6 of the best local stair runs (or walks)
Stepping it up at the Gap Bluff, Watsons Bay
Published 29 August 2021
Indoor gyms may be closed for lockdown but you can still get out there and work up a sweat outdoors. The local area offers lots of heart-pumping outdoor workouts to try and gorgeous walks to shake off the lockdown blues. But if you’re looking to mix up your exercise routine, step up and check out the best stair runs (or walks) in your neighbourhood.
Sydney boasts an eclectic variety of historical steps designed to let people reach ridgelines without going the long way round. Residents still use these conveniently-placed staircases as shortcuts or as a way to clock up the steps on their fitness watches.
Climbing may make you breathless, but at least in the local Woollahra area, the surrounding scenery is absolutely breathtaking. So make sure to take a breather and admire the views.
Cranbrook stairs (Rose Bay)
The best rewards for climbing up the 135 stairs on Cranbrook Lane are the prize views of the sparkling Rose Bay Marina on the way back down. This 150m stair climb is part of many Rose Bay locals' fitness regime and is situated on New South Head Road opposite the recently opened The Boathouse Cafe. Take advantage of the quiet of lockdown: this step run is usually bustling with boot-campers.
Cranbrook Stairs, Rose Bay
Cooper Park stairs (Bellevue Hill)
You’ll find the Cooper Park stair run at the top of Bellevue Road in Bellevue Hill. This is a steep flight of stairs that will put your quads to the test. Once you’ve climbed the stairs once or twice, it’s time to slow things down and explore the numerous trails criss-crossing this tranquil forest. Take a few deep breaths and meander through the Go Slo for a Mo’ Nature Wellness Trail or reward yourself with a coffee and a sneaky slice of cake at the Bellevue Hill shops at the top of the stairs.
Cooper Park stairs, Bellevue Hill
Marathon Steps (Darling Point)
The Marathon Steps are functional as well as recreational. The stone staircase is one of the quickest ways to get down from Darling Point to Double Bay. On a warm weekend, the staircase is often buzzing with activity, so don't forget to bring a mask. The stairs can be reached at the end of Marathon Road just off Darling Point Road. It’s a gorgeous stair run in the shade of leafy trees, and features a gutter which allows bikes to be wheeled down.
At the bottom of the stairs, you’ll find yourself on the outskirts of Steyne Park in Double Bay. A quick walk across the field and you reach the playground or the tranquil marina with the beach close by. But don’t get too comfortable as the walk back up the steps awaits. You could even top off your fitness session with a sprint up the Marathon Road hill.
Marathon Steps, Darling Point
Hermitage Foreshore Trail stairs (Vaucluse)
One of our favourite hidden stair runs has to be along the scenic Hermitage Foreshore Trail, which hugs the Inner Harbour foreshore. There are short stone staircases all the way along the two kilometre trail, which starts at the end of Bayview Hill Road in Rose Bay and meanders all the way to Nielsen Park.
There are a number of entry points to the path but we started our adventure about half way, near Milk Beach. Park on Vaucluse Road near Strickland House. Walk past the historical house until you reach the trail. You can have a brief (or longer) stop at the secluded Milk Beach before tackling the stairs and boardwalks leading towards Nielsen Park. While you can definitely work up a sweat jogging all the way, we like to take this one a bit slower as the views are too special to pass by in a blur.
Hermitage Foreshore Trail stairs, Vaucluse
Thornton Reserve steps (Bellevue Hill)
Thornton Reserve is a suburban park in Bellevue Hill, named after the Hon. George Thornton, who was the first Chairman (Mayor) of Woollahra Council back in 1860. This hidden reserve boasts a fabulous double staircase perfect for high energy runs. There are only 40 steps on each side but a few rounds up and down this stone staircase and you’ll be puffed for sure.
Bring the kids along and they’ll have a ball playing on the action-packed playground equipment while you blast away the calories on the stair run. The reserve also has a fun slippery slide built into the hillside. Kids are crazy about it and few grown-ups can resist having a go. The reserve can be accessed from Beresford Road in Bellevue Hill.
Thornton Reserve steps, Bellevue Hill
Gap Park steps (Watsons Bay)
The Gap Park stair run is part of a 750m long trail that starts at the stairs leading up to Gap Park, opposite Robertson Park. The route continues along the coastal track, finally winding down through the giant fig trees and returning via Dunbar Road. This route is usually a compulsory photo-op on the Sydney tourist trail, so you may as well take advantage of the relative solitude of lockdown.
There are a number of chances to boost your heart rate on the staircases that lead up to Sydney’s most famous ocean cliff lookouts. It’s hard not to take a breather or two on this stair run - the scenery looking out across the cliffs is absolutely spectacular.
Gap Park stairs, Watsons Bay
These stair runs are such a fantastic way to boost your cardio fitness while taking in some of the most gorgeous spots in the Woollahra local area. All you need to do is take the first step.
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