The Mount Lofty Summit Hike is a popular and strenuous hike from the Waterfall Gully carpark. Located in Cleland Conservation Park, Waterfall Gully is home to the largest of seven waterfalls that exist in the park.
It takes about a total of 3 hours to cover the entire return hike at a leisurely pace. As the walk involves climbs through the park's steep uphills, native vegetation and stringybark forest, the time taken to walk the trail can vary significantly. The complete loop hike is around 8.20 km.
You may consider starting the hike from Mount Lofty instead of Waterfall Gully. It can be a good way to use the downhill as a warm up, to super charge your up-hill efforts later on. And if you want to reach Mount Lofty summit super quick, you can drive up all the way actually.
Nevertheless, we decided to do the tough uphill hike first so we parked our car at Waterfall Gully which is only 20 minutes’ drive away from central Adelaide. Do note that on a busy weekend, car parking at Waterfall Gully can be limited.
We walked past 2 waterfalls before entering into the vegetation. This popular trail attracted a range of people, some were casually walking, others were using it as a training walk and some were running ! While it is tough, it is a suitable hike for kids too. Along the way, there are ample stone benches which you can take a break anytime.
Once you reach the summit which is 710 metres above sea level, you will be rewarded with panoramic views over the city skyline of Adelaide and the majestic peak of the Mount Lofty Ranges in the Adelaide Hills. There is a summit restaurant/cafe and a souvenir shop at the top of Mount Lofty. You can enjoy a delightful meal or coffee while admiring the spectacular view.
We took a good break at the open air area of the summit café, enjoying the cooling summer weather while the kid was happily catching pokemons.
The same route was taken and it was downhill all the way. Though it may sound easy theoretically, we had to walk with even extra care in reality. The route was unsealed and there were loose stones. Certain part of the terrain is steep so we had to take small steps and walked side ways to prevent slipping. Nevertheless, the downward hike is still faster than hiking up as we do not need to stop constantly to catch our breath.
We reached the carpark in 40 minutes’ time.
I will try the hike again if there is opportunity as there are 7 other ways to hike up to the summit of Mt Lofty. Some are gentler, some just as steep. I may attempt the more challenging and longer adventure trail. There are fewer people you’ll meet but be ready to see more koalas and kangaroos instead.