8.5/10 if the section from Narrabeen, through Collaroy and Long Reef is ridden, instead going out and back through Cromer.
Star Rating For Difficulty (out of 5):
It would go up to 2 stars if the Long Reef Headland portion is included.
Notable Sites, Cafés, and Playgrounds Along the Way:
Note: This will be described as per the route above, which includes Collaroy and Long Reef and the Southern section of Narrabeen Lake twice.
However, when we do it nowadays, we usually cut out Collaroy and Long Reef. We park at either Lagoon St or Middle Creek Reserve (as per “parking” below), and usually do the loop anti-clockwise. When we get to where the path meets James Wheeler Pl, Wheeler Heights, we drop down South East along the bike paths through Cromer, to Dee Why beach, then retrace our steps to James Wheeler Place and then resume the anti-clockwise loop of the Lake until we get back to where our car is parked.
This ride is a bit like Sydney Olympic Park for us. We can do long rides from here or short rides (15-20km). It’s mostly flat, no major hills, lots of good playgrounds, and lots of spots for a good feed.
Starting from Lagoon St North Narrabeen we make our way over Narrabeen Lagoon Bridge and chuck a left just before the caravan park. This is usually the first point at which the kids drop the bikes and run around on South Creek Beach. It’s only a couple of hundred metres before our next pit stop at Abbot Playground, the kids just love climbing the rope structure. It also makes for a great photo with the kids in the foreground and lake in the background.
We then make our way down to the “shark tooth”, Wimbledon Ave Narrabeen. It has a small and simple playground, Wimbledon Playground which we occasionally play at, but one of our preferred playgrounds comes up next.
Bilarong Playground is our equal favourite playground on this route, it’s not as good as Berry Reserve Playground (next to the Tramshed café), but every single time we play here it is remarkably under-used. We can run around and play tip and “the floor is lava” without bumping into anyone. It has a good rope climbing structure and is a great place to have the first snack of the day.
The cycling / running / walking track continues from here (at times suspended over the water) around to Middle Creek Reserve where we usually have a loo and small snack stop. We often spot waterbirds at the ramp where the little beach is. From here there are a couple of cool bridges to ride over Middle Creek and South Creek before the James Wheeler Place intersection. As above, nowadays we turn right here and go to Dee Why and back, to resume our anti-clockwise loop. However, for the purpose of this particular route which includes Collaroy and Long Reef, we will continue around the Lake and later on come North West along this Cromer bike path.
The next section of the Narrabeen Lake loop is a dirt track, and rideable, but I only do this on my bike with thick-walled tyres for puncture protection. We usually stop around Pipeclay Point, search for some smooth stones and try to skim them on the water or drop them in to make a splash. We often also see some ducks floating around here too.
The trail has about another km of dirt and then after 1 more km of paved cycle path we arrive at Wheeler Park. It’s a nice little park with some swings and climbing equipment. It also almost always has ducks waddling around nearby which are always fascinating for the kids.
Only 1 more kilometre and we come to our main stop for the day Berry Reserve Playground and The Tramshed Café Narrabeen (yes there is an actual old tram carriage to explore too). The playground has great climbing equipment, mini trampolines, a good enclosed slippery dip, things to jump from and to, swings etc…It’s enclosed and has soft fall. It’s a cracker. And, it’s only 10m to the Tramshed café where you can get a coffee, snack or a substantial meal. This is a ½ hour stop for us on a “quick” stop and more like 45min to an hour on a more relaxed day. On top of this, there is the exercise equipment on the other side of the ½ basketball court which the kids like to check out their ability to do chin-ups on 😉. On the shorter rides, and more recent permutations, we make our way towards the car from here. However, on this route, we now make our way to Collaroy.
After crossing Pittwater Rd and then Ocean St there is a short section of bike path on the Eastern side of Ocean St. However, the rest of the way from Narrabeen to Collaroy is footpath. What is “annoying” about this section, as a parent riding with kids, is that there are many (short) side streets, so it’s full attention to safety and road crossings all the way to Collaroy, so (on top of the traffic noise) it’s rather difficult to have any form of conversation with the kids. This is merely a section to get from point A to point B, not a section I’d choose to do again, given other options.
Having made it to Collaroy, Collaroy Beach Playground is very good (in the top 3 playgrounds on this route). Like Berry Reserve Playground, it’s all on soft fall and there is a lot to swing on and climb. The aspect towards the surf also makes for a great view.
Riding up to Long Reef is a bit of a hill, but not huge. The views from the headland are great, but it also can be quite windy. The kids do quite like rolling Southwards down the track towards Long Reef SLSC carpark. Just before you get to Long Reef SLSC carpark there is a cute little garden filled with gnomes
Next time we do this, to avoid traffic, in order to get from Long Reef SLSC to Dee Why we’ll continue around Long Reef Golf course back Northwards to make a complete loop to Anzac Ave Collaroy. Cross at the pedestrian crossing and then ride on the Western footpath of Pittwater Rd down to Dee Why oval.
We then take the bike path to Dee Why beach and enjoy some down time at Michaela Howie Playground Dee Why Beach, which is a nice shaded playground with seats for adults and the opportunity to eat food and enjoy the view North over Dee Why beach or lagoon towards Long Reef Headland (this is the 4th best playground on this route – it is a route with lots of good playgrounds). Of course, should the family prefer something more sophisticated to eat at Dee Why, there are a plethora of places for food.
When the kids are ready, we backtrack less than 1km and have another playground stop at James Meehan Reserve Playground Dee Why. More of a little kids playground, but hey kids will have fun running, spinning and climbing anywhere! From here we go back to Dee Why oval and then take a lovely bike path that winds its way through Cromer to Narrabeen Lake. There is some small play equipment which is fun to climb on for a short stop at Tullich Reserve. Our next stop is St Matthew’s skatepark just after crossing South Creek Road. While avoiding the skateboarders, it’s a good opportunity for the kids (and parents) to build up some skills rolling around and over the various obstacles and ramps.
The bike path continues through Wheeler Heights (note that the Toronto Ave intersection is a difficult and somewhat busy one to cross with kids), back to Narrabeen Lake, where the Southern portion of the lake loop is repeated and then back to the car.
If we do the longer ride we stop at Waterloo St Narrabeen for sushi, the Bakery, or a chicken roll with chips.
Parking & Toilets
If we are doing a big loop we usually park at the Northern end of Lagoon St Narrabeen.
If we’re doing a shorter permutation we often park at Middle Creek Reserve (note paid parking)
- North West corner of Lake Park Narrabeen.
- Middle Creek Reserve
- Near Berry Reserve Playground
- Collaroy SLSC
- Long Reef SLSC
- Dee Why Beach
- Dee Why SLSC