No matter what time of year, it’s the perfect season to go for a walk in Sydney. But what if you want to bring along your dog? While many hiking trails in Sydney don’t permit dogs, I’ve dug up some of the best dog-friendly walks around Sydney.
Dog-Friendly Coastal Walks in Sydney
There’s plenty of great coastal walking trails that are perfect for walking with your dog in Sydney. While most beaches in Sydney don’t allow dogs on the sand, dogs are generally allowed on footpaths alongside them.
Bondi To Coogee Coastal Walk
Distance: 6km one-way
The coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee is not surprisingly one of the most popular walks in Sydney. Meandering for 6km along the Eastern Suburbs coastline, it passes by many of Sydney’s most famous beaches.
While none of the beaches permit dogs on the sand, dogs are welcome to join you on the walking path. The majority of it is on-leash, although dogs are allowed off-leash at some of the parks along the way.
At Marks Park, on the headland to the south of Bondi Beach, dogs are permitted off-leash after 4:30pm and before 8:30am, except during Sculpture by the Sea. Burrows Parks just south of Waverley Cemetery permits dogs off-leash all day long, while head to Bronte Park for off-leash fun before 10am and after 3pm.
This walk is best done during the cooler months, or early or late in the day over summer, to avoid the midday heat. Maybe set out early in the day and combine with brunch at one of the many dog-friendly cafes along the way?
Spit Bridge to Manly Walk
Distance: 9km one-way
I’ve walked the harbour-side Spit Bridge to Manly Walk multiple times, but not yet with my dog. This is partially because the normal route takes you through Sydney Harbour National park, where dogs are not allowed. However, it’s instead possible to walk a modified 9km-long version through a number of back streets, cutting off the national park section at Dobroyd Head, although you miss out on some of the best harbour vistas.
Start at the northern end of the Spit Bridge, taking the Fisher Bay Walk. After a few minutes you’ll arrive at Sandy Cove, a terrific off-leash dog beach in Sydney. It’s a great spot to allow your dog to run around and swim, especially at low tide.
Continue along past Clontarf Reserve, keeping your dog on a leash, then along the Clontarf Track. You’ll need to detour to the left when you get to the start of the national park, heading up to Cutler Road. There’s a number of routes that you can then take, aiming for Forty Baskets Bay. There’s no restrictions on the reminder of the walk to Manly Wharf. Both Tania Park and North Harbour Reserve permit dogs off-leash.
The Spit Bridge to Manly Walk is most commonly walked one-way, with walkers returning to their starting point by bus, or hopping on a ferry back to the city. If walking with a small dog, if you take a carrier bag they’ll be allowed on the bus. Otherwise, I recommend walking just part of the route then retracing your footsteps.
Manly Beach Walk
Distance: 2.5km one-way or 5km return
On the other side of Manly along Manly Beach is another great dog-friendly coastal walk in Sydney. While dogs are not allowed on Manly Beach, or the adjacent Queenscliff or Shelly Beaches, they are welcome on a leash on the footpath behind the beaches.
The 2.5km path from the northern end of Queenscliff Beach right down to Shelly Beach is a flat and easy walk. There’s plenty of dog-friendly cafes just off the route, or benches to sit and take in the views.
To combine the walk with a swim at at dog beach, head to Manly Lagoon in Queenscliff, just off the northern end of the walk. Manly Lagoon Park and Lagoon Park West are both off-leash dog parks, and the sandy lagoon is a popular spot for dogs to enjoy the water. Just be aware that the water quality is variable and should be avoided after heavy rain.
Dee Why to Curl Curl Cliff Walk
Distance: 1.5km one-way or 3km return
For a slightly more difficult coastal walk, head a few suburbs north and walk the Dee Why to Curl Curl Cliff Walk. Starting just south of the Dee Why Rockpool, the boardwalk and trail continues for 1.5km south along the cliff tops, behind million-dollar houses, to North Curl Curl Surf Life Saving Club.
Keep your dog on a leash on this walk, especially next to the cliff tops. Parking is available at both ends of the walk.
The southern end of the walk is adjacent to Curl Curl Lagoon. It’s a popular dog swimming spot, although technically dogs are only allowed off-leash in Flora and Ritchie Roberts Reserve on the southern side of the lagoon. The northern side is adjacent to a car park and the easiest way to get to the off-leash park is along the beach, where dogs are of course not allowed.
