Canberra is often referred to as the "Bush Capital", due to the wide expanse of national parks and bushland just minutes from the city centre. Interestingly, it also has 33 bushland areas within the city region, as part of the Canberra Nature Park network of reserves and bushwalks. When you drive around the region, you can't help but notice the many green hills located around the city and suburbs, which all have walking tracks to lookouts at the top. These hilltop walks are popular with locals and visitors alike, to fit in some strenuous exercise and also enjoy the sweeping 360-degree views of the entire region.
The following are (my) Top 10 Hilltop Walks that can be found in the Canberra region - although you may discover your own favourites along the way. Why don't you strap on your comfiest shoes, fill up the water bottle and challenge yourself this weekend? Be warned though - once you start, it's hard to stop at just one!
Mount Ainslie, located behind the Australian War Memorial
1/ Mount Ainslie (843 metres above sea level) is one of the most popular hilltop walks in Canberra due to its tough uphill challenge and proximity to the city. The entrance to the walk is located behind the Australian War Memorial in the suburb of Campbell. Locals walk up this hill every day - some even jog - to get fit and enjoy the most iconic view of Canberra from the summit. The walk takes approximately 1-1.5 hours return. For those who would prefer to skip the exercise and drive up, the Mount Ainslie Lookout can be accessed by Mount Ainslie Drive. See here for details. For the Canberra Nature Park map, see here.
2/ Black Mountain (812m) is located just a short drive from the city in Acton. You can see Black Mountain from almost anywhere in Canberra as it has the 195 metre high Telstra Tower sitting on top, overlooking the city. For those who don't wish to walk, the tower can be accessed by Black Mountain Drive. For walkers however, the main entrance is from behind the sub station in Turner, however you can also begin it inside the Australian National Botanical Gardens and walk the Flower to Tower Walk. The views aren't easily visible from the top of the hill, so if you want to experience stunning 360 degree views, you need to pay the entrance fee and catch a lift to the top of Telstra Tower. The walk takes approximately 1 hour return. For the Canberra Nature Park map, see here.
Walk to the top of Black Mountain to see the views from Telstra Tower (entrance fee applies)
3/ Mount Majura (888m) is another popular walk for locals and visitors who wish to conquer one of Canberra's highest hills. This hilltop walk can be found just minutes from Canberra Airport and has a myriad of trails to follow, so ensure you take your map with you as a reference. A popular place to start is from the Hackett Gate. The walk takes approximately 1.5 - 2 hours return, depending which way you walk. For the Canberra Nature Park map, see here. For more details, see the Friends of Mount Majura website for more maps and information.
North of the city...
4/ Mount Painter (732m) is one of my personal favourites, as it doesn't take too long to get to the summit and the views are some of the best in Canberra. It is located in Cook, just 10 minutes north of the city. This is a good short walk for families with older children who are happy to walk a few inclines for a rewarding view. As this hill was used for sheep grazing by early settlers, it has little foliage on the top which creates an uninterrupted view of the city. The walk takes approximately 30 - 40 minutes return. See here for details. For the Canberra Nature Park map, see here.
Mount Painter, with spectacular 360 degree views from its bald summit
5/ Mount Taylor (855m) is one of the most popular hilltop walks on the south side of Canberra and it is also one of the highest. It is located in the hilly suburb of Kambah, 15 minutes south of the city. Each weekend, dozens of cars line the road at the start of the walk, as locals take the tough uphill challenge and marvel at the views. Although there are many ways to access the walk, the most popular entrance is on the corner of Sulwood Road and Mannheim Street. The walk takes approximately 1 - 1.5 hours return. For the Canberra Nature Park Reserve map, see here.
6/ Mount Arawang (765m) is a smaller hill just a short drive from Mount Taylor, above. It has various entry points from around the base to start from, with stairs to take you to the summit. This hilltop walk is also part of the larger Cooleman Ridge Nature Park, which also has the Cooleman Ridge Nature Trail (including an uphill walk) at the opposite end of the reserve. The walk up Mount Arawang takes approximately 45 minutes return. See here for details. For the Canberra Nature Park map, see here.
Mount Arawang and views across to the city (and Telstra Tower in the distance)
7/ Red Hill (750m) is located just 10 minutes south of the city and is a short walk up to the summit. The walking trails lead up to two lookout areas - Davidson Trig and also a short distance away is the Red Hill Lookout and Little Brother Café. A coffee and a rest at the café is particularly popular with locals. There are a variety of walking trails to choose from, however the most direct route takes approximately 40 minutes return to Davidson Trig. For those who prefer to drive, the Lookout and café can accessed by Red Hill Drive. See here for details. For the Canberra Nature Park map, see here.
8/ Urambi Hills (713m) is another personal favourite, just 20 minutes south of the city, as it shows off the views of the city and captures the beauty of the Brindabella mountain range to the south. From the top you can also see all the way to Mount Tennant, which sits at 1,375 metres above sea level. The attraction of this cleared hilltop walk is the sense of being in the quiet countryside, just minutes from residential suburbs. The walk takes approximately 30 minutes return, depending where you start. See here for details. For the Canberra Nature Park map, see here.
9/ Farrer Ridge (755m) may be one of the smaller hills on this list, located 20 minutes south of the city, however it is an enjoyable walk up to the summit to view the Tuggeranong region. There are many paths to get to the start of the walk, then it is an uphill stair climb to the top. At the summit, there is a wooden bench to simply just sit and take in the views. The walk takes approximately 45 minutes return. See here for details. For the Canberra Nature Park map, see here.
10/ Tuggeranong Hill (855m), located 30 minutes south of the city, is a slightly different walk to the rest as it follows the wide management trail all the way up the top. This dirt road is used by workers to maintain the broadcasting station at the top of the hill, which provides television reception for those who live in the southern suburbs. It is a steep uphill walk with spectacular views, especially to the mountain ranges in the south. Watch your step though, as it is very rocky underfoot in some places. It takes approximately 1-hour return. See here for details. For the Canberra Nature Park map, see here.
Which uphill walk will be your favourite? Why not try them all!
Spectacular views of the south Canberra region from Tuggeranong Hill