Molonglo Gorge Trail

Molonglo gorge trail is an amazing resource that celebrates the history of our state while providing a safe place to walk and experience nature.

Dec 12, 2023

As a social group of like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds, we are always looking for somewhere pleasant to mingle as we walk, to openly chat and have a few laughs. We prefer scenic walks, somewhere quiet and away from car noise and the stress of the city. 

The Molonglo Gorge trail offers an opportunity to walk and explore the river’s diverse habitats with magnificent river views around every bend. The trail is also a very popular area for bird watching and hiking.

On Saturday 9 November 2023, we drove to the starting point and enjoyed a walk along the Molonglo Gorge in the ACT.

An early arrival also allowed me time to do an exploratory walk to the start location and hopefully catch up with friends before we got going. We discovered that the western edge of the gorge is a popular location for picnics. It has BBQs, toilets and a parking area. I had not been here before and did not know such a facility existed at this location.

I found that this fabulous riverside walk up the Molonglo Gorge has wonderful scenery, diverse vegetation, an abundance if bird life. The major feature is several kilometres long, with cliffs up to 60 m in height, rising to a heavily forested, dissected plateau.

The Molonglo River flows through a series of cascades and deep pools within the gorge. Although you’re never in a true wilderness along this trail (you’re following the Canberra to Sydney rail line on the other side of the gorge) the towering cliffs, frothing rapids, and big woods above the trail on the path’s northern side provide remnants of the ecosystems that once covered this entire region.

The trail offers an opportunity to explore the river’s diverse habitats with magnificent river views around every bend. The area is very popular for bird watching and hiking.

CanHike members commit to a healthier and more connected community through outdoor adventure activities and we hope to inspire others to take on a similar walks close to Canberra.

This is the first of a series of articles in which members of CanHike will share some adventures and offer some tips along the way for others. 

molongolo walking trail steps

NOTE: The path can be rough and slippery in parts for those unsteady on their feet. Some people may like to use walking poles.

An interesting tree to look out for 

In the woods about midway on the trail is an unusual tree. At some point in its long life, the tree was bent into a distinctive L-shape. The trunk is almost perfectly horizontal, running almost five feet before making an abrupt 90-degree turn from the heavens. It’s a perfect place for two people to sit back and observe the forested gorge and cliff formations and all the goings on. 

bendy tree
CanHike walk group
There are lots of great places to stop along the trail

Molongolo Gorge Trail

There are many options to view up the river, through the trees. On a sunny day it is gorgeous.

There are many little rapids or falls. It’s a joy to hear the water rushing over the rocks. These characteristics make for a fascinating social context, presenting perfect opportunities and settings for exhausted hikers to stop, rest and chat amid the sounds of the forest. 

Some of that wilderness can be found in the backcountry of nearby Molonglo Gorge Nature Reserve. The reserve extends downstream from the ACT border near the Burbong Railway Bridge, almost to the Yass Road bridge just north of Queanbeyan.

The trail was most enjoyable, with lots of green space with the pine forested hillside.

We proceeded alongside the river to a rest spot and then a steep climb up to the top of the ridge and finally winding down the forest road to complete the loop and back to our cars (8.7km). 

You’ll find more information about the Molongo Gorge Nature Trail on ACT Parks website

molongolo gorge
Reaching at the top Molongolo gorge


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