• Distance 1.87km
  • Altitude max 687m
  • Altitude min 587m
  • Duration .75 hours
  • Trail type Return
Three Stars

Three Stars

Worth Doing

The Australian Hiker Experience Rating is a measure of the overall quality of a walk. It is intended to help you decide whether to walk a trail, not to measure anything objective. Consider this our personal take on the walk.

Grade Three

Grade Three

Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections a rough surface and many steps. Walks up to 20km.

The Australian Grading system is based on the australian standard for measuring trail hikes.

Rubbish Bins
Camping Grounds

Cotter Catchment Lookout Track ACT (1.86km)

Cotter River

Nearest Town

The closest suburbs to the trailhead are Duffy and Wright, ACT

Starting Location

Trailhead car park on Brindabella Road

Finish Location

Trailhead car park on Brindabella Road

Trailhead car park

Best Time of the Year to Walk

Year round

Cotter Catchment Lookout Track Review

Recently we have undertaken a series of walks in and around the Cotter Recreation Area on the western edge of Canberra with a number of these such as the Honyong Walking Track and the Cotter Dam Discovery Trail providing views to the Cotter Dam wall from different angles. The Cotter Catchment Lookout Track is another of these walks but in this case, you are looking down on the Dam and Dam wall from above.

This walk is one of two, along with the longer Mount McDonald Summit Track, that start from a smallish car park on Brindabella Road, located up above the main Recreation Area itself. The car park isn’t huge but it will fit about 5-6 cars and has good interpretation material on the two walks and the surrounding areas. There are no toilet or water facilities at this site however the Cotter Recreation Area is only about a five minute drive away.

Start the walk by heading up hill on the obvious trail behind the interpretation signage. The walk to the lookout is mostly uphill apart from one small section and will take you approximately about 15-20 minutes to reach. The trail is well formed and easy to follow. About 150 metres prior to the lookout, you will reach a road and to get to the lookout you need to branch to the left and head towards the obvious raised area. The right turn will take you up to the summit of Mount McDonald. Once you reach the lookout spend time taking in the views which include looking down towards the Dam and the Dam wall. This lookout also contains a seat and it’s own interpretation signage.

The return to the car park is just a matter of turning around and heading back the way you came. All up this walk can be comfortably completed in around 45 minutes including time for a rest and look around at the lookout.

Trailhead signage

Trail information

Trails map

Seat at the trailhead

Trail marking arrows

Trail example

Go straight to the lookout or turn right to Mount McDonald

Approaching the lookout

Panorama view of the Dam from the lookout

Lookout interpretation signage

Seat at the lookout

Video taken at the lookout

Marker sign

Heading back down the hill

Returning to the car park

Getting There

Northern trailhead at Casuarina Sands is around 29 km from the Canberra GPO and around a 30 minute drive

Close up of Trail start

Turnoff into the car park

Trailhead car park

Things to Know

  • Phone: There is phone signal (Telstra) on this track
  • Water: You need to bring your own water or a filter
  • Toilets: There are toilets located at the Cotter River Recreation area
  • Trail: This trail consists of formed track, small sections of management road and occasional small bridge sections
  • Dogs: No dogs allowed
  • Camping: No camping allowed although there is a campground nearby
  • Other: 
    • This walk is an out and walk back experience
    • Bring fly repellent in the hotter months
    • Bring adequate shade (hat, long sleeves etc) in the hotter months


This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker

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