Five of Canberra's best hikes
Time to get out of the city
What: For the hardcore walker, this 145-kilometre loop passes many natural and man-made cultural icons of the capital. You don't have to do it all in one go, of course — it's divided into sections so you can tackle it bit by bit, averaging 20 kilometres a day over a week.
Why: Aside from bragging rights, this is the ultimate way to see Canberra, and in a way that few will. Combining urban and rural sights, it's a walk for people of moderate ability that showcases the best of the Territory. You can also tackle the trail by bike.
Highlights: There are plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife, so keep an eye out for kangaroos, wombats, echidnas and wedge-tailed eagles. If you see a platypus, you're among the lucky ones, as they're shy and nocturnal.
What: There are lots of different walks of various grades. The nature reserve is organised so you can hop into the car to get from one area to the next and then do a short walk. The rangers at the Visitor Centre can help you work out what to do and see.
Why: You're guaranteed to see kangaroos and you have a really good chance of seeing an emu.
Highlights: There's a breeding program for the endangered brush-tailed rock wallaby, so you have a good chance of spotting them in their enclosure. Koalas also inhabit the nature reserve. For the best chance of seeing wombats or platypuses, visit first thing in the morning. The kids will love the Nature Discovery Playground and you'll love the idyllic picnic spots and fresh open air.
What: Expansive Namadgi National Park is abundant with wildlife, scenic views and great bushwalks. Managed in cooperation with local Ngambri leaders, the park is a wonderful place to explore the region's Indigenous heritage.
Why: There are 160km of walking trails in total and plenty of ancient Indigenous art sites to discover, whether you're hiking alone or with a ranger (ask at Namadgi Visitor Centre).
Highlights: Combining natural wonders with human history, you'll feel a connection with your surroundings. If you want to stay overnight, camp sites are available.
What: One of the most popular walks among locals, the bush track behind the Australian War Memorial goes to the top of Mt Ainslie. It's about 2km each way, there are plenty of steps and it's steep in parts, so check your fitness level.
Why: The views from the top, looking across to Old Parliament House and Parliament House, are well worth the effort. If you're unable to walk up, you can ride your bike or cheat by driving up Mt Ainslie Drive. You'll see plenty of kangaroos and rosella parrots.
Highlights: The lookout at the summit is perfect for capturing sweeping shots of Canberra.
What: Think of the Arboretum as a living museum of trees. Spread over 250 hectares are 94 forests of rare, endangered and significant trees only 6km from the city centre. There are many trails for you to walk or ride a bike through and a popular playground for kids.
Why: Spectacular views across Lake Burley Griffin and an informative Village Centre where you can learn about the forests and seed banking project. You can also see living artworks in the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection.
Highlights: After a walk among the trees, relax at the Sprout Cafe and The Conservatory Restaurant which offers contemporary Australian cuisine using fresh, locally grown produce.
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