The Canberra Nature Park reserves seem to be endless and the view is obstructed by the forest and hills. The management trails and paths meander their way around the hills. This network of trails and paths has grown historically. There is a surprise around every corner.
The recreational use of nature reserves is balanced against preservation. The Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 includes all the details for each of the 37 nature reserves, but the document is too big to carry with you.
If you are unfamiliar with a reserve, the smartphone app Komoot with OpenStreetMap would be a good start to help you find your way. The information relating to cycling in the Management Plan has been captured in OpenStreetMap. The rideable nature reserves will be reviewed in this post.
Navigation without a smartphone
Canberra Nature Park is a beautiful place but riding there can be tricky and confusing. Navigation is the problem, whereas safety is not generally an issue. Wrong turns are not uncommon. It is all part of the experience. The reserves are not used much, and you are more likely to see animals than people. There is a general lack of directional signage. There are sometimes road signs on the management trails, but not for all of them. The maps provided on the Canberra Nature Park website are helpful but dated (2004). The Canberra Nature Park certainly had the right idea with these maps, but the new maps would best be labelled with the names of the management trails. This would make the maps more useful.
The directional signage and information in the reserves may not be consistent with that in the Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan.
Canberra Nature Park in OpenStreetMap
The Canberra Nature Park is made up of 37 reserves. You cannot ride in 30 of these. There are partial closures due to land leases in five of the 30: Crace Grasslands, Kowen Escarpment, Rob Roy, Tuggeranong Hill, and Urambi Hills. The Management Plan has a section with a full description for all 37 reserves, and is worth reading (attached to this post).
OpenStreetMap was updated with the information from the Management Plan in 2019. Using satellite photographs every fence and path has been mapped, including other information such as track surface, and in some cases even gradients. Names of the paths and trails are added if known. Land use and vegetation are added, as are cliffs, creeks and quarries.
As cyclists, we are interested to know which of the paths and trails we are permitted to ride on. This is one of the most interesting features of OpenStreetMap. Restricted areas and land leases are mapped. There are many reasons for restrictions in nature reserves, and they are in the Management Plan.
This Komoot app on your smartphone knows through OpenStreetMap where you are permitted to ride. Choose any point on the map and Komoot will calculate a route to get you there.
Canberra Nature Park cycling overview
Management trails on maps
This section shows maps for the Canberra Nature Park reserves where cycling is permitted. The brown dotted lines on OpenStreetMap are management trails. Click on the maps to enlarge them. The walking trails are red dotted lines but hard to see against the green forest.
A recreational map highlights the walking trails of OpenStreetMap. An example of a recreational map style with OpenStreetMap is 4UMaps.com (data CC-By-SA by OpenStreetMap).
List of Nature reserves included
Aranda Bushland, Black Mountain, Bruce Ridge, Callum Brae, Cooleman Ridge, Crace Grasslands, Dunlop Grasslands, Farrer Ridge, Goorooyarroo, Gossan Hill, Isaacs Ridge, Kowen Escarpment, Melrose, McQuoids Hill, Mount Ainslie, Mount Majura, Mount Mugga Mugga, Mount Painter, Mount Pleasant, Mount Taylor, Mulligans Flat, Oakey Hill, O’Connor Ridge, Percival Hill, Red Hill, Rob Roy, The Pinnacle, Tuggeranong Hill, Urambi Hills, and Wanniassa Hills.
Nature reserves where there is no map
- Crace Grasslands Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap
- Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap
- Kowen Escarpment Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap
- Melrose Nature Reserve, Canberra Nature Park on OpenStreetMap