Forest path

Royal National Park

Affected by closures, check current alerts 

Overview

Forest path is an easy walk in Royal National Park. It's great for kids and just 1 hour south of Sydney. Wander through cabbage tree palms and Gymea lilies on the path beside Bola Creek and the Hacking River.

Where
Royal National Park
Distance
4.4km loop
Time suggested
1hr - 1hr 30min
Grade
Grade 3
Entry fees
Park entry fees apply
What to
bring
Drinking water, sunscreen, hat, sturdy shoes, suitable clothing

Forest path is one of the oldest walking tracks in Royal National Park and has a rich history. Start the walk from the stone gates on Sir Bertram Stevens Drive, also the entrance point to Lady Carrington Drive. This almost-circular loop is suitable for walkers of all fitness levels and is a great one for the kids. Following Forest path, you’ll cross the lower slopes of Forest Island, a hill isolated by the Hacking River and Bola Creek which almost surround it.

Discover why the community protested for this beautiful rainforest area to be protected from logging, so many years ago. You'll pass a variety of native plants and flowers that are home to a range of birdlife. Marvel at the tall eucalypts and casuarinas, the dense thickets of cabbage tree palms and the Gymea lilies which flower during winter.

Unpack your picnic lunch at Bola Creek picnic area and enjoy the peaceful sounds of the rainforest and the sounds of trickling water.

For a longer walk, the track also links up with Couranga walking track. Or, you can stop for a picnic at the nearby Upper Causeway picnic area too.

Take a virtual tour of Forest path captured with Google Street View Trekker.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Nearby

  • Lady Carrington Drive, Royal National Park. Photo: David Finnegan/NSW Government

    Lady Carrington Drive

    This historic cycling track near Audley and a short drive from Sydney follows the river and offers birdwatching, pretty picnic areas and history to explore.

  • Upper Causeway picnic area, Royal National Park. Photo: Andy Richards/NSW Government

    Upper Causeway picnic area

    Upper Causeway picnic spot offers a lovely rustic base for walking and cycling in the forest along Lady Wakehurst Drive in Royal National Park, near Waterfall.

  • Couranga Track, Royal National Park. Photo: Andy Richards/NSW Government

    Couranga walking track

    Vivid wildflowers pepper this medium walking track near Waterfall. Only an hour from Sydney, it offers several picnic spots and birdwatching opportunities.

Map


Map legend

Map legend

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/forest-path/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

  • in Royal National Park in the Sydney and surrounds and South Coast regions
  • Royal National Park is open 7am to 8.30pm but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

  • Park entry fees:

    $12 per vehicle per day. Seasonal ticket booths at Wattamolla and Garie Beach - cash and credit card facilities available. Please bring correct change. There's also coin and card operated pay and display machines to buy day passes.

    Vehicles over 8 seats: $4.40 per adult, $2.20 per child (per day). Students on educational programs: $1.10 per student. Teachers/educational supervisors: free (1 adult per 10 students).

    Buy annual pass (//pass.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/).
See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Forest path.

Track grading

Grade 3

Learn more about the grading system Features of this track
  • Time

    1hr - 1hr 30min

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Flat

  • Distance

    4.4km loop

  • Steps

    Occasional steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track, some obstacles

  • Experience required

    Some bushwalking experience recommended

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Forest path is in the southern precinct of Royal National Park. To get there:

    • Turn off Princes Highway at Waterfall train station
    • Follow McKell Avenue to the end
    • Turn left onto Sir Bertram Stevens Drive and continue for approximately 0.5km

    Parking

    Parking is available at the southern end of Lady Carrington drive, off Sir Steven Bertram Drive.

    Best times to visit

    Royal National Park covers a wide range of landscapes, from open grassland to ocean-fronting clifftops. It's a good idea to pack clothing suitable for all weather conditions along with water, sunscreen and a map on your visit. Royal National Park shines in all seasons, though summer and winter each offer a few special attractions.

    Summer

    Visit the majestic Garie Beach to surf or just relax. The beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers in summer. Plus, the panorama from Garie North Head is just amazing, so be sure to take your camera. The beach at Bundeena's Bonnie Vale is a great swimming spot, as are Jibbon, Wattamolla and Little Marley beaches. If a freshwater swim is more your thing, try Karloo Pool, Deer Pool or Curracurrang. The summer holiday information has important tips to help you plan your day to Royal National Park during the busy holiday period .

    Winter

    Winter is a great time to tackle the popular Coast track from Bundeena to Otford. Not only will you be greeted by spectacular coastal scenery, you can also see whales from the cliffs (June to August). Complete the walk in small sections or undertake the entire 26km over two days. Plan a visit during spring to admire the stunning heathland wildflowers on display. Head along the Coast track or the Curra Moors Loop track or walk to Wises track to see them in bloom. .

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    Bushwalking safety

    If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency Plus app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    River and lake safety

    The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

    Prohibited

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dogs and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Visitor centre

    Learn more

    Forest path is in Royal National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    A date with history

    Audley Visitor Centre, Royal National Park. Photo: Andy Richards

    When exploring Royal National Park you can see a range of Aboriginal sites and artefacts. The best way to find out more about Aboriginal cultural heritage in the park is on a tour with an Aboriginal Discovery ranger. You might also spot one of the 80 historic remnants from the park’s Victorian-era establishment, including ornamental trees and residential remains.

