Known as the Bush Capital, Canberra has some great walks through its many National Parks and Nature Reserves. But there is a lot more than bushland nature walks in Canberra. There are also fun Canberra walks that can take you on a journey through everything from wetlands to lakes and past some of Canberra’s best attractions.
Featured Image: Brilliant Hike up to Gibraltar Peak within Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve © Richard Poulton for VisitCanberra
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- Lake Burley Griffin Bridge to Bridge Walk
- Anzac Parade Walk
- Black Mountain Walks
- National Botanic Gardens Main Trail
- Mount Ainslie Walk
- National Arboretum Himalayan Cedar Walk
- Jerrabomberra Wetlands
- Canberra Zoo Adventure Trail
- Walks Beyond Canberra
- Places to Stay in Canberra
Lake Burley Griffin Bridge to Bridge Walk
For anyone visiting Canberra, this easy 5km walk around Lake Burley Griffin between the Kings Avenue Bridge and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge is a must. The lake and surrounding mountains make it a lovely walk to start with, but there is also a huge amount to see as you do the lap.
The south bank includes the National Library of Australia, The National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the International Flag Display and Australians of the Year Walk. The north bank has more than two dozen memorials and gardens. Some of the highlights are the National Carillon on Queen Elizabeth Island, the National Capital Exhibition and Water Jet, Commonwealth Park the Rond Terraces and the National Police Memorial.
The walk is flat and paved the whole way around and there is parking near the Captain Cook Memorial and Queen Elizabeth Island. How long do you need for the bridge to bridge walk? Depends how much sightseeing you want to do along the way. If you are after a brisk walk to get the blood pumping allow an hour but it could take 2 hours or more if you want to look at all the memorials and parks.
If you are in tourist mode, it is worth getting a map of the walk to make sure you don’t miss any of the attractions as you go around.
Anzac Parade Walk
If you enjoyed the Lake Burley Griffin Walk, you might also want to do the 2.5km easy Anzac Parade Walk. The eye-catching red gravel boulevard is home to 13 war memorials that include the Australian National Korean War Memorial, the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial, and the Australian Service Nurses National Memorial to name just a few.
Each memorial is poignant and striking in its own way, this is certainly more of a contemplative walk than one you might do to get your steps up. Parking is available at either end of Anzac Parade at the Australian War Memorial or Parkes Way. Officially the walk begins from behind the Australian Hellenic Memorial at the War Memorial end, but you could do the walk from either direction or as an extension of the Lake Burley Griffin Walk.
Black Mountain Walks
Black Mountain Reserve is a great spot for nature walk in Canberra. There are several trails winding their way around and up to the top of Black Mountain. If you are a visitor and don’t have time to find some of the less well marked trails, there are two main tracks to try. On any of the walks you can see wildlife, wildflowers in spring and lots of birds.
If you like walking up mountains the Black Mountain Summit Track is a great choice. You can join the trail in either the National Botanic Gardens or on Frith Road. There is free parking at Frith Road, but start of the trail is marked a bit better from within the Botanic Gardens. This track goes up right from the start and there is a long steep section right at the end.
Trail Detail: 5.4km moderate return walk from the Botanic Gardens, a bit less from Frith Road.
Forest Loop Walk
Another good walk here is the Black Mountain Forest Loop Walk. Drive up Black Mountain and park in what will likely be the deserted carpark of the Telstra Tower (which is currently closed to the public). Up near the tower you’ll find signs for the loop walk around the summit. There are great views of Canberra, birds, wildflowers and stands of Scribbly Gum and Black Cyprus to watch out for.
Trail details: 2km easy loop trail that crosses the Black Mountain Drive and Summit walk as you make your way around.
Other Black Mountain Walks
There are other walks that start at the base of Black Mountain. There’s the 2.0 km Black Mountain Woodland loop off Caswell Drive and the 3.5 km Orchid/Link Track off Belconnen Drive. They are both nice walks but being near main roads the sound of traffic takes away from them a bit.
If you like the walks at Black Mountain Nature Reserve – there are more trails to explore at neighbouring Aranda Bushland Nature Reserve and Mount Painter Nature Reserve.
National Botanic Gardens Main Trail
The National Botanic Gardens are a great place for a nature walk with a difference. You can leave the Canberra bushland behind and go on a tour through rainforests, rock gardens, eucalypt forests and the Red Centre Garden as you stroll around the Main Trail.
The 1.5km loop is well signed and sealed and is a colourful treat for families and nature lovers. The gardens are a favourite spot for birdwatchers, with upwards of 100 bird species spotted here. Kids will love the bee hotel and rainforest boardwalks – keep an eye out for the cassowary lurking in the jungle!
Eucalypt Trail & Bushland Nature Walk
Another walk in the Botanic Gardens is the 1.8km Eucalypt trail. It overlaps with the Main Trail to a degree but diverges along the way and takes you for a longer stroll through the Eucalypt Garden at one end of the walk, and into the Tasmanian Rainforest area at the start of the walk. There are some to steps to negotiate in the rainforest section.
The 3km Bushland Nature Walk starts at the visitor centre but then heads away from the formal part of the gardens into the natural bushland of Black Mountain. There are a few steps on this walk, but it is generally a little quieter than the main path circuit.
If you after a more energetic walk, the 5.4km Black Mountain Summit walk also starts in the National Botanic Gardens – look for the Telstra Tower markers to guide the way.
Entry to the gardens is free but there is an hourly fee for parking. After your walk you can relax at the Pollen Café and Restaurant.
Mount Ainslie Walk
Rising behind the National War Memorial, Mount Ainslie is another great Nature walk in the heart of Canberra. Starting from Remembrance Park, you can follow the Kokoda Memorial Trail up to summit for panoramic views across Canberra and out to the Brindabella Range.
