Illegal bike tracks, off-leash dogs and parking congestion are threatening to turn a visit to Glenrock into a headache rather than a joy.
The 534-hectare state conservation area linking Newcastle and Lake Macquarie has provided some much-needed sanctuary for thousands of residents looking to escape the lockdown blues in recent times.
National Parks and Wildlife staff say the number of visitors to the coastal wonderland, which was already among the state's top 15 most visited national parks, has jumped significantly over winter.
"I used to surf at Glenrock in the 70s. I hadn't been here for some time until a couple of weeks ago when went for a seven kilometre walk. We are back today; they have done a great job making it accessible to everyone," said Paul Sparke, who visited the Glenrock with his wife Pam this week.
While the main walking and cycling trails have held up well with the increased lockdown traffic, NPWS staff have seen an increase in prohibited activities including dog walking and illegal mountain bike tracks.
"These activities have a significant, negative impact on Glenrock's conservation values, including on the reserve's endangered littoral rainforest and Aboriginal cultural heritage," a NPWS spokeswoman told the Newcastle Herald.
"NPWS staff are monitoring visitation in key areas within Glenrock SCA to ensure visitors are complying with public health orders and park rules."
Merewether resident Pauline Bender walks in Glenrock most days.
"It's absolutely glorious at this time of year," she said.
"The improvements they have made are brilliant.
"The only downside is people who don't control their dogs, particularly down at the beach."
Glenrock's increased popularity, particularly on weekends, has also put more pressure on parking around the main entrance points.
"I'm not sure how the residents of Hickson Street feel about the parking," Ms Bender said.
The NPWS spokeswoman said the agency was seeking to engage with Newcastle and Lake Macquarie councils on opportunities to improve car parking facilities that support Glenrock.
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean announced in June last year that an additional $1.4 million had been committed to Glenrock facility upgrades, which included the Dudley Beach and Yuelarbah car park precincts. The work was scheduled to be completed by 2022.
City of Newcastle is constructing a connection from Scenic Drive to Hickson Street.
The project, which includes the rehabilitation of the Lloyd Street stairs, is designed to encourage users of Glenrock to park on Scenic Drive and Frederick Street.
"When work is approved we will liaise closely with locals and the agencies about the effect our work would have on car parking. During work, access to the walking track would be maintained," a spokesman said.
A Lake Macquarie City Council spokesman said there were no plans to upgrade parking around Glenrock in the Lake Macquarie LGA.
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