Piles Creek Loop - Complete Guide 

Piles Creek loop suspension bridge

Piles Creek loop is one of the Central Coast most riveting walks.

Located in Brisbane Water National Park, the track contains pretty wildflowers, sandstone caves, an old suspension bridge, and small waterfalls.

The walk attracts locals and visitors who want to experience a challenging but enchanting hike, often combined with their visit to the nearby Australian Reptile Park or Somersby Falls.

Piles Creek loop is one of my favourite hikes!

This guide will show you the highlights of the walk and tell you how to get there.

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Distance:    4.7 km

Time:          3.5 hours

Difficulty:   Grade 5

Visitor Information

Piles Creek loop starts at Girrakool Picnic Area in Brisbane Water National Park. Check Girrakool Picnic Area on Google Maps.

From the Pacific Motorway, exit Central Coast Highway towards Gosford, take the first left onto Wisemans Ferry Road, take the first left onto Old Pacific Highway and take the first left onto Quarry Road.

Drive through the tunnel to the end of the road, at Girrakool Picnic Area.

There’s a large carpark – parking costs $8 for the day.

The carpark opens daily from 7 am to 8 pm during daylight savings and 7 am to 6 pm the rest of the year.

Girrakool Picnic Area

Girrakool Picnic Area contains barbecues, picnic tables and toilets – a great spot for a picnic after your walk.

There’s plenty of space for kids to run around, and you may even spot a wallaby.

Piles Creek loop - Girrakool Picnic Area

Dogs are not allowed here because it’s in a national park.

Two trails start from Girrakool Picnic Area: the Piles Creek loop and the Girrakool loop track.

Girrakool loop track is shorter and easier than the Piles Creek loop, but not as nice because of the noisy motorway. But the Girrakool loop track is popular with families with preschool children.

The Great North Walk can also be accessed from Girrakool Picnic Area.

Map of Piles Creek Loop

There’s a large map located at the picnic area indicating the location of the walks:

Piles Creek loop map

Highlights of Piles Creek Loop

The trails at Girrakool were built to allow people to access and appreciate the beautiful flora, waterfalls, and magnificent surroundings.

The area was used in the past by Aboriginal people. There are plenty of engravings on sandstone outcrops. 

The track follows the left side of Piles Creek through dry eucalypt forest and takes you down the gorge through rainforest gullies. Then it takes you across the old suspension bridge, where you can hear the soothing sound of the running creek.

Finally, back up toward Girrakool Picnic Area along the right side of the stream.

If you go in spring, you’ll see tons of gorgeous wildflowers along the track. You’ll feel like you’re in a fairy garden.

Piles Creek loop wildflowers

The only thing I dislike about this walk is the constant humming of the motorway, but the noise fades as you approach the bottom of the gorge.

Piles Creek loop contains steep parts, but I’ve seen kids from about seven years old hike it.

First Half: From Girrakool Picnic Area to the Suspension Bridge

From Girrakool Picnic Area, follow the sign on the right side of the toilet block.

The path leads to an intersection that indicates Broula lookout track.

The lookout provides a filtered view of Piles Creek waterfall.

Retrace your step and continue walking to Illoura Lookout, which is at the Piles Creek loop and Girrakool loop track intersection.

Illoura Lookout provides a view of the junction of Piles and Leask Creeks.

Veer left then go down the stairs.

At the bottom, step on the concrete pillars to cross the creek and continue along the winding track to a lookout that offers extensive views over the steep valley.

Piles Creek loop lookout

Then continue winding along the wildflower scattered path and underneath sandstone caves.

You’ll come across the junction of the Great North Walk, which leads to Patonga or Somersby, before making your way to the suspension bridge at the bottom of the gorge where you’ll cross Piles Creek.

Second Half: From the Suspension Bridge to Girrakool Picnic Area

Follow the track on the other side of the bridge, which will soon start reascending the valley. The path winds over stone and concrete stairways and wooden bridges.

Piles Creek loop track

The tree canopies and rock overhangs cool you down, which facilitates the ascend.

Then you’ll reach Bundilla lookout before arriving at the intersection of Girrakool loop track and Piles Creek loop.

You can then walk a bit further along the Girrakool loop track or head straight to the carpark.

For more information: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

Other Walks in Brisbane Water National Park

Brisbane Water National Park contains plenty of other great hikes worth doing. Check out:

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