Happy Valley

Happy Valley

Enjoy, explore, preserve Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve

Public access to the western carpark at Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve will be temporarily closed on Wednesday 24 July, and the southern carpark on Thursday 25 July, while SA Water undertakes planned safety upgrades.

During these works, visitors can still access the alternative carpark.

The western carpark will reopen at 7.30am on Thursday 25 July, and the southern carpark at 7.30am on Friday 26 July.

Just 35 minutes from the city, Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve provides a unique escape right in the heart of Adelaide’s southern suburbs. Combine adventure, family fun and environmental preservation for the perfect nature experience.

With views across the water to the Adelaide Hills, the reserve offers walking trails, a grassy  picnic area with shelters and BBQs, and easy access to the water for fishing. You can bring your kayak or canoe and discover hidden bays and shorelines from the water. For those with an adventurous spirit, trails make this the perfect stop for mountain biking or trail running.

Happy Valley homepage

At a glance

  • Open 7.30am - 5pm (standard time), 7.30am - 8pm (daylight saving time). Closed on Total Fire Ban Days and for operational activity (gates will be closed).
  • Fishing
  • Walking/running
  • Cycling
  • Accessible kayaking/canoeing
  • Picnicking
  • Dam wall and lookout
  • Wildlife and birdwatching
  • Barbecue
  • Accessible car park
  • No dogs (assistance animals allowed)

Activities and facilities

To prepare for your visit, please check the conditions of access.

A number of access points into the reserve by foot or vehicle are available, which are clearly shown on the maps below and at entrance gates.


With a fishing permit, you can fish from the shoreline, or on the water from a canoe or kayak.

To protect water quality by ensuring the reservoir remains uncontaminated, burleys and fish attractants are not permitted. Collection containers for fishing waste (such as lines, hooks and sinkers) will be available for environmentally safe disposal of these items.

If you happen to catch Carp or Redfin, they must be taken home for cleaning and consumption as they cannot be returned to the water. Murray Cod are strictly catch and release only, and must be gently unhooked while in the water and released immediately.

Walking and running

Trails range from two to 11 kilometres in length with varying intensity – Grade 2 with gentle hills to Grade 4 with very steep hills.

The reserve’s longest trail, the 11 kilometre Shoreline Loop, takes you along the water’s edge, through a pine forest, native flora and open grassy areas. If you’re looking for something a little more vigorous, you can take the trail link to Glenthorne National Park – Ityamaiitpinna Yarta, making the combined area more than 1,500 hectares.

Southern Loop: 2 km | 25 minutes (Grade 2, gentle hills)

Woodland Loop: 4 km | 50 minutes (Grade 3, short steep hills)

Boundary Loop: 10.5 km | 2 hours (Grade 4, very steep hills)

Shoreline Loop: 11 km | 2 hours 30 minutes (Grade 4, very steep hills)

Times indicated are for walking. Or you can put on your runners and enjoy it all at a faster pace!


All paths at Happy Valley are suitable for mountain bikes – and it’s a great way to experience the reserve. These paths are shared with pedestrians, so please be considerate of other trail users.

Southern Loop: 2 km | 10 minutes (easy, suitable for beginners)

Woodland Loop: 4 km | 15 minutes (easy, suitable for beginners)

Boundary Loop: 10.5 km | 40 minutes (intermediate, suitable for skilled mountain bikers)

Shoreline Loop: 11 km | 45 minutes (intermediate, suitable for skilled mountain bikers)


You can choose your own experience with a kayak or canoe, from a short meander to a full day's kayaking adventure exploring the more than 110 hectares of water and shoreline. There is a launch pontoon and a shoreline beach launch area to help get you on the water – no matter what the water level. There is an all-accessibility kayak facility located at the Tower Entrance. Accessible parking is nearby and kayaks can be dropped off directly in front of the kayak launch before parking your vehicle. Please note, there is no storage for wheelchairs on or near the launch facility.

Kayaks and canoes (including inflatable kayaks which comply with ISO-6185 and carry the appropriate badge) are the only type of watercraft permitted on our reservoirs. Motorised craft, dinghies, row and sailing boats are also not permitted, along with electric or fuel-powered motors and sails fitted to canoes and kayaks. If you are planning on kayaking at Happy Valley, please ensure you wear an approved lifejacket.


Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve is the perfect place to stop and enjoy a picnic with friends or family. There are two open space picnic areas with barbecues and shelters, or you can pack a picnic basket, blanket and chairs and discover your own private spot to sit back, relax and enjoy this uniquely beautiful place.

Dam wall and lookout

The dam wall offers spectacular views of the reservoir, the reserve, and beyond up to the Adelaide Hills.

Wildlife and birdwatching

The Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve is made up of around 600 hectares of natural refuge where wildlife, including kangaroos and other native species, can move freely between the reserve and surrounding areas. It is also home to more than 90 species of land and water birds. Please keep your distance from wildlife: do not feed, disturb, or remove native flora and fauna.

SA Water will monitor the wildlife to ensure Happy Valley remains a safe and enjoyable place to visit, while protecting the animals that call it home.

