One Arboretum, many experiences
Explore the Arboretum your way - by car, bus, bike, horseback, or on foot. The Arboretum is about trees and forests, and there's nothing like getting outdoors and seeing the trees, landscapes and views. Arboretum map.
The Arboretum covers an expanse of 250 hectares of rolling hills and valleys. Visitors walking or undertaking other outdoor activities are advised to wear sturdy covered footwear and protective clothing, hats and sunscreen and carry water. Most tracks and trails are unsealed gravel or dirt and many areas have uneven ground with no marked trails.
Visitors are advised to be alert to natural hazards such as snakes, biting insects, swooping birds and exposure to the elements. Walkers, joggers, cyclists and equestrians should exercise special caution at road junctions, car park entrances and exits and on steep gradients. Cyclists, walkers and joggers are required to give way to horses.
Parents are advised to supervise children at all times. The Pod Playground is a popular attraction for families but requires special diligence by parents. Access restrictions at the Pod Playground include no glass, no balls, no bicycles, no dogs or pet animals.
For more information, see the Trail Map and Notes (PDF, 2MB). Trail notes only (Word, 49KB). Walkers and joggers should exercise special caution at road junctions, car park entrances and exits and on steep gradients. Walkers and joggers are required to give way to horses.
Dairy Farmers Hill Circuit: 2km. Allow 1 hour return. Moderate.
Starting at the trail head sign at the southern end of the main car park or the Events Terrace, the circuit traverses nine forests, past some spectacular panoramic views on the way to Dairy Farmers Hill viewing platform and the Nest III sculpture.
STEP Circuit: 700m return. Allow 30 minutes return. Easy.
This easy walk starts near Pod Playground and goes to the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (STEP, Forest 20), a regional botanic garden with a rich variety of eucalypt trees, shrubs and grasses native to the local area.
Himalayan Cedar Trail 2.2km return. Allow 1 hour return. Moderate.
Starting near Pod Playground, the trail winds through five forests, past the Wide Brown Land sculpture and on to the majestic Himalayan cedar forest, where a picnic deck and free electric barbeques are nestled within the tall trees.
Cork Oak Trail
- from Cork oaks car park. 800m return. Allow 25 minutes. Easy.
- from Himalayan cedars picnic deck. 1.3kms return. Allow 40 minutes. Moderate.
The start of the Cork oak forest is an easy 150 metre walk from the Cork oaks car park. Go through the small gate into Forest 2 and follow the trail into the tranquil, nearly 100 year old Cork oak forest (1).
From the Himalayan cedars picnic deck, the trail descends through 3 fascinating forests to the Cork oaks car park.
The ACT Centenary Trail and Bicentennial National Trail weave through the Arboretum, taking walkers, cyclists and equestrians through many of the Arboretum's forests. See the map (PDF 1MB).
Dogs on leads are permitted in the Arboretum during normal opening hours. Dogs, other than assistance animals, are not allowed in buildings or the Pod Playground. Dog owners are expected to carry bags and clean up after their dogs. No disposal bins or bag dispensers are provided, consistent with the policy across Canberra's urban parks and open areas.
The Arboretum welcomes cyclists. Cycling is permitted on all designated roads and unsealed trails. Road cycling is a popular activity, taking in the Forest Drive Loop Road. Mountain bikes are also popular. The Arboretum forms a connection between Stromlo Forest Park and Black Mountain/north Canberra. The ACT Centenary Trail weaves through the site taking riders through many of the Arboretum's most beautiful forests.
Cyclists should exercise special caution at road junctions, car park entrances and exits and on steep gradients. Cyclists are required to give way to horses, walkers and joggers.
Bike racks are located on the north deck behind Pod Playground. Bikes may be parked on the north or south deck provided they do not present a safety hazard. Bicycles are not permitted in the Pod Playground.
Organised cycling events must apply for approval from the National Arboretum by phone on 02 6205 0781 or email@example.com.
Equestrians and horses
The Arboretum welcomes recreational horse riding and provides a purpose-built horse yard, water trough and mounting block in Forest 13, close to the Village Centre. Please refer to the map of reccommended routes (PDF 240KB) for equestrians. Information brochure for equestrians (PDF 3.5MB) includes the map of recommended routes.
