Distance: 7.5km (4.7 miles)
Black Hill Conservation Park has become my favourite South Australian park in the Mount Lofty Ranges to walk in. I loved the Ghost Tree Gully Track within the first 5 minutes of setting foot on it. On this day it was misty but not raining. Cold but sunny. Soft underfoot but not slippery. Perfect winter walking weather.
This write-up describes a great 7.5km loop that takes in several of the park’s tracks and trails.
Park at the court at the end of Addison Road in Athelstone. There’s plenty of parking here. Walking through the gate and past the information board, you take the signed Tetragona Trail on the left. From there you can take either the Everest Track or the Joann Track – they both lead to the Ghost Tree Gully track.
The Ghost Tree Gully Track gently winds and meanders up towards the Sugarloaves hills. Past beautiful big gum trees and along a creek. You’ll notice you’re heading uphill, but it’s not too strenuous. Soon you’ll come across a sign. Off to the right is the Ghost Tree Summit Trail link but you want to continue straight on up the Ghost Tree Gully Track. It starts getting a little more steep from here.
After a short while take the Banksia Track off to your right – you’ll be quite high up now. (I have to say with the mist surrounding me up here it was a bit challenging – I couldn’t see too far in front or see the drop down the side. I’m looking forward to coming back on a clearer day to get a better view from this track.)
There’s a perfectly placed table and bench seat at the intersection of the Banksia Track and Black Hill Track. It’s roughly halfway around this loop walk (I made a mental note to come back with a thermos of hot tea and snacks next time I’m up here.)
You want to turn right onto the Black Hill Track for a while and then right onto the Nature Summit Trail. This part of the trail is beautiful. Stay on the Nature Summit Trail until you come across the sign on your right pointing to the Ghost Gum Summit Trail Link. Take this link trail – it meets back up with the Ghost Tree Gully Track that will get you back to where you started.
This is just one loop option using the lovely Ghost Tree Gully Track. You can vary this loop by staying on the Nature Summit Trail to get back down, or by taking the other more steep Summit Trail back. Both are awesome trails. The nature Summit Trail will have you skirting around the edges of Black Hill with a decent-sized drop off to one side of you. The other Summit Trail is more steep, narrow and rocky. There are great views from both trails.
There were large groups of Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos circling overhead and making a huge racket whilst I was on this walk. The first time I’ve seen and heard them in such large numbers and part of the reason this walk brought me so much joy. Apparently winter is the best time to see them out here. I also had a kookaburra flitting about in the trees in front of me for part of the way. There were some smaller rosellas and lorikeets about. I didn’t see any koalas but there were plenty of kangaroos.
If you’re up here on a misty, winter’s day you’ll be rewarded with a magical walk. The month prior to this walk there had been a prescribed burn, which had burnt a large section of the Park. The smell of charcoal was still hanging in the air and seeing the blackened trees and earth was a bit of a shock. It’s actually quite fascinating that they can manipulate exactly where the fire goes. One side of the Nature Summit Trail was completely blackened while the other side was like nothing had happened.
I used Avenza Maps on my phone to track this walk and I also carried my printed out map to refer to. I had phone coverage for a lot of the walk.
Note: I had originally set out to explore the Sugarloaves Track but it was closed off with a gate and warning sign. You can access the more narrow Sugarloaves Trail though if you want to explore further coming back via the Banksia Track.
Other walks in the Black Hill Conservation Park:
- Black Hill Summit Hike – From the Other Side
- Black Hill Summit Hike, Black Hill Conservation Park
- Ambers Gully Hike & Sugarloaves Trail, Black Hill Conservation Park