After an escape from the big smoke but don’t have time to travel far from the city? Steph’s trip to Cumberland State Forest in Sydney’s northwest, made her appreciate the green spaces close to home, and she thinks you should take a visit. 


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Nations of the Dharug, Cammeriagal and Kuringgai peoples who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


  • A short journey to a far-away feeling 
  • Convenient amenities
  • Informative signposting about forestry and tree species

Finding Green Spaces Close to Home

The spirit of the microadventure has always been to make an experience of the outdoors achievable for the average person, particularly those with busy, city lives. 

For city slickers, weekends often become clogged with plans involving travel time to noisy places, so getting out of the big city to reap the benefits of nature can seem like a tall order. But during the confines of lockdown we’ve discovered (or renewed our appreciation for) green spaces close to home.  

Read more: I’ve Fallen in Love With My Local Park



That’s why I recently visited Cumberland State Forest close to where I live in Sydney’s northwest. I’d been meaning to do so for ages, often driving past the sign on busy Pennant Hills Road, but wasn’t sure how relaxing it’d be given the forest is right beside the recently-upgraded M2 and Northconnex. Still, I was curious about the differences between a State Forest and a National Park — or a regular park for that matter. 

What I found was a long driveway through dense bush, ending at a car park and a visitor’s centre. Cumberland State Forest houses a cafe and nursery, as well as a high-ropes course and several short walking tracks. There are lots of picnic areas scattered throughout the ample grounds too.  

What’s a State Forest Again?

State forests are owned by the NSW Forestry Corporation and many of them are used to grow trees that are harvested for timber. However, some state forests are native or regenerated. The area now known as  Cumberland State Forest was cleared for farming in the 1800s, but since becoming a state forest in 1939 has been regenerated and maintained as a place of recreation and outdoor education. 



The major upside of this visit was the easy, super-quick access to nature. Within five minutes of leaving my house, I was deep among forests full of old Sydney Bluegums, Turpentine, and Tallowwood. There were lush fern gullies and Ironbark trunks too big for me to wrap my arms around. I could hear bell birds as I strolled along the four cumulative kilometres of trails. The serenity was real! 

But it was also fleeting. Cars pass close by the walking trails on their way to the further-away picnic spots within the precinct, and the background hum of traffic from nearby highways is pretty much constant.  



Still, for some moments I felt like I was far away in wide-open spaces. I got the boost of stillness and awe I  was seeking from a moment in nature — and I was only minutes from home. Perhaps the commercial nature of this place makes it a bit less tranquil than a National Park, but these days I’m choosing to look for goodness and adventure in a host of new places.  

Read more: How To Add a Sense of Adventure to Your Everyday Life


How To Get There

Cumberland State Forest is located in West Pennant Hills, with two driveway entrances and free (but somewhat limited) parking. Buses from nearby train stations provide alternative travel options.

Essential Gear

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunnies
  • Water
  • Snacks or money for the cafe

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

Skill Level


The three trails inside the forest are short (ranging from 500m to 1.4km), though some include stairs and/or steeper sections.