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  • Sydney
  • Fitness
  • The 8 Best Northern Beaches Walking Tracks to Explore

The 8 Best Northern Beaches Walking Tracks to Explore

Strap on your hiking boots and take on the best Northern Beaches walking tracks.

A rugged coastline, picturesque waterfalls, lush rainforests and jaw-dropping views at every turn, it’s easy to see why Sydney’s Northern Beaches is a favourite hiking destination for Sydneysiders. Whether you’re a hiking fanatic, nature novice or weekend wanderer, these are the best Northern Beaches walking tracks ready to be explored.

Shelly Beach, Manly
Shelly Beach, Manly
Queenscliff to Shelly Beach

Considered one of the best Northern Beaches walking tracks for its beautiful beach views, the Queenscliff to Shelly Beach walk maybe a short relaxing stroll, but the views are spectacular and the Eco-Sculpture Walk is a nod to the Cabbage Tree Bay’s unique marine life. Starting at Queenscliff Beach, make your way along the beachside promenade past Manly Beach and Manly Surf Club and onto Shelly Beach at Cabbage Tree Bay. There are plenty of places to take a dip along the way, but we strongly recommend lingering for a while at the Boathouse Shelly Beach. 

45 minutes

Queenscliff to Shelly Beach

Narrabeen Lake
Narrabeen Lake
Narrabeen Lagoon Trail

A scenic 8.6-kilometre looped track, the Narrabeen Lagoon Trail winds around stunning Narrabeen Lagoon and is the perfect outdoor jaunt for all fitness levels. Elevated walkways take you past wildlife, running waterfalls and under bushland canopies, allowing you to soak up the magnificence of one of Pittwater’s most striking ecosystems. Jamieson Park and Berry Reserve are the preferred starting points with ample parking available. In need of refreshments? Stop off for a coffee at one of three cafes dotted along the eastern side of the lake.

2 to 3 hours

Narrabeen Lagoon

Bangalley Headland

The highest point on Sydney’s northern coastline, Bangalley Headland is the gathering spot for native bird and plant life. Nestled between Avalon Beach and Whale Beach, the Bangalley Head lookout is the eventual destination of the rugged climb, which takes around 1.5 hours and is a three-kilometre loop. Your ascent starts on Marine Parade in Avalon, you’ll come across a profusion of birds and sweet florals as you make your way up the trail. Spectacular views north to Broken Bay and the Central Coast await you at the top of the track.    

 1.5 hour loop

Avalon and Whale Beach


Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

This is one of the most popular walking trails on the Northern Beaches and for a good reason. The iconic lighthouse track is located in Palm Beach and rewards walkers with some of the most spectacular views the coastline has to offer. Starting at the Boathouse Palm Beach, don your most comfortable walking shoes and get ready to climb 1.5 kilometres up to the historic lighthouse on either the Smugglers Track or Access Path. Both trails lead to sweeping views across Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Broken Bay, the Hawkesbury River, and Pittwater.

1 hour loop

Palm Beach

Narrabeen Lakes to Manly Lagoon

Combining all of the best walking tracks along the Northern Beaches, the 25-kilometre Bicentennial Coastal Walk is more than just a mid-morning stroll. The Narrabeen Lakes to Manly Lagoon 10-kilometre walk is one section of the three-day trail and is a visual feast for the eyes and a workout for the legs. Starting at Narrabeen Lakes, the scenic trail takes you across beaches, headlands, lookouts, lagoons, rock pools and boardwalks as you make your way through Collaroy, Long Reef, Dee Why, Curl Curl, Freshwater, Queenscliff and Manly.

8-hour loop

Narrabeen to Manly

Manly to Spit Bridge
Manly to Spit Bridge
Manly to Spit Bridge Scenic Walk

Take in a bit of Sydney Harbour and Northern Beaches in one hit, the Manly to Spit Bridge track can be walked either way, beginning with a ferry ride to Manly or bus to the Spit Bridge. This 10km track will take you through beautiful Sydney Harbour National Park with breathtaking views of Manly, Watson’s Bay and the heads. Whether you end up at Manly or the Spit Bridge you will easily find a cold drink and a warm patch of sand to stretch out on while you enjoy a well-deserved rest.

3-4 hours

Seaforth to Manly (via Balgowlah)

Curl Curl to Freshwater

This two-kilometre track is one of the best Northern Beaches walking tracks and hugs the beach and rugged coastline between North Curl Curl Beach and Freshwater Beach, traversing nature reserves, beach boardwalks and rock pools. Starting at North Curl Curl Beach, make your way through the dog-friendly nature reserve adjacent to Carrington Street and past the South Curl Curl Lifesaving Club. From here, you can enjoy the views out to sea as you make your way across the elevated boardwalk and onto breathtaking McKillop Park lookout. Gusto on the Beach at South Curl Curl is the perfect rest stop.

1 hour loop

North Curl Curl Beach to Freshwater Beach

Long Reef Headland

This picture-perfect walk up Long Reef Headland is well worth the uphill effort. A 3km loop around Long Reef Golf Club, at the peak of the cliff you can take in ocean views that span from Manly to Palm Beach. What makes it one of the best Northern Beaches walking trails is that it is an awesome whale-watching vantage point; best enjoyed over the winter months.

1 hour

Long Reef


Conquered the best Northern Beaches walking tracks and looking for more places to explore? Check out our fave hikes on the Central Coast and the best mountain trails in the Blue Mountains.