What is “Aleblazer”?
It’s a simple concept. The day starts at a pub somewhere where we sample local craft beer. Then we hike along roads and trails through the wilderness (there must be wilderness somewhere along the way). The walk then finishes at a pub, where we also drink beer. The first walk was in winter and was from The Crafers Hotel to The Edinburgh Hotel in Mitcham. This walk was in the middle of summer and was from The Uraidla Hotel to Mt Lofty Summit and down Waterfall Gully to The Feathers Hotel in Burnside.
What’s the best time of year to go walking in the Adelaide Hills you ask? Walking season in South Australia is officially defined by Walking SA as mid-April to mid-October, depending on weather and fire bans. National Parks are closed on days of catastrophic fire danger and, as we found, when it’s 30 degrees and sunny, walking steep bush trails in the Adelaide Hills is a strenuous activity. Be mindful of your health and safety and make no mistake, hiking in summer can be dangerous. Autumn, winter and spring are good, summer is usually bad.
Make your way into the city and catch the 821 bus from the city up Greenhill Road to a town in the Piccadilly Valley called Uraidla. Uraidla is cute as a button and shaded with magnificent trees throughout the main street. Get off the bus opposite the Uraidla Hotel, touted as “Uraidla’s best pub” … it’s Uraidla’s only pub. It’s a very boutique kind of pub, the kind with exposed stone walls, pressed metal ceilings and garden implements topping the beer handles at the bar. Have a couple of pints of beer to begin the walk. My picks are the Stone and Wood Brewery (Byron Bay) Jasper Ale, then a Lobethal Bier Haus (Local) Hefeweizen. It’s an excellent looking menu featuring all local produce in unique dishes. There’s a bakery next to the pub and they’re in the process of building their own brewery. It’s beginning to bustle with food and wine places and worth a return visit any time of year!
From Uraidla, head down the Piccadilly Valley along Swamp Road. The Piccadilly Valley is a beautiful patchwork of vines and market gardens in the shadow of Mt Lofty. It’s a short climb up Gores Road to meet the trails up the back of the ranges to Mt Lofty, only a total of 234 metres climbing in this section but at the end of Gores Road it turns to dirt road and, boy it’s steep! From there it’s a short walk along the Mt Lofty road past the entrance to Cleland Wildlife Park and a quick skirt around the back of Mt Lofty via the Eurilla Track, Warre Track, and Heysen Trail to the summit complex.
The Mt Lofty summit complex has a wide plaza lookout, a café, restaurant and gift shop, and a bushfire lookout tower. The view over the Adelaide plains stretches to the horizon to the west, the south and the north. Mt Lofty is the highest peak in the southern Mt Lofty ranges at 727 metres. Although there is an extensive bar and wine list we decided that non-alcoholic drinks were the go here and ordered Iced Coffees. They would have been excellent if they had contained actual espresso coffee. Surely it’s rude to pour iced coffee from a two-litre premix bottle when there’s a coffee machine RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU?! I’d pass on the food and drink here until they lift their game.
From Mt Lofty descend toward Adelaide along the Mt Lofty to Waterfall Gully track. You’ll find this well posted track entrance next to the restaurant. This is likely Adelaide’s premier walking track. Even on a hot weekday it’s busy with families, fitness freaks, and average trail trekkers. It’s an extremely steep trail, well-formed and paved in the steep parts. It snakes down the front of Mt Lofty across and along a few ridgelines before dropping abruptly into Waterfall Gully at a little hairpin bend across the fourth falls. These falls only run after rain, but the muddy trails of evidence of springs rising to feed the tiny creek become apparent everywhere. Today a profusion of butterflies filled this narrow part of the gully, something not often seen. The trail from here undulates easily past Wilson’s Bog and some landslide repairs, Chinamans Hut, and around the third falls. The last two very steep sections are around the first and second falls. Both waterfalls flow through most of summer.
The facilities at Waterfall Gully have been upgraded recently. There’s a café and restaurant, picnic lawns and rest rooms. A visit to the waterfall at Waterfall Gully is a bit of an Adelaide institution. Walk on along Waterfall Gully Road, criss-crossing the road to stay on the tiny little trail that winds along it. Sometimes the trail disappears, and you’ll have to walk on the road, so be careful! It’s an interesting walk past some of Adelaide’s premier real estate, the creek trickles along nearby and you pass the entrances to the popular Winter Track and Chambers Gully Track. Not long after this you emerge into the suburbs at Waterfall Terrace and it’s only a short walk to The Feathers Hotel on the corner of Greenhill and Glynburn Roads.
From here you could have dinner at a few places nearby or just chill in the front bar of the Feathers. From here metro buses can take you back to the city (you can google the timetables) and of course cabs and Uber’s are plentiful if you’ve had a few too many celebratory ales.
Click here to check out the first Aleblazer trek.
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