposes!).
I’m sure there’s quite a few more dog friendly walks that I’m not aware of, but for now, here’s a list of my top 5 dog friendly walks south of Adelaide (approved by Harper).
Coast Park Path – Port Willunga to Aldinga
I really love the views of the rugged coastal cliffs on these southern beaches, and Harper is in her happy place when she’s down on the sand. She loves running on the sand, and splashing in the incoming tide and I’m pretty sure she’d rate the Coast Park Path at #1!. There’s a paved path on the cliff tops, but depending on the tides, you can also walk on the beach most of the way along this section.
Most south coast beaches allow dogs. There are some restrictions during daylight saving hours. Dog litter bags are available at the top of some of the stairways along the paved path.
Check out the specific dog friendly beaches here.
View the Coast Park Trail maps here.
Sturt Gorge Recreation Park – Craigburn Farm trails
Sturt Gorge Recreation Park comes in on top of my list of favorite dog friendly walks south of Adelaide, and I think Harper would rate it pretty highly as well – she really enjoyed the creek crossings!
The Craigburn Farm section of the park offers some easy trails, with gorgeous sweeping views across the valleys, lots of birds and wildlife, and access to a few more challenging trails in the park. There are some great loop hike suggestions on the Walking SA website, or you can choose your own adventure – be aware that the River Trail offers some moderate challenges such as rock scrambles and river crossings (that can become impassable in winter).
Dogs are allowed. They must be on leash, under control, and must stay on the designated walking trails at all times. Bring your own dog litter bags, and note, there are no trash bins in national parks.
View the park trail maps here and here.
Kuitpo Forest – Tinjella Trail
Both Harper and I enjoyed the Tinjella Trail in Kuitpo Forest. Harper couldn’t get enough of the myriad of smells as we set out on the trail – and there was a lot of stop-start for the first half mile!
There are plenty of options for walking in the forest . I choose to stay on the marked trails so that I don’t get lost! The Tinjella Trail is a meandering 12km trail along well established forest roads and paths. The trail is undulating in parts, but is still an easy walk. A few little ponds along the way created a bit more interest for us other than just the avenues of pine trees.
Dogs are allowed in the plantation forest areas throughout Kuitpo. Dogs must be under effective control, and on leash around other forest users, wildlife and in picnic areas. Bring your own dog litter bags, and note, there are no trash bins in the forest areas.
View the Kuitpo Forest trail maps and visitor info here.
Onkaparinga River Recreation Park – Wetlands Loop Trail
This is probably the shortest walk on this list, but it was enjoyable all the same. The trails here are flat, well established, and offer opportunities to stop along the way to look out for birds (and for your furry friend to sneak in friendly licks in the ear at the same time!).
The Wetlands Loop Trail meanders alongside the Onkaparinga River, then leaves the riverbanks and circumnavigates the adjoining wetland ponds. There’s a boardwalk crossing one of the ponds, as well as plenty of options to sit and enjoy the views along the way. We saw a variety of birds in the wetland ponds throughout the walk.
Dogs are allowed. They must be on leash, under control, and should stay on the designated walking trails. At the time we visited, dog litter bags were available at the trailhead, but note, there are no trash bins in national parks.
Note: This is the Onkaparinga River Recreation Park (rather than the National Park, which is located just a little further inland, and is not dog friendly).
View the trail map here.
Belair National Park – Waterfall Trail
I hadn’t been to Belair National Park for YEARS, so when I read that the park was dog friendly, I put it next on my list, and we headed off to explore the waterfall trail.
The Waterfall Trail is rated moderate, due to some uphill sections, and the unfenced escarpments at both waterfalls. Harper wasn’t really fond of the Echo Tunnel, and the metal grating at the first waterfall viewpoint freaked her out, but otherwise, it was a nice walk through a really natural environment.
Visit after rainfall to see the waterfalls flowing, but take care, as some parts of the trail might become a bit slick after rain. The panoramic views across the park and the Adelaide plains are well worth the effort, even if the waterfalls are not flowing.
Dogs are allowed. They must be on leash, under control, and should stay on the designated walking trails. Bring your own dog litter bags, and note, there are no trash bins in national parks.
View the Belair National park trail map here.
There’s something so rejuvenating about a walk in nature, whether it be on the beach, or through the hills. Taking that walk with your best (four legged) friend makes it all the more rewarding. These walks are accessible most of the year round, so there’s no excuse for not getting out there with your best friend!
I realise these are but a few of the dog friendly walks south of Adelaide, but they’re my favorites for now. There were a couple of honorable mentions that I just had to leave out, these include the Coast Park Path from Sellicks to Aldinga, the Onkeeta Trail in Kuitpo Forest and the O’Halloran Hill Recreation Park. Let me know if you have another favorite that we must try out.
Get out and hike!