Asphalt is nice for an easy neighbourhood jog, but if you’re keen to get some mud on your knees, some leaves in your hair, and maybe even some leeches in your socks, you need to suss out the best trail running routes in and around Sydney.

 

8 Best Trail Running Tracks In Sydney:

1. Bobbin Head & Sphinx Tracks, Turramurra
2. Cape Solander to Cronulla, Kamay Botany Bay National Park
3. A Great North Walk Teaser in Berowra
4. A Hidden Gem in The Hills: Murri-Yanna Loop at Bidjigal Reserve
5. Stay High or Get Low at Garigal National Park
6. Sunday Long Run in The Royal National Park
7. Go West: Powerline & Perimeter Trails at Castlereagh Nature Reserve
8. Foot of The Mountains: Knapsack Reserve

 

OK so leeches aren’t exactly a selling point, but with sweeping ocean views, tree-lined groves and rocky coastlines, Sydney’s trail running scene has it all.

Also Read:

Tucked away amongst the concrete jungle, there are some epic trail runs in Sydney that are perfect for both beginners and seasoned bush runners alike. 

Here’s the lowdown on the best running adventures to be had in the north, south, east, and west of Sydney!

8 of the Best Trail Runs in Sydney

1. Bobbin Head & Sphinx Tracks, Turramurra

Distance: 10km
Elevation: 160m
Stoke level: 6/10 – Sparkling water views with a bit of everything

 

 

From a side track off Bobbin Head Road, this trail has a bit of everything: open stands of smooth bloodwoods, marshy mangroves, Aboriginal heritage sites, posh marina views, a historic boatshed and… a Sphinx complete with mini pyramids.

The trail starts at this memorial carved by a returned soldier, then winds through the bush and along Cowan Creek before an uphill slog back to the trailhead.

Read More

2. Cape Solander to Cronulla, Kamay Botany Bay National Park

Distance: 21km
Elevation: 280m
Stoke level: 7/10 – Great tracks and magic ocean views, but this popular spot can get busy with walkers

Kamay Botany Bay National Park is a great spot for trail running, with tracks that hug the coastline and the possibility of spotting whales in migration season (typically around May to July).

A network of tracks takes you from the whale observation platform at Cape Solander, over wind-eroded sandstone, through ferny glades, across grassy coastal pathways, and finally along Wanda and Eloura beaches. Finish up with a bite to eat or just recover on the sand at Cronulla.

3. A Great North Walk Teaser in Berowra

Distance: 12km
Elevation: 880m
Stoke level: 10/10 – This is the stomping ground of some of the country’s best trail runners!

 

 

The Great North Walk is a monster, 250km of unrelenting trail running from Sydney to Newcastle. Whilst some bat-shit crazy trail runners complete this end to end, you can still get a great feel for the track and enjoy a tough day out covering just 12km or so.

Try Berowra to Cowan via Berowra Waters for an undulating adventure, or take a look at these three runs nearby:

Read More

4. A Hidden Gem in The Hills: Murri-Yanna Loop at Bidjigal Reserve

Distance: 11km
Elevation: 50m
Stoke level: 8/10 – This is an incredibly pretty rainforest run only 10 minutes north of Parramatta

Tucked in the middle of residential streets and close to the M2, this lush rainforest trail is all dark mossy boulders, trickling creeks, twittering wrens, and towering shady gums.

An out and back track, this 8 – 12 kilometre track (depending on how many side trails you explore) covers multiple creek crossings, mixing flowy single track running with rocky technical sections.

5. Stay High or Get Low at Garigal National Park

Distance: 8km
Elevation: 400m
Stoke level: 9/10 – Feel like you’re miles from anywhere on quiet bush tracks

 

 

Start at Manly Dam to get some extra time on feet or head straight to the guts of this national park, sandwiched between leafy St Ives and Belrose. Choose to stay high, rock-hopping across sandstone plateaus with views to Middle Harbour Creek below, or get some vert and drop down into the gullies for quad-burning Type 2 fun.

