One Tree Hill Hike & McElligott’s Quarry Reserve | Mitcham | Review

 “One Tree Hill” hike from McElligott’s Quarry Reserve in Mitcham

It’s hard to believe that this nature hike, offering jaw-dropping Insta-worthy views, is only minutes from the city of Adelaide.

Review by Carla Caruso

I’m a keen jogger … well, I was keener before I had my twin boys. Now the juggle of child-minding and work means pulling on the sneakers twice a week is an achievement.

But when a mum I know mentioned a hike, locally nicknamed “One Tree Hill”, I found my ears pricking up. (And no, she wasn’t talking about the suburb out north or the American TV show). The spot’s also known as “Lonely Tree Hill” or “Brown Hill”.

I’m always looking for new trails near home and reasons to get out in nature. And if the kids could tag along too, as hers did, it’d be a bonus.

I’ve often jogged along Brown Hill Creek Road, past the caravan park, but I never realised I was bypassing access to a more extraordinary trail. Now it made sense why I’ve seen energetic walkers scrambling up a dirt track near the caravan park entrance, on the left. That track is actually the Peter Nelson Walking Trail, named after the late Olympic cyclist (and hubby of ex-governor Marjorie Jackson-Nelson).

Not far up the incline, on Carrick Hill Drive, we arrived at a tucked-away play area, McElligott’s Quarry Reserve, with parking and specky views over the city and coast. (Thank the stars for camera phones).

The reserve could do with more playground equipment with just a swing-set and seesaw, but it does have a barbecue, picnic tables and oodles of room to kick a ball or spread out a picnic rug. It also has an impressive backdrop in the form of a sheer cliff-face on the eastern side. (The reserve is named after the McElligott family, who once ran a quarry there from 1899). Unfortunately, the park doesn’t have any toilets.


After the boys had a play, we continued up what looks like a lengthy, private driveway. This part of the trail is unmarked, and left us a little uncertain, but it’s actually well-worn. We just had to follow the other walkers (often with dogs in tow).

Following that, it was a bit of a goat-track to reach the famed lone tree atop the hill, but worth the effort. I wasn’t sure how our boys would go with the steep climb, being just five, but they didn’t complain … well, not too much. While I’m not sure I’d do the hike solo with the trail being quite isolated, it was a fun family activity. From start to finish, it took us about an hour. And I still can’t believe it’s been on my doorstep all this time.

Why we love the ‘One Tree Hill’ hike and reserve

  • The awe-inspiring views, from the quarry cliff-faces to over the city
  • The chance to get out in nature, not far from the CBD
  • That feeling of discovering a hidden gem in your backyard
  • It’s FREE!


  •  Large car park, open from 7am to 8pm daily
  •  BBQ and picnic tables in the reserve, plus play equipment and a spacious grassed area
  •  Informative signage along the way

Things to Note

  • There are NO toilet facilities in the reserve
  • The walking trails are not suitable for your average pram and are quite steep – little feet may tire!
  • The area can be isolated, unless you’re there on a busy weekend


Carrick Hill Drive, Mitcham

Review by Carla Caruso

For more information on the reserve, which forms part of the hike, please visit the City of Mitcham’s website.

All photos by Carla Caruso for Play & Go Adelaide 2019

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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