Federation Walk Coastal Reserve work walking or cycling
The Federation Walk is a 4 km path located in a 93 km reserve that features coastal sand dunes and 3 kms of beaches. This last remaining undeveloped area of the Gold Coast is worth visiting on foot or bicycle.
Built with grants from the Centenary of Federation Queensland (CoFQ), it was opened in 2001, with additional work on the tracks, improvements in dune fencing and other installations have been made since then. It is a popular area for walking and cycling for tourists and locals alike.
Most people will do the walk starting at Hollindale Park making the total distance closer to 5 kms one way. I have often cycled from Surfers Paradise, which is a one-way distance of 8 kms or 16 kms return. I am going to cover the complete journey below.
Big beach wheels are essential for cycling on the beach
I am going to include this option because some people love a long walk, but also it is the best options when cycling. You can easily do the trail on a mountain bike, though if you are hiring bicycles from Surfers Paradise, then look for beach bicycles with the big beach wheels.
From Surfers Paradise, it is a pleasant journey along the boardwalk, most of the way up to bridge across the Nerang River to MacIntosh Island. You don't have to visit the island, but it is a worthwhile side trip on the way north.
Macintosh Island is a nice spot to stop on the way from Surfers Paradise to Federation Walk Coastal Reserve
When you get the park at Narrowneck, you either have to divert onto the beach or the sidewalk past apartments to get to Hollindale Park. When walking, we usually choose the beach.
Hollindale Park to Federation Walk
Most people planning to walk to cycle Federation Walk, you will probably include the paths in the parks to the south of the Coastal Reserve. These are Hollindale Park and Philip Park to the south and the north of the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort.
The paths through the park are popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists
There are 2 alternative paths through both of these parks, but as they all lead north, it doesn't matter which one you take. I would choose the ones nearer the coast as it gives you better access to the beach if you want to pop down to Main Beach for a look or swim.
Philip Park has much better parking for people driving to the walk. The northernmost bus stop is here as well.
Federation Walk to The Spit
Past Philip Park, the paths merge onto Federation Walk in the Coastal Reserve. From this point on, all paths are sandy, with little dips filled with enough sand to trap the slower cyclist and make them dismount and push. There are also a few low hills to tackle as well, but some of these give you lovely views back in the direction of the more developed areas of the Gold Coast.
The area is fairly exposed with mostly low bushes and the occasional small tree. There are also paths that lead down to the beach as well. However, the best way to tackle this part of the track is to just head straight to The Spit where you can find places to swim or rest.
There are side paths down to the beach all along the path
The last two times I went there, we timed it to stop at the Seaway Kiosk for lunch. They do a good fish and chips, or if you are feeling fancy, salmon steak and salad. If you want to have a meal or coffee at the end of your walk or cycle, then it is best to reverse the direction.
There are really two ways back to the start. Either retrace your route or head to the beach. If you cycled, then having big beach tyres will let you do this. Even so, beach cycling is really hard, even on the hard sand at the water's edge.
There are no buses to the end of the spit, but the road goes all the way to the end. So if you are feeling lazy, the other way back is a taxi or rideshare.
The Federation Walk Coastal Reserve is one of the well-known secrets that many people are surprised to learn about. Whether you do a short stroll through the area or cycle from Surfers Paradise, it is a great chance to experience what this area would have been like before development occurred and an easy way to escape the hustle of bustle of Surfers Paradise.