Walking the crest of the Kowen Escarpment around SH746

Sunday 14 August 2022: Kowen Escarpment and Molonglo Gorge Nature Reserves * – M/M,ptX. Canberra Nature Park – a breath of fresh air for busy walkers. There are 39 Nature Reserves in the Canberra Nature Park. How many can we walk in? These are numbers 16 and 17.
A short taste of these reserves. From an entry point on Sutton Road, climb to the Escarpment. Walk south along the top, dipping down to cross a couple of dissecting creeks. Climb to Mt Reedy. Descend to the south-west via a long spur, then south-east through the Kowen Pine Forest to Blue Tiles picnic area. Exit via the Molonglo Gorge walk. All on management trails, except for a couple of off-track sections to cross creeks. Around 12km and 425vm climb.


From Garmin Connect  – Distance: 13.51km | Climb: 755m | Time: 3hrs 30mins moving + 50mins of stops = 4hrs 20mins | Grading: M/E-M,ptX; M(11).

From Peter’s records on Back Country Navigator – Distance: 13.2km | Climb: 720m


Photographs are available here.

gpx File

The gpx file is available here.

Track Notes

I was last in this area of the Kowen Escarpment on 28 Jun 16 and the Molonglo Gorge on 23 Jan 22.

We met in the Molonglo Gorge car park (Molonglo Picnic Area on Google Maps) and organised a car shuttle to get us around 6km north on the Sutton Road, at the ragged red flag flying at the entrance to the Majura Field Firing Range. Safe parking on the verge for at least 4 or 5 cars if needed.

As I’d guessed from the parking spot recce I did last week, a fence to cross on the east side of the road to get us going. We headed a little south of east, up through pine forest, then through native woodland. A 110vm climb to get me puffing. I’d underestimated the trip’s climb badly, suggesting 425vm in the ad whereas we did 755vm.

Fire trail took us generally south along the ridge top. Easy walking.

Walking the crest of the Kowen Escarpment around SH746

A descent to a small off-track section to cross a creek. I did make it hard, as we could have walked 150m west to cross it via the Sutton Rd.

Creek crossing – could have walked 150m to the Sutton Rd

With the usual 20/20 hindsight from the steep climb out, there even appeared to be a better crossing point 50m downstream.

From here it was up, down and up to Mt Reedy and morning tea a few metres to its west out of the breeze.

Mt Reedy

Our fire trail took us SW down a long spur, with views into Queanbeyan.

Queanbeyan from the crest of the Kowen Escarpment

My old maps showed a fire trail near the bottom of the spur, heading down a little more to cross the second creek. It turned out to be overgrown and mogul-ed, but allowed us an easier approach to the  more elegant creek crossing.

This creek crossing presented no challenge

The climb out took us up to join Kowen Rd and we endured a km or so of hard blacktop.

Suffering the blacktop of Kowen Rd

As soon as we could we walked down to South Break which, at this point, was close to Kowen Rd.

A couple of trail bikes passed us. Yet another loss of altitude followed by a climb back up. The photo shows the difference between pine and native forests.

Another down and up

It was nearly all over bar the shouting as we passed the marker to Blue Tiles.

‘Street’ marker in fine condition

A water break at Blue Tiles.

Molonglo River at Blue Tiles

The break was cunningly made to disguise a geocache search. One knows one’s true walking friends by who accompanies you on such forays – thanks for finding GC1WMP9 BLUE TILES – Molonglo Gorge,  Richard.

An enjoyable stroll out to the remaining cars, accompanied by the swollen and noisy Molonglo River running through the gorge.

Molonglo River Gorge from the walking track

We took the high track near the end as I’d noted Lauren said the lower track was impassable last weekend. One or two in the party hadn’t visited Molonglo Gorge NR before.

Great party of new and old friends. Just a couple of very light mizzles. We completed the car shuttle. Nature Reserves 16 and 17 ticked off.

Track Map

Here’s where we went.

Track 1

Track 2

Track 3


10 walkers – Andrea, Chris, Lam, Malcolm, Peter, Richard, Rob, Roger, Tilly, me.