Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks, NSW inner banner

Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks, NSW

The Blue Mountains region of New South Wales is packed with 'ooh' and 'aah' sights, and many of them can only be accessed on foot. Set your skill level and head off on one (or more!) of these ten amazing bushwalks.
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks. Image: Destination NSW

Just two hours’ drive west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains offers a huge variety of landscapes for walkers to explore — from canyons and waterfalls, to rainforest, deep valleys, remote peaks and sheer sandstone cliffs.

The whole area covers about a million hectares, much of it national park. If that sounds a little daunting, don’t worry. Break it down into bite size pieces with this selection of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks. They’re ranked from relatively easy to super tough!

Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks: Three Sisters

1. Three Sisters Walk

This gradually sloping path won’t make any demands on your fitness, but it will take you to the best vantage points for seeing the Blue Mountains’ most iconic landmark — the Three Sisters. Weather-carved over millions of years, the dramatic sandstone turrets take their name from an Indigenous legend. The 0.8-kilometre return walk begins and ends at the Echo Point Visitor Centre at Katoomba and is wheelchair-accessible as far as the main lookout. There are steep steps at the end enabling an even closer view of the famous rock formation.

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Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks: Three Sisters Walk

2. Fairfax Heritage Track

One of the most spectacular walks in the Blue Mountains is also one of the easiest. The 3.6-kilometre return Grade 1, wheelchair-accessible Fairfax Heritage Track runs from the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre in Blackheath to Govetts Leap Lookout — a great place to take in classic views of deeply incised valleys laid out beneath blue-tinged hilltops and sun-soaked golden cliffs. The lookout is named for the vertical waterfall that plunges 180 metres from the adjacent sandstone escarpment. But this walk isn’t just about the endpoint; the path offers plenty to see with scribbly gums, grass trees and vibrant spring wildflowers.

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Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Enjoy the epic view from Govett’s Leap Lookout. Image: Destination NSW

3. Walls Lookout Walking Track

This moderately easy two-kilometre return walk is the counterpart to the previous one, offering views back across the mighty Grose Valley to the Blackheath Walls directly opposite. The awe-inspiring panorama gives a sense of the sheer scale of the Blue Mountains’ network of gorges, peaks and plateaus. The walk begins at the parking area on Pierces Pass Road, just off Bells Line of Road, about 12 kilometres past the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden (which is well worth a visit). The lookouts are unfenced, so take extreme care and think twice about coming here with children.

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Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. Image: Destination NSW

4. Cathedral of Ferns Walk

The Cathedral of Ferns Walk at Mount Wilson is a short, sweet stroll into an ancient cool-climate rainforest. It reveals another side of the Blue Mountains and offers glimpses of the outstanding biodiversity that has gained the area UNESCO World Heritage status. The ‘cathedral’ is a stand of giant tree ferns that suggest a vanished Jurassic world, hiding just ten minutes’ walk from the Cathedral Reserve Camping Ground. The ground can be wet, so wear proper footwear — and watch out for leeches!

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5. Katoomba Falls Round Walk

A moderate walk with some steep sections and many steps, the Katoomba Falls 2.5-kilometre circuit from the Scenic World carpark packs major value in terms of scenery and birdlife. Highlights include the excellent view of the Three Sisters from Vaniman’s Lookout and the weird rock ‘face’ at Witches Leap. Look out for the small staircase leading to Juliet’s Balcony, from where you can see all the stages of Katoomba Falls — not the highest waterfall in the Blue Mountains, but one of the most picturesque due to its terrace-like segmented structure.

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Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks: Katoomba Falls. Image: iStock

6. Cliff Top Walking Track

The six-kilometre-return, medium-graded Cliff Top Walking Track is a perennial favourite with visitors to the Blue Mountains, as it connects two major lookouts — Govetts Leap and Evans Lookout. You can start at either point, and finding them couldn’t be easier. At Blackheath, simply turn off the Great Western Highway into either Govetts Leap Road or Evans Lookout Road, then proceed to the signposted parking area. The track name says it all: you’ll be walking along the top of the escarpment edge, looking over at precipitous rock faces adorned with waterfalls and hanging swamps, and gazing down into the mysterious, rarely penetrated Grose Valley floor.

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Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks. Image: Bigstock

7. Grand Canyon Track

If you’re up for a challenge, this moderately hard 6.5-kilometre loop includes the full gamut of Blue Mountains landscapes. From dry sclerophyll forest at the upper level, the track descends into lush rainforest threaded with creeks and waterfalls. Along the way, you’ll see sheer sandstone cliffs and pass under rugged rock overhangs. Birdlife is abundant, and if you’re lucky you may spot a wedge-tailed eagle soaring above the canyon. Begin at Evans Lookout parking area near Blackheath, and be prepared for steep descents via stairways and zig-zag paths.

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Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks: Grand Canyon Track. Image: iStock

8. Wentworth Pass Loop

A five-kilometre circuit that begins and ends at the Wentworth Falls Picnic Area, the Wentworth Pass Loop is rated hard because of its many creek crossings, stairs (including metal ladders), slippery rocks and steep sections. The rewards? Awe-inspiring panoramas, brilliant views of both Empress and Wentworth Falls, the multisensory rainforest environment of the Valley of the Waters, and the chance to stop for refreshments along the way at the Conservation Hut café. What more could you ask for?

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Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks: Wentworth Falls

 9. Federal Pass, Furber Steps to Ruined Castle

This historic 13-kilometre track runs all the way from the Leura Cascades Picnic Area to the Ruined Castle rock formation on the floor of the Jamison Valley, providing a bottom-up perspective on the geography of the Blue Mountains. It takes about 12 hours to complete the entire return journey, but the path can be accessed at various points to create shorter walks. Use the Furber Steps near Scenic World on Cliff Drive to descend the cliff face and join Federal Pass. You can turn left to walk towards Leura along the base of the cliffs, or right to strike out into the valley towards the Ruined Castle. Either way, and however far you choose to go, remember to leave sufficient time, energy and water for the cardio-challenging re-ascent at the Furber Steps when you return.

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Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks: Furber Steps. Image: Destination NSW

10. Six Foot Track

This is the big one — a 45-kilometre (one-way) walk from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves through the Megalong Valley, along the route of a nineteenth-century horse track (which itself followed an ancient Indigenous pathway) The Six Foot Track is the ultimate Blue Mountains adventure for fit, experienced and well-prepared hikers. Usually completed over three days, the track traverses heathland, farmland, forests and rivers, and passes two wineries and numerous heritage sites. There are four campgrounds along the way, or you can spend your first night in cabin accommodation at the Six Foot Track Eco Lodge.

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Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks
Ten of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks: Nellies Glen and Megalong Valley

Tips for safe walking

  1. Wear suitable walking shoes and lower leg protection.
  2. Take plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen.
  3. Always inform friends and family of your plans and estimated time of return. You can also register your bushwalk online with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
  4. Consider obtaining a Digital Personal Locator Beacon prior to your walk.
  5. Keep to designated paths and stairways.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

About the writer

Roslyn Jolly is a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in Luxury Travel, Get Up & Go, The Sunday Telegraph and The Australian. In her former career as an English Literature academic, she studied and taught the work of great travel writers, such as Henry James, Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, and became fascinated by the history of travel and tourism. Two years at school in Wales and three years at university in England allowed Roslyn to travel extensively in Europe and North America, which she continues to do.

 

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