Cascades Trail is located in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, 40 minutes south west of the city. This scenic nature reserve has an admission fee per car to get in for the day, then you can start exploring some of the 22 walking trails on offer. One of the "moderate" walking trails is Cascades Trail, which is a 1.8 kilometre walk through a rainforest environment, with ferns, waterfalls and a cooling rainforest canopy to walk under. It is an ideal walk to do in summer, as most of the walk is in complete shade. Although the walk is out of the sun, you still warm up quickly in the rainforest humidity as you make your way up the winding pathway to the top of the hill. On the day of my visit, families were walking up with their older children, however they had to stop frequently to rest their weary legs along the way - so this walk isn't ideally suited for young children who tire easily.
If you feel like exploring Canberra's surrounding region this weekend, why not take a walk through this unique rainforest environment and if you're quiet, you may even spot the elusive lyrebird...
The walk begins from the Mountain Creek car park, which has signage and a map at the beginning of the trail. The first section of the path is combined for both the Cascades Trail and Lyrebird Trail, so you can choose which path you take a short way into the walk.
The walking trail is easy to follow, with small bridges over streams and the constant sound of water trickling through the rainforest, which is a relaxing sound as you walk along. Although there is a lot to look at, the sounds of the rainforest are equally as intriguing, with bird noises high up in the canopy, rustles in the undergrowth and squeaks of treetop branches rubbing against each other in the wind.
Choose between the two trails, both similar in length
The walking trail continues up the side of the hill, which raises the heart rate and causes the leg muscles to protest. The uphill section continues for most of the walk, however it is easy to get distracted by the birdlife and sounds from within the forest depths. As I rounded one of the corners on my walk, I startled a large Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo on a lower branch, which flew off in a whoosh of wings high up into the canopy.
As the path levels out, it is then time to enjoy the downhill section. On my visit, there had been rain the night before, so there was a constant stream of water down the side of the path and all over the path in some sections (tip - don't wear your cleanest sneakers!). The path also gets very narrow as it rounds a large granite boulder. This downhill rocky section isn't suited for those who may be unstable on their feet, or slip easily. It isn't long however, before the path joins up to the Lyrebird Trail and then you can enjoy the return trip back to the start.
Wet and narrow in some places, on the way back down
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a special place to visit, with indigenous sites, protected wildlife and natural beauty at every turn. Each walk is different, however Cascades Trail in particular is different to the other walks in the reserve. It enters a unique rainforest environment on the side of the hill, which feels like you're in a humid, wet environment - which is a stark contrast to Canberra's dry climate. Although it is ideal to visit in summer, for the shade of the rainforest canopy, ensure you also go back in winter to catch a glimpse of the elusive lyrebird in his courtship dance.
Whenever you visit, follow the path for an adventure and experience to remember...
Cascades Trail - a shady oasis on a hot summer day