Hills to hike in Lake Macquarie

Hills to hike in Lake Macquarie

There's no better way to experience Lake Macquarie's natural beauty than taking the time to walk through it. Serious bushwalkers can head to the Watagan Mountains or hit the steep slopes along our beautiful coastline, while those who want a more leisurely stroll have plenty of options to enjoy by the sea or through the forest. The views are pretty special too.

Watagans National Park 

The Watagan Mountains are an important cultural site for the Awabakal and Darkinjung people and more than 40 sites highlight Aboriginal engraving techniques and art. 

While the short but steep walk to the jewel of the Watagans (aka Gap Creek Falls) is currently closed, there are plenty of other great spots to discover in the national park. 

Boarding House Dam

The 30-minute Boarding House Dam circuit is an excellent choice for families. Wander along the creek and admire the many rock formations, before hitting a 120-metre moss-covered rock wall that leads through to the rainforest. Photogenic? Definitely.

Boarding House Dam Web

Turners Walking Track

For more of a challenge, take Turners Walking Track, starting at the Boarding House Dam picnic area. This one-kilometre (one way) grade 4 hike follows a steep old logging track that winds through rainforest and eucalypts. There are plenty of birds to spot along the way, so this one is a favourite for bird lovers.

Great North Walk

The Great North Walk is one for experienced hikers. The full trail runs from Sydney to Newcastle, but you can do a 10-kilometre (one way) section in the northern part of Watagans National Park. A highlight is the incredible views of Quorrobolong, Ellalong, Cessnock and Kurri Kurri from Narrow Place lookout.

Monkey Face lookout

If you’re more about the scenery than the walking (or want to end your hike with a stellar view), pull up at Monkey Face lookout, where you can look across the lush Martinsville Valley. The lookout is a great spot for a picnic too. 


Olney State Forest

Abbotts Falls Walking Track

The 7.3-kilometre Abbotts Falls Walking Track is within the Olney State Forest. The starting point can be challenging to find (it’s past the toilet block as you walk away from the picnic area), but, once on the track, you’ll be in for a treat. The trail starts with a walk through a eucalypt forest, before you venture deep into the rainforest and make a steep descent to a secluded waterfall. Make a side trip to the dammed pool to see Aboriginal carvings.

Pines Circuit Walk

Also in Olney State Forest, the 1.7-kilometre Pines Circuit Walk leads through the forest around Dora Creek. This moderate walk is great for families and passes a small waterfall and dammed pool. The picnic area is a great spot for a barbecue before or after your walk.


Heaton State Forest

Watagan Trail

In Heaton State Forest you’ll find the Watagan Trail, which leads from Watagan Headquarters to Heaton Lookout. This 8.1-kilometre (one way) track forms part of the Great North Walk from Sydney to Newcastle, and this section will take you through dense rainforest and past stunning lookouts. After passing the Hunter and McLean’s lookouts, you’ll descend into the Wallis Creek catchment area, then walk alongside the cliffs to Heaton Lookout. There’s a wood-fired barbecue and picnic table, so you can enjoy lunch with a view.


Mount Sugarloaf

Mount Sugarloaf is a ‘choose your own adventure’ destination with several walking tracks leading from the car park to various picnic areas and lookouts (all are well sign posted). One of the walks takes you to the summit of Mount Sugarloaf – the highest point in the Lake Macquarie area. From the summit you can see out to the ocean and all the way to Newcastle. The track to the summit lookout isn’t suitable for prams or wheelchairs (there are some steep steps), but a section of the summit loop walk has a well-maintained, paved path. 


Bombala Walking Track

The Bombala Walking Track is located in the Glenrock State Conservation Area and is an excellent choice for those who love to hike with salt in the air. A short, steep walk from the end of Bombala Road leads to the rock platforms of Dudley Beach, and, along the way, you’ll have amazing ocean views, stretching all the way to Bar Beach in Newcastle. You might even spot a whale or dolphin. 


For more ideas on what to do in Lake Macquarie, call the friendly team at Lake Macquarie Visitor Information Centre on 1800 802 044. We can send you a Visitor Guide and Map for free, or view online here.