Seaside cycling

Stretching from North Haven south to Marino, Adelaide Coast Park trail is an – almost – unbroken shared-use path following the Adelaide shoreline.

In a city criss-crossed by magnificent cycling routes, Coast Park is one of the best. There are plenty of cafes, pubs, parks, playgrounds, ice-cream vendors, and the view across Gulf St Vincent never gets old.

Here are some highlights and a park development update.

North Haven to Grange

Kick off your ride at the Outer Harbour Lookout, on the northern tip of the trail, overlooking the entrance to the harbour.

Pedalling south, you’ll soon come across Largs Bay and the magnificent three-tier Largs Pier Hotel, which opened its doors in 1882. Then it’s off to historic Semaphore, riding past the gleaming white Palais Hotel, the 86-year-old carousel and the broad green reserve in front of Semaphore jetty.

If you’re already peckish, there’s a beach-side kiosk and a world of dining choices along Semaphore Road.

From Bower Road, Semaphore Park, the pathway skirts low dunes en route to the northern boundary of Wara Wayingga-Tennyson Dunes Conservation Reserve, where the trail comes to an end.

Adelaide Coast Park, Semaphore
The recently completed section north from Bower Road, Semaphore Park. Image: RAA/JP

This is the only gap in Coast Park, and it’s about 2.4km as the seagull flies to its resumption at Terminus Street, Grange. To detour this section, head for Military Road.

The narrow, unsealed Discovery Trail extends through the reserve, but parts of this track are too sandy for casual cycling, and it ends among the dunes. If you do press on, there are several escape routes to Military Road along the way.

Designs have been prepared for the 1.7km section from Hillview Avenue, Tennyson to Terminus Street.

From Terminus Street, it’s onwards towards Grange Road via The Marines – a glorious row of late 19th-century terraced houses.

The Marines
The Marines; a blast from the past. Image: RAA/JP

Grange to Glenelg

From Grange, the trail follows the Esplanade through to bustling Henley Square.

If it’s snack time, choose from the square’s impressive range of cafes and restaurants.

After a caffeine and muffin recharge, continue beside the Esplanade to the Torrens River outlet, where two alarmingly lifelike, Tim Burton-esque pelicans stand guard atop riverside poles.

Guardian of the river. Image: RAA/JP

A quick loop to the other side of the Torrens leads to a small dunefield, before the trail rejoins the Esplanade. Further along, the recently rebuilt West Beach Surf Lifesaving Club has food and drinks. No venue along the metro coast is closer to the sea.

The trail then passes through a narrow passage between the dunes and West Beach Caravan Park, before descending towards Adelaide Sailing Club and West Beach Boat Ramp.

The next section to Glenelg North is almost on the beach. On windy days, sand drifts can add a touch of challenge to the ride, while occasional hints of eau de wastewater treatment plant waft over the dunes.

Sand drifts, Glenelg North
Sand drifts at Glenelg North. Image: RAA/JP

If your timing and the wind direction are right, planes landing at Adelaide Airport will just about part your hair.

After rejoining the Esplanade, the next major feature is the lock at the mouth of the Patawalonga River, where boats pass to and from Patawalonga Boat Haven.

Once past Wigley Reserve and it’s cracking playground, head down the north side of Colley Reserve to return to the beach.

You’ve reached Glenelg and all its treats.

Glenelg to Marino Rocks

The section from Moseley Square to the Broadway is a delight. To the left is a mix of holiday accommodation and historic houses.

On the right, beyond the green lawn and towering Norfolk Island pines of Jimmy Melrose Park, the blue waters of the Gulf stretch to the horizon (main photo).

From the Broadway to Brighton, the Coast Park trail continues to follow the Esplanade, apart from a short section through the dunes between Minda Inc. and the beach.

At the end of Ferris Avenue, Somerton Park, keep an eye out for the chap sitting on the park bench – he always seems to be there.

Iron man at Somerton Park
Somerton Park local. Image: RAA/JP

With the jetty poking into the gulf on one side, and café-rich Jetty Road on the other, Brighton is a great spot to dismount and refresh.

Back on the track, Coast Park sticks to the Esplanade until the road briefly turns inland at the Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club. It’s here that the hills roll down to meet the coast.

The pathway hugs the shoreline, squeezing between Brighton Caravan Park and the beach, before terminating where the Esplanade heads up the hill.

If you squint a bit, the hillside houses combined with the rocky seashore looks a smidge like parts of the Italian Riveria. Squint harder!

Over your right shoulder you’ll catch a stunning view of the trip you’ve just completed.

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