It seems that everyone knows about Morialta Conservation Park. When I went for a walk there on the recent Queen's Birthday long weekend (I live 5 minutes away), it felt like I'd landed in my local supermarket 3 days before Christmas. So because this jewel of the foothills is such an open secret among Adelaideans, I'll spare you the details about excellent picnic grounds, wheel-chair accessible walking trails, the famous First Falls, easy parking, and koala spotting for those who remember to look up. I'm sure many readers have already experienced some or all of these things.
Instead, I want to write about the fabulous views Morialta has to offer to those prepared to stretch their legs a little more. And although the north and south sides of the gorge can get incredibly steep, the effort taken to ascend their flanks is well and truly worth it.
Woodforde Track One hundred metres in from the main road entrance is the beginning of the Woodforde Track. This trail follows the perimeter of the park and is steep from the start, but approximately 750 metres in it peaks near some houses and allows hikers a wonderful view of Greater Adelaide. At dusk kangaroos are sometimes seen along this track, and in the summer months an evening hike here is a magical way to see the lights of the city at night.
Hogan's Hill This hill is reached either by continuing to follow the Woodforde Track as it dips into the hills, or by ascending the Hogan's Hill Track from its starting point approximately halfway along Morialta Falls Road. Follow the signs to the summit, and if you don't mind standing under power lines you've scored another great panoramic of Greater Adelaide.
Pretty Corner Lookout Located at one of the highest points in the park, Pretty Corner Lookout sits just below Norton Summit Road and provides a great view stretching from the distant city in the west to First Falls in the east. Allow plenty of time and make sure you stay hydrated in order to reach this lookout from the bottom of the hill, because there is no parking on Norton Summit Road for an easy 'stop and squizz'.
From the Falls Carpark, head up the steps to the left of the toilet block and follow the trail as it climbs the south side of the gorge. The iron railings of this lookout are easy to spot, and once there hikers have a great view of distant First and Second Falls (easy to see in winter when the water is flowing), as well as a glimpse of the city through a gap between hills.
First Falls lookout Follow the track around the gully rim and choose the left fork to arrive at the top of First Falls. There are plenty of vertigo-inducing drops to stick your head over and holler down to your walking buddies below, who are waving from the boardwalk at the bottom of the falls. Remember that the creek dries up over summer, so for a guaranteed gusher make your visit in the cooler months, or after decent rain.
Yurrebilla Trail At the next fork, veer right and follow the Yurrebilla Trail as it winds across the face of the hills. There are some spectacular city views to be had along this section, and a camera with plenty of zoom comes in very handy.
The last on my list, Deep View lookout provides a sweeping visual of Morialta gorge, and is well worth the steep climb needed to get there. Finally, you can head back to the Carpark and take your jelly-legs home for a rest and a rejuvenating cup of tea!
Have I missed any? Let me know what your favourite view of Morialta is by commenting below.