Lake Narrabeen Loop
Distance: 8.5km loop
Heading further north along the Northern Beaches, another great dog-friendly walking trail is the Narrabeen Lagoon Trail. This is a longer dog-friendly hike, with the total loop around the lake almost 8.5km long. However, it’s a flat and easy paved multi-use path.
There’s multiple carparks situated around the lake where you can begin and end the walk. Alternatively, if your dog is not up to completing the full loop, just walk a short section and retrace your footsteps.
Dogs are required to be kept on a leash, and it’s best to avoid walking the full loop during the middle of the day over summer. Allow 2-3 hours to walk right around the lake.
Dog-Friendly Bush Walks in Sydney
Surprisingly, there’s many pockets of bushland still remaining around Sydney. While some of it is contained in national parks such as the Sydney Harbour National Park and Lane Cove National Park (with dogs not allowed), there’s also many pockets where dogs are allowed on leash. Hike with your dog on these dog-friendly tracks.
Wolli Creek Walking Track
Distance: 4.5km one-way
When you think of Wolli Creek, you probably imagine the high rise towers adjacent to the train station. But the name also belongs to the rare pocket of Inner West bushland contained in the Wolli Creek Regional Park. The area was originally earmarked for the M5 motorway, but was luckily preserved.
While dogs are generally prohibited from national parks in Australia, dogs on a leash are permitted in most regional parks, including this one and the Wolli Creek Walking Trail.
The 4.5km long trail roughly connects Tempe Station and Bexley North Station, although sadly pet dogs are not permitted on trains in Sydney. Instead I recommend hiking a section or all of the route then retracing your footsteps. My favourite part of the walk is the section through Girrahween Park, behind Earlwood, although I haven’t yet hiked the Illoura Reserve end of the walk. Listen out for the flying fox colony!
One option available for owners of small dogs is to park at Steel Park in Marickville, then catch the 423 bus (with your dog in a carrier) to Earlwood shops. Walk through Girrahween Park, across Turella Reserve then on to Waterworth Park. Walk back along the Cooks River cycle way to Steel Park, on either side of the river. The total distance is 5.2km, with dogs allowed off-leash at the oval opposite Steel Park.
Lake Parramatta Circuit
Distance: 4.2km loop
Another beautiful remnant of bushland in Sydney is at Lake Parramatta Reserve, just to the north of Parramatta. This reserve also permits dogs to join you, as long as they stay on a leash, and the authorities also ask that everyone keeps to the established walking trails.
The full loop walk around Lake Parramatta is 4.2km-long, taking about two hours. It’s possible to complete the circuit in either direction. If you’re not sure about walking that far, instead head off in a anti-clockwise direction, with two shorter walks also possible on the eastern side of the lake.
Keep an eye out on the weather, as the stepping stones on the full circuit around the walk become impassable during and immediately after rain. Free parking is available at the entrance.
Distance: 1.7km loop
While you won’t find any platypuses any longer in the creek that this walk crosses, it’s still a beautiful bushland reserve with multiple walks available. It’s located in Bidjial Reserve, just north of the M2 motorway in Castle Hill.
The most popular walking track option is the relatively easy Platypus Trail. It’s best accessed from the end of Excelsior Avenue. If you’d prefer a longer hike, perhaps combine with the Burraga Loop.
Dogs are allowed on a leash in the reserve. If you walk the Platypus Trail, be aware that some dogs might need to be carrier across the stepping stones.
Gadyan Track, Berry Island
Distance: 750m loop
There’s multiple bushwalks available in the North Sydney council area, but one of the most interesting is the Gadyan Track at Berry Island.
This short 750m-long loop circuits around the former island, which is now joined to the shore by a grassed picnic area, which is also a popular off-leash dog reserve. Along the way signs detail the life of the former Cammeraygal inhabitants, plus there’s beautiful rock engravings.
Make sure you keep your dog on a leash in the bushland, as in all areas of bush in the North Sydney area. Click here to download the full guide to bushwalk available in the North Sydney council area (14MB download).
Headland Park Walking Track
Distance: 2km one-way
While much of Middle Head lies within Sydney Harbour National Park, this on-leash walking track lies just outside of the park boundaries. It connects Balmoral Beach and Clifton Gardens Reserve via Georges Head Lookout and Headland Park.