Note: these routes were determined in conjunction with the ACT Equestrian Association.
Equestrians should exercise special caution at road junctions, car park entrances and exits and on steep gradients. Cyclists, walkers and joggers are required to give way to horses.
Please call or email us if you have any questions or suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org; 02 6207 8484.
Horse riding is permitted
- on all unsealed roads (fire trails) throughout the Arboretum
- on the wide, cleared alleys between each forest
- along the marked Bicentennial National Trail (BNT).
Horse riding is NOT permitted
- on the sealed roads throughout the Arboretum, except to cross the road when necessary
- on other trails, pathways or lawns, including the Events Terrace, Amphitheatre and the Ceremonial Pathway (also known as the zig zag path) in Central Valley
- within any of the forests or gardens (except forests along the Bicentennial National Trail).
Horse holding yard
A purpose-built horse holding yard, water trough and mounting block are located in Forest 13, close to the Village Centre. The large holding yard ensures that the horses are kept separate from passing visitors. This means riders can take a break, relax and enjoy the great surroundings on offer at the Arboretum.
The yard enables riders visiting the Arboretum to secure their horses and collect refreshments from the Sprout Cafe or visit the Village Centre. However, the Arboretum requires that at least one responsible adult stay with the horse(s) at all times.
Signage has been installed at the yard to inform riders and pedestrians about horse etiquette, safety and rider obligations.
Drinking water for horses is available at
- the water trough in the horse yard in Forest 13, close to the Village Centre
- the front dam near the main entrance to the Arboretum, near Forest 27
- the 'farm dam' in Forest 2 near the northern entrance/exit to the Arboretum
- the 'western dam' in forest 36 (sides are fairly steep)
NOTE: The 'southern dam' in Forest 91, near the entrance/exit to the Arboretum from Equestrian Park IS NOT recommended for horses because of the rocky sides.
Horses may be tethered to, or within, the horse yard in Forest 13, across Forest Drive from the Village Centre. Horses may not be tethered to trees.
Horse floats may NOT be unloaded within the Arboretum grounds unless as part of an approved event or function.
Horse floats may NOT be unloaded within the Arboretum grounds unless as part of an approved event or function. Horse float parking is available at the nearby Yarralumla Woolshed carpark, with easy access to the Arboretum’s south entrance. Equestrian access to the National Arboretum Canberra is through the north and south pedestrian entrance points and the National Zoo and Aquarium underpass.
Forest Drive Loop provides panoramic views and access to most of the highlights of the Arboretum. Limited stopping bays are provided so drivers must take care when sightseeing. Future public vehicle access to more remote parts of the Arboretum will be provided when conditions allow. Forest Drive Loop Map.
Vehicle speed limits
All roads have a maximum speed limit of 40km/hr. Service roads and car parks are limited to 20km/hr. A speed limit of 5km/hr applies on the Events Terrace, the Amphitheatre zone and shared paths.
All vehicles must remain on designated roads and accessible gravel or dirt tracks that are not signposted as "No Public Access" or gated. Vehicles are not permitted to enter forests, alleys or other grassed areas unless approved for special events.
Picnic and barbeque
Due to the fire risk, portable barbeques are not permitted. Free electric barbeques are available at the Himalayan Cedar Forest picnic area.
Visitors are encouraged to bring their own picnic and may use any forest area for this purpose.
The use of skateboards, scooters and rollerblades is not permitted in any public areas.
Ball sport games or other related activities such as frisbee throwing are discouraged near young forests to avoid possible damage and are not allowed within the Pod Playground.
Boot camps, exercise and yoga classes
Boot camps and other similar fitness or recreation activities are permitted but must be booked. A hiring fee applies.
Hot air balloons, paragliders and hang gliders
Consumption of Alcohol
Alcohol should be consumed in a responsible manner. Anyone consuming alcohol at the Arboretum will be subject to all Territory laws governing alcohol consumption.
Recreational functions and events
All organised private events and activities conducted at the Arboretum require approval.
Applications to use venues and forest areas for private and community functions and events must be made in the first instance through the venue booking agent, Ginger Catering on 02 6130 0170, or email@example.com.Fees will be charged for most types of events and activities. Additional costs incurred for services to support events - such as traffic management, security, sound and light and waste removal - will be charged to the hirer.