32 Best Dog-Friendly Walks & Hikes in Sydney

No matter what time of year, it’s the perfect season to go for a walk in Sydney, whether a stroll along the coast or a hike through the many patches of bushland that dot the city.

But what if you want to bring along your dog? As many many hiking trails in Sydney don’t permit dogs to join you, I’ve dug up some of the best dog-friendly walks around Sydney, perfect for a walk with your pup by your side.

Dog-friendly walks 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.

#1 Bondi To Coogee Coastal Walk

Distance: 6km one-way
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Paved but steps)

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.

Dog at Coogee Beach Lookout
Spectacular views along the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

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.

The dog-friendly Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
Take your pick from starting or ending at Bondi Beach

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?

Find out more about walking the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk with a dog

#2 Federation Cliff Walk

Distance: 5.5km one-way
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Partially paved)

The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk isn’t the only dog-friendly Eastern Suburbs walk offering up cliff-top views. Head to the northern side of Bondi for the Federation Cliff Walk, that runs between Dover Heights and Watsons Bay.

The official start of the walk is at Raleigh Street in Dover Heights, at the southern edge of Raleigh Reserve. Your dog will enjoy this stretch, as this long clifftop park has been designated an off-leash exercise area, luckily with secure fencing along the cliff edge.

Raleigh Reserve Federation Cliff Walk
The off-leash Raleigh Reserve at the start of the Federation Cliff Walk

Continuing north, the walk is a mixture of cliff-top paths and boardwalks, although at a few points you’ll need to deviate along local streets. Look out for the occasional “Cliff walk” signs, plus there are detailed signs with maps at most reserves. As of late 2022, some of the boardwalks were also closed, with detours, due to safety concerns.

Diamond Bay Reserve in Vaucluse is another 24-hour off-leash dog exercise area, conveniently located along a spectacular stretch of the path. You’ll also pass the Macquarie Lighthouse, the first and oldest still-in-use lighthouse in Australia.

Diamond Bay Federation Cliff Walk
The dramatic Diamond Bay in Vaucluse

There are also off-leash parks at Christison Park (only before 10:30am and after 3:30pm) and Lighthouse Reserve. The walk culminates at Watsons Bay, passing through Gap Park. However, those with dogs need to deviate along the road, as dogs are prohibited in Gap Park.

Potentially instead turn around at the start of Gap Park and retrace your footsteps. If you have a small dog and their carrier bag, you can also make use of the dog-friendly buses and ferries in Sydney.

Find out more about walking the Federation Cliff Walk with a dog

#3 Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

Distance: 9km one-way
Difficulty: Medium (Partially paved)

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. On the latest signs for the walk, the alternative dog-friendly route is shown.

Spit to Manly Walk Sign
The latest signs show the alternative route to walk with dogs

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.

Sandy Cove in Clontarf
The shallow waters of Sandy Cove, albeit close to high 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 rest 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. Probably the best section to walk is the stretch between Manly Wharf and North Harbour Reserve.

#4 Manly Beach Walk

Distance: 2.5km one-way or 5km return
Difficulty: Easy (Fully paved, flat)

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.

Dog-friendly walks Sydney: Walk to Shelly Beach
Beautiful views across to the (non-dog-friendly) Shelly Beach

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.

Dogs paddling at Manly Lagoon
Dogs paddling at Manly Lagoon

#5 Dee Why to Curl Curl Cliff Walk

Distance: 1.5km one-way or 3km return
Difficulty: Medium (Mainly unsealed, rocky at times)

For a more difficult but still short 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 trail with some sections of boardwalk continues for 1.5km south along the cliff tops, behind million-dollar houses, to North Curl Curl Surf Life Saving Club.

Dee Why to Curl Curl Cliff Walk at Sunset
A beautiful evening along the Dee Why to Curl Curl Cliff Walk

Keep your dog on a leash on this walk, especially next to the cliff tops. Note that the walk is quite rough and rocky underfoot, except for in the boardwalk sections, and some small dogs might need a hand at times.

Parking is available at both ends of the walk. The paid parking spaces can be quite pricey, but there is also some free on-street parking close by.

The southern end of the walk is adjacent to Curl Curl Lagoon, aka Curl Curl Dog Beach. 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.

Curl Curl Dog Beach from Above
The Curl Curl Dog Beach is near the end of the walk

#6 Narrabeen Lagoon Trail

Distance: 8.4km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Paved or gravel, flat)

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 full loop around the lagoon 8.4km long. However, it’s a flat and easy multi-use path, a combination of sections of paved path, wide dirt track and boardwalk.