    • Couranga walking track Vivid wildflowers pepper this medium walking track near Waterfall. Only an hour from Sydney, it offers several picnic spots and birdwatching opportunities.
    • Lady Carrington Drive This historic cycling track near Audley and a short drive from Sydney follows the river and offers birdwatching, pretty picnic areas and history to explore.

    A place to get active

    Coastal walk, Royal National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Who needs a gym? At Royal National Park you can hike, swim and row to your heart’s content. Hire a paddleboat from the Audley boatshed or surf the renowned Garie Beach. Jog along sandstone cliffs, attempt over 100km of walking tracks or try mountain biking the East Heathcote trails (be sure to note the ‘no sign–no ride’ policy). Located at Audley, just 32km from Sydney city, the park offers incredible beauty and natural diversity just minutes from the highway and train station. Spanning Port Hacking to Helensburgh, the park features multiple entry points and is well signposted, though it’s always a good idea to take a Royal National Park map.

    • Bundeena Drive to Marley walk This rewarding walk from Bundeena Drive to Little Marley Beach leads through heath, past fresh water pools and creeks, and on to scenic beach views in Royal National Park.
    • Garie Beach picnic area A perfect day out, Garie Beach is a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic and is great for swimming, whale watching, fishing, surfing and walking options.
    • Kayak tours of Bundeena and Royal National Park Paddle the waterways of Bundeena and Royal National Park on a guided kayak tour with Bundeena Kayaks. It’s an unforgettable way to explore this beautiful stretch of coastline, just an hour south of Sydney.
    • Outdoor team building in Royal National Park Join Unique Team Building for an unforgettable day away from the office. Your team will reconnect with nature through a range of fun activities in the beautiful surrounds of Royal National Park.
    • Royal National Park bus service Skip driving and parking in Royal National Park and catch the Park Connections bus. Hop from Sutherland station or Bundeena Wharf to spots in the park like Audley and Wattamolla.
    • The Coast track fitness adventures for women Hike The Coast track and immerse yourself in the beauty of Royal National Park with Women’s Fitness Adventures. Enjoy coastal views and the company of a supportive group of women on this 4-day trek.
    Show more

    Exceptional environments

    Rocky cliffs dropping off into the ocean, Royal National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    The park was one of Australia’s first areas of land set aside for conservation. In this natural haven, open ocean, sandstone cliffs and wetlands meet grassy woodland, rainforests, coastal heathland and eucalypt forests. You’ll also find some significant geological sites, including fascinating beach ridges at Cabbage Tree Basin.

    • Bundeena to Marley gourmet walks at sunset This sunset guided walk with Lost and Found Wellness Adventures has all the ingredients to delight your senses. Immerse yourself in the changing moods of stunning coastal scenery near Sydney as you enjoy gourmet food and drink.
    • Bundeena to Wattamolla guided coastal walks Delight your senses on this coastal adventure run by M8 Explorer. With their knowledgeable and safety-conscious guides, explore beautiful coastline on a 4hr hike in the Royal National Park, beginning and ending with stops for delicious meals.  
    • Curra Moors loop track A challenging walk through heath and waterfalls, the Curra Moors loop track offers scenic sandstone cliff and coastal views, waterfalls and great birdwatching.
    • Figure Eight Pools adventure with M8 Explorer Awaken your inner explorer with an exciting tour of Figure Eight Pools in Royal National Park. Start with a paddle down the Hacking River before trekking down to the pools to discover amazing rock formations, wildlife and spectacular coastal scenery.
    • Figure Eight Pools experience with Emu Trekkers Join award-winning Emu Trekkers to safely visit Figure Eight Pools in Royal National Park, near Sydney. You’ll experience stunning views, learn about local Aboriginal culture and sample an iconic trek, The Coast track.
    • Palm Jungle loop track A challenging yet spectacular walk, Palm Jungle loop track takes in rainforest, cliff tops, beaches and scenic coastal views in Royal National Park, near Otford.
    • Places are similar and different Explore the features of different places and environments on this Stage 2 (Years 3-4) geography excursion with Ranger Jamie Tours. Observe the variations between bushland, sand and sea in the pristine coastal surrounds of Royal National Park.
    • Private premium day tours on the South Coast Indulge your senses on a big day out with Sydney Private Guided Tours. You’ll visit stunning lookouts, see beautiful wildlife and rainforest, and experience iconic coastal scenery.
    • Tailored tours of Royal National Park Join Sydney Nimble Tours for your own private day out in the Royal National Park. From pristine beaches to sweeping coastal vistas, these tailored experiences are a great way to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature.  
    • The Coast track The Coast track in Sydney's Royal National Park is an epic multi-day walk between Bundeena and Otford. Enjoy incredible coastal lookouts, swimming spots, seasonal wildflowers and whale watching along this challenging 26km track.
    • The Coast track fitness adventures for women Hike The Coast track and immerse yourself in the beauty of Royal National Park with Women’s Fitness Adventures. Enjoy coastal views and the company of a supportive group of women on this 4-day trek.
    • The Coast track overnight hikes for youth Hike The Coast track in Royal National Park on an overnight trip with Ausjourney. Reconnect with nature and learn transferrable life skills on this trek for The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
    Show more

    Home to the feathered and furry

    A flower blooming,  Royal National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Many visitors regularly spot native wildlife in the Hacking River Valley area, so keep an eye out for possums, sugar gliders and wallabies. This Sydney park is also home to a huge number of bats, amphibians and reptiles. Plus, birdwatchers are in luck - over 300 bird species have been recorded here, look out for sulphur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, yellow-tailed black cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets.

