Show me a better walking companion than your dog. With bundles of energy, 4-leg active stability and tongue-regulated climate control, dogs are made for the trail.
But deep down, beneath their silly grins, dogs are predators and just a whiff of them can freak out our native species, so they’re forbidden in National Parks. Don’t lose hope though! We’ve sniffed out the best dog friendly walks in and around Sydney. Just don’t forget the Schmackos!
Looking to camp with your pooch? Read: Where’s The Best Dog-Friendly Camping In NSW?
Walking With Your Dog
Just like humans, Fido should keep to the track to minimise his impact. Just because it’s a dog friendly walk doesn’t mean your dog can run wild; if you’re in doubt keep that leash clipped. A plastic bag is also essential, you can’t leave doggo’s waste in the bush.
To The West
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Blue Mountains was just one big National Park, but if you know where to look you’ll find a bunch of dog friendly walks. Some even have waterfalls!
1. Minnehaha Falls
Distance: App. 1km
Closest town: Katoomba
Minnehaha Falls is just out of Katoomba. It’s about a kilometre to the falls, but it’s a pretty steep drop into the valley so give yourself a few hours. The cascade begins at the end of a gorge and drops 20 metres to the deep pool below.
Minnehaha Falls might not be suitable for smaller dogs because of large steps and a metal staircase on the descent, you’ll also want to keep the leash on near the cliff edges. If your pooch can make it though, #waterfallchasing with your dog doesn’t get much better.
2. Little Zig Zag to Reinitz Pass
Closest town: Mt Victoria
This track drops into the Kanimbla Valley behind the quaint township Mt Victoria. It sees the Bushranger’s Cave and Pulpit Rock Reserve along a 3-hour route, with some clifftop walking and views across the valley to round it off. There’s a map in this brochure as well as detailed track notes.
3. Berghofer’s Pass
Closest town: Mount Victoria
Heading down out of the western side of the Blue Mountains you drive over this awesome bit of road called the Victoria Pass Viaduct; it’s a stone structure that leaves you suspended above the ridgeline. Back in the day, Victoria Pass was too steep for cars so Berghofer built a new road. Now it’s a cracker historic walk and it’s dog friendly! Check out these track notes.
4. South Lawson Waterfall Circuit
Closest town: Hazelbrook
3 kilometres, 4 waterfalls. That’s a pretty excellent cascade density even before you find out that it’s a dog friendly walk. Finish up with a coffee in Wentworth Falls and you’ll be cheering, just go easy on the dogacinos.
5. Horseshoe Falls Track
Closest town: Hazelbrook
The Horseshoe Falls Track links a series of tranquil, mossy falls in the bushland behind Hazelbrook. This is a walk for dogs and owners who don’t mind getting a little wet and aren’t afraid of some slippery rocks and large steps. Sorry puppies, you’ll have to grow into those feet first.
To the South
6. Kiama Coast Walk
Closest Town: Kiama
How about a sea change? 22 kilometres of it to be exact. The Kiama Coast Walk winds south from the head of the Minnamurra River, along the coast all the way to Gerringong. Along the way you’ll see the epic Cathedral Rocks and Kiama Blow Hole, not to mention ocean views for days. Most of the walk is dog friendly, but they’re forbidden on some beaches, here’s the lowdown.
7. Abraham’s Bosom Reserve
Closest town: Currarong
Don’t know who Abraham is, but if nestling in his bosom means coastal panoramas for dog and I, count me in. There’s a short dog friendly walk to the wreck of the S.S. Merimbula that you can extend with a climb up to the trig station; it’s a solid 9 kilometre trek so make sure you haven’t been skipping walkies. More info on the Abraham’s Boob Reserve can be found on this website.
8. Belangalo, Wingello and Penrose State Forests
State Forests are well-known dog walking hotspots but it’s not every day you get a trifecta like this. It’s a real choose-your-own-adventure situation with hundreds of criss-crossing trails and camping available. These state forests are also excellent for mountain biking, or even an overnight dog-bike-packing odyssey. You might even witness some dog-sledding, Aussie style.
To The North
9. Arboretum Loop Trail – Strickland State Forest
Closest town: Gosford
Arboretums are like ancient tree museums and this one dates back to 1887! The arboretum contains native and introduced trees of all sorts within an eerie rainforest setting. At 2.3km, this loop in the Strickland State Forest is perfect for a fresh morning out with your wet-nosed pal.
10. Hunter Lookout and Great North Walk Loop – Heaton State Forest
Closest town: Freemans Waterhole
The perfect loop track for a tough day out, or a fun trail run if your furry friend has a bit too much energy. The track links up the Mcleans and Hunter lookouts with sections of the Great North Walk over nearly 6 kilometres – on the way you’ll see majestic gums, trickling creeks and overhanging sandstone caves.
11. Two Creeks Track
Suburb: East Lindfield
Harbourside dog walking shouldn’t have to be an activewear walk-off, head down to the Two Creeks Track on Sydney’s North Shore for the perfect getaway with your best friend. Cheeky gullies and sandstone cliffs are out in force, as are the other doggos, so expect some solid butt-sniffing action. Note: Dogs are prohibited on the Garigal National Park portion of the track.
12. Narrabeen Lagoon Bush Trail
Fancy an entire lap of the Narrabeen Lagoon? Keen beans can do an 8.4 kilometre loop of this beachside inlet, lapping up cultural, historical and ecological knowledge along the way. That’s if you can slow down your canine cousin for a few minutes. It’s a shared trail so if you’re good at holding a leash in one hand and handlebars in the other, go wild!
13. Lake Parramatta Circuit
I always feel that decommissioned dams-come-recreation-areas are like some kind of natural gentrification project. But hey I love gentrification, it gives us trendy warehouse cafes, and you know what else you find at cafes? Dogs. Nice. Lake Parramatta circuit is 4.2 kilometres long and offers a fantastic cross section of Australian flora in the geographical heart of Sydney. Beats hitting the pavement!
14. Burraga Loop Track – Bidjigal Reserve
Suburb: Baulkham Hills
Bidjigal reserve is named after the Bidjigal clan of the Darug people, in fact Burraga is the Darug word for Bandicoot. The reserve was created to protect the Aboriginal heritage of the area, as well as the diverse wildlife within. The Burraga Loop Track is a dog friendly walk and at 4 kilometres, it’s a perfect escape from the city without ever having to leave.
Feature photo by Jon Harris