Allow 1 – 1.5 hours each way
The Nature Trail in the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is a popular walk winding through a seven-hectare area of natural scrub. It offers the chance to get up close to the native flora that would have dominated the Mt Lofty Ranges prior to European settlement.
It's an interesting place to visit at any time of the year – the native plants and animals on the trail vary with the season and the bird life is truly remarkable.
The main tree of the Piccadilly Valley is the Messmate stringybark, Eucalyptus obliqua. At the turn of the century the whole valley was clear-felled with the exception of a few individual trees. The timber was harvested for use in the copper mines at Kanmantoo and as firewood in the factories of Adelaide. Since then, some parts of the valley have regenerated and, with the exception of competition from weeds and interruption by fire, a second generation forest has grown.
The canopy of mature Stringybark eucalypts shelters a complex understory filled with native wildflowers, shrubs and climbers. See their delicate flowers in bloom during spring and early summer. Look for butterflies scattering their eggs in autumn, and on warm days listen for the movement in the leaf litter on the forest floor – the sound of one of the many different types of small skink lizards in the area.
The trail is an official alternative route for the Heysen Trail. It is 850m long and drops about 100m, very steeply in some places. Good walking shoes are essential and please take care at all times, particularly in wet weather.