The Blue Mountains world heritage park is a must visit location for anyone traveling in Australia. The landscape is unlike any other, there is a ton of history in the area, and the small towns are friendly and easy to navigate. Courtney prefer to be out in nature so we spent most of our time there exploring the many trails available for hiking. These are the best of the best in our opinion.
These hikes are best done in late summer or early fall, just after the wet season when there is still water in the creeks and falls, but the chance of getting rained out is less. The Blue Mountains are a popular day trip and weekend getaway spot for Sydneysiders so weekends and nice weather can mean large crowds. If going on a weekend make sure you arrive early especially if parking is needed.
1) National Pass Trail
If there is only one hike you do in the Blue Mountains, this is it. Located in the town of Wentworth Falls the National Pass Trail is unlike any I have done before. It starts at the top of the gorge and has multiple viewing points that are prefect for taking pictures. A long staircase is cut into the rock of the cliff face, and winds its way down wards around Wentworth Falls. Though it is steep the handrails and other safety measure make the decent as safe as possible. At the bottom the stairs there is a lovely natural pool formed by the falls, so make sure to bring your bathing suit and towel for a dip on the return trip. The National Pass trail itself begins at the bottom of the stairs. It is a mostly flat path cut into the side of the cliff face, about half way between top and bottom. There are multiple little waterfalls that mist the pathway and the view from the trail is breathtaking. The most spectacular view comes on the return trip. Coming around one of the final bends Wentworth falls can be clearly seen ahead, a thin sheet of water cascading off the ridge above sparkling like diamonds in the sun as it falls. The trip back up the stairs is tough but well worth it.
2) Wentworth Pass
The hike begins with the same staircase as the National Pass trail above, however rather than stopping halfway down the cliff it continues all the way to the valley floor. The rest of the decent was a little scary, consisting of metal ladders and some narrow passages, but the pool at the bottom is much bigger and much less crowded than the one above. The trail winds through the heavily forested valley floor and was quite challenging. It goes up and down quite frequently, requires some boulder hopping, and had some narrow and rather uneven sections. The final piece of the track is a lovely climb around a large creek where there are multiple lovely spots to sit on a rock, have lunch, and listen to the sounds of the forest. The trail meets up with the National Pass Trail after climbing up the creek providing the opportunity to experience the grandeur of both.
3) Prince Henry Cliff Walk
This walk is by far the easiest of the five. The trail can be started anywhere between Scenic World and Echo Point, but I recommend starting at Katoomba Falls. The path winds its way along the edge of the ridge from Katoomba to Luera Falls. Along the way there are great views of the Iconic three sisters rock formation, and the views of the cliffs and valleys are spectacular. This walk can be quite crowded on weekends, but once you get passed echo point the crowds die down significantly. The Luera cascades at the end of the walk are the best part of the walk. Multiple little cascades work their way into a cool and damp grotto before hitting the falls. We also had the pleasure of seeing some black cockatoos and other bird species along the way. After seeing the cascades hop back up to the road, have lunch at the (insert name) café, take a walk through town, and visit the cultural center located above the Coles. The walk back through town is half the distance of the winding cliff face trail.
4) Grand Canyon Trail
The trail is located on Evan’s Lookout Road on the East end of Blackheath. The trail can be started at either Evans Lookout car park, Grand CanyonTrail Car Park, or Neats Glen car park, but it is my personal recommendation one beings the hike at Neats Glen. The trail has been recently renovated and is in spectacular shape. The trail leads you down a series of well-maintained stairs into a slot canyon with a stream running through. The sound of running water accompanies you through out the hike and is a wonderful companion. There are multiple overhangs one must duck a bit to pass through and a splendid little tunnel through the rock. The trail passes multiple small waterfalls and even winds behind one on it way to the canyon floor. Eventually the trail reaches the level of the creek and winds its way along and often through its path. Yabbies (crawdads) and small fish can be seen in the multitude of shallow pools created by the crystal clear water. The well maintained rock bridges and crossings provide easy and slip free crossings. Ferns and mosses cover line the stream bank, cover the boulders, and sprout from every conceivable nook and cranny in the rocks, creating a sense of age and majesty, as if one had walked into the age of the dinosaurs preserved in this little valley. Stop and have lunch on one of the many giant boulders or sandy banks that line the later half of the trail and enjoy the pervasive sense of serenity within the canyon. The final climb is a bit tiring but the beautiful rocks and the dappled sunlight passing through the ferns and trees make it enjoyable beyond words. At the top, stop and enjoy the lovely vista provided by Evan’s Lookout. The view is a stunning panorama of the Grose valley and the rugged and rocky cliffs that form its border. Once you are done enjoying the view, a short walk along a flat trail by the side of the road will bring you back to Neats Glen.
5) Perry’s Lookdown
The trail starts at Perry’s Lookdown campsite just out side of Blackheath. The trailhead begins with a lookout that provides a gorgeous panorama of the gorge you will be walking down into. The trail is mainly rock and wooden stairs and is very steep, nearly vertical in many places especially at the top of the trail. Despite the difficult decent there are numerous spectacular views of the cliff walls across the valley and the tops of the forest in the valley bellow. Soon you are serenaded by the calls of bellbirds and crimson rosella as they flit about the treetops. As you approach the floor of the valley the dark red and grey of red gums and iron bark begin give way to the majestic blue gums, their bright silver trunks reaching up into the sky. The smell of eucalyptus permeates the air, heightening the senses and deepening the breath. Once the trail reaches the valley floor the trail splits to head north or south along the valley. A 100 meters east one can take a rest along the banks of Govet’s creek. The forest gave me an eerie sense of being enveloped in something ancient and spiritual. It evoked emotions I have never really felt before and cannot fully explain. The contrast of the red rocks illuminated by the setting sun, and the darkening valley floor provided the perfect epitaph to a hard, yet highly memorable hike.