North Haven to Glenelg Along the Foreshore

Forgetting it was due to bucket down I decided to cycle the full loop from my place to Outer Harbour, down to Glenelg and home again. A round trip of about 65 kilometres.

The first 5 kms were great, then 45 kms of strong head wind and finally 15km with the wind behind me. It was a wonderful ride and even getting drenched did not dampen my enthusiasm, but the head wind, now that hurt!

Arriving at the Outer Harbour starting point, I easily found the start of the bikeway, neatly following (but separated from) the main road and the foreshore to my right.

A side track down to the beach

A side track down to the beach

Every few hundred metres there were short sandy tracks through the dunes and onto the wide, open packed sand beach, which in this morning’s inclement weather was al but deserted.

I always enjoy these weekend rides and this one was hardly different and if it wasn’t for the strong wind blowing in off the ocean bringing with it driving rain, this would have been a really pleasant ride along the coast.

For most of its length, the bikeway was either concrete of bitumen, wide enough so that where I did have to pass a runner oblivious to my approach in their iPod induced trance, I was able to do so without risk to either of us.

Every so often the track would descend the five metres to the beach level, moving away from the road to weave its way between native vegetation and low rolling sand dunes. At intervals along these lower trails were signboards describing the surrounding botanic and geographic landscape, or proving an insight into how the land was used by the traditional owners.

A short section of boardwalk over a shallow creek

A short section of boardwalk over a shallow creek

The one disappointment for me was that it is not possible to ride the complete 22kms via a bikeway. For short sections I had to take to one of the quiet seafront roads or ride over rough sections of shared space infant of beachfront homes, eventually picking up the continuing bikeway in a kilometre or so. Even though these detours were infrequent, they were often and long enough to break into the calmness reach until that point.

A shortcut through shared front-yards

A shortcut through shared front-yards

Nor were these detours always clearly marked but I found that the Sunday morning walkers were an indication to these unofficial short cuts and so for the most part, I avoided straying off the planned route.

The Tennyson sand dunes were the only part that required extra care, or walking the bike

The Tennyson sand dunes were the only part that required extra care, or walking the bike

As to the track conditions, it was only where the I was taken deep into the soft sand of the Tennyson sand dunes that I found I could not ride. But these sections were usually short and after fifty metres or so, the ground became hard-packed again and I could return to riding.

As a general rule, if I kept the beach at my elbow, I was able to find my way through to Glenelg without to many issues. I did take shelter from the driving wind by riding a section along Military Road but normally this would not be required.

If you take this ride, be prepared, when you arrive at Glenelg, to mingle with Adelaide’s “trendy folk” and have a well earned coffee and sandwich.

Once rested you can either head home, or take the Mike Turtur Bikeway (or Westside Bikeway) into Adelaide and the transport options available there.

Trail Summary

  • Name: North Haven to Glenelg
  • Region: Adelaide
  • Start: Corner of lady Gowrie and Anaconda Drives, North Haven
  • Finish: Jetty Road, Glenelg
  • Length: 22km
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Type: Linear
  • Difficulty: Moderate (if you avoid the Tennyson Sand Dunes it is Easy)
  • Suitable for: To ride the 22 kilometres, you will beed a mountain or hybrid bike, but for 80% of it, it is suitable for all bike types, and wheel chairs.
  • Terrain: Mostly flat but there are some media inclines down to and back up from the beach level sections but these are only 5 metres or so each. But this is a very open exposed route so be prepared for strong sea breezes.
  • Surface: Almost all surfaced with bitumen and concrete with short sections of boardwalk. But the section through the Tennyson Sandhills, as the name suggests has some very soft, sandy sections.
  • Hazards: Very few but there were several sections where trees were a hanging low over the track. Watch out also for children and runners with iPods, they may not hear you coming from behind.
  • Signage: Very few but this is a trail that is hard to get lost on. If you are riding through waves, then perhaps you made a wrong turn.
  • Points of Interest: The beach is an obvious one but stop and read the signs with historical, cultural and geographical information. They provide a great insight into the area. There are also some lovely mosaics on rocks at Grange that took my eye..
  • Facilities: There are several drinking fountains along the route as are shops and toilets.
  • Best Times: Spring, Summer and Autumn. I rode this in Winter and got drenched.
  • Map: No printable map available.
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