Narrabeen Lagoon Trail Sign
The Narrabeen Lagoon Trail loops around the lagoon

There’s multiple carparks plus street entry points situated around the lagoon where you can begin and end the walk, although some of the parking is quite expensive. Alternatively, if your dog is not up to completing the full loop, just walk a short section and retrace your footsteps.

My favourite parts of the walk are the bushland sections next to Bilarong Reserve and Jamieson Park. The sections of the loop trail are well signposted, with plenty of distance markers to the next point of interest.

Narrabeen Lagoon Boardwalk
A boardwalk section near Bilarong Reserve

Dogs are required to be kept on a leash, although you can detour to the nearby off-leash Deep Creek Reserve for some off-leash fun. Allow 2-3 hours to walk right the full distance around the lake.

#7 Bilgola to Newport Walk

Distance: 900m one-way or 1.8km return
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Mainly paved, but steep)

This very short but scenic walk is located on the far north of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. It’s possible to start the walk from either end, either from the carpark at Bilgola Beach, near the surf club, or at Newport Beach, from the northern end of the carpark.

The view from Bilgola Headland
The view looking south to Newport Beach

The walk in between is fairly easy and well constructed, although there are quite a few steps. Along the way stop off at the South Bilgola Headland Viewing Platform, for beautiful views towards the south. Note that dogs need to be kept on a leash at all times, plus they are not permitted on the beaches at either end of the walk.

#8 Cronulla Beach Walk

Distance: 4km one-way
Difficult: Easy (Reasonably flat paved path)

Heading to the southern suburbs of Sydney, an excellent walk along the foreshore can be found at Cronulla. The Cronulla Beach Walk is a 4km long path along the eastern side of the Cronulla Foreshore.

This scenic walk starts near the dog-friendly Greenhills Beach at the Wanda Beach Surf Life Saving Club and then continues south along the foreshore to Bass and Flinders Point and the entrance of Port Hacking.

Cronulla Beach Walk View with Dog
Checking out the views along the Cronulla Beach Walk

We started the walk at its quieter southern end, where it’s easy to find a park on the streets. There’s a number of carparks at the northern end, but they quickly fill up in summertime. Return by the same route, or detour to along the other side of the peninsula through Gunnamatta Park.

#9 Brighton-Le-Sands Foreshore Walk

Distance: Up to 8km one-way
Difficulty: Easy (Flat paved path)

There’s no need to head as far south as Cronulla for a walk along the foreshore in the southern suburbs of Sydney. The stretch of Botany Bay in front of Brighton-Le-Sands is home to a long shared pathway, stretching all the way from the Cooks River to the Georges River.

I recommend starting your walk at the northern end, next to the off-leash Kyeemagh Dog Beach, where there’s a convenient large carpark. Then head south along the shared path following the edge of the bay. A great destination to aim for is the Gelato Messina in the heart of Brighton-Le-Sands, about 2km away.

Note that dogs are not allowed on the beach further south, after the off-leash dog beach. Always keep your dog on a leash, particularly on the middle section where the path is close to the major road.

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.

#1 Wolli Creek Walking Track

Distance: 4.5km one-way
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Unsealed, relatively flat)

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.

Dog-friendly hikes Sydney: The Wolli Creek Walking Track
The Wolli Creek Walking Trail is one half of the Two Valley Trail

While dogs are usually 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 just part of the track or all of it, 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!

Dog-friendly hikes in Sydney
Wolli Creek Regional Park is perfect for a bush walk with your pup

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.

#2 Lake Parramatta Circuit

Distance: 4.2km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Unpaved, relatively flat)

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.

Walking Tracks Lake Parramatta
Dogs on a leash are allowed on the Lake Parramatta bush walks

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.

Lake Parramatta
Glorious views from the eastern side of Lake Parramatta

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.

#3 Platypus Walk, Bidjigal Reserve, Castle Hill

Distance: 1.7km loop
Difficulty: Medium (Mainly unpaved, rocky at times, possibly muddy)

While you won’t find any platypuses any longer in the creek that this walk meanders along, the Platypus Walk is still a beautiful walk through a lush creek gully, in a rare pocket of bushland surrounded by suburbia.

