Track: Waterfall Gully carpark to Mt Lofty Summit
Length: 7.5km round trip
Access: year round, good quality maintained track
Grade: steady climb, steep in places, lots of seats to rest along the way
Features: waterfalls, wildlife (koalas, snakes, birds), fern gullys
If you're in Adelaide and you like a nice challenging bushwalk then you're in luck because just on the fringe of the eastern suburbs is Cleland Conservation Park which is criss crossed with numerous hiking tracks including the 3.75 km climb from Waterfall Gully to the summit of Mt Lofty.
The walk starts from the car park at the end of Waterfall Gully Road (see map below) and winds it's way past first and second falls criss crossing creeks and through fern filled shaded gullys.
Keep you're eyes on the trees and if you're lucky, like I was, you might see some koalas snoozing in the trees during the heat of the day. The two in the photo below were right next to the track and only about 2 metres off the ground. Also keep an eye out for snakes with lots of tall grass beside the track. I saw one small brown snake slither across in front of me and although it was a baby, it is just as poisonous as a fully grown one so still needs a wide berth.
The track itself is very well maintained and very solid so could be easily walked with a good pair of runners on - although I prefer my hiking boots for support coming back down which can be fairly jarring on the legs.
It was 35 degrees when I set off at 1pm to do the hike and I took and drank 1.2 litres of water on the way up and refilled the bottles at the top. Needless to say there were plenty of breaks along the way in shady spots.
Fortunately when you make it to the top you'll find a visitors centre with toilets and a very plush cafe and of course spectacular views out across the city.
All up I spent about 3 hours up and back including 30 minutes at the top and lots of photo a rest breaks on the way up so it could be walked quicker if you have less time - but ideally, don't be in a hurry.
There are numerous other walks in the area which I'll be aiming to get to and write about as soon as I can but this one is an excellent place to start.