I love long-distance running, yet in a bid to improve and challenge my fitness in 2016 I have been looking at new ways to get some cardio done without the need to pound my knees into the pavement quiet so hard. My relationship with walking and hiking has always been complete confusion, why do people like going up and down hills so very much? Deciding this was probably a good place to start, I set myself the challenge to start walking and hiking and find out why this was so. Beginning with gentle walks, to medium level (and sweat inducing) climbs, this is part one, my guide to my top 8 walks and hikes within Canberra (thus far), with part two set to explore some of the harder treks.
LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN
Time: 1 hour
Sometimes I wonder if the lake is really the icon of Canberra, with hundreds (if not thousands) flocking to it every weekend to wander its perimeter, marvel at the water, and avoid going in (seriously don’t do it, definitely not safe for swimming). The lake itself makes the walk around the outside very scenic, and to my delight, is populated with coffee shops to make the walk also social and caffeine induced if you did what I did, and woke very much too early. The bridge to bridge walk is around 5km, and a very popular route for many- flat paths, wide lanes, and gorgeous views. Good for a social walk, and a starting point to work on your fitness.
Time: 30 minutes
This place is gorgeous. Sure, the trees are not fully grown yet, but just imagine how much more spectacular it will be by that point! Faced with several walking trails, including the infamous centenary trail (approx. 100km), and smaller walks such as the Dairy Farms Hill Circuit, they have laid out several goat trail style tracks for you to take. The wander takes you over the hills facing the arboretum and lets you have a scenic view of Canberra (be sure to bring your camera for a few snaps). The Dairy Farmers walk took around 2km, and is dead easy- taking us around 30 minutes to leisurely stroll. However, if the views weren’t so good, I would have been very bored by the walk.
Time: 35 minutes
Located out in Belconnen, this tucked away hill doesn’t look much like a mountain. You start off on fairly flat ground, and only after looping around the base, have the option to walk 200m up a steep slope of stone stairs. I was puffed by the time I walked the stairs, and surprised by the views- but altogether not very tired. Would be nice to do as a daily walk, and lots of dogs running around with their owners.
Time: 40 minutes
This is a good walk that slowly transitions you from walk to hike, taking us approximately 40 minutes to complete. It is less man made than some of the previous, and introduces you to the bush walks that populate Canberra. We quiet literally followed a small rabbit that jumped in front of us half of the trail, and then ran off when the Kangaroos and Magpies appeared. Easy to fit in after finishing work, it is busy and a lot of people are out walking their pooches as you trek. The hill has a lookout on the top which is perfect for taking scenic shots of your surrounds like all good hikers should.
Time: 40 minutes
Situated behind Ainslie and Hackett, this mountain is a very popular walk for the locals. Swarming with wildlife (so many kangaroos, and please be careful of snakes), you need to keep your dogs on the lead for this one. The walk itself is done over a fairly wide man made worn path, or gravel laid one, and is easy to follow (no guessing which way you need to bush bash here). The mountain is not too steep, and there is the option once you reach the top to then walk along to another ridge, extending you walk even further (depending on the shakiness of your legs). Definitely an enjoyable walk, medium level intensity, and raises a sweat if you push yourself for time instead of meandering.
Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
My first mountain, let’s see what the fuss is about. With a sign estimating approximately 2 hours for the trail, we were nervous, but easily smashed it with 1 hour to spare. The trail was scenic, and winded through trees and bush land. Obviously a very popular track, it was crowded and you constantly have to be aware of other people overtaking you. The walk was moderate, with a few moments of puffed breath and grasps for the drink bottle. When we did make it to the (very crowded top) the views from the top were worth the walk, and were spectacular to look at- definitely took a few snaps to keep.
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
This track is littered with gorgeous trees, wildlife, and grassland all around you- the slopes are steep, and I got rather nervous in several patches where the paths had worn down to slippery dirt, and I could feel myself slipping backward as I climbed upward. I would definitely invest in some shoes with more grip than average running shoes, especially for the walk down when it took me almost double the time to edge down that same slippery dirt track. There were a lot of stairs, and my knees hated me afterwards. Yet when you get to the top of the mountain, and see just how big Telstra tower is, and how spectacular those views are- it all seems worth it. Obviously, you can drive to the top and see the same scene over Canberra, but there was something satisfying in having to fight your way to the top and be faced with shaky legs. This mountain definitely worked me hard, and I would love to add it to my regular workout.
Time: 1 hour
This was the steepest mountain I had tried thus far, it was like walking up a slide that never quiet ended. I was told it could take several hours, but we worked really hard and smashed it in 1 hour. In one particular section (if you come from the Pearce side) I will warn that there is a steep staircase made of very narrow stones, it spooked me a little to climb those with exhausted and shaky legs, and I saw several others using walking sticks for that section. The view was (once again) spectacular and luckily we caught it at a good time to capture it. My poor little heart was beating up a storm from that climb.