Why you should do the Hallett Cove Boardwalk

The Hallet Cove Boardwalk is one of the best short walks in Adelaide. Not only do you get fantastic coastal views, but on this walk which is also known as the Glacier Hike, you can also have a little geology lesson.

The walk is in the Hallett Cove Conservation Park which is one of four parks and reserves that make up Glenthorne National Park. You do not need a park pass for the Glacier Hike.

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Hallett Cove Park

About the Hallett Cove Boardwalk

The Hallet Cove Boardwalk is a 3km return walk. The best place to start is from Hallet Cove Beach end where there is plenty of free parking. Follow the path to the Boatshed Café and you will see the start of the path.

How long does the Glacier Hike Take?

You should allow 1.5 – 2 hours to do the walk. There are a few detours you can do along the way including a walk down to a rock platform and a loop track to the best known feature on the walk – the Sugarloaf.

Hallet Cove Boardwalk
Hallet Cove Boardwalk

Is the Hallett Cove Boardwalk Hard?

If you just stick to the main path, the Hallett Cove Boardwalk is an easy walk and a fun activity for families. There are a few steps in one section where you go around a gully, but it is not steep.

There are a couple of sections that are a bit steeper. If you want to go down to the shore platform there is a steep set of wooden steps to the rocks but the way they zig zag makes the walk up and down a bit easier.

There is also a bit of a slope and some steps as you do the loop around the Sugarloaf but again, people of average fitness will be able to get around this section too.

Glacier Hike Geology Lesson

You don’t need to know anything geology or even have an interest in rocks to enjoy this walk. You can just take in the views of the water and amazing rock formations that you see along the way.

But if you feel like exercising your mind as well as your legs, there is a lot to take in and there is lots of signage along the way to explain the colours, shapes and appearance of the coastline.

At various times in the last 600 million years Hallett Cove has been a flood plain, covered in an ice sheet, part of a mountain range and the site of a shallow sea. You can see the result of these changing environments on the walk – it’s fascinating and one of our favourite things about this unique walk along the South Australian coast.

7 Things You Will See on the Hallett Cove Boardwalk


The Sugarloaf

The first part of the walk is on a sealed path that runs parallel to the beach and its along here you can do a loop walk to the Sugarloaf. The loop around the Sugarloaf takes 10 – 15 minutes.

This amazing feature has been created by wind and water erosion over the last few thousand years but its parts were formed during an ice age 280 million years ago.

Today you can walk around and admire the shape of the white, red and yellow rocks of the Sugarloaf and the contours of the landscape. It is impressive any time of day, but you can see it at its best in the afternoon when the sun shines onto the face of the colourful feature.

You rejoin the sealed path bit further on from where you left it.

Hallet Cove Beach

Hallett Cove Beach

The next stop along the path is a chance to get onto Hallett Cove Beach. A mix of sand and brown rocks, it is a fun place to explore especially for kids. There are some rock pools around the point closest to the entrance that have all kinds of intertidal critters in them.

Ice Sheet

Glacier Lookout

From the entrance to the beach there is a short climb to the top of the chocolate brown cliffs which are the oldest rocks in Hallett Cove Conservation Park. There are great views back down the beach.

Another point of interest at the lookout is an area of polished flat rock where you can see grooves scratched into the surface by rocks caught in the retreating icesheets a couple of hundred million years ago.

Even though it would have happened over millions of years, it is still an incredible thing to picture happening in your mind.

Shore Platform Stairs
Glacier Lookout

Shore Platform Stairs

From the top of the cliffs, you walk along the boardwalk around Black Point and past a brown platform of rocks below. There are steps here where you can go down onto the rocks. The steps look steep, but they zig zag their way down and aren’t too tough. As you make your way down, check out the amazing folds of rock that make up the cliffs at the other end of the of the platform to the steps.

Erratic Rocks

Erratic Rocks

At the same spot where the steps go down to the rocky coast, there is a feature made of a large boulder. This is also part of the ice sheet story. Big rocks like this were dropped by the retreating ice sheet as it melted. They are given the fun name of erratic rocks.

Waterfall Creek Crossing

Waterfall Creek Crossing

Most of the boardwalk hugs the coast but this one section briefly ducks inland as the path crosses Waterfall Creek. The highlight here isn’t the water – you might see a little flow in winter – but once you have crossed the creek you can look back across at an area of exposed folded rock. It is a colourful outcrop that shows a series of different geological events over millions of years.

Hallet Cove Platform Lookout

Hallet Cove Shore Platform Lookout

And if haven’t had enough of the great views you can walk out to the end of this clifftop lookout for views along the coastline. If it is a calm day keep an eye out for the local dolphins which are often seen cruising offshore from Hallett Cove.

The Glacier Hike officially ends a bit further up the coast, but you can keep walking along the Coast Path to Seacliff Beach. From the end of the boardwalk to Seacliff, it is approximately 4.5km one way and there are several steep sets of stairs to negotiate as you go up and down the gullies along the way.

Brown Snake

A Few Tips for the Walk

  • There are toilets at both ends of the of the boardwalk. At the northern end you just need to walk 200m beyond the end of the trail to locate the facilities.
  • If you are doing the walk in summer, have some bug repellent handy, the flies can be full on!
  • Hallett Cove Conservation Park is home to all sort of creatures – including snakes. If you are walking in warm weather stick to the paths. The activity of people walking by will keep them away, but they can be just off the path so keep an eye out. We have seen a couple of snakes on our walks.
  • At the end of the walk grab a snack or drink from the Boatshed Café. The Boat Shed Kiosk below the café also has delicious cold fruit smoothies which are a refreshing way to end your walk.
  • Dogs and bikes are not permitted on the Glacier Hike.

If you enjoyed this story you might also like:

Free Things to do in Adelaide Noarlunga Beach Guide | Deep Creek Walks

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Hallet Cove Boardwalk
Hallet Cove Boardwalk
Hallet Cove Boardwalk
Hallet Cove Boardwalk
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