Platypus Track with Ferns and Sign
The Platypus Track largely passes through a lush creek gully

Located in Bidjigal Reserve in Castle Hill, just north of the M2 motorway, the loop track starts from the end of Excelsior Avenue. A moderately-rated walk, at times it’s rocky and rough underfoot, although it’s not that muddy, except for after heavy rain. Allow up to an hour for the walk at a leisurely pace.

If you’d prefer a longer hike, you can combine this loop with the 4.7km long Burraga Loop that branches off this one. Note that dogs need to be leashed, plus there’s some stepping stones towards the end of the trail that small dogs will need to be carried across (or paddle through the creek).

#4 Cooper Park Loop, Bellevue Hill

Distance: About 2km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Partially unpaved, rocky at times with some stairs)

Despite living in Sydney for many years, I had no idea there was a rare remnant of bushland tucked into a valley between Bondi Junction and Bellevue Hill, contained within Cooper Park (alongside tennis courts, of course).

Cooper Park Stairs
Enjoy a bushwalk at Cooper Park

It’s a great spot for an inner city bushwalk with your dog. There’s a variety of tracks to choose from and entrance points. It’s probably easiest to park in the carpark at the eastern side of the park, which is also near the off-leash dog exercise area in Lower Cooper Park. Dogs need to stay on leash in the remainder of the park.

I followed a mix of the Cliff Walk, Peppermint Walk and Rosewood Walk up to the eastern end of the park, returning along the Cooper Creek Park and the footpath alongside the tennis courts. There’s a lot of track junctions but it’s difficult to get lost – just choose a path in the direction you want to head in the narrow rocky valley.

Some of the walkways and bridges were constructed during 1930s – it’s interesting to read the signs about the history behind the park. There’s also some delightful pockets of rainforest alongside the still mainly natural creek through the centre of the park.

Cooper Park Moon Bridge
The historic Moon Bridge in Cooper Park

#5 Gadyan Track, Berry Island

Distance: 750m loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Unpaved, rocky at times)

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.

Signs on Gadyan Track on Berrry Island
Intriguing signs and water views along the Gadyan Track

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 (just be warned, it’s 15MB).

Berry Island Picnic Grounds
Dogs are allowed off-leash in the grassy reserve, but must be on-leash on the walk

For a longer walk, there’s tracks through Badangi Reserve on the eastern side of Wollstonecraft, or follow the track to Smoothey Park on the western side of the peninsula (see the brochure linked above for maps).

#6 Balls Head Reserve, Waverton

Distance: About 2km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Unpaved)

Another prominent headland close to Berry Island in Sydney’s north is Balls Head. At the southern end of the Waverton Peninsula, the bushland reserve is criss-crossed by a network of paths, punctuated by beautiful vistas across Sydney Harbour to the CBD.

Balls Head Waverton
Take a bush walk around Balls Head

Park in the small carpark in the centre of the reserve, or back up along Balls Head Road. Then take your pick from the network of paths to follow, making your way around the headland. Note that dogs need to be kept on a leash, plus skip this walk if fox baiting has recently occurred.

You can also combine this walk with an extension to the Coal Loader precinct, or visit the converted industrial site of Carradah Park on the eastern side of the peninsula. Dogs are allowed off-leash at Carradah Park and the adjacent Waverton Park.

#7 Blackman Park to the Boreen, Lane Cove West

Distance: 2.6km return
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Unpaved, with some steps)

Lane Cove is home to multiple pockets of bushland that line the rivers and creeks throughout the area. This delightful dog-friendly bushwalk runs alongside the eastern side of the Lane Cove River, opposite a section of the Lane Cove National Park.

You can start the walk at Wood Street, where there is a sign for the start of “Walk 13”, the designation for the walk by the local council, but it’s easiest to start in Blackman Park, right next to the terrific fenced dog park and Puppy Tail Cafe.

A detailed description and map is in the Bushwalks Around Lane Cove brochure that can be downloaded from the council website.

Blackman Park to the Boreen Track
Follow the markers for walk 13

The walk meanders along the bank of the Lane Cove River, ending next to Burns Bay Road, close to a semi-cleaned spot dubbed “The Boreen” where a house once stood. Retrace your footsteps to your starting point.

Lane Cove River Walk
A seat with a view of the Lane Cove River along the walk

The track is quite rough with many stone steps along the route – it’s best for more agile dogs. There’s a number of branches to different access points that are well signposted, but there’s also a few unsignposted branches to be wary of.

