We are so spoilt for choice for running routes on the Northern Beaches, there really is no excuse not to get out there and explore. Head in pretty much any direction from our beloved Man-town and you will soon find yourself on paths and trails often in National Park but pretty much always away from roads (the runs detailed below cross a grand total of two roads between them!).
Go get the runners on and go get lost.
1. North Head and Little Manly kiosk
6km and 10km options, mostly trail/metal boardwalk
OzSquad’s regular weekend running route has a little bit of everything – join every man, runner and his pram/dog on the Manly to Shelly walkway, climb the bush path up to sheer cliff drops and awe-inspiring views (beware of recent mammoth rockfalls though!), get lost on North Head’s myriad of deserted trails, add a couple of repeats of the infamous Snake Hill in for luck and check out conditions harbourside on Collins and Little Manly beach.
If you are there after 9am, it’s worth cutting the run a little short (it’s the weekend, we’ll let you) to have breakfast at the Little Manly kiosk. An ocean view with your latte away from the Corso crowds.
2. Curl Curl parkrun and Penny Lane Saturday morning combo
5km time trial, on path/grass
The parkrun phenomenon rules! (If you don’t know what it is yet, find out on OzSquad’s parkrun blog.) The Curl Curl version is flat, fast and friendly – and there is no better feeling than having been for your run, had breakfast and it only be 7.50am on a Saturday morning with the whole weekend ahead of you. Try it, you might like it.
No puke inducing sprint around Curl Curl parkrun is complete without a post 5k Penny Lane Café muffin either. All you need is 5 words – dark chocolate and raspberry please. You can thank me later.
3. Manly Dam and Roseberry Street Café
7km and 10km options, all trail, some technical sections
Feel a million miles from anywhere, 5k from home, on Manly Dam’s gorgeous trails. A circular loop (everyone loves a circular run) around the dam on (and up and down) walking bushland and mountain bike tracks. Go prepared if you don’t know the routes though, you wouldn’t be the first to get lost and feel the panic of feeling a million miles from anywhere!
Stop by on the way home for a legendary Roseberry Street green smoothie. Oh hell, let’s not pretend that runners are wholesome types who don’t just run to fuel their eating habit, get the Deluxe B&E roll as well.
4. Narrabeen Lake and The Boatshed
8km on path
I know, I know, not strictly (well at all) in Manly, but we should all at least try to leave the island at weekends once a year… The new path all the way around the lake is a must-run. And on this one if you get lost, well, good luck finding your way back to Manly. 😉
Stay waterside afterwards for brekkie at The Boatshed (no, not that Boatshed, the other Boatshed a bit further North without the debateable characters and sticky floors).
5. Manly to Spit and Crinitis
9km one way, 18km return (still got the accounting mathematic skills), mostly trail, some paths around Fairlight.
It’s not called the Spit to Manly Scenic Walk-way for nothing – Picture postcard ocean views, secluded swimming spots, bushland, look-outs galore, waterfalls, oh and a few stairs. If you are short on running time (or leg energy), the section between North Harbour Reserve and Contarf is the prettiest.
A breakfast option to save for a really hungry/hungover day, perhaps only when you’ve managed the full 18km – Crinitis serves up slap up breakfasts (some with chips) to fill even the most ravenous runner. No quinoa fritters here.
It was hard to limit Manly’s top runs and breakfast joints to just 5… these ones narrowly missed out. Too many runs, too few weekends….
Manly to Long Reef headland
Manly to Dee Why via Dee Why headland
Timbergetter steps, Seaforth Oval
Bare Naked bowls