About this walk
Most of this is a walk follows the Great North Walk through Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.
It takes about 9 hours to complete the full 21 kilometre walk, with plenty of breaks and photography stops.
A brisk walker can do this much faster, but consider that there's a lot to see along the way.
Getting there and back
Get the train to Cowan using transportnsw.info. Plan your return trip from Hawkesbury River at transportnsw.info.
Along the way
When traveling to Cowan by train, mind that only the rear few doors open at the platform. Exit the station on the side away from the highway.
Follow the track along the railway line until signs to the Great North Walk lead off to the bridge across the motorway.
From the other side of the bridge a narrow bush trail leads down to Jerusalem Bay.
From the picnic area of Jerusalem Bay, follow the Great North Walk Markers along the shore to the ridge on the far end.
At the far end of the track along the bay, starts a long climb up to the top of the ridge.
A short way past the top of the climb, an optional side track is hidden behind the sign to Brooklyn Dam:
The start of this track is obscured by heavy growth, but quickly opens up to a trail along a ridge with views down on both sides.
If there is not enough time to follow the side track all the way to Taffy's Rock, consider visiting just the first lookout.
Taffy's Rock Track lacks the sign posts of the Great North Walk, instead keep an eye out for the piles of rocks (cairns) used as markers.
A large sandstone constructs lines the trail along the way, confirming that you're still on the right path.
The next major landmark along the track is the Top of the World Lookout, a large rocky outcrop of tescelated sandstone.
It is very easy to miss where the track continues on the other side. Skirt the southern edge of the hill to find it.
A second large sandstone cairn will confirm your progress along the right track.
The ridge will become narrower, offering many filtered views and lookouts along the way.
After a final large hill the track ends on a wide rocky platform with an impressive view across Broken Bay.
Retrace your path all the way back along the ridge to the entrance behind the sign.
From the sign, follow the directions to Brooklyn along the bush trail.
The trail will descend once more into a deep gully and up the other side.
Eventually the trail joins with a fire trail at the very top of the ridge. Follow the Great North Walk to Brooklyn
Watch for several short side trails to powerlines that serve as impromptu lookouts across Kuring-gai Chase.
Just before the fire trail turns sharply to the right right down to Brooklyn Dam, there is a hidden lookout with a spectacular view across the Hawkesbury.
The fire trail winds its way down from the ridge, with the occasional sign indicating the Great North Walk.
After reaching the large lake of Brooklyn Dam, take the shortcut through the picnic area or follow the trail all the way around.
From the lake, the fire trail continues along the ridge to Brooklyn.
An steep trail heads off to the left to take a faster descent. The split is indicated with signs, but both directions end up in Brooklyn.
At the bottom of the descent, follow the main road into town and to the train station.
What to bring
- Check the national parks website for possible detours, closures and restrictions.
- Install an OpenStreetMap app for Android or iOS and preload the area.
- Download the GPS data if your device can import it.
- Print out this map and get a better one from a visitor information centre if possible.
- Be sure to leave enough charge in your phone's battery for emergency calls.
- Bring plenty of water, comfortable shoes, a hat and SPF 30 sunscreen.
- Also bring a light windbreaker/raincoat in case you get caught out in the rain.