This short but challenging hike is near Somersby in NSW, just an hour's drive from Sydney, in the beautiful Brisbane Water National Park. Although short, it is a fantastic, must-do trail if in the area! Leading through dry eucalyptus forest, the trail runs on both sides of Piles Creek, following its deep gorges with its plunge pools, waterfalls and lookout clearings.
There is excellent scenery to be had here plus a suspension bridge crossing. The bridge can hold up to eight people at one time. Three miles long, it is a popular trail for hikers, trail runners and bird watchers; the unobstructed views over the forest canopy, especially from the Illoura lookout point, give a great opportunity to look for canopy-dwelling birds, so take your binoculars! This lookout also gives a great view up and down of the Piles Creek and Leask junction and the word Illoura is an Aboriginal word for a peaceful place. Note that at Illoura, the trail crosses another track, the Girrakool loop, which passes an interesting Aboriginal site with carvings in Hawkesbury Sandstone and makes for a longer hike.
With caves and large rocky overhangs, there is plenty of shade and places to stop and discover on this trail although care should be taken if exploring; the rocks can be slippery when wet, so wear good shoes.
The trail starts from the Girrakool picnic area, a five-minute drive from Kariong and here there are toilet facilities and free gas barbecues for general use as well as a car park. Be aware that parking fees may apply and the car park is open from 7 am to 8 pm in the summertime and 7am to 6pm in winter. It is locked outside of these hours.
The track undulates for most of the way and there are some steep sections, plus some rocky steps making it unsuitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs although younger children should be alright if closely supervised. It is graded as Medium difficulty. For information on how we grade trails, please click here
. The track takes around an hour and a half to complete although caution is advised on trail times as this depends on multiple variables. For more info, click here
. Being in a National Park, dogs are not permitted on the trail.