Square Rock and Smokers Trail
The spectacular view from Square Rock looking west to south-west to the snow-capped peaks. From the left - Mt Gingera, Little Ginini, Mt Ginini and Mt Franklin.
A relaxing ACT bushwalk through the gum forests. You are rewarded with specatacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Walk Rating: Easy to moderate. Some uphill sections and steps.
Directions To Square Rock Walk
The start of the walk is at the Square Rock carpark, which is around 300 metres past the Corin Forrest Mountain Resort.
Drive to Point Hut Crossing (near Gordon) and continue along that road until you reach the intersecting road, which is Tidbinbilla Road. Turn right here and continue along Tidbinbilla Road until you reach the intersection with Corin Road (about 5 km). Turn left onto Corin Road and continue for around 14 kilometres and you will see the Corin Forrest Mountain Resort on your right side. Continue for another 300 to 400 metres and you will come to the new Square Rock carpark, which is on the left side (it used to be on the right side). It is clearly marked with a sign.
The Corin Road can get busy, has a number of sharp curves and is susceptible to ice on the road, so take care if travelling in the cooler months.
After parking at the Square Rock carpark, we set off on our walk. You initially have to cross Corin Road to get to the actual start of the track (Image 1). At this point there is a bushwalking register and, by the looks of the book, the walk is very popular.
Arriving relatively early, we were once again treated to the peaceful surroundings of the Namadgi National Park. Upon entering the park, the visual and noise pollution associated with day-to-day city life became a thing of the past . The native birdlife and gentle breeze wafting through the trees provide a peaceful and releaxing backdrop. It is this aspect of bushwalking that I always relish.
On the day of the walk, the track was sprinkled with pockets of recent snowfall. After about a kilometre, I noticed a pond, full of crystal clear water, to the right of the track. As the sun peeked through the clouds, the surface of the pond brilliantly reflected the surrounding flora. This was a lovely peaceful spot to stop and take it all in. (Image 2).
We continued on and, after passing a clearing, came to the first junction in the track. This is a link walk that takes you from the Square Rock Walk across to the Smokers Trail walk. If you are intending to go on that walk, the sign is at the 1.5 kilometre mark.
Image 3 - Granite boulders begin to appear as you get closer to Square Rock.
Image 4 - Patchy snow from the recent falls.
After coming back from the lookout, we continued to Square Rock, which is only about a kilometre from the lookout junction. As you climb the remaining steps, carved out of the granite on the ground, Square Rock will come into view. It is a massive rock which seems to be placed there deliberately, as if standing watch over the valley below and the mountains to the south-west (Image 6 and 7). Apart from Square Rock, the largest rock, there are a series of other large boulders, arranged in the manner of a young child's building blocks. There's even room to take cover under Square Rock should you get caught out in the weather (Image 8).
Image 7 - Part of the massive boulder of Square Rock 'standing watch' over the surrounds.
The configuration of boulders at Square Rock provides ample room to sit and take in the speactacular views. There's a step ladder (Image 9) which takes you up to anturally formed rock 'platform' but be cautious of the sheer drop on the western side!
We are used to treking along various bushwalks and only occassionally seeing another person. But, as we sat at Square Rock admiring the views, more and more walkers arrived. This was by far the most people I've seen on any of the walking tracks - very popular!
Some of those that made the journey to Square Rock ventured heigher and heigher until reaching the very top granite boulder (Image 10) .
Image 9 - Step ladder to one of the many rock 'platforms".
Image 1 - The start of the walk just past the sign-in register.
Image 2 - The pond to right of the walking track after about a kilometre.
We continued along the trail towards Square Rock (on the way back we turned onto the link road) and, as we got higher in elevation, the beautiful surrounds of gum trees and native shrubs were joined by outcrops of granite boulders and snow patches on the track (Images 3 and 4).
The walking track continues past the granite boulders until you reach another junction, to the left, which is clearly signposted, indicating the walk to the Orroral Valley Lookout (at the 2.8 kilometre mark). It's a distance of only 500 metres. I would recommend you take the time to walk to the lookout, as there are beautiful views of the Orroral Valley (Image 5).
Image 5 - The view from Orroral Valley Lookout
Image 6 - Square Rock as you approach at the top of the walking track.
Image 8 - Looking under Square Rock, which is perched on top other large granite boulders.
Image 10 - Three of the bushwalkers that day made it to the very top granite boulder of Square Rock
Image 11 - Looking out to Mt Gingera to the southwest of Square Rock
Image 12 - Smokers Trail
Image 14 - Old pine tree plantation at the end of Smokers Trail near Corin Forrest Mountain Resort
After staying for a morning cuppa, I took in one last view of the magnificent Mt Gingera (Image 11), before packing my things, slinging the pack on and venturing down to walk back along Smokers Trail.
From the junction where the link walking track is (from Square Rock track to Smokers Trail) will take you back to Square Rock carpark and is around 7.5 kilometres.
Apart from the initial link track, the Smokers Trail walk is along an access road (Image 12). The first half of the walk feels as though you are on a bushwalk and you pass crystal clear mountain streams (Image 13), see a variety of wildlife, including eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies and numerous native birds. But, by the time you reach the locked gate, the walk changes and you first travel through the remains of a pine tree plantation (Image 14) before making your way along some very rough and chopped up tracks. This part definetly did not feel like a bushwalk!
All in all, the Smokers Trail walk was pleasant enough during the initial stages, but definetly not one of my favourites.
Square Rock however, is another wonderful bushwalking experince in the Namadgi National Park and I would recommend this to all.
Image 13 - Mountain stream adjacent ot the Smokers Trail track.