Choosing where to go walking is your first decision. How far away is it? How rugged & remote? Do you want to see big views, wildflowers, waterfalls, or rugged coastline. Perhaps you want to stand on a summit. No matter where it is, you will be on one or more of the following…

When do I go?

The South Australian bushwalking season is from 1 April to 30 November, with many areas closed for walkers outside of this time. Parks and forests are closed on days of extreme fire danger, please respect these warnings.

Where do I go?

National Parks

Managed by Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DENWR).

There are great spots to visit close to Adelaide including Para Wirra Recreation Park & Belair National Park. Generally, trails are for walkers only, with all other vehicles permitted only on roads. Pets are not permitted in most national parks but are allowed on leads in Belair National Park and a number of other DEH reserves. Camping is generally only allowed in designated camping areas.

Forest Reserves

ForestrySA manages the State’s Forest Reserves, containing plantations grown for commercial timber production and native forests managed for biodiversity conservation. The plantation areas are available for multiple use including walking, horse riding and bicycling. Walking off track and with dogs is permitted in plantations but NOT in native forest.

Private Land

Obviously not all of the great walking spots are on public land. If you do wish to walk on private property, CONTACT THE LANDOWNER BEFOREHAND. Always be courteous and respect the landowner’s decision. You do not have a right to walk on their property. If you do not get permission, you are trespassing! Landowner concerns you may encounter include public liability, stock (eg lambing season), gates left open, etc. Some trails such as the Heysen Trail and Yurrebilla trails traverse private land, please adhere to signs & guidelines.

Heysen Trail and Other Walking Trails

South Australia has a great trails network crisscrossing a variety of areas all over the state.

Managed mainly by DENWR, ForestrySA, local government and volunteer walking clubs, they are great to use to help you discover new places and string together quality loop walks. The Heysen Trail is South Australia’s premier long-distance walking trail, and is worth exploring. Be aware, it is over 1200km long, in places following indistinct creek lines and footpads. The trail route may change over time, particularly through forest, so ensure you check with local land managers before you leave. Trail updates are also available from Friends of the Heysen Trail.

Other great trails to explore include the Yurrebilla and also the range of Mount Lofty Trails.

Classification of Walking Trails

DENWR, ForestrySA and other land managers are using Australian Standards for walking trails. You may see the following ratings signposted at the beginning of trails or on your trail notes. Trail classifications assist you to plan your walk.

Trail classifications and corresponding symbols used on trails in National Parks


Walk Trail Classifications - walk standard - white

  • even surfaced trail
  • suitable for small children
Australian Standard 1 & 2


Walk Trail Classifications - hike, moderate standard

  • some moderate inclines
  • irregular surface with loose, uneven base
  • average level of fitness
Australian Standard 3 & 4
Walk Trail Classifications - hike, hard standard
  • some steep inclines
  • irregular surface with loose, uneven base
  • average level of fitness
  • some hiking experience


Walk Trail Classifications - trek, challenging standard - white

  • long distance trail with some steep inclines
  • irregular surface with loose, uneven base
  • suitable for experienced walkers with navigational skills
  • high level of fitness
  • submit a “Let us know before you go” form to the local park office
Australian Standard 5 & 6
Disclaimer to Guide to Better Bushwalking

A Guide to Better Bushwalking: Disclaimer

Bushwalking Leadership SA

Bushwalking Leadership South Australia, in putting this information together, does in no way suggest that this is the ultimate guide and STRONGLY recommends anyone interested in bushwalking to educate themselves in the dangers involved with this activity.

Bushwalking Leadership SA STRONGLY advocates first aid training and recognised outdoor leadership training before leading groups of any sort of bushwalking.

This information is intended as a prompt or introduction to some of the basics of enjoyable bushwalking.

National Parks/Government Trails

Trails are provided for your enjoyment and should only be used in accordance with the Code. Trail users must be adequately prepared and obtain relevant information and maps. The trail conditions may vary from time to time, and trail users are advised to check weather conditions prior to leaving. Persons should use caution at all times when using trails in South Australia.


This information was originally published in 2004. View credits.

Bushwalking Leadership SA