Cook walk directions
The little suburb of Cook provides pretty walking through a range of off and on leash bush-like parks. This varied route loops up to the slopes of Mt Painter, providing sublime district and rural views north across Belconnen and east towards central Canberra, and then follows a series of shady, interconnected off leash parks. As well as the off leash parks, the large Cook Neighbourhood Oval at the end of the walk offers a safe and green off leash area, bordered by more shady trees. A shorter alternative cuts out the last on leash section and the off leash oval. The route starts and ends at Cook Place at the Cook shops featuring a super dog friendly little café for breakfast/lunch and a craft beer/wine bar for evening drinks.
Start/Finish - Cook Place, Cook
Time/Distance - Allow 75 minutes/approx 4.5 km (short option allow 45 minutes/approx 3 km)
Off lead rating - ♥♥
Parking - Cook Place, Cook shops
Dog friendly café - Little Oink café
Public toilets - Cook Place
Bins - Cook shops and Cook Neighbourhood Oval
Distractions - Potentially kangaroos and horses in the nature reserve section
Children's playgrounds - Swing set off Lyttleton Crescent
Photo gallery - See photos taken on the Cook walk.
Note - All our dog walks assume you are a responsible dog owner with an obedient and well-socialised dog. See our Important Stuff page before starting any of our walks.
Use the navigation tools to zoom in or out for different views of the route or click on the 'view larger map' icon on the top right hand corner of the map to view in google maps.
Cook shops to Mt Painter Nature Park (10 minutes)
The little Cook shops is packed with great choices: the Cook Grocer, Little Oink café and To All My Friends beer and wine bar.
There is a public toilet in a tin shed in the little grassy area by Cook Place and bins by the shops.
1. Start in Cook Place. With your back to the shops, walk straight ahead to cross the small grassy area and then another street (Templeton Street). On the other side of Templeton Street, turn left to follow the concrete footpath, then turn right at the first corner (Lyttleton Crescent).
The first 30 minutes or so of the walk is on leash.
2. Continue a minute or so on Lyttleton Crescent until a small park appears on the right. Turn right to walk through the park on a little dirt track to reach another street (Oakes Street).
There is a swing set in the middle of this park.
3. At Oakes Street, turn left and then nearly immediately right into another street (Skinner Street).
The small park on the corner of Oakes and Skinner Streets is off leash. You may wish to pause a minute to let your dog have a little sniff and explore before heading up Skinner Street.
4. Walk uphill along Skinner Street for about 200 metres until you reach a gap in the houses on the left. Veer off Skinner Street into this gap following a concrete footpath to a memorial to two Cooks: Captain James Cook, the famous naval explorer, and Joseph Cook, Australia’s sixth Prime Minister.
This small memorial is placed on a low wall made up of local rocks and topped by a vertical sundial.
Mt Painter Nature Park (20 minutes)
5. After checking out the memorial, walk to the left of the memorial to the house back-fences to reach a narrow dirt track. Follow the dirt track uphill to enter the Mt Painter nature reserve through a gate. Just past the gate, the narrow track merges with a wider track. Veer left to follow this wide track, with Mt Painter on your right and house back-fences on your left.
This section of the walk is within the Mt Painter Nature Reserve where dogs must be on leash. There are often kangaroos and occasional horse riders in this area.
Enjoy the beautiful views along this track both north-west across Belconnen and north to Black Mountain and its eponymous tower.
6. The track narrows as it begins to drop down hill towards two large signs and then widens again.
The signs are for Mt Painter Nature Reserve and a community ‘park care’ notice board.
The tracks here are part of the Bicentennial Trail, a network of equestrian trails extending from north Queensland to Melbourne along the foothills of the Great Dividing Range.
7. At the signs, we suggest veering right off the wide dirt track to follow the dirt vehicle tracks towards a wire fence (the Cook government horse paddocks). At the fence, turn left to follow the dirt track down hill along the fence line.
Although you could continue on the wide dirt track, this route along the edge of the horse paddock offers glorious views across the fields to central Canberra - Lake Burley Griffin, the city, Parliament House flag pole - and distant hills beyond. It is also much shadier if you are walking this route in summer.
8. Continue along the dirt track which wanders away from the fence line at times but then returns. Pick your way through the cavaletti access through another wire fence, but continue straight ahead along the track past the horse paddock yards on your right.
9. The dirt track will cross a gravel/dirt access road for the horse yards. Turn left to follow the access road to return to the house back-fences. Turn right at the back-fences to follow another dirt track along the back-fences.
Look behind you here to see Mt Painter with its trig marker in stark relief against the sky. It’s well worth a trek to this marker for more stunning views - but on another day.
Mt Painter Nature Park to Blackman Crescent (15 minutes)
10. The dirt track will very quickly pass through another wire fence. Continue on this track as it follows the house back-fences.
11. Soon the narrow park broadens out and the house back-fences make a sharp left turn. At this point, walk straight ahead towards a bitumen cycle path just in sight crossing through the park. Cross over the bitumen cycle path and join a dirt track heading left.
Off leash opportunity starts when you join the dirt track.
12. Follow this dirt track downhill, with a wire fence on your right and parallel to the cycle path some distance away but in sight on your left.
This track runs on the right side of a long and wide informal park. If you wish to walk off leash, we recommend following this dirt track; if you walk your dog on leash, you may prefer to walk on the bitumen cycle path running through the middle of the park. The bitumen path provides the prettiest and shadiest walking route; but the dirt track is still very nice.
This long park, planted with eucalypts and casuarinas, is bordered by houses on both sides, but it is difficult to see the Wybalena Grove townhouse community on the right hidden amongst the thick bush setting.
13. In a few minutes, cross a street (Lyttleton Crescent) to continue straight ahead into another similar park and follow a similar dirt track.
Off leash opportunity continues on the other side of the road but leash your dog for the road crossing and note that the next section of park is bisected by a few concrete footpaths which you are technically required to cross with your dog on leash.
14. Continue though this shady park until you reach another road (Redfern Street).
Off leash opportunity ends at Redfern Street.
If you wish to take a short cut back, turn left at Redfern Street and then turn left again at the first road (Lyttleton Crescent). You'll very shortly reach the Cook shops on your right.
15. Turn left at Redfern Street to cross the bridge over the stormwater drain but then turn immediately right to cross the road. Walk along the bitumen cycle path straight ahead through another, more narrow park for a few minutes until you reach a gap in the houses on your left. Leave the bitumen path here to follow a concrete footpath left until you reach a road (Blackman Crescent).
Blackman Crescent to Cook shops (15 minutes)
16. Turn left and continue on Blackman Crescent past the first street on the left (Lochbuy Street) until the second street to the left (also Lochbuy Street). Turn slightly left here to join a concrete footpath heading straight ahead through a grassy park.
17. Continue on this wide concrete footpath through the park under one underpass and then another underpass.
18. After the second underpass, leave the footpath to walk right, up a small bank, to reach a large irrigated playing field (Cook Neighbourhood Oval).
Off leash opportunity on the oval.
The oval provides a final off leash opportunity for your dogs to have a run and play if no sports games are in progress. It’s bordered by large, shady trees.
There is a large garbage hopper on the far side of the oval.
19. When you’re ready, return to the concrete footpath and continue a short distance to reach the Cook shops.
If you'd prefer to join one of our regular guided group walks, find out more at our guided walks page.