Bushwalking with Kids – Mount Barker Summit Reserve
by Katrina Gogel
Explore rocky outcrops, take in panoramic country views and find a cubby house (or two!) along one of the family friendly walking trails at the Mount Barker Summit Reserve.
The “Mount” has long been our family’s go-to place for a bushwalk in the Adelaide Hills. With two easy walking options on offer at a combined distance of just under 3 kilometres, both are perfect for little explorers.
Commencing at the interpretive signage in the carpark, this 500-metre return summit trail is an easy walk which passes by picnic tables and a cubby house on the way to the top.
A stone cairn sits atop the 513-metre high summit and the plaque is quite fascinating to read. Pointing to the direction of nearby Adelaide Hills and South Australian towns, as well as some overseas cities, it shows it’s old age by referring to the distances and heights in miles and feet- rather than today’s metres and kilometres!
The views are wonderful from the summit, with the township of Mount Barker and the Mount Lofty Ranges visible in the distance.
Extend your walk and complete the 2-kilometre Scenic circuit trail while at the reserve. Beginning near the boulder at the entrance to the carpark, this relatively flat trail skirts around the summit and offers sweeping views over the countryside, as well as the chance to sight wildlife and native flora along the way.
We spotted Blue Wrens and Honeyeaters during our scenic adventure, and came across lots of pretty Rock Correa flowers and ancient Mount Lofty Grass trees. Our two boys, aged six and three, stopped frequently along the path to pick up the fallen nuts from Sheoak trees, and enjoyed seeing how far they could throw them into the distance (and also at each other)!!
Half way around the hill you will come to a large rocky outcrop that is fantastic fun for the kids to scramble up, and a great spot to rest and admire the views. We could see cars and trucks driving along the South Eastern Freeway from here, and were lucky to also spy a plane in the sky AND a freight train snaking its way through the Hills.
Keep an eye out as you make your way around the Western Side of the trail. There is a wonderful, large cubby house made from sticks and branches, located just below the path. The boys had a blast exploring this cubby, and collecting their own sticks to add to the structure.
The circuit then continues up some steps and meets with a fire track. These steps are the steepest section of the trail, but a fairly easy climb. Turn left here and follow the fire track until you reach the dirt road that will take you back to the carpark, and sees your Mount Barker Summit Reserve bushwalking adventure to an end.
Why we love the Mount Barker Summit Reserve
- You can drive 90% of the way to the top
- Both walking trails are short and easy for young children
- Beautiful views across to Mount Lofty and even as far South as the Coorong
- It’s peaceful and not very busy
- It’s free!
- Large gravel carpark
- Interpretive signage – including trail map, history, and flora and fauna
- Picnic tables located half way along the Summit trail – a great spot for lunch or a snack
Things to Note
- There are NO toilet facilities in the reserve
- The reserve is open from 8am to 6pm (extending to 8pm during Summer months)
- The reserve is closed on Total Fire Ban Days
- Some sections of the walking trails are rocky and undulating
- The walking trails are not suitable for prams
- Dogs are allowed in the reserve, but must remain on a leash at all times
The Mount Barker Summit Reserve is a forty-minute drive from Adelaide. Travel along the South Eastern Freeway and take the Nairne exit ramp. From here, follow Bald Hills Road past Howards Vineyard to the roundabout, and turn right. Follow the Old Princes Hwy through the township of Nairne, turning right again onto Bartley Street (which merges with Summit Road). Take this road out of town until you come to the signposted reserve entrance at Mount Summit Road. This dirt road directly leads you to the carpark at the top.
Location: Mount Summit Road, Mt Barker Summit
For more information and all enquiries about the Mount Barker Summit Reserve please visit the Mount Barker District Council website here
What: Bushwalking with Kids | Mount Barker Summit Reserve
When: Any time
Where: Mount Summit Road, Mt Barker Summit
Who: Bushwalking fans
All photos by Katrina Gogel
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
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