My co-walkers named this the Pylons Walk, as it makes good use of service trails that pass by the base of at least five electricity pylons. The walk offers more than just electricity infrastructure however, although the overhead wires do make a handy navigational aid for the map-challenged amongst us. The walk starts at the parking area at end of Warrimoo Rd, and turns off onto the service trail (shortly before the stone bench) to head towards the first pylon. At the pylon, look for the cairns that mark the footpad and carefully follow the cairns on the rocky descent down to Christies Pool.
Cross over Ku-ring-gai Creek above Christies Pool and look for the pink tape markers on trees and cairns to locate the track (to your left) which ascends up the steep spur to the second pylon at the end of Rylands Track. On our first attempt at this walk, we erroneously crossed below Christies Pool, climbed the wrong spur (tough!), located the wrong pylon and followed the wrong track up to Duffy’s Forest where, covered in scratches and dropping from leech bites, we embarrassedly called a cab! An important lesson learnt: it’s not enough to take a map, you need to get it out and read it to confirm your location and bearing!
Pick up the pace along Rylands Track. The Duffys Forest Ecological Community that predominated on ridgetops in the Warringah and Ku-ring-gai is now extensively fragmented and endangered. The habitat has been destroyed by clearing and development, weeds, and inappropriate usage. As you gallop along the easy Rylands Track, appreciate what remains.
Nearing Mona Vale Rd and the gun club, take the turn to the right and locate the third pylon. At the end of the service trail, a foot path continues towards St Ives Showgrounds, where it becomes a wider trail. Keep right at trail junctions around the showgrounds unless you want to join the horses on their steeple chase. The trail ends at the wire fence on the edge of St Ives Wildflower Gardens that keeps marauding wildlife from eating the plants in the gardens. You could of course climb over, or crawl under, but it’s simpler to follow the fence a short distance to your right and walk around it. Watch out for mountain bikers on Rylands Track and behind St Ives Showgrounds.
The Wildflower Gardens are a confusing knot of walking and cycling tracks. My route through is turn right (north) onto the bike track after you’ve got past the fence, then left (west) on to the Mueller Track to Lambert’s Clearing (a nice morning tea spot). From Lambert’s Clearing, keep heading west on the Bentham Track to the road circle at Cunninghams Rest (and yet another pylon). Pick up the Mueller Track again here and follow it down the hill to join the management service trail alongside Ku-ring-gai Creek. A map of the Wildflower Gardens is useful.
Once back on the service trail, cross Ku-ring-gai Creek again and head up the hill to join Philip Rd (the last pylon) from which it is a short suburban walk back to your car.
This 3 hour walk of about 12km (depending on your navigation skills!) is good for endurance training with a total 500m ascent and a mix of track types, including wider undulating trails where you can stride out while enjoying the variety of vegetation types and chirpy birds.