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Two hikers trek through dense forrest on the Grand Canyon Walking Track in the Blue Mountains
Photograph: Destination NSW

The best bushwalks in the Blue Mountains

Explore one of the state's most spectacular wildernesses, just two hours from Sydney

By Maxim Boon
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Sydney is one pretty city, but it’s got nothing on the breathtaking vistas of the Blue Mountains. Just two hours west of Sydney's bustling urban heart, this vast, largely untouched wilderness, spanning some 11,400 square kilometres, is crisscrossed with walking trails that take in some of the most spectacular corners of the region. From forested canyons to towering rocks and majestic waterfalls, you’ll find them all on these top bushwalks in the Blue Mountains.

Looking to stretch your legs closer to home? Check out these great inner-city walks and easy day hikes near Sydney.

The best Blue Mountains bushwalks

A couple look out over the Jamison Valley from the Katoomba Falls lookout
A couple look out over the Jamison Valley from the Katoomba Falls lookout
Photograph: Destination NSW

Prince Henry Cliff Walk, Katoomba Falls to Echo Point

How far? 3.1km one way
How long will it take? 1.5 hours

If you’re partial to a lookout, this trail connecting Echo Point and Katoomba Falls is a must. There are no less than nine viewing decks along this walk, many taking in the jaw-dropping vistas of the Jamison Valley, as well as more secluded natural wonders like Witches Leap Falls and the Katoomba Cascades. The stars of the show are undoubtedly the towering falls at the western end of the trail, and the Three Sisters at the eastern end. These are even more spectacular at night when they are dramatically lit by floodlighting, and as of February 2021, the pathway through the Katoomba Reserve portion of the track is also illuminated, so you can continue to hike the trail until 11pm.

A group of hikers climb some rocky stairs on the Grand Canyon Walking Track in the Blue Mountains
A group of hikers climb some rocky stairs on the Grand Canyon Walking Track in the Blue Mountains
Photograph: Destination NSW

Grand Canyon Track

How far? 6km circuit
How long will it take? 3 hours

This circuit trail through lush rainforest near Blackheath is like stepping into a scene from a fairy tale. Along the path, you’ll pass gently cascading waterfalls, giant ferns, and rocky overhangs thick with moss that any woodland nymph would be proud to call home. People have been enjoying this trail for more than a century, although it's had a few upgrades over the decades, including the installation of some boardwalk in places. There are some steep sections, but by and large, this trail is manageable by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness, decent hiking footwear and enough water and snacks to keep them going. 

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Aerial view of walking trails above the Grose Valley near Lockleys Pylon, Blue Mountains National Park
Aerial view of walking trails above the Grose Valley near Lockleys Pylon, Blue Mountains National Park
Photograph: Destination NSW

Lockleys Pylon Walking Track

How far? 7km round trip
How long will it take? 3 hours

Not that any part of the Blue Mountains is particularly overcrowded, but if you’re looking for an especially secluded hike, this lesser-known trail is a good one to keep in mind. While many bushwalks in the Blues tend to trek through densely forested areas, this path enjoys several exposed sections with stunning 360-degree views of Grose Valley, Govettes Gorge, and both Mounts Banks and Hay. The majority of this trail is a fairly easy walk, but the final approach to the summit of Lockleys Pylon is rather steep, although the climb is certainly worth the effort. Your reward for reaching the top is a view of the Blue Gum Forest that really can’t be beat.

Two people stand on Honeymoon Bridge, looking out over the Jamison Valley next to the Three Sisters.
Two people stand on Honeymoon Bridge, looking out over the Jamison Valley next to the Three Sisters.
Photograph: Destination NSW

The Three Sisters Walk

How far: 1km one way
How long will it take? 30 mins

It may be short, but taking the trail from the Echo Point Lookout to the magnificent Three Sisters is still an epic experience. Along the start of the trail, which is adjacent to the Echo Point Visitors Centre, keep your eyes peeled for metallic life-size sculptures of local fauna, including a lyrebird, a skink and a platypus. The descent down the Giant Stairway can be a little intimidating – truly, this steep passage lives up to its name – but once you reach the bottom, we’re sure you’ll agree that the chance to step out onto Honeymoon Bridge and stand shoulder to shoulder with such a legendary landmark is worth a little vertigo.

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Two people descend a stone stairway on the Wentworth Pass Track in the Blue Mountains
Two people descend a stone stairway on the Wentworth Pass Track in the Blue Mountains
Photograph: Destination NSW

The Wentworth Pass Loop Track

How far? 5km circuit
How long will it take? 4.5 hours

If you do want to go chasing waterfalls, this challenging trail is the one for you. Starting at the easily reached Wentworth Falls Conservation Hut, you’ll trek along the gorgeous Valley of the Waters via both Wentworth and Empress Falls. You’ll ford creeks and discover smaller cascades snaking through the undergrowth as you explore this verdant forest, before starting the climb back to civilisation, up the Slack Stairs and the Grand Stairway. Make no mistake, your thighs are going to be achy in the morning, but if you’ve got the stamina and buns-o-steel to manage it, this trail ranks as one of the prettiest in the whole Greater Blue Mountains region.

Three hikers look at the waterfall on the South Lawson track
Three hikers look at the waterfall on the South Lawson track
Photograph: Destination NSW

South Lawson Waterfall Circuit Walk

How far? 2.5km
How long with it take? 2 hours

This quiet, easily accessible and charmingly scenic stroll is a great option if you enjoy a hike with your four-legged friend. The dog-friendly trail cuts through thriving bush and takes in several pretty waterfalls along the route as well as crossing Cataract Creek. Be warned: the path can get pretty waterlogged after heavy rains, so if you want to keep your car free of muddy pawprints, wait until the weather is fair before visiting.

Take the plunge

Supplied - Jingga Water Hole at Dharawal
Photograph: Supplied

The best bushland swimming holes near Sydney

Attractions Parks and gardens

If you and your mates have well and truly done the beach thing, a visit to one of these little-known swimming holes is the perfect alternative. Round them up, pack some supplies and head off for a day at one of these stunning natural pools.

 

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