Last updated: December 29, 2021
The Forest Path is a pleasant 4.5 km long bush walking trail in the Royal National Park that loops around Forest Island, partly following the shores of the Hacking River.
With start and finish on Sir Bertram Stevens Drive, this relatively easy walking track passes through a patch of scenic rainforest, less than one hour away from the city.
|The Forest Path|
|Distance:||4.5 km (circuit walk)|
|Duration:||1.5 – 2 hours|
|Grade:||Easy / moderate|
How to Get There
Access the Royal National Park via Waterfall and keep driving on McKell Ave until you arrive at an intersection with Sir Bertram Stevens Drive.
Turn left into Sir Bertram Stevens Drive until you see two small parking areas on both sides of the road. This is where the Forest Path walking track starts and ends (see map location).
The parking area is rather small, but the track is usually pretty quiet compared to other popular hikes, so you should be able to find a spot to park your car.
Parking in the Royal National Park is $12 per vehicle for the whole day, to be paid at the booth when you access the national park, or at one of the ticket machines placed at various locations in the park.
The below map gives you a bit of an idea where the Forest Path is and where to park your car:
The Forest Path Track Notes
The Forest Path is a family friendly walk, suitable for all ages and fitness levels. The trail is mostly flat and is very easy to follow.
Since this is a bushwalk though, it’s always recommended to wear decent hiking shoes for comfort and safety reasons, especially after a period of rain when the track might be muddy.
The Forest Path first opened in 1887 to allow for easy access to the forest trees, and for decades, the trail was used to accommodate logging in the area.
Public controversy and pressure ultimately led to the ban of logging in the 1920’s. Logging only briefly returned during the second world war, but luckily the walking track has been used for recreational purposes only ever since.
Start of the Walk
There are two options to start the Forest Path.
You can either choose the western entrance and go clockwise, or you can start from the eastern entrance and walk in an anti-clockwise manner.
The eastern entrance is also the starting point of the Lady Carrington Drive walking track (see further below for more details).
These two starting points are only 50m apart, opposite the car parking area. We recommend to go anti-clockwise, starting from the eastern entrance.
From the eastern entrance, follow the Lady Carrington Drive walking track for around 800 metres or so, until you get to an intersection where you can turn left into the Forest Path.
This is also where the old Bola Creek Rest Area is located.
Don’t expect too much of that though, because it’s really not much more than a somewhat neglected picnic table with benches.
After another couple of hundred metres further away, the path veers to the left, where the Bola Creek meets the Hacking River.
From this point onward, the path keeps following the shores of the Hacking River through a patch of beautiful rainforest.
As you keep hiking, be sure to look around and enjoy the great variety of native plants and flowers, such as eucalypts, casuarinas and cabbage tree palms (up to about 25m high).
If you enjoy bird watching, definitely bring your binoculars with you, as there are many different types of birds that thrive in this area.
Be mindful that after a period of heavy rain, the Hacking River raises to higher levels which can cause the walking path to get very muddy.
Towards the end of the walking trail, the Forest Path arrives at a junction with the Couranga Walking Track, a 5 km long bushwalk that leads to Waterfall train station.
Other Tracks Nearby
There are quite a few other walking tracks nearby, although the Forest Path is the only one that is actually a loop.
The Lady Carrington Drive Track is a 10 km one-way track between Sir Bertram Stevens Drive in the south and Audley in the north.
This historic track is shared between cyclists and hikers, so please be careful.
The Couranga walking track is a 5 km hike between the start of the Forest Path and Waterfall further west.
This track is great if you are going to the Royal National Park by train, so you can walk all the way from Waterfall train station to the Forest Path.