This loop on the ridges and slopes of Woolgoolga Creek catchment is great for training with hills for strength and forest trails for working on pace. Coffs Trail Runners kindly shared this route with us.
We parked at the intersection of Woolgoolga Creek Road and Gentle Annie Road. At the entrance to the picnic area (currently closed due to flood damage) we turn to climb gently through the trees and then head straight up the hill in the grassy clearing. At the top, on Jessie Simpson Road, we meet Vardys Road, also known as snake alley.
We take Incline Spur Road to descend to Woolgoolga Creek and cross at a spot only a couple of hundred metres above Woolgoogla Creek Waterfall. The creek is pretty – if we weren’t on a training mission, I’d have liked to follow the creek both down and upstream for a bit. In 1966 a weir was built upstream of the falls. This was the water supply for Woolgoolga until 1982, when it was decommissioned.
After climbing up from the creek, we take the left fork to Gentle Annie (right is a shorter route) and then add on a little extra distance before the long descent through the forest back to our car.
Ever wondered why there are so many roads called Gentle Annie? There’s another Gentle Annie near Mobong Creek, and a more famous Gentle Annie in New Zealand.
Noun – ironic Australian, New ZealandOxford Dictionary
A steep slope or hill. ‘driving across creeks with Gentle Annies on the other side is very trying to the nerves of elderly lady passengers’.
Origin: Late 19th century perhaps from the name of a famously steep road in New Zealand, between Taihape and Napier.
I like this Gentle Annie, she is not trying my nerves today as we are going downhill! A nice smooth surface after the steep, rutted clay up in the hills, just perfect for picking up the pace for a fast walk or run to the finish line. Listen out for cars.
Sherwood Nature Reserve is Gumbaynggirr Country and includes a gazetted Aboriginal Women’s Place known as Miimiga Gaungan. Please treat sacred cultural areas with respect.