Jed’s on a mission to put (R)Adelaide on your trail running radar. He’s slapped on his runners and hit the trails, returning with four reasons why you should try trail running in Adelaide.
Below, a patchwork of burnt, brown fields split by ruler-straight tarmac disappear into a heat-hazed horizon. On the edge of my vision, summer-scorched earth bleeds into a bleached-blue sky.
Flying into Adelaide airport during summer, I’m always reminded of how harsh and unforgiving my small corner of Australia is. Our landscapes are sharp and rocky, with ancient hills and cliffs rising sharply from the ocean.
Because of this, Adelaide often gets a bad rap when it comes to opportunities for on-foot exploration.
As a trail runner, I’m on a mission to explore every inch of Adelaide’s extensive web of trails. I’ve made it my business to educate my fellow Radalaidians (and now the rest of Australia) about the running and hiking potential of the region.
These are my top four reasons why Adelaide is the underdog trail capital of Australia:
1. Offices With A View
Take a glance from pretty much any office window in the Adelaide CBD, and you’re struck by views of the Adelaide Hills. From the city, several trailheads are only a short drive, cycle or bus ride away.
The two best areas are the trails surrounding Cleland Conservation Park and Black Hill Conservation Park. These areas feature a spider web of varied trails, some steep hills and a serene escape from the suburbs. The incredible views down the coast make the climbs well worth the effort. An excellent place to start is the ‘adventure loop’ which begins at the Waterfall Gully carpark.
2. The Heysen
The Heysen Trail stretches 1200km from the Flinders Ranges in South Australia’s far north to the wild, rocky coastline of Cape Jervis. It traverses forbidding desert-scapes, isolated gorges and native bush along with rural farmlands and coastal areas.
Hiking its entire length takes two months, although Adaladian ultra runner David Turnbull recently ran it in 13 days. You can hike or run sections of the trail, most of which are easily accessible from Adelaide.
3. Coastal Cliffs
A short drive from the CBD, Deep Creek National Park is a stretch of native bush perched precariously on plunging cliffs above a wild coast. Here, storms brew on the horizon, the sea churns and boils ominously below and trails rise and plummet between hidden beaches and waterfalls.
My favourite trail starts in Cape Jervis and follows the initial section of the Heysen Trail to Victor Harbour. If you’re hiking it, there are two huts to camp in, plus several evenly placed campgrounds. If you’re running, it’s a rough and rugged 75km!
4. The Trail Running Scene
The trail running scene in Adelaide is vibrant and diverse, with events and run clubs to suit everybody. From the short and fast during the Summer Trail Series, to longer half-marathon length races organised by Trail Running SA during the winter, the calendar is packed year-round.
In September, the city hosts the iconic Yurrebilla 56K Ultra, which traverses the Mount Lofty Ranges, and is an ideal entry point to the world of ultras. Looking to dabble in something longer? The Heysen 105 is a comparatively flat and runnable 100km trail race that follows a section of the Heysen Trail. It has strong community vibes, easy access and cracking views.
The trails surrounding Adelaide are diverse, beautiful and challenging in equal measures. Whether you’re visiting the city for work or are a local looking to train for your next trail race, Adelaide’s trails deserve exploration. See you out there!
Feature photo by Jack Brookes