My favourite section of the walk starts just near Frenchy’s Cafe, where free parking is available. Head towards the edge of the bushland, with views down to the harbour below, then walk to the right. Along the way you’ll pass a turnoff to Georges Head Lookout, before emerging at Chowder Bay after 1km.
It’s a short walk onwards to Clifton Gardens Reserve. At the reserve dogs are allowed off-leash all day long on weekdays, as well as before 9am and after 4pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. On the eastern section of beach, dogs are allowed in the water on weekdays only, before 9am and then after 4pm in winter or 6pm in summer.
The other half of the walk down to Balmoral Beach involves stairs, so isn’t as dog-friendly, nor is it as picturesque. However, it’s great to combine with a walk along the foreshore at Balmoral Beach.
Manly Dam Loop
Distance: 7.3km loop
Tucked in behind Manly Vale is Manly Dam. Around the dam is one of the longer bushwalks available to dogs and their owners within Sydney itself.
This beautiful 7.3km bush walk takes about 3 hours and while not difficult is best for dogs up for a longer distance. Dogs need to stay on a leash for the entire walk. Also be warned that some dogs may find it tricky to cross the mesh walkway above the dam wall.
The most obvious spot to park for the walk is the carpark at the Manly-Warringah War Memorial Park. However, dogs are not allowed in the park, including the carpark. I instead recommend parking on King Street, just before the park, then detouring around the carpark and dam wall. See the map on the local council website for further details.
Dog-Friendly Urban Walks in Sydney
While there’s countless urban walk options available to dogs throughout Sydney, these are some of the more scenic options.
Glebe Foreshore Walk
Distance: 1.2km one-way
Recently the Glebe Foreshore Walk along Blackwattle Bay has been completed, linking Bridge Road to Glebe Point in a waterfront path. The walk offers beautiful views of the city skyline and Anzac Bridge.
Dogs are allowed along the full length of the walk, with dogs allowed off-leash from the boathouse at the end of Ferry Road right around to the point. Perhaps also combine the footpath with a walk through the Glebe Foreshore Parks. Dogs are only allowed on leash in Bicentennial Park and Jubilee Park, but off-leash in much of Federal Park. Check out the local signs.
If your pup isn’t up to returning along the same route, it’s also possible to combine the walk with a trip on the light rail. There’s a stop at Jubilee Park and the Glebe station is not far from the start of the walk. Dogs in a carrier bag are permitted on the light rail, just ask for permission from the staff.
Distance: 7km loop
Another popular dog-friendly walking path close to the centre of Sydney is the Bay Run. This 7km-long path loops around Iron Cove, in between Rozelle and Drummoyne, forming a complete loop.
Dogs are welcome to join you along the path, as long as they stay on leash. Once again it’s best to avoid walking the path during hot days in summer, with not much shade along the length of the walk.
A great spot to start and end the walk is in Lilyfield, near Callan Park. A number of parks in Lilyfield close to the Bay Run permit dogs off-leash, as long as no organised sporting activities are being held. This includes the Waterfront Oval, Callan Park, Leichhardt Oval No. 2, Leichhardt Oval No. 3 and Glover Street Sporting Ground.
Alternatively, start in Leichhardt at Cafe Bones, the famous dog cafe. Purchase a coffee for yourself and a Pupaccino or gourmet biscuit for your pup, then head off along Hawthorne Canal to join the Bay Run. This adds an extra 1.5km to the walk.
Cooks River Cycleway
The Cooks River Cycleway is an extensive 30km-long, largely off-road cycleway connecting Ryde and the shores of Botany Bay at Kyeemagh. The first stretch follows the Cooks River, with the section from Tempe to Campsie joining with the Wolli Creek Walking Track (see above) to form the 13km-long Two Valleys Trail.
The cycleway is open to pedestrians and dogs too, although dogs need to be kept on a leash. In some sections, there’s a cycleway on both sides of the river, making for an easy loop walk. While it’s a walk through suburbia, there’s some pretty sections of the river, which is surprisingly unpolluted these days.
