Discover the beauty of the Pioneer Women’s Trail in the Adelaide Hills. The 23km hike is a 45-minute bus trip away from Adelaide city and offers stunning views of the countryside, as it weaves through villages and bushland before descending into the Adelaide suburbs.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Peramangk and Kaurna peoples people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Quick Overview

The Pioneer Women’s Trail is a 23km hike through the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. It is a point to point hike that takes about six hours, from the start in the Hills to the end in the Adelaide suburbs. It retraces the footsteps of pioneering European women.

About the Pioneer Women’s Trail

The Pioneer Women’s Trail gives you a window into the lives of the early European settlers of the Adelaide Hills.

It was born from a time before cars and public transport, where the main way to get produce to the markets and supplies up into the Hills was on-foot.

The modern-day trail takes you along farm roads, national park tracks, creeks, through townships, and even across a golf course!



There are heaps of places to grab a bite to eat, before heading over the hills to sweeping panoramas of the Adelaide Plains and St Vincent Gulf, then into the Adelaide suburbs to finish at the historic Belmont House.

Pioneer Women’s Trail History

The current day version of the Pioneer Women’s Trail was re-established in the late 1970s after six members of the National Trust of South Australia retraced the trail using a map from 1841.

The current trail roughly follows the original path that the early European settlers took to carry their farm fresh produce from the Hahndorf region down to Adelaide in order to sell it at market.



Their trekking hard work didn’t stop there though; on their return trip, the women carried building and other supplies like tobacco, tea, sugar or thread back up to re-supply the Hahndorf community.

Pre-European History of the Pioneer Women’s Trail

The upper end of the trail is on the lands of the Peramangk people. Once the trail descends out of the Adelaide Hills and onto the Adelaide Plains you walk onto the lands of the Kaurna people.

The original trail used the walking tracks established by the Peramangk people prior to European settlement.

By the late 1850s their traditional lands had been divided up by the European immigrants and many of the Aboriginal people were moved onto missions that were built by the settlers that walked this trail.

How to Get to the Pioneer Women’s Trail?

The Pioneer Women’s Trail is super easy to access from Adelaide. There’s the option to do a car shuttle, or to leave a lighter footprint, the Adelaide Metro bus system will drop you literally at the trailhead in the Adelaide Hills, where you can hike back to the suburbs of Adelaide.

By bus

Catch a Hahndorf bus and get off at Stop 48A on Mount Barker Road, right where the trail starts. If catching public transport from home is too hard, you can park your car near the Glen Osmond Tollgate and catch the bus from there, it’s about a 3km walk from the end of the Pioneer Women’s Trail.

By car

This trail is a end-to-end hike, so you’ll finish 23km from where you started. This means you’ll need to get someone to drop you off on the corner of Silver Road and Mount Barker Road, or do a car shuttle from there to the end at Brock Reserve on Dashwood Road, Beaumont.

Where to Stay Along the Pioneer Women’s Trail

The Pioneer Women’s Trail can easily be hiked in one day, however if you’d like to make a weekend of it, there are stacks of accommodation options including Airbnbs and hotels along the route. If you want to be close to a town then finding something in Stirling is a nice mid-hike option.



Where to Eat Along the Pioneer Women’s Trail

The Little Cog at The Mill Bridgewater is a great place to grab a coffee and a portuguese tart a few kilometres into the walk.

As for lunch, there are so many options in Stirling, from bakeries and cafes to restaurants. We ended up eating at Miss Perez Kitchen & Bar, which was extremely busy on the public holiday we hiked.

A tiny bit further down the trail is Crafers, which has several eateries. We noticed that The Crafers Hotel was really busy, which is a good sign!

Skill Level

Beginner – Intermediate

The Pioneer Women’s Trail is a fairly basic hike that requires a low level of skill. The most challenging part of the trail is the distance, at 23km you’ll need a reasonable level of fitness. There are a few sections where foot placement is important.



The whole trail is on marked paths that are sometimes dirt, concrete, and asphalt, but you’ll definitely need a map to navigate a few areas (see FAQ below). There are occasionally a few rocky descents/climbs, but those sections are only for short bursts of 100ish metres.