Recently, the southern section of the track was closed due to contamination fears, but I can reassure you that it’s open. The only section closed as of July 2023 was the access path to Myee Crescent due to damage to the track.

#8 Headland Park Walking Track, Mosman

Distance: 2km one-way
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Unpaved, some steps)

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.

Walking along the Headland Park Walking Track with a dog
Walking along the Headland Park Walking Track near Frenchy’s

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 dog beach at Clifton Gardens
The dog beach at Clifton Gardens

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. Just remember dogs aren’t allowed on the sand here.

#9 Manly Dam Loop

Distance: 7.3km loop
Difficulty: Medium-hard (Unpaved)

Tucked in behind Manly Vale is Manly Dam. Around the dam is one of the longer bushwalks available to dogs and their owners close to the centre of Sydney.

This beautiful 7.3km bush walk takes about 3 hours and while not difficult is best for dogs up for a longer hike. 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.

#10 Kentlyn Basin Walk

Distance: 2km return
Difficulty: Medium (Unpaved, many steps)

Keith Longhurst Reserve, formerly known as the Basin Reserve, is located on the southwestern edge of Sydney in Minto Heights. The reserve is home to a number of walks, with the most popular one being the Kentlyn Basin Walk.

To access the walk, park at the end of Georges River Road. There are two walking tracks starting here – take the right hand trail marked Kentlyn Basin Walk, then follow the distinctive pink markers. The Old Ford Road Walk also starts here.

Kentlyn Basin Walk Markers
The Kentlyn Basin Walk is easy to follow

The 1km-long trail heads down to the Basin on the Georges River, a popular natural swimming hole. The track gradually narrows, then ends with a large number of well-formed stairs descending to the Georges River and the Kentlyn Basin – it’s a steep climb back up!

Dogs with short legs (like our Dachshund) may appreciate some help on the stairs. At the Kentlyn Basin, the main swimming hole is difficult to access, but it’s possible to paddle just upstream with your dog. Remember that dogs need to be kept on a leash. There’s also a handy bin next to the start of the Old Ford Road.

Kentlyn Basin
Waterfalls into the Kentlyn Basin

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.

#1 Glebe Foreshore Walk

Distance: 1.2km one-way
Difficulty: Easy (Paved and flat)

There’s an increasing emphasis on making the foreshore of Sydney Harbour accessible to walks. One great waterfront path is the Glebe Foreshore Walk along Blackwattle Bay that links Bridge Road with Glebe Point. The walk offers beautiful views of the city skyline and Anzac Bridge.

City vistas from the Glebe Foreshore Walk
City vistas from the Glebe Foreshore Walk

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.

#2 Bay Run

Distance: 7km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Paved and flat)

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. 

Bay Run on Sunny Day
The waterfront Bay Run is a popular loop track

Dogs are welcome to join you along the path, as long as they stay on leash. This walk is best to avoid during the middle of the day 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 much of Callan Park (see the map on the management plan), the Waterfront Oval, Leichhardt Oval No. 2, Leichhardt Oval No. 3 and Glover Street Sporting Ground. Note though that dogs need to be kept leashed on the actual Bay Run.

Bay Run On-Leash Sign
There’s regular signs to keep your dog on a leash on the Ray Run

On warm days, your dog may also appreciate a splash at the Callan Point Beach, an unsignposted but off-leash dog-friendly beach in between the Waterfront Oval and King George Park.

Alternatively, start in Leichhardt near the 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 about an extra 1.5km to the walk. 

Cafe Bones Leichhardt
Detour to Cafe Bones along the Hawthorne Canal

#3 Rushcutters Bay Foreshore Walk

Distance: 2.7km return
Difficulty: Easy (Paved and flat)

The delightful thing about the Rushcutters Bay Foreshore Walk, a harbourside walk in inner city Rushcutters Bay, is that along much of the route dogs are allowed off-leash, a rare occurrence in Sydney! Not to mention there’s also great harbour views along most of it.

Rushcutters Bay Park
Enjoy a harbourside walk at Rushcutters Bay

The walk follows the waterside footpaths through Rushcutters Bay Park at one end, Yarranbee Park at the other end, with a stretch of footpath alongside the road in between the two, adjacent to the marina. In Yarranbee Park, dogs are allowed off-leash all day long. Dogs are also allowed off-leash in Rushcutters Bay Park before 10:30am and after 3:30pm.

