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Flat to the Vale Trail - vineyards and River Red Gums.jpg

Discover McLaren Vale on foot or by bike

Clearly we are passionate about food & wine (after all, we are living in a wine region) but also about walking and more recently again using our bikes - hence it was no question for us to combine all of this and map a range of self-guided walking or bike trails - for our guest to discover the best the region has to offer, starting right at Karawatha Cottages, your McLaren Vale accommodation. 

It all started with a relative short loop walk, connecting Karawatha Cottages with a number of our 'Flat Mates' (wineries and restaurants in the McLaren Flat/Blewitt Springs "sub-region"). 

Given our rural location amongst the vines, it was easy to simply follow a route along back-country roads and road reserves to 'connect the dots' and staying (mostly) off the main roads.  A few markers along the way, a printed mud map and our 'Karawatha Cottages - Flat Mates Wine Walking Trail' was born.

It shouldn't have been but it was a bit of a surprise, how quickly our walk became a favourite with our guests - but what's not to like: walking between wine tastings is the best way to truly get up and close to vineyards and the wine country in general, takes the 'who is driving' question out of the equation and also creates the perfect excuse for maybe indulging a bit more and adding the dessert to the lunch after all.

We have since evolved our original wine walk and you can even pre-book it as a 'Food & Wine Walk Experience', which includes  bespoke tastings at two wineries and a wonderful long lunch at The Currant Shed ... and we pick you up after lunch as part of the package, if you rather skip the last kilometre of the walk. 

 

But, our original Flat Mates Wine Walking Trail as well as all our other trails that we have since mapped out are all available to embark on as a self-guided trail to explore the McLaren Vale wine region, with mud maps (including online and digital versions) available for you in your cottage.

Bring your own bike, or get an e-bike delivered to your cottage from our friends at SA eBikes. - we do have secure and undercover bike storage available.

Here is a list of all our trails for your inspiration  on how to spend a couple of days in the McLaren Vale region, sampling the best in wine, food, beer and more whilst still staying active.

Karawatha Cottages - Flat Mates Wine & Food Trail

4.5 - 7 km |  6 cellar doors, 1 brewery | 3 restaurants | walking only

Extended Karawatha Cottages -  Flat Mates Food & Wine Trail

12.5 - 17 km |  14 cellar doors, 2 breweries | 3+ restaurants | walk or cycle

McLaren Vale via Shiraz Trail & 'Flat to the Vale' Trail

19 km |  10+ cellar doors, 2 breweries | 4+ restaurants | cycle

Shiraz Trail Loop

24 km |  15+ cellar doors, 2 breweries | 5+ restaurants | cycle

Northern McLaren Vale Bike Trail Loop

23 km |  15+ cellar doors, 1 brewery, 4 distilleries | 5+ restaurants | cycle

 

Manning Reserve Loop

6 km |  2 cellar doors | walking only

Hardy's Scrub Loop 

14 -17 km |  2-6 cellar doors, 1 distillery | walking only

Interested in finding out more about our McLaren Vale walking or cycling trails? Simply click on the above links or continue to scroll down for detailed trail descriptions and images.

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Our original "Karawatha Cottages - Flat Mates Wine & Food Walking Trail"

Without doubt, the most popular of all our trails: this walk leads you along backroads and part of the Willunga Basin Walking Trail past several cellar doors (our immediate neighbours at Geddes Wines, Beresford Wines and Woodstock - plus DogRidge, Shottesbrooke and Graham Stevens) and can incorporate a lunch at the hatted Currant Shed restaurant (bookings required), the Woodstock Coterie restaurant or the Vale Brewing Taphouse.  

 

Length: 4.50 - 7 km, depending on the number of cellar doors you include

Cellar Doors: up to 6 for wine tasting, plus a brewery & the opportunity for gin tasting

Food: The Currant Shed, Woodstock Coterie and Vale Brewing Taphouse - plus platters, snacks at DogRidge and Beresford Wines

Trail Type: Mainly dirt roads plus a short section of the Willunga basin walking trail (not suitable for bikes)

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The extended Karawatha Cottages - Flat Mates Wine & Food Walk / Bike Trail

An extension of our original walking trail above but bypassing the Willunga Basin Trail section and therefore also suitable for bikes; this route takes you right towards where the Mt. Lofty Ranges raise from the Willunga basin (so a bit of elevation to cover), offering beautiful views with glimpses of the St  Vincent Gulf in the distance.

Additional cellar doors that will tempt you to stop and break the journey for a while are: Pruners Hut (weekends only, offering food and showcasing local art), Hugo Wines (also offering platters), Gemtree Wines as well as Kangarilla Road & Silent Noise Wine and the Conte Estate Vine Shed (pizza & platters). Or continue on to a true micro brewery (Goodieson - with  a Bavarian beer garden and BYO food) or a truly unique fruit orchard & cellar door experience: McCarthy's Orchard (offering also cider, platters and pizza). On your way back through McLaren Flat you will pass the local general store & café.

