Adelaide Hills, SA

Five top walks near Adelaide SA

By Michael Catford

September 5, 2020 | 4 minute read

Morialta Conservation Park, image credit SATC
Morialta Conservation Park, image credit SATC

Wedged between St Vincent Gulf in the west and the Mount Lofty Ranges in the east, Adelaide is blessed with incredible natural beauty. From the top of spectacular summits, creeks wind down through eucalypt forests, transform into plunging gorges, and finally fall into rugged cliffs or crisp white sand.

The beauty of their own backyard has been a recent discovery for many Adelaideans. Secrets are harder to keep in the age of Instagram, so previously overlooked locations are finally getting their moment in the sun.

The best bit about experiencing the natural delights of Adelaide? You don’t have to travel far to find them! Let’s take a look at eight of the most spectacular spots that everyone – local or tourist – should check out.

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Waterfall Gully/Mount Lofty

Adelaide’s most popular hike leads to Adelaide’s most popular view. ‘Doing Lofty’ has become a rite of passage for locals, so much so that it’s spawned its own song.

Hikers begin their ascent at First Falls, a beautiful 30m waterfall at the base of the hill. A four kilometre walk on a tarmac path, the hike gets more and more challenging as you get closer to the top, with the last kilometre particularly steep. But the view from the summit is more than worth the effort – you’ll gaze out over Adelaide in its entirety, and on a good day will be able to see all the way to the other side of the gulf.

Seasoned hikers will be able to get up and down in an hour and a half, while others may want to budget three. Alternatively you can drive to the top, and treat yourself to a less sweaty view.

Deep Creek Conservation Park, image credit Jack Morelli
Deep Creek Conservation Park, image credit Jack Morelli

Onkaparinga Gorge

If you want to feel a sense of remoteness without actually being remote, there’s no better place than Onkaparinga Gorge. A 21km stony scar on the northern edge of the famous McLaren Vale wine region, this is one for true hiking enthusiasts.

A lack of trail and even signage means you’ll need to navigate the difficult terrain of craggy rocks, waterholes and cliffs yourself. Your effort will be rewarded though; this is South Australian nature at its most untouched. You’d never guess that the CBD is just a 40 minute drive away.

Hallett Cove Boardwalk

Five kilometres of beautiful timber boardwalk hang from rugged coastline in Adelaide’s south. The Hallett Cove boardwalk stretches north from its namesake suburb to Kingston Park, where the rocks stop and Adelaide’s stretch of gorgeous beaches begins. The scenery is perfectly raw; a reminder of what Adelaide was before European settlement.

This walk is as tough or as relaxing as you make it. The undulating terrain can make for an exhausting run or a peaceful dawdle, being dotted with benches, lookout points and coffee spots. It can take up to two hours one way, so most walkers park their car and choose a small section to walk up and back.

Hallett Cove Boardwalk, Alice Kuerschner
Hallett Cove Boardwalk, Alice Kuerschner

Morialta Falls

If a rainy night has turned into a sunny day, there’s no better place to be than Morialta Conservation Park. A series of four spectacular waterfalls throw themselves off sheer cliffs and into rock pools, making this one of Adelaide’s most Instagrammable locations.

But the waterfalls are just part of the story. Despite being just 20 minutes from the city centre, the wildlife here is as good as anywhere, with koalas, kangaroos, birds and reptiles all calling Morialta home. Take a seat near a watering hole and let the fauna come to you.

Deep Creek Conservation Park

The final entry on our list is a little further from the CBD than the rest, being an hour and a half south of town. But the remoteness of Deep Creek Conservation Park only adds to its magic.

Located at the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula, Deep Creek is 45 square kilometres of stunning Australiana. You’ll find wildlife everywhere you turn, kangaroos, koalas and echidnas on land, kookaburras, cockatoos and galahs in the air and dolphins and whales at sea. You’ll see some of Australia’s most spectacular coastline, headlined by Blowhole Beach and Tapanappa Lookout. And you’ll be treated to perfectly private hikes through pristine wilderness, with options for every level of fitness.

Deep Creek is so packed with excitement that a day trip may not cut it. Book a camping spot, pack a stove and enjoy a weekend in the greatest of great outdoors.

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