The Central Coast is the ultimate hiking playground – here is everything you need to know.
The Central Coast lays claim to pristine beaches, extensive coastal estuaries, lush hinterland and beautiful seaside villages – all of which are best explored on foot. From accessible strolls to day-long wilderness expeditions, here are our picks of the best walks and hikes on the Central Coast.
Where: Bouddi National Park
Distance: 8.5 kilometres one way
Details: Sydney has the Bondi to Bronte, Melbourne has the Thousand Steps and the Central Coast has the Bouddi Coastal Walk. Its home to numerous Aboriginal sites, one of the country’s first protected marine areas, and plenty of ancient landscapes to marvel at.
The walk delivers sweeping ocean views, whale-spotting opportunities, and plenty of deserted beaches to stop at for a swim. Don’t miss the remains of the SS Maitland shipwreck at Bouddi Point.
While the 17-kilometre round-trip can be done in a day, those who aim to complete the journey should note it can take up to eight hours. The track begins at Putty Beach picnic area and includes a mix of beach walking, steep stairs, formed track, and rocky platforms. It ends at Macmasters Beach, where walkers can exit the walk or opt to make the return journey.
You don’t need to tackle the entirety of the coastal walk in one day. Breaking it up into shorter distances is just as rewarding. For some shorter routes try:
- Putty Beach to Maitland Bay (3 kilometres)
- Maitland Bay to Little Beach (3.5 kilometres)
- Little Beach to Macmasters Beach (1.7 kilometres)
Where: Brisbane Water National Park
Distance: Two-kilometre loop
Details: Traverse tranquil bushland past colourful wildflowers along the Girrakool Loop Track. This easy, signposted trail begins and ends at the Girrakool picnic area – it’s the ideal way to walk off lunch. There are two lookouts to pause at along the trail: the Andamira lookout for views of the tree-shrouded waterfall and the picturesque Iloura lookout. Don’t miss the Aboriginal rock engraving site at the start of the walk, and take your time to breathe in the fresh air as you wind your way through the bush.
The car park is open from 9am to 5pm and park fees apply.
Where: Strickland State Forest
Distance: 2.1 kilometres one way
Details: Strickland State Forest packs a punch when it comes to diverse walking tracks despite its modest five-kilometre size. One of the most popular options is the Ridge to Rainforest track. Begin the walk near the entry road to Banksia Picnic Area and follow the track lined with tall gumtrees past mossy rocks and Hoop Pines along the ridge until you reach the gully of the rainforest.
Strickland State Forest was the site of the first government forest nursery (1886-1890) and first national forestry training school (1920 – 1927). Aptly, remnants of native and exotic tree plantings are now among the oldest in Australia, and can be admired as you walk along the trail.
Coast to Lake Walk
Where: The Entrance
Distance: 7.6-kilometre loop
Details: This self-guided walk takes in the best of The Entrance and surrounding areas. Get a first-hand look at the landmarks, attractions and scenery that this popular pocket of the Central Coast has to offer.
Begin your journey at Memorial Park and follow the boardwalk along the coastline to The Entrance Surf Life Saving Club. After picking up a kiosk coffee continue past the Ocean Baths and Edith Ring Rest lookout on to Toowoon Bay Surf Club. Follow on the shared pathway from Long Jetty to Memorial Park in the Entrance. As you pass through Picnic Point, make use of the skate park, fitness station, picnic shelters and BBQ’s.
Some sections of the walk are fully accessible to all abilities, prams and bicycles. Some sections require beach access and rock platform walking. Head here for specific capability information.
Where: Brisbane Water National Park
Distance: 3 kilometres one way
Details: It may be shorter in distance than some of its local counterparts, but the Patonga to Pearl Beach hike trails through some rather challenging terrain.
Follow the signs to the national park at the end of Patonga Beach to begin the walk. The steep trail will lead you through sandstone caves adorned with natural hanging ferns, past red gums and towering eucalypts. Stop at the Warrah lookout for panoramic views of the Hawkesbury River and Pacific Ocean. Your exit will be marked at Crystal Avenue. From here you can follow the sounds of crashing waves to emerge from the bush onto Pearl Beach. Linger here for a well-earned swim before taking advantage of the cafes nearby.
Where: Macmasters Beach, Copacabana, Avoca Beach, North Avoca and Terrigal
Distance: 9 kilometres one way
Details: The 5 lands Coastal Walk is so good that there is even a festival in its honor. It happens every year, just after winter solstice toward the end of June. Thousands of people – young and old, fit and unfit – take part.
Stretching from MacMasters Beach to Terrigal, the trip gets its name from the stunning selection of suburbs it traverses, each possessing its own one-of-a- kind characteristics. From Macmasters Beach, Copacabana, Avoca Beach, North Avoca and Terrigal, soak up the atmosphere of each one.
Walking the full route will take from four to six hours, but allow plenty of time to enjoy the views, visit the exhibitions, witness the Aboriginal ceremonies and ethnic cultural displays and spot some whales if you’re lucky.
Kincumber to Terrigal (via Glasson’s Trl)
Where: Kincumber Mountain Regional Reserve
Distance: 4.5 kilometres one way
Details: Enjoy a front-row seat to the beauty of Kincumber Mountain Regional Reserve.
Explore the diverse landscapes and natural attractions along the Kincumber to Terrigal trail. You’ll pass by cave walls etched with ancient rock art, trail through rugged forest tracks, constructed paths and some challenging steep sections that reward hikers with incredible clifftop views and a variety of flora and fauna – including seasonal wildflowers, soaring grass trees, a plethora of birds and wildlife.
Start at the Glasson’s trail and head towards Honeman’s Rock, a large outcrop with a neighbouring picnic area. After a rest, navigate the inside of a large cave on Kanning Walk and continue to the views at Colin Watters Lookout. The journey ends at Terrigal’s Sandringham Close.