Distance / Duration / Elevation Gain of the Pioneer Women’s Trail

23km / 5 hours of walking plus sight-seeing time / ascent 476m, decent 601m (all measured on my watch)

Essential Gear for the Pioneer Women’s Trail

We pretty much followed this packing list for a day hike, but skipped the cold weather gear because we were walking on beautiful autumn day:

  • Food – only snacks if you’re eating lunch at a café or bakery
  • Plenty of water – we used a 2L camelback and a 1L hard drink bottle as a backup for a punctured water bladder
  • First aid kit
  •  Mobile phone with Avenza App and Pioneer Women’s Trail south and north maps
  • Rain jacket – I took this instead of a jumper – two uses for the weight of one jacket!
  • Hiking shoes/boots
  • Hat
  • Head torch – we could easily hike this trail in a day, but we always bring a head torch just in case things go wrong
  • Emergency toilet paper – you never know if a public toilet has run out!
  • Hand sanitiser – because it’s 2023
  • Backpack

What it’s Like to Walk the Pioneer Women’s Trail

Bursting off the bus, our party of two quickly started powering along the Pioneer Women’s Trail that begins right at the bus stop.



We were eager to tackle the trail and hike some ancient tracks that have been used for trade, some long before European settlement.

It’d been a while since we’d hiked in the Adelaide Hills, so we knew we had to sharpen up our koala spotting skills.

This quickly paid off as it was only 900 metres before we saw our first furry friend lounging in a fork of a gum tree.

The hike offers much more than wildlife spotting. Even in April there were plenty of wild flowers scattered through the bush and for architecture buffs, there’s a diverse range of building styles ranging from farmhouse cottages to modern brutalist homes carved into the hillside.



Not surprisingly, the best place to walk in the 1800s eventually turns into a modern-day road. The modern trail weaves between local roads and the South-Eastern Freeway. While this means the walk sometimes feels like a suburban stroll, it has the plus of allowing for plenty of public transport bail out options if something goes wrong during your hike.



Approaching the three-hour (halfway) mark, we decided it was time for lunch. This lead to a pleasant wander through the leafy streets of Stirling searching for a bite to eat – which was actually quite difficult on a public holiday! After a burger and fries, we felt ready to tackle the second half of the hike.

Stepping off from Stirling took us away from the last township and along the highway once again, working towards the highest altitude of the hike. Coming over the peak of the trail, we began our journey down towards the city on what was once the main road into Adelaide and has now been reclaimed by cyclists and walkers.

The track guided us through bushland until we emerged onto the grassy peaks of Mount Osmond lookout, where we were rewarded with panoramic views of the Adelaide Plains.



We took some time to rest, take in the views, and reflect on our day of hiking, before descending down into the suburbs at golden hour. This gave us sweeping picture-perfect views across the calm evening.

With hungry bellies and the last rays of light disappearing behind St Vincent Gulf, we decided to ride share towards home.



It was a relief to sit in a comfy seat and give our weary feet a rest after an incredible day hiking in the footsteps of the Pioneering European Women.

FAQs for hiking the Pioneer Women’s Trail

Where is the Pioneer Women’s Trail located? 

In the Adelaide Hills between Verdun (near Hahndorf) and Beaumont.

How do you get to the Pioneer Women’s Trail? 

We caught the Adelaide Metro bus up and hiked back towards Adelaide. The bus stops is right at the end of the trail near Hahndorf. There’s space to park your car at each end of the trail if needed.

Is the Pioneer Women’s Trail good for beginners? 

Yes, the biggest difficulty is the 23km length, with a few short steep sections.

How long does it take to complete the Pioneer Women’s Trail?

About five hours walking plus sight-seeing time.

How long is the Pioneer Women’s Trail? 

About 23km

Is the Pioneer Women’s Trail open? 

Yes, it’s open all year. Some conservation areas may close for maintenance or during the fire danger period, check out the NPWS website before you go.

Is the Pioneer Women’s Trail free? 


Where do I get a map of the Pioneer Women’s Trail? 

Download the ‘Avenza Maps’ app on your phone and search for Pioneer Women’s Trail. There’s a north and a south map to download. The app and map are both free. The best bit about the app is that it puts a dot on the map at your current location.

Do I need to carry food when hiking the Pioneer Women’s Trail?

Yes to snacks and water, but there are plenty of cafes and pubs to grab drinks and meals at along the way.