Length: 12.50 or 17 km, depending on the route you choose and number of cellar doors you include

Cellar Doors: up to 13 for wine tasting and 2 breweries

Food: 6 cellar doors offering platters/pizza, the General Store/Café  plus the restaurants of the Walking Trail

Trail Type: Mix of dirt roads and small regular roads; there is short "sandy" and "rocky" section, suitable to walking and biking, although you should be a confident bike rider - or you simply push the bike for a bit

Extended Flat Mats Walk
Flat Mates Wine & Food Walk

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Karawatha Cottages to McLaren Vale via Shiraz Trail & Flat to the Vale Trail

Given the distance covered in this loop trail and the fact that about two thirds of it are on roads, we are now definitely in bike territory. 
The trail leads you from your cottage south towards Willunga, following small and quiet roads before heading west after a possible stop at Bec Hardy Wines, to connect with the Shiraz Trail. Following the Shiraz Trail towards McLaren Vale, there are many options for a few tastings at the wineries on McMurtrie Rd or for a long lunch at The Salopian Inn. In McLaren Vale, the Shiraz Trail connects with the Flat to the Vale Trail, leading you back towards McLaren Flat and Karawatha Cottages.

Plenty of options along this loop for wine tastings as well as for either proper long lunches or just a stop for a platter or pizza - all of them highlighted on your mud map in your cottage.

Length: 19 km

Cellar Doors: 10+ cellar doors, including 2 breweries and 1 cellar door with wine and ciders

Food: The Currant Shed, The Salopian Inn, The Kitchen at Bec Hardy, The Vine Shed and a few more offering platters

Trail Type: Mostly on quiet back-roads, a few with gravel only - plus the Shiraz & Flat to the Vale cycle trails

Shiraz & Flat to the Vale loop

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Karawatha Cottages to Shiraz Trail Loop

At first you will follow the above trail, but continue further south towards Willunga; after initially riding on small and quiet roads, before continuing for a small section along the Willunga basin walking trail (perfectly suitable for a bike). Just after the half way point, you will turn north again and follow the famous Shiraz Trail until you merge onto McMurtrie Road. Not our favourite road to be on a bike - but there are just too many well known cellar doors along that short stretch to miss the opportunity (you will pass Primo Estate, Thicker than Water Wines, Mitolo Wines, Hugh Hamilton Wines, the joint cellar door of Lino Ramble, Sherrah and Bondar Wines, Samson Tall and Wirra Wirra Wines on that 2km section). After that short stretch on busy McMurtrie Road, you will close the loop and follow the same route back to your cottage. 

There are too many wineries along the way to list them all here, but you will find them all highlighted on your mud map in your cottage.

Length: 23.7 km

Cellar Doors: 15 cellar doors, including 2 breweries and 1 cellar door with wine and ciders

Food: The Currant Shed, The Salopian Inn, The Kitchen at Bec Hardy, The Vine Shed, Mitolo Little Wolf Osteria, Harry's Deli and a few more offering platters

Trail Type: Mostly on quiet back-roads, a few with gravel only - plus the Shiraz cycle trail

Shiraz Trail Loop

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Karawatha Cottages - Northern McLaren Vale Bike Trail Loop 

We believe this loop trail gives you the quintessential McLaren Vale experience by taking up north through Blewitt Springs and our rolling vineyards towards the Onkaparinga National Park with some beautiful vantage points to take in the most amazing views across (more) vineyards, the National Park and the waters of the St. Vincent Gulf in the distance. And once you have reached the highest point of the trail, the choice is all yours: starting with an amazing (and educational) whisky tasting at the McLaren Vale Distillery, followed by more than 15 cellar doors along the way. From our well known producers like d'Arenberg, Maxwell Wines and Pannell Enoteca to smaller and quirky wineries like Samuel's Gorge, Zerella Wines or Alpha Box & Dice. 

Plus there are plenty of opportunities for a bit to eat - with a range of fine dining restaurants like d'Arry's Verandah, Maxwell and Coriole to more casual eateries like Swell Brewing, Beach Road Wines or Cucina di Strada at Chalk Hill Wines. 

And after you have hopefully discovered a few new wineries and regained your strength thanks to a good lunch, simply follow the Shiraz Trail for a bit, before taking the Flat to the Vale bike trail back to your cottage.

Length: ~ 23 km

Cellar Doors: more than 15 wineries, plus one brewery and 4 distilleries

Food: Coriole, Beach Road Wines, Swell Brewing, Maxwell Wines, Cucina di Strada and Pizzateca

Trail Type: Mostly on bitumen roads, short sections on dirt roads - plus the bike trails

Northern McLaren Vale Loop