With winter approaching in Sydney it’s the perfect time to get to the Blue Mountains. Here are 5 of my favourite Blue Mountains walks. Feel free to tell us your favourite Blue Mountains walks by leaving a comment below.
1. Wentworth Falls
There are a myriad of tracks that weave their way around the cliff tops surrounding Wentworth Falls and can be linked up in a variety of ways.
My favourite walk is the track sometimes referred to as the ‘Cliff Top Circuit’. This circuit starts at the Wentworth Falls Lookout and follows the Underclif and Overcliff tracks to Conservation Hut. You can start at either Wentworth Falls Lookout or Conservation Hut Cafe which both have parking and are joined by the Shortcut Track which completes the circuit. All up the walk covers about 4km and takes about 2 hours at a steady pace with some stops to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
The walk provides some of the easiest access to the spectacular Blue Mountains scenery and for the most part traverses cliff lines with uninterrupted views over the Jamison Valley. The section of track descending from Wentworth Falls has to be one of the most scenic sections of track in NSW edging along exposed cliff faces with sheer drops. It’s amazing to think that it was first erected in NSW’s pioneering days.
For those wanting a longer walk, the circuit can be extended by descending to either the National Pass or the Wentworth Pass in the Valley of Waters below.
2. Mt Solitary
Mt Solitary is probably the most prominent landmark in the Blue Mountains and appears like a distant island in the valley from Leura and Katoomba.
Because of its prominence I had long wanted to walk out to Mt Solitary but had been wary of it after the occasional deaths and disappearances that have happened on the route. I completed the walk last year and was pleased to find a well maintained and easy to follow track the whole way.
I chose to start at the Golden Stairs which is part way along the dirt road on Narrow Neck outside of Katoomba. The walk can also be started from the Furbers Steps or accessed from one of the tourist attractions at Scenic World.
After descending the stair case, a good quality track crosses the valley floor to the Ruined Castle. The Ruined Castle is a collection of rock crags which got its name from a journalist in the 1800s who described it as having the appearance of ‘the ruined keep of some gigantic castle’. You can scramble all the way to the top of the Ruined Castle where you get 360 degree views. The perfect spot for morning tea.
After leaving the Ruined Castle the track continues on across another flat section before ascending to Mt Solitary itself. There are some excellent rocky outcrops on the shoulder of the mountain which provide great views back to Katoomba and the Three Sisters which are mere specks from this distance. From there I continued around the side of the mountain and up to the summit. The actual summit point wasn’t marked and views were interrupted by the trees. Unless you were planning to walk through or camp overnight, in hindsight turning around at the saddle would make for a better day walk.
Mt Solitary made for an excellent day walk of about 8 hours in total covering some 12km for the return journey.
More detailed track notes of the walk can be found on the Wild Walks site.
3. Lockley Pylon
This walk is less well known than others in the Blue Mountains but is up there with the best. It’s distinct from most Blue Mountains walks in that it follows a plateau with open views almost the entire way as opposed to descending into the valley or following the cliff lines. It’s also a good one with kids because it doesn’t require any major ascent or descent.
The walk starts about 10km down the Mt Hay Rd out of Leura. You can do the drive in a normal car in most conditions.
The track is easy to follow and passes through a variety of classic bushland featuring native flowers and rock formations. Along the way you get views of Mt Hay, Govetts Leap and, on a clear day, glimpses back to the city.
The Pylon itself, which you can see in the pic below, gives you that nice sense of having reached a summit and has 360 degree views.
The track can be followed from there down into the Blue Gum Forrest and across to Blackheath, something I hope to do sometime.
The return walk to Lockley Pylon is approximately 8 km and takes roughly 3 hours depending on your pace.
4. Grand Canyon
Not quite the US version, but a fabulous way to access some of the many canyons that exist in the Blue Mountains. This walk is one of the more popular in the Blue Mountains and tends to get written up frequently in Australian walking guides.
The track starts near Evans Lookout just out of Blackheath and forms a circuit, although a small car shuffle can remove the need to traipse the 1.5 km along the road required to complete the loop.
You can complete the walk in either direction although I tend to start at Neates Glen and finish at Evans Lookout. The track decends a winding stair case into the canyon itself. From there you follow a track that traverses the cliffs along the top of the canyon before dropping into the canyon itself where you experience tunnels, creeks, lush green scenery and pillars of light shining through the rocky crags.
The variety makes the walk an excellent one for all ages, although you need to be a sure footed in places.
Approximately 5km over 3-4 hours.
5. Govetts Leap
Like Wentworth Falls, there are a series of tracks that wind around the cliff tops between Evans Lookout and Pulpit Rock and can be joined in different combinations.
The section between Evans Lookout a Govetts Leap is a favourite for its easy access from Blackheath and spectacular cliff top views.
The track follows the cliffs the whole way and is well maintained and protected. It’s about 3km one way from Evans Lookout to Govetts Leap and a further 4km onto Pulpit Rock.
Blackheath makes a perfect spot for lunch afterwards.