Lake Parramatta Reserve
Hiking in the Lake Parramatta Reserve offers a great day out, as you walk through 75ha of bushland, around an idyllic lake with a decommissioned dam.
Lake Parramatta was created as a result of the damming of Hunts Creek in 1856. The lake is now a recreational area with three marked bush walking trails. The longest one is the full circuit walk that goes around the entire lake. The other 2 walks are much shorter and easier to do.
– Distance: 4.2 km (full circuit)
– Time: 2 hours
– Grade: moderate
– Kid friendly: yes
– Running: difficult
– Dogs: on a lead
– Heritage listed dam wall
– Three great walking trails
– Canoeing, swimming in the lake
– Beautiful bushland
– Observing wildlife
– Picnic and BBQ facilities
Access from Lackey Street off Bourke Street in North Parramatta. There is a free car park right at the entrance of the park. The Hills Bus route number 609 stops at Bourke Street.
Lake Parramatta Walking Trails
The Lake Parramatta Reserve is a man-made reservoir just north of Parramatta and 30 kilometers west of the Sydney CBD. Lake Parramatta was officially opened for swimming in the beginning of 2015 after more than 70 years of closure due to unclean water.
The Lake Parramatta Reserve is open all year round, with the main gate opening at 6:30am and closing at 5:30pm (7:30pm during Summer months). Besides hiking, the area also offers great picnicking and BBQ facilities, a designated swimming area, playgrounds and free parking.
Lake Parramatta also offers three awesome walking trails: the She-Oak Track, the Banksia Trail and the Lake Circuit. The Lake Circuit goes all around the lake and incorporates (parts of) the shorter She-Oak and Banksia trails. If you are doing the full lake circuit, it’s best to start east of the parking area, looping around the lake anti-clockwise. This way you will start the loop with the She-Oak Track.
It is strongly recommended to familiarise yourself with the three trails before starting. With three trails merging into one another, the sign posting can actually be a bit confusing and you may end up going the wrong way. On weekends there may be a guide available close to the parking area handing out maps. Alternatively, you can check out this brochure for more information.
The She-Oak Track is the shortest of the three tracks in the Lake Parramatta reserve. It’s an easy 1500 metres (return) walk that starts along the shore of the lake and then loops back via a road with lots of beautiful She-Oak trees.
If you are doing the full circuit then you can simply keep following the shoreline of the lake instead of returning to the car park via the She-Oak track. This is where the Banksia Trail starts.
The Banksia Trail is a slightly more challenging 2400 metres hike along the eastern side of Lake Parramatta. This part of the circuit offers some good views of the lake and, as the name suggests, the trail is rich with Banksias and other trees native to Eastern Australia.
From here you can either choose to complete the full circuit or you can return to where you started via the She-Oak track.
As you continue on to the north part of Lake Parramatta from the Banksia Trail, the circuit walk will now start to give you a really good sense of bush walking and wildlife. The Lake Parramatta Reserve is home to a lot of native birds and animals that you may spot, such as rosellas, cockatoos, kookaburras, frogs and lizards.
At the most northern part of the lake, you cross a little creek to go back south via the Western side of lake Parramatta. The views of the lake are the best on this side, as you hike through beautiful bushland.
The last stretch of the circuit walk goes around the Lake Parramatta Dam.
Lake Parramatta Dam
The 15 metres high Lake Parramatta Dam, completed in 1856, was the first large dam built in Australia. The dam has an arch design which at the time was well advanced. The purpose of the dam was to provide the local area with water. The dam closed in 1909 and the lake has since been transformed into a popular recreational area.
The dam wall is relatively small and, unlike the Manly Dam Wall, you can’t walk on top of it. The circuit trail loops around it though and offers great views of the dam.
The great thing about Lake Parramatta Reserve is that it gives you the opportunity to experience bush walking and wildlife whilst still being very close to Sydney and Parramatta.
The hike around the lake is not too hard but can be challenging at times due to uneven surfaces. Cycling through this area is possible but not recommended because of that reason.
The area is very family friendly, with lots of picnic and BBQ facilities, public toilets, and a small cafe to rest up and have a coffee. The swimming area in the lake is another great reason to come out to Lake Parramatta and to enjoy a great day outdoors.
Lake Parramatta Reserve Map
You can choose between three walking trails, as per the map below. If you’re going to do the full circuit, it’s recommended to start anti-clockwise and start with the She-Oak Track.