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Canberra’s most scenic running routes

I don’t know about you, but I for one cannot bring myself to jog in-place for an hour on a treadmill at the gym. While the chocking scent of deodorant and perspiration hanging in the air invades my nostrils.  Call me old fashioned, but nothing motivates me more to push through that stomach wrenching stitch than being at one with nature.

Enter Canberra: where city living and country spirit join to offer some of the most picturesque running routes in Australia.  Over a five-day period, I journeyed across our Nation’s Capital to find its top five routes.  Along the way I sought out some old favourites and discovered a few new ones to share with you.


Lake Ginninderra

Lake Ginninderra is a flat and paved course, ideal for all levels of fitness, and situated fifteen minutes from the city and a stone’s throw from Belconnen’s Westfield Shopping Centre.

As I begin my lap, no matter how many times I’ve completed the course, I cannot help but to marvel at the always present, unspoiled natural beauty.  Native trees on both sides line the majority of the seven-kilometre loop, with leaf-filled limbs doubling as canopies, throwing dappled shadows across the paved track.

Lake Ginninderra – Photo by Lachlan Thomson

The course ends on a high as I stride into John Knight Memorial Park, where native birds can be heard in hidden nests, while ducks, seagulls and swans forage amongst the reeds at the water’s edge.

Lake Ginninderra – Photo by Lachlan Thomson

Mount Ainslie

For a million-dollar view of Canberra, there aren’t too many places better than the Mount Ainslie Summit.  The only problem is first scaling the zigzagging, calf-killer.  As I begin the 842-metre-high slog, through cracks in trees, I catch glimpses of the complete vista that tease and spur me on up the mountain.

Mount Ainslie – Photo by Lachlan Thomson

As I reach the top and victoriously wipe away the sheen of sweat from my forehead, I take in one of Canberra’s most breathtaking views, figuratively and literally.

Mount Ainslie – Photo by Lachlan Thomson


Stromlo Forest Park

Canberra is often euphemistically referred to as the ‘Bush Capital’ and that is no more evident than upon arriving at Stromlo Forest Park.  A short fifteen-minute drive from the Canberra city centre whisks you away to another world.

Stromlo Forest Park – Photo by Lachlan Thomson

The crisp, autumn air is spiced by decomposing pine needles that carpet the ground, whilst families of kangaroos laze about in the sun.  The winding, uneven pebble-capped tracks offer a rewarding challenge for experienced joggers who aren’t afraid to scuff their Nike’s.


Black Mountain Tower

Black Mountain Tower – Photo by Lachlan Thomson

I see the tall, metal spire that is Black Mountain Tower nearly every day, but since arriving in Canberra just over two years ago, I have never jogged to the summit of Black Mountain. Upon completion of the 3.4-kilometre ascent, I can safely conclude that it has replaced Mount Ainslie as my preferred peak.  The climb is nowhere near as tiring as Mount Ainslie, however joggers are advised to proceed with caution as misshapen roots are waiting to trip those who are not sure-footed, as I found out first-hand.


Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin offers runners three loops from which to choose; the Central Loop (4.9km), the Eastern Loop (9km) and the Western Loop (16km).  While I had initially intended to undertake the latter, entering into my fifth consecutive day of running, I was less than confident my aching calves would make the journey.

Lake Burley Griffin – Photo by Lachlan Thomson

The Central Loop enables joggers to see the beauty of our Nation’s Capital by foot.  Historic landmarks including the National Museum of Australia, Parliament House and the National Gallery of Australia can all be viewed via this course.  Despite being located in the heart of the city, the precinct of Lake Burley Griffin offers jogging enthusiasts a taste of unspoiled nature at its best.

So, what are you waiting for? Pull on your runners and I might see you out and about at one of Canberra’s picturesque running routes.


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