One of the benefits of living in the Canberra region is that you don't need to drive far to find yourself surrounded by native bushland, stunning scenery and wildlife. Many of these nature pockets are part of the Canberra Nature Park network of reserves, with 33 of them dotted around the city and suburbs. They are popular with walkers, bike riders, dog walkers and horse riders, depending on individual locations. The Pinnacle Nature Reserve is just one of these reserves, located in the northern Canberra suburb of Hawker, just over 10 minutes from the CBD. The reserve has a 2.6km nature walk for locals and visitors to escape the city, look for wildlife and spend time in the beauty of nature. This short walk will only take an hour or so, depending on how many times you stop to take in the views...
Country views looking south west to the Brindabella mountain range
Before you leave on this walk, ensure you take a look at the brochure and map of the Pinnacle Nature Trail for your reference. I personally printed it out to keep in my pocket and referred to it a number of times on my walk - I may have turned it upside down and spun it around a few times to read it, however it is a handy resource to have close-by. Unfortunately there is no signage on the walk which refers to "The Pinnacle Nature Trail" as such, so the small fire trail signs that you see along the way don't refer to this walk. The advantage of all these multitude of tracks however, is that after you have done it once and got your bearings, you can easily go back next time and explore the smaller paths and discover something new.
On my visit, I drove along Springvale Drive, which is in the suburb of Weetangera, on the way to Hawker. Looking at the map there are many entry points to get into the reserve, with some closer to the start of the trail than others. I parked my car when I saw the sign for The Pinnacle (below) and climbed through the hole in the locked fence, which is designed for walkers to squeeze through (although this one had seen better days!). I then turned right and continued up a hill and along the Bicentennial Trail until I came to a confusing junction of paths leading in all different directions. Referring back to the handy map, I chose the path which said Pinnacle Central Track and continued on...luckily, it turned out to the be the right one!
Climb through the fence and turn right. After a short walk, the path then meets up at an intersection...
From here, it is just a short walk to the turn-off to the top of The Pinnacle itself, which is hill 709 metres above sea level. After taking some of the more strenuous hilltop walks around Canberra, this small incline is a short and enjoyable detour, without too much sweat and pain!
Back onto the track, the walk then continues on down a hill until you come to a junction in the path. Turn right and take the long and winding path all along the escarpment on the side of the reserve. This path has sweeping 180 degree views of the western areas of Canberra, with national parks and indigenous sights located beyond the farming properties. Although my walk was a scenic one, with an array of colour and light dancing on the curves of the mountains, I imagine the ideal time to do this walk would be at sunset, to see the effect of the sun setting behind the ranges.
At the end of this long and winding section of the track, you then reach the top left corner on the map, where horse-riders can enter onto the path from Dungowan Street in Hawker. Take the sharp right turn and follow the equestrian trail along the back of residential homes and up a steep, rocky path to the top.
As you continue along this path, the Pinnacle Nature Trail map indicates that you need to turn right off the path (at number 7), opposite a pedestrian entrance on Marrakei Street. Although you could easily blink and miss it, just look out for this small entrance (below) to cut back through the reserve to The Pinnacle and the start of the walk. If you do miss it however, the path you are on also leads back to the beginning, so you will make it back to the start either way.
On my early morning winter walk, it was only 1 degree when I started, however the temperatures slowly started to rise and the birds of the Pinnacle Nature Park became more active. Rosellas, galahs and cockatoos came to life all around me and kookaburras could be heard in the distance. I imagine, with the expanse of grasslands located along the escarpment, that kangaroos would often be seen at dawn and dusk. This walk took me an hour from start to finish, however I stopped to take photos, chatted to some walkers at the top of The Pinnacle and did a bit of exploring down smaller trails. Now that I have done it once and mastered the map, it would be an easy stroll through the scenic countryside, with a few steep sections to test the legs.
Why don't you explore it for yourself this weekend?