Beautiful Sydney: explore 7 of the most scenic running spots
There is no shortage of stunningly beautiful places to run in Sydney. Whether you are a local and looking for new surroundings or a visitor wanting to sample the Sydney delights, here are 10 great scenic routes for people who want to run in the Harbour City (in no particular order).
1. The Bay Run
The list kicks off with a favourite for the dog walkers and the pram pushers. Sydney’s popular ‘Bay Run’ wraps around Iron Cove Bay in Sydney’s inner west and is a great place to train for an event or simply get out and go for a Saturday morning jog.
The 7km loop is never more than a few metres from the sparkling blue water and is ideal for beginners as it is flat, well-maintained and free of cars…although you will share the path with walkers, cyclists, prams and a variety of dogs so you still need to be aware of ‘traffic’.
Many people choose to start at King George, Callan or Leichhardt parks where there is plenty of off-street parking.
Each year in August the track plays host to one of Sydney’s favourite community fun runs, the BayRun.
2. Olympic Park: Parklands Circuit
Close your eyes and imagine you are running in the Sydney Olympics along 35km of paved pathways. Ok, so maybe not but that doesn’t change the fact that this site has been etched into sporting history and is very popular with Sydney runners.
Whilst there is lots of terrain to cover, one of the more scenic routes is Parklands Circuit, a 6km long path that’s suitable for all running abilities. The view changes constantly as you run past Bicentennial Park, picturesque Lake Belvedere and through the Badu Mangroves. Parklands circuit is perfect for those running with a pram and for those who love a bit of bird watching. There’s even a good café if you need a break along the way to rest those weary legs.
3. Bondi to Coogee
‘Wow’. That’s what most people say when they first set eyes on this much-loved path. Even the regulars never tire of the truly magnificent views that can be seen the entire way.
The ‘Bondi to Coogee’ run is a 6km winding, hilly path that will take you over coastal cliffs, providing you with stunning views of beaches, sheer cliff faces, bays and rock pools complete with crashing waves.
While it is classed as a medium grade walk, it will give you a decent work out. There are some steep gradient paths and several staircases along the way. If you need a break there are plenty of rest stops and park benches you can take advantage of while taking in the fresh sea air.
Highlights include Coogee, Bronte, Tamarama and Bondi Beaches, Waverley Cemetery (one of the most scenic in the world) and the annual ‘Sculptures by the Sea’, a free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition..
4. Chipping Norton Lakes
Across town in Sydney’s south west is the 120 hectares of Chipping Norton Lakes. Chipping Norton Lakes are about an hour from the centre of Sydney and are a bit of a hidden gem.
A popular run is along the Lake Moore Walk which starts at Chauvel Park and follows the lake’s scenic foreshore to Haigh Park. It’s approximately 3.2km for the return trip and is paved and mostly flat so perfect for an easy recovery run or for those who are new to the sport.
There’s plenty of scenery to keep you interested with lots of flora and fauna. The lakes are actually a wildlife refuge so the birdlife is off the charts. Keep an eye out for beauties such as the plumed egret, sacred ibis and the purple swamphen along the way.
5. Lake Parramatta
Leave the paved pathways and go off road in the Lake Parramatta Reserve, which is just 2km from the Parramatta CBD.
With a range of tracks including an easy 1.5km run, moderate 2.4km and intermediate 4.2km return routes, this a perfect introduction to trail running, set amongst beautiful scenery, with plenty of flora and fauna.
Dogs are welcome to this park but owing to the uneven nature of the tracks, it might be best to leave the pram at home.
The reserve is open 7 days a week from 6:30am – 5:30pm (or 7:30pm during daylight saving)
6. Spit to Manly
One of the best ways to explore Sydney Harbour is to run along its banks. The Spit to Manly allows you to do just that, along 12 km of well-maintained track through beautiful national park.
The Spit to Manly is just a good place to run…end of story. There’s hidden beaches, historic Aboriginal rock engravings, gentle waves lapping the rocks, and unspoilt bushland. How many cities in the world have pristine bushland right on the harbour, so close to the city?
Along the way there is a mid-run café to refuel (otherwise be sure to bring your own food and water) and there are also a number of public bathrooms along the way.
Can it get better? Yes it can. If you finish the track in Manly you can throw yourself in the ocean afterwards, hit up a café for a beverage or lunch or cool down with an ice-cream. Bliss.
7. Balls Head Reserve
And the list of stunning running spots in Sydney just keeps going. This time it is the wonderful Balls Head Reserve in Waverton. Located just 1.5km west of the Harbour Bridge, this area can be easily accessed from the city or North Sydney, is just metres from Waverton train station and there is also lots of parking for cars.
There are approximately 3km of walking track around the reserve but as they all intertwine and cross over each other you could run around here for hours. The good thing about Balls Head Reserve is it is surrounded on 3 sides by the harbour so it is impossible to get lost. You can run through sections that feel like you are in the middle of nowhere only to pop out and have the Harbour Bridge staring at you. It’s magic.
If you fancy taking your dog for a run, he or she is more than welcome in the reserve as long as they are on a leash. Woof.
Did we miss any? If you know a beautiful place to run, we’d love to hear from you!