One of my favourite sections is the stretch in between Tempe Station and Steel Park, Marrickville. Walk along one bank before returning along the other bank, for a total loop of about 3km. Parking is available in multiple locations, including Gough Whitlam Park and Steel Park. Dogs are allowed off-leash on the oval in HJ Mahoney Memorial Park, opposite Steel Park.
Dog-Friendly Walks Near Sydney
Head outside of Sydney to discover more dog-friendly walks, including these favourites that are great for a day trip.
Arboretum Track, Strickland State Forest
Distance: 2km loop
Dogs are allowed in all NSW state forests, and one of the best options close to Sydney is Strickland State Forest. It’s located near Gosford, just off the Pacific Motorway, about 75 minutes north of the centre of Sydney.
Within Strickland State Forest there’s multiple walking tracks on offer. Most are around 2km long, although you can combine multiple together for a longer walk. One of the most popular is the Arboretum Track, a 2.3km hike through one of Australia’s oldest arboretums, include a swinging bridge.
Dogs are not required to remain on a leash, although they need to stay under your control. Generally, I’ve found that owners put their dogs back on leash when they spot other dogs.
Note that the road in the state forest is unsealed. The 1.5km drive to the upper carpark at the Banksia Picnic Area should be fine for 2WD drives in most conditions, but skip heading the 2.5km down to the lower carpark and the Arboretum Track in a 2WD after heavy rain.
For more tips on visiting the Central Coast with your dog, check out my Central Coast dog-friendly guide
South Lawson Waterfall Loop
Distance: 2.5km loop
Another beautiful dog-friendly walk through the forest, but this time with the added excitement of waterfalls, is the South Lawson Waterfall Loop Track. Featuring not just one but four waterfalls, this 2.5km-long track is one of the most popular dog-friendly walks in the Blue Mountains.
While fairly short, there are some tricky sections with steps, where smaller dogs might appreciate being carried. Also, there’s a metal mesh bridge near the souther carpark that many dogs will dislike, although there’s the option to detour via the creek.
The walk is great for any time of year. During the warmer months, there’s plenty of spots for dogs to have a splash in the creek. However, it might be best to skip after heavy rain, when it is likely to be muddy.
For more tips on visiting the Blue Mountains with your dog, check out my Blue Mountains dog-friendly guide
Sea Cliff Bridge Walk
Distance: 700m one-way
The Sea Cliff Bridge is a spectacular landmark about an hour south of Sydney, in the northern suburbs of Wollongong. As well as driving over the bridge, a great way to experience it is by stopping and walking along the footpath that forms part of the bridge.
There’s no restrictions on dogs joining you for the walk, although dogs who are wary of heights or traffic noise are best to skip it. To walk across the bridge, there’s multiple parking spots immediately after driving south over the bridge, or head up the hill to the car park.
The bridge is longer than you expect, nearly 700m-long. There’s no shade at all except for in late afternoon, so avoid walking across the bridge in the middle of the day on hot days. Consider extending the walk with the footpath heading along the coast to the north or south.
For more tips on visiting Wollongong with your dog, check out my Wollongong dog-friendly guide
Kiama Coastal Walk
Distance: Up to 20km one-way
Head further south down to Kiama, just under 2 hours south of Sydney, for a longer coastal walk, the Kiama Coast Walk. This magnificent 20km-long walk follows the coastline to both the north and south of Kiama.
A popular option is to just walk a section of the walk. (Especially if you’re walking with a dog who isn’t allowed on the trains connecting some segments.) We walked the southernmost section of the walk, starting from Werri Beach in Gerringong, walking north for a few kilometres on the grassy trail in between farmland and cliffs.
Dogs are allowed along the entire length of the walk, although at times you’ll have to skirt some beaches where dogs are not permitted. Also keep in mind the southern end of the walk may become inaccessible after heavy rain, when Werri Lagoon typically connects with the sea.
There’s multiple dog beaches along the route, with sections of Jones Beach, Bombo Beach and Werri Beach all allowing dogs off-leash. Check the signage for the exact locations.
For more tips on visiting Wollongong with your dog, check out my Kiama dog-friendly guide
A Warning on Baits
Note that the various councils and other authorities around Sydney do use 1080 baits for controlling foxes and other wild animals. For the walks passing through areas of bushland, even small pockets such as Berry Island, keep an eye out for signs advising the use of baiting and avoid the areas during the period.
Inspired? Pin this to your Pinterest board!