    • Biology fieldwork at Bonnie Vale Senior biology students will hone their skills on this Stage 6 (Years 11-12) fieldwork study in Royal National Park. This biology excursion is designed to support Module 3 (adaptations) and Module 4 (population dynamics) of the syllabus.
    • Biophysical interactions at Garie Beach Senior students will hone their fieldwork skills in this Stage 6 (Years 11-12) geography excursion at Garie Beach. Located at the southern end of Royal National Park, Garie Beach offers students a complex site to study biophysical interactions. 
    • Birding for beginners in Royal National Park Share the joy of birdwatching with a likeminded group of people on a beginners’ birding workshop with Malimbe Safaris. You'll get more familiar with Australia’s unique birdlife in Royal National Park.
    • Couranga walking track Vivid wildflowers pepper this medium walking track near Waterfall. Only an hour from Sydney, it offers several picnic spots and birdwatching opportunities.
    • Figure Eight Pools adventure with M8 Explorer Awaken your inner explorer with an exciting tour of Figure Eight Pools in Royal National Park. Start with a paddle down the Hacking River before trekking down to the pools to discover amazing rock formations, wildlife and spectacular coastal scenery.
    • Figure Eight Pools experience with Emu Trekkers Join award-winning Emu Trekkers to safely visit Figure Eight Pools in Royal National Park, near Sydney. You’ll experience stunning views, learn about local Aboriginal culture and sample an iconic trek, The Coast track.
    • Forest path Forest path is an easy walk in Royal National Park. It's great for kids and just 1 hour south of Sydney. Wander through cabbage tree palms and Gymea lilies on the path beside Bola Creek and the Hacking River.
    • Living world wet and dry environments This Stage 1 excursion in Royal National Park, southern Sydney, gives students first-hand experience exploring the living world. It aligns with the Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus. 
    • Living world WildTracker at Audley Join us on a WildTracker science and technology excursion for Stage 2 (Years 3-4) students in Royal National Park. We'll explore and analyse the natural environment, identify and group species, and discuss the adaptations that help them survive here.
    • Places are similar and different Explore the features of different places and environments on this Stage 2 (Years 3-4) geography excursion with Ranger Jamie Tours. Observe the variations between bushland, sand and sea in the pristine coastal surrounds of Royal National Park.
    • Private premium day tours on the South Coast Indulge your senses on a big day out with Sydney Private Guided Tours. You’ll visit stunning lookouts, see beautiful wildlife and rainforest, and experience iconic coastal scenery.
    • Tailored tours of Royal National Park Join Sydney Nimble Tours for your own private day out in the Royal National Park. From pristine beaches to sweeping coastal vistas, these tailored experiences are a great way to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature.  
    • WildThings at Audley Discover WildThings in Royal National Park on this Stage 1 (Years 1-2) science and technology excursion. Together we'll examine the unique mangrove environment and the abundance of life it supports. Exploring the living world has never been more fun.
    Show more

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Australian pelican. Photo: Rob Cleary

      Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

      The curious pelican is Australia’s largest flying bird and has the longest bill of any bird in the world. These Australian birds are found throughout Australian waterways and the pelican uses its throat pouch to trawl for fish. Pelicans breed all year round, congregating in large colonies on secluded beaches and islands.

    Plants

    • Close up photo of a waratah flower, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Simone Cottrell/OEH.

      Waratah (Telopea speciosissima)

      The beautiful waratah is not only the NSW floral emblem, it's also one of the best-known Australian native plants. This iconic Australian bush flower can be found on sandstone ridges around Sydney, in nearby mountain ranges and on the NSW South Coast. The waratah has a vibrant crimson flowerhead, measuring up to 15cm across, and blossoms in spring.

    • Cabbage tree palm in Dalrymple-Hay Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer/OEH

      Cabbage palm (Livistona australis)

      With glossy green leaves spanning 3-4m in length and a trunk reaching a height of up to 30m, the cabbage tree palm, or fan palm, is one of the tallest Australian native plants. Thriving in rainforest margins along the east coast of NSW, in summer this giant palm produces striking spikes of cream flowers which resemble cabbages.

    • Gymea lily. Photo: Simone Cottrell

      Gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa)

      The magnificent Gymea lily is one of the most unusual Australian native plants, found only along the coast and surrounding bushland of the Sydney Basin, from Newcastle to Wollongong. In spring this giant lily shoots out spectacular red flowers that can reach heights of 2-4m.

    • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

      Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

      An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    School excursions (14)