Travel Blue Mountains – The Five Best Blue Mountains Day Walks
Words: Esme Mathis | Feature Image: Shutterstock
The Blue Mountains is one of Australia’s largest areas of protected wilderness, more than 10,000sq.km of rolling hills and craggy peaks, with literally hundreds of day walks. The historic villages and towns that dot the hills and valleys are a world apart from the sprawling Sydney suburbs just a few kilometres away.
Late spring and summer are the most popular times to visit; winters are harsh, with dustings of snow a common occurrence. In the colder months storms can flare unexpectedly, rendering some walks impassable, but there are well-signposted trails to explore whatever the season.
Grand Canyon track
Blackheath, 6.3km loop, moderate, 3–4 hours
With waterfalls, towering sandstone overhangs and lush rainforest vegetation, the Grand Canyon track is one of the region’s most popular. Experienced hikers can visit at night to see the canyon glitter with glow-worms.
The loop can be completed in a clockwise direction (starting at Evans Lookout) or anti-clockwise (starting at Neates Glen car park). The steps near Evans Lookout are the most physically demanding part, so if you begin at Neates Glen, be prepared to finish with a steep climb out of the canyon.
There are car parks at Neates Glen, Evans Lookout and Grand Canyon. You can also get a train to Katoomba and catch the 698 bus from Katoomba Street to St Andrews Avenue. The walk to Neates Glen car park will take approximately 20 minutes.
Adelina Falls on South Lawson Waterfall Circuit Walk, an easy track that is also dog friendly. Image: Robert Gray/Destination NSW
South Lawson Waterfall Circuit Walk
Lawson, 2.5km loop, easy, 1.5 hours
Discover four waterfalls on this gentle walking track, one of the few dog-friendly tracks in the region (they must be leashed). The four – Adelina Falls, Federal Falls, Cataract Falls and Junction Falls – are on short side-tracks that snake off the main footpath. Keep an eye out for signs to ensure you don’t miss them. The start of the track is on the corner of Livingstone Street and Honour Avenue. The closest car park is on North Honour Avenue, or it’s a 15-minute walk from Lawson railway station.
The best time to go is after heavy rainfall, when the cascades are at their best – but wear proper boots because sections will be very muddy.
Leura, 13km one-way, difficult, 6.5 hours
Considered one of the most challenging walks in the area, this historic track stretches from Leura Forest to Katoomba Falls. Originally an old horsedrawn coal tramway line, the track passes around the base of the Three Sisters and extends to Ruined Castle on the other side of the valley.
The start is accessed via the Leura Cascades Fern Bower loop. From here, follow the signs leading to the Federal Pass track.
There are four entry and exit points along the track, so the hike doesn’t have to be completed in one day. However, each of these junctions requires a challenging descent and ascent to and from Jamison Valley. There are parking sites at all entry and exit points along the track.
The Grand Canyon Track is a popular walk that takes in stunning waterfall and creeks, as well as lookouts. Image: Aeden O’Donnell/Destination NSW
Valley of the Waters track
Wentworth Falls, 2.5km return, moderate/difficult, 1.5 hours
Some of the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular waterfalls can be found scattered here on what is a part of the Wentworth Pass loop walk.
Park in Fletcher Street car park, or catch a train to Wentworth Falls and then the 685 bus to Fletcher Street. The track begins at the Conservation Hut, and leads through to Empress Falls, Sylvia Falls, Lodore Falls and Flat Rock Falls.
Although not a long walk, the steep descent into the valley makes it a challenge. The metal staircases from Empress Lookout are steep but have secure handrails. At the end of the track, you can turn around or continue on to the Wentworth Pass track and that will take you to the base of the falls at Wentworth.
Pulpit Walking track
Blackheath, 7km return, moderate, 2–3 hours
This path links Govetts Leap to Pulpit Rock, an isolated pinnacle with a multi-tier observation deck overlooking the Grose Valley.
Beginning at Govetts Leap lookout, the path traces the edge of the valley’s cliffs and ventures through heathlands, hanging swamps and waterfalls. Scattered along the way are several lookouts. In November you’ll see wildflowers in bloom. To get there, take the Great Western Highway towards Blackheath and turn off onto Govetts Leap Road.
After 2.5km, you’ll reach the park entrance and the Govetts Leap lookout car park. Or catch a train to Blackheath and then the 698 bus to the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre. Upon your return to Govetts Leap, consider going on to Evans Lookout, via the 3km one-way Cliff Top track.
Note: The national parks website has weather alerts and filling in a “Trip Intention” form is a good idea for the longer tracks, especially in winter.