Welcome to the first Hiker Review post. The Hiker Review is all about sharing different trails and hikes to inspire you to get out there and explore. Eventually, I hope to fill Elysian Haze with hundreds of hikes from around Australia (and hopefully the world). Although, for now, most of the hikes will be within South Australia. And the first hike I’m sharing with you is a big one – The Pioneer Women’s Trail.

The only tiny problem for me is that I have an ongoing ankle injury. I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to complete the trail, but my ankle had been feeling good. So, I decided to give it a go. Although, testing an ankle injury on a 25km hike isn’t always the smartest option. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

The Pioneer Women’s Trail

The Pioneer Women’s Trail is rich with history and had been on my bucket list for a while. I knew of it but had yet to do any research into the trail or make any plans to walk it. However, that changed when a friend asked me if I’d like to walk it with him. I instantly said yes.

Trail facts:

Distance – 22-28km
Duration – 5.5-10 hours
Difficulty – Challenging
Terrain – Undulating
Region – Adelaide Hills
Country – Kaurna country
Distance From Adelaide – 8km, 15-minute drive to Beaumont House

For more trail facts click here to view more information on Walking SA. Walking SA also has GPX and KML files available to download.

Personal experience

My friend and I walked from Beaumont House into Hahndorf ( particularly the Carl Nitchscke Car Park). His watch tracked over 25km, whereas mine tracked 24.4km. It took us a total time of 5:48, with our moving time being 5:23. Walking SA recommends 7-10 hours. I always plan my hikes with the 4km per hour method even though I know I walk at a pace of 4.5km per hour. We stopped in Stirling for a coffee. Other than that it was just straight walking. There’s a variety of terrain that you’ll cover ranging from road surfaces to undulating. The most difficult part was the start, going up Mount Osmond. While it is a challenging hike, the distance is the hardest part of it.

Trail history

The trail is full of history and along the way, you can read about it on the trail posts.

“This British colony was less than three years old when the ‘Zebra’ arrived with Lutheran refugees from Prussia who were eager to build new lives free from persecution. Captain of the ‘Zebra’, Dirk Meinertz Hahn, helped fifty-four families to find land in the picturesque Onkaparinga Valley near Mount Barker. Within weeks the women and girls started making regular trips on foot to Adelaide, carrying baskets of vegetables and dairy produce for the hungry townsfolk. They left the village at midnight to walk 35km along rough bush trails and ancient Peramangk tracks, pausing in the early hours of the morning to refresh themselves at a stream in the foothills near Beaumont House.

After selling their wares and purchasing other necessities such as sewing thread, needles, sugar, tea and tobacco for the men, they walked back up the hill. They also carried two bricks each for building their church. This manner of provisioning Adelaide continued until the late 1850s.

The trail used by Hahndorf’s pioneers was rediscovered by the Hahndorf and Burnside Branches of the National Trust of South Australia and Walking SA in 1980. Today’s trail follows it as closely as possible.

The Pioneer Women’s Trail is approximately 26km long and mainly follows country roads, laneways and bush tracks through a delightful section of the Adelaide Hills with historic homes, deciduous trees and native bushland. Commencing at Verdun, the trail winds through Bridgewater, following Cox Creek part of the way. After traversing beautiful Mt George Conservation Park the trail detours through Stirling, with its many coffee shops. It continues through Crafers and Cleland Conservation Park, before joining the Old Bullock Track, finally emerging to stunning city views and the descent to Beaumont House in Burnside.”

National Trust

Hiking the trail

Hiking the Pioneer Trail solo means you may have to think about public transport. However, if you’re hiking it with more than one person, it gets a little easier. My friend and I met at the Carl Nitschke Car park in Hahndorf. We left one car there and drove to Beaumont House, leaving a car at both ends.

Starting at Beaumont House meant that we started with the largest incline. Climbing up was the hardest part of the trail. I wasn’t sure how my ankle would cope, and the cold morning air was making my asthma play up a little bit. The views of Adelaide were spectacular, and it made me understand why people lived around there.

The trail posts were easy enough to navigate without having to use a map, but we did take a “wrong turn” and rather than following the trail’s track we followed the boundary track while in Cleland. We also missed the track towards the end and we ended up walking along Mt Barker Road to the end of the marked trail instead. Walking into Hahndorf was the scariest part of the whole trail. The reason is that we had to continue walking along Mt Barker Road, and once you get to the roundabout to enter the freeway, there is hardly a shoulder to walk on.

Overall, I’d highly recommend completing the Women’s Pioneer Trail at least once. It’s a gorgeous trail through the hills and provides a variety of eye-catching views to keep you entertained. You can stop in the towns you pass through for a coffee or some food.

While it was my first time doing the trail for me, it definitely won’t be the last.

Let me know if you’ve completed it or have it on your list of trails to do!

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