Yarranbee Park Footpath
Dogs are allowed off-leash in Yarranbee Park

Start the walk at either end – there are usually some parking spots available along New Beach Road, but it can be difficult due to the marina. A great spot to stop along the centre of the walk is the Navy Bear. On-leash dogs are warmly welcome at this harbourside cafe serving up breakfast and lunch daily.

#4 Centennial Park Loop

Distance: 3.7km loop
Difficulty: Easy (Paved and flat)

Centennial Park is home to one of the most extensive off-leash dog exercise areas close to the centre of Sydney. But the park also has another dog-friendly attraction: the walk along the Grand Drive.

The Grand Drive forms a circular loop around the centre of the park, with a walking path and horse track alongside it. Make sure you keep your dog off the gravel horse track and out of the way of any horses, but your dog is welcome to walk on a leash with you on the walking path.

Centennial Park Horse Track Sign
Just stay off the adjacent horse track at Centennial Park

Large fig trees are planted along the route, so even during summer days the walk is largely shady. Along the way there are water dispensers and signs indicating how much of the loop is remaining. Perhaps detour along the way past one of the duck ponds or the formal gardens in the centre of the park.

Centennial Park Gardens
The formal gardens in the centre of Centennial Park

#5 Cooks River Cycleway

Distance: Variable
Difficulty: Easy (Paved and flat)

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.

Cooks River Cycleway
Easy walking on the Cooks River Cycleway

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 next to Cooks River Cycleway
The stretch in between Tempe and Marrickville

#5 Cremorne Point Foreshore Walk

Distance: 3km loop
Difficulty: Easy (Paved, but some steps)

Sydney Harbour contains many beautiful points and coves, with one of the most pretty being Cremorne Point. A few kilometres east of the Harbour Bridge, the point is home to many beautiful mansions, along with spectacular harbour views. It’s possible to explore the point on this walk that runs around its foreshore.

Cremorne Point Mansions
Take a stroll past the mansions of Cremorne Point

I recommend parking near Bogota Avenue in Kurraba Point (allow some time to find a spot), with the walking path starting in between numbers 2 and 4. Head down the western side of the point, past the Maccullum Seawater Pool, to Robertsons Point Lighthouse at the tip. This is a fabulous spot for a picnic.

Return along the eastern side of Cremorne Point, enjoying the National Trust-listed Lex and Ruby Graham Gardens that are adjacent to the path. Take the steps up to Hodgson Avenue to cut across to your starting point.

Note that while North Sydney is home to many off-leash dog parks, dogs are required to stay on leash in Cremorne Reserve.

#7 Penrith Bridge to Bridge Walk

Distance: 6.5km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Paved and flat)

On the western edge of Sydney lies Penrith and the Bridge to Bridge Walk. This walk follows the banks of the Nepean River in between the M4 Motorway and the pedestrian Nepean River Green Bridge, close to the Penrith CBD. Along with an extension north through Weir Reserve, it’s also known as the Great River Walk.

The best places to start the walk are Tench Reserve on the eastern bank or Regatta Park on the western side, with plenty of free parking available. The walk is a combination of sealed footpaths and grassy sidewalks, with both sealed and unsealed paths available on the western bank, at least when the river isn’t flooding!

Note that dogs need to be kept on a leash along the entire length of the walk. Make sure you take a water bottle for both yourself and your pup on warm days.

Since I last walked this walk, The Orchard Penrith has opened just off the walk. With multiple cafes, a garden bar and takeaway kiosk onsite, dogs are welcome to join you in its outdoor spaces, except in the farmyard animal area and the playground.

#8 Lambeth Reserve Boardwalk

Distance: 2.0km return
Difficulty: Easy (Paved or boardwalk or gravel, flat)

The Georges River is also home to many beautiful riverside walking tracks. For one of the best dog-friendly walks head to Lambeth Reserve in Picnic Point, just off Henry Lawson Drive. (Skip heading to the eastern side of Picnic Point where the Georges River National Park is located and dogs are not allowed.)

There’s a decent size carpark at Lambeth Reserve but it is often full in the middle of the day on sunny weekends – it’s best to head there early or late in the day. A 1km long walking track starts at the reserve, with dogs on a leash allowed.

Start of Lamberth Reserve Boardwalk
The start of the Lambeth Reserve Boardwalk

The first third of the track is a modern boardwalk through pine woodlands, passing a little beach, while the middle third is an old wooden boardwalk above the river’s edge. It’s still a great walk after rain, as you’re elevated above the mud, as long as the river isn’t flooding.

