Bushwalkers, as Australians call hikers, can stroll the outback, remote coastal regions, or the green hills close to the capital, all rife with opportunities to spot wildlife. The state’s hiking showpiece is the Flinders Ranges, delivering outback panoramas close to civilization with excellent trails and good water sources. Away from the red dust, the green Adelaide Hills are crisscrossed by trails, while rugged Kangaroo Island offers windswept cliffs, beaches, and forest to explore.
Majestic Wilpena Pound, ringed by mountains, is the focus for most visitors to the Flinders Ranges National Park. The most spectacular day walk leads to the summit of St. Mary Peak, a strenuous climb of more than 3,840 feet (1,170 meters) and the highest point in Wilpena Pound. Other less demanding trails climb up Mount Ohlssen Bagge and Wangara Lookout.
For multiday walks, the Heysen Trail runs through Wilpena Pound and on to Parachilna Gorge. The Bunyeroo and Wilcolo Creek hike incorporates part of the Heysen on an excellent day-walk loop. This 5.7 mile, five-hour walk starts at the Bunyeroo car park and takes in the varied landscapes of the ranges, from creek-fed valleys, gorges, and cypress pine woodland through purple-tinged shale and the quartzite outcrops of the ABC Range, with views to the main peaks of the Flinders. This is mostly a valley walk, with a short climb to a lookout, and is suitable for most fitness levels.
Adelaide has no shortage of good walking trails, and the greenery of the Adelaide Hills holds a special place for walkers, with a host of trails through the Mount Lofty Ranges.
Right on the city’s doorstep, the Yurrebilla Trail is a 34-mile highlight. It takes in many tourist attractions and has plenty of possible side trips to towns, wineries, and pubs. It can be walked in three to five days, or sections can be done as day or half-day walks. The trail starts at Belair railway station and heads through Belair National Park, along grassy hills and ridgetops to Eagle-on-the-Hill (11 miles). The next section to Summerton (4.3 miles) heads around Mount Lofty to Cleland Conservation Park and along forest tracks, while Summerton to Norton Summit (5.6 miles) goes through koala country and passes old stone ruins. The trail presses on to Morialta Conservation Park (4.7 miles), the most impressive of the parks, with gorges, waterfalls, and scenic lookouts. Morialta to Ambers Gully (eight miles) climbs through the Black Hill Conservation Park before descending to the River Torrens on the outskirts of the city.
Despite all its wildlife and wilderness, Kangaroo Island remains a low-key hiking destination, but that is set to change when the KI Wilderness Trail opens in September 2016. Existing trails are being upgraded and new sections added, promising to deliver one of Australia’s great coastal walks. This five-day walk will run from the Flinders Chase National Park visitor center to Snake Lagoon, along the clifftops to Cape du Couedic, then to Remarkable Rocks, Hanson Bay, and Kelly Hill Caves.
In the interim, experienced hikers can walk the park’s remote coastal trails from Cape Du Couedic to Snake Lagoon (ten miles), Snake Lagoon to West Bay (12 miles) and West Bay to Ravine Des Casoars (11 miles). Be sure to check conditions with rangers and register your intentions. Easier walks in the park include the platypus water holes walk (2.8 miles), and the trails around the lighthouse at Cape Du Couedic to Weirs Cove (two miles) and down to Admirals Arch.
From Kelly Hill Caves, a good day hike goes to pretty Hanson Bay (11 miles) passing freshwater lagoons, woodlands, and coastal dunes.