Immersive technology

Let your smartphone or tablet take you to another dimension with augmented reality. The Explore Water app interacts with augmented reality frames at the southern end of Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve, turning the natural environment into a digital playground.

The 9 kilometre geocaching trail takes you on a GPS-driven treasure hunt through the reserve. Use your GPS-enabled device with QR code scanner to find the 12 stops. The trail is suitable for children aged six and older and can be walked or cycled as a group or by solo adventurers.

Car parking and entry points

There are two car parks suitable for cars and trailers, as well as accessible parking for people with a disability permit. One can be accessed on the western side near Berkeley Road, and the other from the southern side, off the roundabout connecting Kenihans Road to Chandlers Hill Road.

In addition, there's a number of pedestrian entries strategically placed around the perimeter, which enable people living in the surrounding suburbs access into the trail network.

With the exception of assistance animals, dogs are not welcome at reservoir reserves as they can carry harmful organisms that can easily contaminate the water and present a risk to the safety of the drinking water. Dogs also pose a threat to local native birds and wildlife.

Fox baiting also occurs in our reservoir reserves and can be lethal to dogs if ingested.

Blue-green algae, which naturally occurs in our reservoirs, is also highly toxic to dogs if they drink it.

Dog owners are encouraged to make use of dedicated dog parks in their local area.

Click the map below for a print friendly version.

Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve concept map

Maps on your mobile

If you have a smart­phone or tablet you can down­load the free Aven­za Map app and have inter­ac­tive reservoir reserve maps on hand when you need them.

The app uses your device’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time loca­tion with­in the reserve onto a map. The app can be used with­out a net­work con­nec­tion and with­out roam­ing charges. You can also mea­sure area and dis­tance, plot pho­tos and drop place­mark pins.

How to get it work­ing on your device:

1. Down­load the Aven­za Maps app from the app store (iOS/Android) whilst you are still in range (its free!).
2. Open up the app and click the shop­ping cart icon.
3. Click ​‘Find’ and type the name of the reservoir reserve you are look­ing for.
4. Click on the map you are after and install it (all our maps are free).
5. You will now find a list of your installed maps on the home page of the Aven­za Maps app.
6. Use our maps through the Aven­za Mapa app while in the reserve and nev­er take a wrong turn again.

What sets Happy Valley Reservoir apart

Capacity: 12.6 gigalitres (that’s enough to fill 6,300 Olympic swimming pools]

The Happy Valley Reservoir was completed more than 120 years ago in 1897, making it one of our oldest reservoirs. In addition to water from its reserve, the reservoir receives water from Mount Bold Reservoir via the Clarendon Weir.

The Happy Valley Water Treatment plant, which treats much of Adelaide’s drinking water, is located within the reservoir reserve – and you can see it easily from the water.

It is the largest of our two metropolitan based reservoirs, the other one being Hope Valley at just 2.9 gigalitres.

You can check current reservoir levels at SA Water's website.

Water quality

Happy Valley Reservoir is one of 16 across the state that help supply water to more than 1.7 million South Australians.

Water from the reservoir is treated at the Happy Valley Treatment Plant before it is supplied to metropolitan customers. Water from Happy Valley can also be mixed with water from the Adelaide Desalination Plant when required.

Treating drinking water before it’s supplied to homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and more, is important to make sure it is clean and safe to drink straight from the tap. You can learn how SA Water treats water and maintains the quality its customers value and rely upon.

Water treatment activity at Happy Valley Reservoir

Working reservoirs sometimes require boats on the water to undertake operational activities such as routine water quality testing and treatment.

Only motorised boats used by SA Water staff operated under a Coxswain license are permitted on South Australia’s reservoirs, to prevent water contamination and for the safety of visitors accessing the water. Their engines are only 4-stroke, marine surveyed and are well maintained with strict maintenance regimes.

Treating raw reservoir water at Happy Valley is one of the ways SA Water ensures drinking water is safe to drink and complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011).

During high blue-green algae growth, which occur naturally and are common during warm weather, SA Water carefully manages algae to avoid release of compounds that can impact safety, taste and smell of drinking water. Algal management involves releasing small amounts of copper sulphate based algaecide into the water at low levels that are harmless to human health. This activity is regulated and done according to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and an Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority permit.

This reservoir reserve is closed to the public during an algal treatment, until 1pm. There will be clear signage at the entrance to this site and up-to-date access information is available online.

Copper naturally occurs in low concentrations in most marine, estuarine and freshwater bodies (including reservoirs), and is required by some aquatic plants and animals for normal growth.

Fishers at all reservoirs are advised that their catch is safe to eat, but are recommended not to consume the gills and entrails. To find out more, read SA Health’s information about blue-green algae

At a glance

  • Open 7.30am - 5pm (standard time), 7.30am - 8pm (daylight saving time). Closed on Total Fire Ban Days and for operational activity (gates will be closed).
  • Fishing
  • Walking/running
  • Cycling
  • Accessible kayaking/canoeing
  • Picnicking
  • Dam wall and lookout
  • Wildlife and birdwatching
  • Barbecue
  • Accessible car park
  • No dogs (assistance animals allowed)