Dog on Lambeth Reserve Boardwalk at Sunset
Beautiful views along the Georges River

The final third is a wide dirt track that ends at Carinya Road. It’s possible to walk further along the grass embarkment to Fitzpatrick Park and the start of the national park, or else turn around and retrace your footsteps.

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.

#1 Arboretum Track, Strickland State Forest

Distance: 2km loop
Difficulty: Medium (Unpaved, rough at times, can be muddy)

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. 

Dog-friendly hikes near Sydney
Hiking in Strickland State Forest

Previously, dogs were just required to stay under your control, however the wording has been updated to state that dogs should be leashed as well. In either case, 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 ideas, check out my guide to the best dog-friendly walks on the Central Coast

#2 South Lawson Waterfall Loop

Distance: 2.7km loop
Difficulty: Easy-Medium (Unpaved with a chance of mud, some stairs)

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 2.7km-long track is one of the most popular dog-friendly walks in the Blue Mountains. 

Dog-friendly bush walks near Sydney
The South Lawson Waterfall Loop is a popular dog-friendly hike 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. 

Dog in front of waterfalls at South Lawson
Chasing waterfalls at South Lawson

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. Since February 2022, a short section of the track has been technically closed following a landslide, but recent visitors have reported being able to detour this.

For more ideas, check out my list of the best dog-friendly walks in the Blue Mountains

#3 Sea Cliff Bridge Walk

Distance: 700m one-way
Difficulty: Easy (Paved and flat)

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.

Dog-friendly walks near Sydney
Walking across the Sea Cliff 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

#4 Puckeys Estate and Beach Loop

Distance: 3.1km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Flat, but includes beach walking)

Puckeys Estate is a nature reserve on the northern side of Wollongong, containing a rare remnant of littoral rainforest, along with coastal dunes and a lagoon. With dogs on a leash allowed, it’s the perfect spot for a short bush walk with your pup.

There’s a 1.5km walking track that passes through the reserve, in between Squires Way, near Stuart Park, and Fairy Meadow Beach Park. I recommend starting at Fairy Meadow Beach Park, where it’s easier to find a parking spot. It’s a flat and largely shady walk through the bush reserve.

Walking a dog at Puckeys Estate
Take an on-leash walk through Puckeys Estate

At the southern end of the track, just before the bridge over the lagoon, instead take the turn to the left towards the beach. While dogs are not allowed at the lagoon at Stuart Park, follow the sign for the dogs allowed section of beach, past the former homestead.

Dogs are allowed off-leash between the track onto the beach and your starting point at Fairy Meadow Beach Park. Let your dog enjoy running free on the sand and getting their feet wet. It’s about 3.1km in total back to your starting point.

Dogs Allowed Puckeys Beach
Return along the off-leash Puckeys Beach

Check out more ideas for dog-friendly walks in Wollongong

#5 Kiama Coastal Walk

Distance: Up to 20km one-way
Difficulty: Medium (Varies along walk)

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.

Dog friendly day trips Sydney
The Kiama Coastal Walk passes by the famous Blowhole

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. 

Kiama Coast Walk view with dog
Walking along the southern end of the Kiama Coastal Walk

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 Kiama with your dog, check out my Kiama dog-friendly guide

Keeping Your Dog Safe When Hiking

Before hiking with your dog around Sydney, especially on bush walks, there are a number of things that you should keep in mind to keep your dog safe.

Firstly, the Sydney region is home to parasite ticks. These ticks cause tick paralysis and can be fatal to dogs. They’re most commonly found between Spring and late Autumn, but can be found year round. They can even be found in backyards in Sydney!

It’s important to use a tick treatment for your dog, plus check your dog for ticks after they’ve been in bushland areas. I use a tick treatment year round. There are a variety of chews, spot-on treatments and collars available from pet stores and vets.

Secondly, note that many councils and other authorities around Sydney use 1080 baits for controlling foxes and other wild animals. Keep an eye out for signs advising that baiting is taking place, and avoid the areas during this period. This occurs even in small pockets of bushland such as Berry Island.

1080 Baiting Sign in Sydney
A 1080 baiting sign in a Sydney national park

Another risk in the bush around Sydney are snakes. I’ve actually only rarely seen snakes in the region despite regularly hiking, but they are still a danger. It’s best to keep your dog on a short leash and not let them run through long grass. If you spot a snake, slowly move away from it and don’t be aggressive towards it.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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