The sealed track is a fairly steady climb and there is a set of 60 steps to negotiate not far from the top but you walk through some great bushland. Keep an eye out for kangaroos towards the bottom of the trail and lots of birds and wildflowers.
A feature of the track is the dozen or more plaques that commemorate the Kokoda Trail campaign. There are also plenty of seats along the way and a drink station at the top.
National Arboretum Himalayan Cedar Walk
One of the best places to walk in Canberra is the spectacular National Arboretum. The National Arboretum is free to enter, parking is free, and dogs on leash dogs are allowed on the walking trails.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to walks at the National Arboretum.
The longest is the Explorer Track, a 7.2km return path through a southern forest themed woodland featuring rare and native trees. The Cork Oak Track (1.9km return), Mountain View Track (3.5km return), and Dairy Farmers Hill Track (2.3km return) are all fun shorter options. Dairy Farmers hill features some great sculptures.
One of our favourite tracks is the Himalayan Cedar Loop. You can drive straight to it or walk there from the Village Centre (2.1km return). The sound of the wind in the trees, the autumn colour and the meandering path make it a lot of fun. And if you have kids, they will also love the zig zagging Central Valley Path (1.5km one way).
After your walk you can relax and grab a coffee in the spectacular Village Centre Café, the views over the Central Valley and across the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion. If you travelling with kids, they will go nuts for the pod playground – it is amazing!
The Jerrabomberra Wetlands are in Fyschwick, less than 10 minutes from the centre of Canberra. There are three walks you can do here, two focus on the lagoon and wetlands, a third incorporates the surrounding woodlands and the Jerrabomberra Creek. If you want to break up your walk, there are 5 hides where you can hunker down and spot some of the prolific birdlife.
Kelly’s Loop and the short extension of this, the Billabong Walk, are approximately 2km long (there are no distance markers) and take you past bird hides, open views of the lagoon, Jerrabomborra Creek and along boardwalks surrounded by tall reeds. They take around 45 minutes but it will be longer if you stop and look at the birds.
They are easy walks along a mix of dirt and boardwalks. Follow the yellow arrows for Kelly’s loop and the blue markers for the slightly longer Billabong Walk. The Woodland Loop is longer – maybe 60 + minutes/3.5km and has a few short hills. As well as lots of birds. we also spotted kangaroos on the Woodlands walk.
Also in the area is the Red Hill Nature Reserve, it is only 10 minutes away. The Red Hill Lookout tracks and Davidson Hill Loops are easy to moderate walks, between 2.5 and 10km long and incorporate lovely views, undulating hills, lots of birdlife and wild flowers.
Read More: 3 Fun Walks in Jerrabomberra Wetlands
Canberra Zoo Adventure Trail
Yes, you pay to get into the National Zoo and Aquarium, and we wouldn’t normally recommend a zoo as a place to walk – but this is no normal zoo. At so many zoos we go to, we have a map and still wonder at the end of the day if we got to the otters or saw the ring-tailed lemurs. Well, you don’t have that problem at the National Zoo and Aquarium.
This is a fun Canberra walk because the numbered Adventure Trail, as it is called, is so well sign posted it methodically takes you around to all the exhibits. So as opposed to the backtracking and zig zagging you might do at a zoo, here you can relax, enjoy the amazing exhibits and get a walk in as well.
We took the advice of the National Zoo website and came in the second half of the day, and as they suggested, it was pretty quiet which really added to the walk. Seeing so many amazing animals close up was awesome too – the big cats were all easy to spot which was a real highlight of our visit.
So, if you are a wildlife lover, the National Zoo and Aquarium is a great place to see some animals and get a good walk in as well. The Adventure trail is about 3km long but of course you will be stopping regularly to see the animals so how it takes depends on how long you watch.
Walks Beyond Canberra
When you are visiting the ACT, there are some great walks outside of Canberra if you don’t mind driving out to them. Here are some of the most popular that you might want to have on your list of Canberra walks to check out.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
55 minutes from Canberra. There are 24 signed trails here, and more than half are less than 3km long. Popular options include the Congwarra Trail, Wandarawari Track, Church Rock Heritage Loop and the Sanctuary Loop through the wetlands.
For longer walks, the 13km, Grade 5 Camels Hump walk or 7.7km, grade 3 Fishing Gap trail are options. On all the walks, short or long, keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife, including koalas that call the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Home.
This walk is also in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve but as one of the most popular walks in Canberra and the ACT it gets a special mention. This grade 4, 8.2km track starts at the Dalsetta Carpark in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. The walk gets steeper the further you go, and includes handrails near the top as you make your way over granite boulders.
If you are not up for the full hike there is a lookout 800m from the top and is worthy finishing point. This track can get busy so set off early if you want to avoid the crowds.
This is another popular walk in the ACT, it is located 60 minutes from Canberra in Namadgi National Park. The carpark is off the road that goes right near the Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station campsite. The 4km, grade 3 track is steep in parts but reviews put the walk to the to at about 30minutes. The view expansive views of the park and Canberra can get fogged out on a cloudy day so pick when you go.
Places to Stay in Canberra
Jamala Wildlife Lodge – Luxury Treehouse or Bungalow – Share breakfast with a Giraffe or watch a Lion through your bedroom window!
Alivio Tourist Park – 1, 2, 3 Br Cabins, On-Site Cafe, Swimming Pool, Landscaped Grounds
Forrest Hotel & Apartments – Suites or 1-2 br Modern Self Contained Apartments
Founders Lane Apartments – 1-2 br Self Contained Apartment near the War Memorial
Capital Country Holiday Park – 1, 2, 3 Br Villas set amoung lakes & gardens + outdoor pool
The Hamptons – Luxury 2 Br Self Contained Apartment with private, BBQ, outdoor pool
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