As part of an initiative between six local councils, the Coast Park Trail is a shared use trail spanning 70 kilometres from North Haven to Sellicks Beach. From the wide sandy beaches that make up the northern section of the trail to the dramatic limestone cliffs of the southern beaches, the scenery is constantly changing from location to location, season to season and day to day.
Whether your interest is walking, jogging or cycling, the trail offers a recreational path along the foreshore which you can adapt to suit your needs, from a 1km stroll, a 5km walk or a cycle through a longer length of the trail. Beginning in 1992, the trail is almost complete, with just a gap through Port Stanvac preventing the trail from boasting an end to end status.
History and information signs along the trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Local councils have worked together to provide landscaping, park furniture and playgrounds along the trail to encourage users of all ages, including those with wheelchairs and strollers, to get outdoors and enjoy our scenic shoreline. Passing historic buildings, jetties and tourist attractions, the South Australian seaside suburbs are on display for anyone who wants to join the fun.
Start anywhere along the trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
You can start anywhere, stop anywhere, have a coffee or walk the dog along the trail. Walking distance between beaches range from 2.2 km to almost 10km. One of the best aspects of walking or cycling the Coast Park Trail is that there are no rules about where to start and end; it's up to you.
Boardwalks between Largs Bay and Semaphore.Photo: Hazel Cochrane
If you want to do the end-to-end trek, the trail starts (or ends) at North Haven about 20km from the CBD. The trail travels along the sealed 2.6 km path to the historic Largs Bay area, with its wide sandy beach and safe waters, where windsurfers and kite surfers like to mingle with the swimmers. Back in 1882, the Largs Bay Seaside Resort opened to the community, today the heritage listed Largs Pier Hotel is the iconic building on the Esplanade, along with the jetty, which was shortened by one third following damage from a storm in 1953.
Continuing to Semaphore, about 4.6km away, the trail is a combination of sealed paths and boardwalks or you can walk along the sand. The wide expanses of open spaces around Semaphore foreshore provide an area for hours of family fun, alongside the amusement park and the always popular, Palais. With a variety of food and retail outlets situated on Semaphore Road, and the wide sandy beachfront and jetty, the foreshore car park and picnic areas can get very busy, particularly in the summer months. Semaphore caters to the seasonal tourist influx during the summer months, hosting annual festivals including the Greek Festival, Kite Festival and the Music Festival.
Grange and Henley, just 2.2km apart along a sealed path, are popular family orientated beaches for more peaceful activities such as swimming and walking, while the shore is home to a hive of activity in restaurants and cafes, some with live music, centering around Grange and Henley Square. A little further along, at Henley Beach South, the River Torrens Linear Trail meets the Coast Park Trail, an area where pelicans love to loiter.
Pelican at the Henley Beach where the River Torrens Trail meets Coast Park Trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Combining environmental preservation with recreational areas, the walk through West Beach passes the caravan park, sporting grounds and the Tennyson Sand Dunes. Popular for swimming, sailing and fishing there is always something to watch around West Beach.
On the way to Glenelg Beach. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The walk into Glenelg crosses waterways, passes the amusement parks as the trail travels to Moseley Square. Glenelg has evolved from the days of early settlement in 1836, to beachside suburb characterised by a highly populated beach, the shopping and food hub on Jetty Road and Moseley Square where children can play in the fountain and adults can relax.
From the amusement park and the high rise buildings of Glenelg, the trail continues along a predominantly level route to Brighton Beach. You can walk along the sealed path or along the sand, passing playgrounds, picnic areas and numerous sculptures. A small section of this part of the trail requires a short walk along the sand or, if you have a stroller or wheelchair, a detour away from the beach before returning to the coast near the Somerton Surf Lifeasaving Club. On weekends you can watch aquatic activities including boating and kayaking, then continue towards the Brighton Jetty. An unusual jetty, with a mobile phone tower attached at one end and a War Memorial Arch, where dawn services are held on ANZAC Day, at the other end.
Marion Coastal Walk section has many, many steps. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Travelling further south, the Kingston Park Reserve, near Marino is part of the Tjilbruka Trail and the dreaming stories for the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains. Information signs along the trail tell stories from the Kaurna people. Forming part of the Marion Coastal Walk, this difficult section of the trail includes a series of boardwalks and stairs to be climbed by walkers. Cycling is not permitted in this section of the trail. Those who climb up and down the stairs will be rewarded with amazing sea views and aching quad muscles.
West Beach a hub for aqautic sports. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The geologically significant Hallett Cove Conservation Park, showing evidence of glacial movements from over 600 million years ago. The rose coloured Amphitheatre and Sugar Loaf are worth pausing on your trip to consider the fact that these rock formations indicate that Australia and Antarctica were once joined in a continent called Gondwana. This section requires a good level of fitness, the stairs can be relentless for the uninitiated but worth the journey to walk the rock formations and get close to the beach.
The Amphitheatre in Hallett Cove Conservation Park . Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The trail continues for 2.5km from Hallett Cove to the northern boundary of Port Stanvac, where a 3km gap breaks the trail before it continues from the southern boundary toward Moana.
Recognised for surfing, swimming, fishing, sailing and diving, the sandy beaches with a backdrop of rugged cliffs in the Moana section of the walk. The scenic journey features the Onkaparinga River, which connects the coast with the Onkaparinga River Recreation Park. The area is also home to the Moana Sands Conservation Park a significant Aboriginal cultural heritage site. The coastal sand dunes are important in the cultural traditions of the Kaurna people who lived in the dunes near Pedlar Creek during the summer months. The opportunity to see a variety of birdlife and reptiles, particularly skinks, exists in the conservation park.
The Port Noarlunga aquatic reserve, which provides a sheltered area for scuba divers and snorkelers to view over 200 species of marine plants and fish, is located near the jetty.
Continuing toward Willunga, the impressive coastline of colourful cliffs and the headlands at Snapper Point, Blanche Point and Ochre Point are a feature of this section, most of the coastline is of geological importance and is listed on the National Heritage Register. The Aldinga Reef, a protected area since 1972 and recognised as one of Australia's best diving sites, is located near this section of the trail.
The sandy beaches and cliffs of Sellicks beach, together with the Willunga scarp form a scenic background for the coastal landscape in this section of the trail. The Aldinga Scrub, the Washpool are important parts of the coastal area and of significance in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.
Whatever section you choose to walk or cycle, remember to take adequate water and sun protection, as shade can sometimes be difficult to find.
What's not to like about the Coast Park Trail, it has great scenery, it's free and a coffee shop is never very far away.
Enjoy the trail and the interesting artwork along the way. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Although the trail has no "official" start and ends points, the list following are approximate distance between beaches:
North Haven to Largs Bay: 2.6
Largs Bay to Semaphore: 4.6km
Semaphore to Grange: 7.6km
Grange to Henley Square: 2.0km
Henley Square to Glenelg:7.5km
Glenelg to Brighton: 4.2km
Brighton to Hallett Cove: 8.8km
Hallett Cove to northern boundary of Port Stanvac: 2.5km**
Southern boundary of Port Stanvac to Port Noarlunga: 3.6km**
Port Noarlunga to Moana: 6.5km
Moana to Maslin Beach: 4.3km
Maslin Beach to Willunga: 4.1km
Willunga to Sellicks Beach: 9.1km
**The 3km section from the northern boundary of Port Stanvac to southern boundary of Port Stanvac is not accessible to the public. The trail continues from the southern boundary towards Sellicks Beach.