Cumberland State Forest
Experience | bushwalking | Pennant Hills | Sydney North West | New South Wales

Cumberland State Forest

Keeping it local

by Susie Baber  |  10 July 2021

For those not from Sydney, we are currently in a COVID lockdown and the stay at home orders specify that we can’t travel any more than 10km from our homes for exercise. Jenny and I live approximately 12 km from each other which leaves us a good overlap for walks that stick to our 10km lockdown limit. We has been studying the map and working out what our options are.

This weekend’s lucky location is Cumberland State Forest which in West Pennant Hills in Sydney’s North West. Cumberland State Forest is Australia’s only metropolitan state forest. The original privately-owned land was taken over by the NSW Forestry Commission and was dedicated as a State forest in 1939. There are 40 hectares of native forest on this site, one third of the land was planted as an arboretum while the rest has been allowed to regenerate naturally.

There is no camping, trail bike riding or 4WDing in Cumberland State Forest, but you can enjoy a forest walk, picnic or barbecue and dogs are welcome if kept on a leash. There is also a retail plant nursery, a café, toilets and a Tree Tops Adventure Park.

Walking tracks crisscross all over the forest but there are three short marked trails which are perfect for families with kids and is where we decided to start.

Sensory Trail | 350m loop, easy

Suitable for all ages and fitness levels, pram and wheelchair friendly. 

Interpretive signage on the sensory trail encourages the walker to stop, look and listen to experience the forest and all its wonders with their senses. The sign says this one is a half hour walk but it only takes about 15 minutes, maybe it depends on how long you spend reading the information signs.

Palm Gully Trail | 1km loop, moderate (some stairs)

This loop requires a similar skill level. while the signs say 1 hour, the walk only took us a half hour. There’s a little bit of up and down and some stairs so isn’t pram friendly but it’s far from challenging and perfect for kids.

Forest Trail | 1.3km loop, moderate (some steeper sections and stairs)

The longest and most challenging of the trails, this is still a very family friendly walk, There are a couple of steeper sections and at the top as you pass Tree Tops Adventure Park the signs take a little bit of finding.

Having completed the three marked trails we wandered to the south end of the forest where a side track from the GNW runs along the edge of the park. This track is a side trip off the main Great North Walk track starting from Thornleigh. It is approximately 1.5km each way and although signposted I did have a little trouble finding any information about the route on the internet.

Heading back to the car park there are many other unmarked trails leading in and out of the reserve that I am sure the locals know well. We however do not, and after venturing down a pretty path along a creek we found ourselves out of Cumberland State Forest and quite lost. Not quite sure when we actually left the forest we did a quick consult with google maps and decided the simplest thing to do would be to retrace our steps.

Over all a pleasant, easy walk and a great place for a picnic. Maybe when lockdown is over we will come back with the family for a bbq.

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