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

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!

Navigate the reserve with the free Avenza app

Download the Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve map


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)

Navigate the reserve with the free Avenza app

Download the Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve map


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.

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.

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

Dogs are not permitted at South Australia’s reservoir reserves, regardless of whether they are on a leash, as they can carry harmful bacteria and viruses that can easily contaminate the water and are a risk to the safety of the drinking water. Dogs also pose a threat to local native birds and wildlife. Assistance animals are excepted.

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.

Horse riding is not permitted in South Australia’s reservoir reserves as horse manure contains bacteria and viruses which pose a risk to the drinking water safety. As well, horse riding can cause soil erosion of tracks and introduce weeds to the water catchment environment.

Horse riding enthusiasts are encouraged to access the forests and parks that permit horse riding.

With set opening and closing times and no facilities or infrastructure to safely manage overnight accommodation, camping is not currently permitted in any of South Australia’s reservoir reserves.

People interested in camping are encouraged to visit the many national parks, forests and other public lands that offer camping experiences and facilities.

Swimming is not permitted at any of our reservoirs because it involves direct contact with the water above the knee and risks contamination of the water by the harmful pathogens carried by humans.

For the same reason, other activities that involve wading above the knee or present a high chance of falling or jumping in the water are not permitted.

Blue green algae

Algae is a common occurrence in open water sources, including reservoirs and the River Murray, especially during warmer months of the year when conditions are favourable for growth.

SA Water samplers, operators and scientists actively monitor and test the source water and connecting water networks during these times and adjust treatment processes as needed. This ensures they continue to supply safe, clean drinking water to their customers.

Some blue-green algae species produce compounds which can be harmful to humans and animals. Contact with untreated water in a reservoir where algae are present can be harmful to your health.

When blue-green algae levels are increasing, and related water treatment or algal management activities are being conducted, the site will be closed to visitors until 1pm that day. There will be clear signage at the entrance and on this website page.

Visit the SA Health website for more information about blue-green algae health impacts and how to avoid illness.

Free offline maps

Use the free Avenza app to navigate around the reservoir reserve, record your GPS tracks or enjoy other features. Download the map to your mobile device and you can access it even without mobile coverage.

Download the Happy Valley Avenza map here.

Click the approved concept plan map below for a print friendly version.

Happy Valley concept map

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.