The Casuarina Track is a tough trail that hugs Middle Harbour Creek, starting near St Ives high school and finishing at a grassy picnic area. Check out the Davidson trail for pure hill-climbing hell.

6. Sunday Long Run in The Royal National Park

Distance: 30km
Elevation: 1240m
Stoke level: 8/10 – This track is so good there’s a race held here in September

Heads up! Parts of this track are closed due to rockslides after all the heavy rain recently. Check local alerts before you head out as the entire one way route may not be runnable.

 

 

If you’re looking for longer trail runs around Sydney, you can’t go past the variety and views of the Coast Track. Running for around 30km from Bundeena to Otford, this trail comprises technical root-covered tracks through thickets of palm trees, sweeping open boardwalk sections, stairs, rock shelves, and a smattering of tiny deserted beaches that will quickly fill your sneakers with sand.

Take this end-to-end run starting at either Bundeena or Otford, or pike out halfway at Wattamolla if your legs have had enough of the deceptively tough climbs.

Read More

7. Go West: Powerline & Perimeter Trails at Castlereagh Nature Reserve

Distance: 9km
Elevation: 100m
Stoke level: 6/10 – Nice and relaxed but no epic views, unless you’re a birdwatcher

OK so Castlereagh Nature Reserve borders a juvenile detention centre, but hear us out: this 500 hectare park in the Western Suburbs offers nice easy running on wide flat fire trails.

Add in frequent wallaby sightings, robins, honeyeaters, and the odd rabbit, and it makes for just a nice calm run. Perfect for recovery days and easy social runs.

8. Foot of The Mountains: Knapsack Reserve

Distance: Choose your own adventure – 3km on flat fire trail or 20km+ through the rabbit warren of MTB tracks
Elevation: Varies
Stoke level: 7/10 – This pocket of bush would be trail running’s best-kept secret if there wasn’t a race here every Australia Day

This disused rail trail packs a tonne of fun into a compact package. Great for runners and riders alike, a mind-boggling network of MTB tracks mix with fire trails and extreme stairs, loose rocky climbs, and flat kid-friendly walking paths.

Don’t let its highway location fool you: there’s a lot to love about this spot in Lapstone, including a pocket of dense green rainforest that hugs the creek, wallabies, black cockatoos and access to the architecturally satisfying underside of Australia’s oldest mainland bridge.

Trail Running FAQs

1. Can I go for a run in Sydney?

Yes you can! Not only is Sydney blessed with trails nearby, the city also has many ideal spots for a run!

2. Where to run in Sydney?

Some of the best places to run in Sydney are included in the list above. Take in the sights of Cape Solander near Cronulla or cruise the trails of Castlereagh Nature Reserve in the Western suburbs.

3. Does trail running burn more calories?

Yes you certainly do! The uneven terrain, obstacles and faster elevation drops and gains mean you burn more calories than road running.

4. Can I use road running shoes for trail running?

Technically you can but trail running shoes are specifically designed to protect your feet on the trail. Road running shoes often have little support so keep this in mind if you choose to run a trail in a pair of road runners.

5. Why is trail running so hard?

Trail running is hard because it requires using your body and your brain simultaneously. You are physically exerting yourself while also being aware of your surroundings and any obstacles approaching on the trail. Trails also often have terrain that is loose, uneven and slippery making it harder to navigate.

6. Do trail runners walk?

Yes they do! Particularly when racing, to conserve energy if a hill is not deemed runnable, meaning it would be as quick to walk, a runner will walk it.

7. Why do trail runners wear long socks?

There are two reasons for this. The first is that long socks stop sweat from running into shoes and causing uncomfortable rubbing. The second is that certain types of long socks compress the muscles, helping to stop cramping whilst out on the trail.

Feature photo by @tim_ashelford