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Adelaide walking trails: Norton Summit Road to Third Falls

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With trail networks opening up again through Morialta Conservation Park, it's a good time to venture back to the falls.

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For this sixth article in InDaily‘s Adelaide walking trails series, we checked out a different way to get around Morialta.

Morialta is a great escape from the city and my favourite weekend hiking destination.  The diverse trail networks allow you to combine walking loops to continually discover new areas of the park.

It is easy to access from Montacute Road and Stradbroke Road, with ample parking.

The cascading first falls is a popular beginner’s track, giving a taste of what the park has to offer.  This trail is also popular with families – children can venture across bridges and discover nature in the low-lying creek beds.

Still keen to discover new trails in the park, I chose to start from a different point – Norton Summit Road.

Trail: Third Falls Track from Norton Summit Road

Access: 10km north-east of the Adelaide CBD; on-road parking on Norton Summit Road; Gate 17.

Rating: Moderate.  Be prepared for some steep inclines.

Features: We began our walk from Gate 17 on Norton Summit Road, marked “Climbers Track”. This starting point offered stunning views across Adelaide before we headed along the wide track into the park.

After a short time, we came across the rock climbing zone, where someone had already set up base camp for the day; the track from here is marked Third Falls.

After a few hundred metres we arrived at the base of Third Falls, and were pleased to see the water gushing a little more forcefully than usual.

It was the first opportunity to witness the effect of the recent storms.  We were now on the Three Falls Grand Hike trail, parts of which resembled a muddy creek bed covered in reeds with little sign of the path that once was.  This was easy enough to navigate, though – just keep moving forward.

Adelaide walking trails: Norton Summit Road

Washed-away trails on Third Fall Track, Morialta. Photo: Jodie Vidakovic

We could see where work had been done by National Parks to make the boardwalks through this area accessible, with much of the connecting paths washed away.  The creek crossing was a little deeper than usual, but just take your time and look for steady rocks.

As we approached the main bridge over Second Falls, we were expecting it to be closed, but there was no visible damage and we were able to cross without any problems.

We left Third Falls Grand Hike, taking a right onto Second Falls Gorge Hike.  This led through to Eagles Nest Lookout, which offers spectacular views of First Falls and back through the gully.

Staying on this trail, it begins to loop back to the right.  After about 200 metres, we met back up with Three Falls Grand Hike trail.  Take a sharp right here on the inclining fire track.

After a short while, you will come to an unnamed lookout point, marked only with a bench.  Take a moment here, as you will need to head up the challenging besser blocks of the Centre Track. This is one of the most challenging sections of the trail, but although it is a steep incline, it is a short one.

Adelaide walking trails: Norton Summit Road

The steep besser-block climb, Morialta. Photo: Jodie Vidakovic

Once you reach the top, it is a much more manageable walk along Centre Track.  This wide open track gives you uninterrupted views back over the park and Adelaide.  It continues for about 1km before it meets up with Moores Road.

Take a right on Moores Road.  This continues as a wide track, taking you past a few homes on your left.  This will slowly wind around to your right, where you will find yourself on Third Falls Track once again and back to the starting point.

Length: Approximately a 10km loop.

Time: About two hours at a moderate pace.

Tip: Always familiarise yourself with a map before starting your hike.  Download the Avenza PDF Map app so you can access interactive maps when you need them.  The app allows you to download National Parks SA maps and uses your device’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map.  You can also download Morialta Conservation Park maps here, and keep up to date with latest park alerts.

If you’re looking for somewhere to refuel after your walk, check out Elbio Cafe in Newton. I highly recommend the Huevos Rancheros – fried eggs served on tortilla served with fresh tomato salsa.

Adelaide walking trails: Norton Summit Road

Gate 17, Norton Summit Road. Photo: Jodie Vidakovic

Adelaide walking trails: Norton Summit Road

View from Norton Summit Road. Photo: Jodie Vidakovic

Adelaide walking trails: Norton Summit Road

Third Falls, Morialta Conservation Park. Photo: Jodie Vidakovic

Adelaide walking trails: Norton Summit Road

Trail crossing, Third Falls Grand Hike. Photo: Jodie Vidakovic

Adelaide walking trails: Norton Summit Road

Repaired trails on Third Falls Grand Hike. Photo: Jodie Vidakovic

Adelaide walking trails: Norton Summit Road

Wild flowers, Morialta Conservation Park. Photo: Jodie Vidakovic

 

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