Only an hour north of Sydney, Jerusalem Bay track in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park offers an excellent opportunity to get a taste of the Great North Walk that runs for 250 kilometres between Sydney and Newcastle.
The track starts at Cowan train station and continues for 2.4 kilometres to Jerusalem Bay. The start of the track is well signposted from the station. Follow the signs to Brooklyn.
Do not be discouraged by the steep descent at the beginning of the trail – it is the only steep part of the walk. Once over the initial climb, the track meanders through open eucalypt woodland descending to the bottom of the gully. Here the track runs along Cowan creek through wet eucalypt forest, past mighty trunks of fallen gum trees and small waterfalls.
Towards the bay, the creek widens and the forest opens up above it, turning the water a light shade of blue that contrasts dramatically with dark green forest on its banks.
Jerusalem Bay is a pleasant spot for a picnic, with vistas of Cowan creek stretching out to the horizon, boats bobbing up and down on the water and puffer fish cruising between the rocks in the shallows.
After lunch, you could either retrace your steps to Cowan train station or follow the track all the way to Brooklyn for another 11 kilometres, if you have enough daylight left. The entire track from Cowan to Brooklyn takes about 5.5 hours.
The track at a glance:
Distance: 4.9km return
Time required: 2 hrs
Level of difficulty: Moderate (due to the steep climb at the start of the track)