Mount Ainslie’s Kokoda trail and the Lake Burley Griffin bridge-to-bridge walk are tried and tested, and both legendary iconic Canberra walks. However, with ‘social distancing’ almost a sure thing to be the Collins English Dictionary’s word of the year for 2020, steering clear of crowds is of the essence, and you’ll be hard pressed doing that at LBG or Mount Ainslie right now.
Below are seven well known, but perhaps less frequented, walks dotted around the Territory.
One Tree Hill (8.4km)
For a certain generation, the name of this Hall trail evokes the early-2000s Chad Michael Murray drama and its belter of a theme song, Gavin DeGraw’s I Don’t Wanna Be. This is a lovely, moderately flat two-hour round trip with very little cover – so wear a hat if it’s sunny. The only time it presents anything remotely challenging is the final ascent up the eponymous hill itself. Can you spot the ‘one tree’?
Lake Ginninderra (7.3km)
Frequented by residents of nearby Belconnen suburbs, Lake Ginninderra’s loop track steers you through a great deal of parkland, by the Belconnen dog park, along a little bit of Ginninderra Drive, and past the tree-lined Emu Bank promenade.
Over two hours you’ll spot a wide range of swans, ducks and other water birds, while passing families, dog lovers, and other residents out enjoying the surrounds.
Popular starting points are at Townsend Place, Diddams Close, and Macdermott Place. Either do the full walk or break off as much as you can chew. A popular 2.5km loop walk can be done from Diddams Close near the Belconnen Dog Park.
Mount Taylor (3.8km)
In many ways, this is the Southside’s Mount Ainslie. A challenging and, at times, steep summit track that’s popular with both locals going up from their backyards and people driving from across South Canberra to pull up at the Sulwood Drive carpark. With 360-degree views at the summit spanning from the Brindabellas all the way to Gungahlin, this fantastic Woden/Tuggeranong walk is a winner.
If the summit’s too much for you, the gentler trails around the base might be more your speed.
Mulligan’s Flat Reserve Bird Walk (7.6km)
If you’re driving, park at the Forde carpark on Amy Ackman Street, then follow the signs toward the main gate into the reserve. Once inside the loop walk is a 6km circuit through Yellow Box-Red Gum Grassy Woodland, an endangered ecological community, that on your travels merges into the Scribbly Gum-Brittle Gum woodland.
You won’t be hard pressed to spot kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and myriad bird life at Mulligan’s, which, along with the reserve’s gorgeous native flora and serene aura, makes it a beloved spot for so many Canberrans.
Molonglo Gorge to Blue Tiles (3km)
Located in the Kowen Forest, Molonglo Gorge provides locals and visitors with a peaceful escape from the city.
The Blue Tiles Walk is a moderate walk along the Molonglo River. Along the way, you may find some challenging sections as the trail is not frequently maintained.
There are some steep sections near the start and you may find you have to climb over some rocks, but for the most part the walk is a pleasant stroll through the bush.
To get to Molonglo Gorge, take the Sutton Road off Pialligo Avenue and turn onto the dirt road signposted as Kowen Forest and Molonglo Gorge.
Tuggeranong Hill (3km)
This trail starts and finishes at Calliste Crescent in Theodore, but there are other pedestrian access points in Theodore and Conder. The summit trail is a steep incline up the hill that when you reach the top offers fantastic views of the Tuggeranong Valley, the Bullen Range, Rob Roy Range and Mount Tennant.
For bird lovers, the Tuggeranong Hill Reserve provides habitat for woodland birds, and is an important stop-off point for the annual autumn migration of honeyeaters.
Mount Majura Nature Reserve (6.1km summit circuit)
Ainslie’s less crowded yet equally beautiful and slightly taller sister is a popular walking spot for the residents of Hackett, Watson, Ainslie and Dickson, offering a range of summit and base circuit walking trails, providing a number of walks or bike rides at various degrees of difficulty. Take on the mountain or enjoy a more leisurely walk along the Hackett and Ainslie houses tracks.
Unlike Mt Ainslie, which has been particularly crowded of late, the Majura trails tend to be walked by local residents, but still manage decent numbers, particularly in the beautiful autumn weather.
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