12 of the Best Hikes in Sydney’s Blue Mountains

Explore some of Sydney’s most dramatic scenery on twelve of my favourite bushwalks in the spectacular Blue Mountains.

The spectacular New South Wales Blue Mountains sit on the western edge of the greater Sydney area. They are easily accessible by car or train from the neighbouring metropolis of over 5 million people. More of a plateau, they gradually rise from the Sydney basin to over 1100m of elevation. The area’s largest town of Katoomba is perched high up at 1017m.

These upper sections are justifiably famous for their deep cut valleys lined by sandstone cliffs, as well as lush forests, impressive waterfalls and windswept heathlands. Thankfully this dramatic and rugged scenery has remained largely unaffected by urban or agricultural development. And since 1959 it has been protected in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park.

Where are the walks?

The most spectacular walks are clustered around the Upper Mountains towns and villages of Blackheath, Katoomba, Leura and Wentworth Falls. They feature two very scenic valleys, the Jamison Valley and Grose Valley. But there are also worthwhile tracks in the Lower Mountains, and in the northern section off Bells Line of Road. You can check out the rest of my blog for some of those.

Following is my selection of favourite day-hikes in the area. I’ve linked titles to my original post so you can have more of a look at what’s on offer. Walks with grand views feature heavily in my selection, but there are more intimate experiences in the mix also.

First up are walks at the Grose Valley near Blackheath, but you can jump to Grose Valley walks near Leura, Jamison Valley walks at Wentworth Falls, and near Katoomba. And I’ve included one in the Lower Mountains near Winmalee.

Upper Blue Mountains: Grose Valley

Bushwalks Near Blackheath

Evans Lookout/ Pulpit Rock/ Popes Glen/ Braeside Walk

Evans Lookout/Pulpit Rock/Popes Glenn/Braeside Walk, Blue Mountains
Govetts Leap (right) and Horseshoe Falls (left).
Difficulty: hard (long but mostly flat), with shorter options

The eastern side of Blackheath is pretty spectacular, and this longish walk takes in the best of the cliff top views in the area. It includes the viewpoints of Evans Lookout, Govetts Leap, and Pulpit Rock, although there are ever changing views for as long as you are on the cliff’s edge. Turning it into a partial circuit via Popes Glenn and the Braeside Walk adds some atmospheric variety. You can shorten this walk by doing smaller circuits or ‘in and out’ walks.

Grand Canyon Circuit

Grand Canyon Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Narrow and lush sections of the Grand Canyon, near Blackheath.
Difficulty: moderate

The Grand Canyon Circuit offers a fairly unique Blue Mountains experience, passing through the shadowy recesses of a narrow canyon carved out by Greaves Creek. There’s lush rainforest vegetation, tall and dark cliffs, as well as more open sections with dryer vegetation. There’s also excellent views of the Grose Valley from Evans Lookout. It’s a shortish walk at 6.3 km, but can be combined with the Rodriguez Pass for a much longer circuit walk (see below).

Rodriguez Pass Circuit

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Govetts Leap (falls) on the right, and further right still, a hanging swamp.
Difficulty: hard

You can sample some of the best of the Upper Blue Mountains on this harder than average circuit walk through and then above the Grose Valley near Blackheath. You get the usual grand valley and cliff views, but also numerous waterfalls, rainforest and creek scenery. And you can combine the Rodriguez Pass with the Grand Canyon Circuit (see above) to make a full and varied day of it.

There are other good options in the Blackheath area, some of which could have made it onto this list, only I decided to stop at twelve. There’s Porters Pass on the western side, adjacent to the Megalong Valley, and also Perry’s Lookdown (which I’ve done but not posted on yet).

Asgard Swamp & Thor Head Walk

Asgard Swamp & Thor Head Track, Blue Mountains
Looking north-westish up an arm of the Grose Valley, viewed from Thor Head.
Difficulty: moderate

A bit past the village of Blackheath is the even smaller village of Mt Victoria. Nearby is a lesser known walk offering typical Upper Blue Mountains scenery with less people. The tracks visit some excellent vantage points on the edge of rather precipitous cliffs with views over the spectacular Grose Valley. There’s also a few patches of treeless grassy plains that make for a nice change of scenery. Add to this a handful of rocky outcrops, some interesting trees, and a worthy side trip to a historic mine. All this for less than 10km of flattish walking. 

Bushwalks Near Leura

Lockleys Pylon/ Du Faur Head Track

Lockleys Pylon / Du Faur Head, Blue Mountains
Lockleys Pylon
Difficulty: moderate

There are a number of excellent walks which start on the unsealed (and rough) Mt Hay Road, near the Blue Mountains village of Leura. They offer great views of the Grose Valley, looking over towards the cliffs near Blackheath.

The Lockleys Pylon Track is probably the most popular of these walks. It’s fairly easygoing, and the mostly heath vegetation means there are wide open views for much of the walk. Definitely a good scenery to effort ratio. It’s also possible to extend this walk by dropping down into the Grose Valley from near Du Faur Head. And see below for two more options starting on Mt Hay Road.

Fortress Ridge Track

Fortress Ridge Track, Blue Mountains
Lockleys Pylon viewed from Fortress Ridge.
Difficulty: moderate

The Fortress Ridge Track undulates through heath and occasional tree cover to a viewpoint over the Grose Valley and Lockleys Pylon. There are nice views of the surrounding heathland, and of cliffs lining the Grose Valley. There’s also a short and worthy side trip near the start, which takes you to another spectacular viewpoint.

Venus Tor via Mt Hay

Venus Tor via Mt Hay, Blue Mountains
The Grose Valley and Venus Tor (right) from Mt Hay.
Difficulty: moderate (with steep sections)

There are a couple of excellent and shortish walks starting at the end of Mt Hay Road: climbing Mt Hay itself, and also visiting Buttterbox Point. But it’s possible to continue on over Mt Hay to a rocky outcrop called Venus Tor. I only learned of this excellent walk from a couple I met on the summit of Mt Hay. It’s not an official route, and so will provide a more secluded walking experience than most in the Upper Mountains. There are excellent views over the Grose Valley for much of the way, and Venus Tor feels pleasingly remote. The drop down from Mt Hay is very steep, so you’ll need to be reasonably fit.

Upper Blue Mountains: Jamison Valley

Bushwalks Near Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls Circuit via Hippocrene & Vera Falls

Wentworth Falls Circuit via Hippocrene and Vera Falls, Blue Mountains NSW
Wentworth Falls amphitheatre viewed from Princes Rock Lookout. You can see that on the day I took this picture the wind was so strong that it blew Wentworth Falls upwards.
Difficulty: hard, with easy to moderate options

The village of Wenworth Falls is named after the impressive waterfall on its southern border. There are a number of great walking tracks in the area, including three circuits passing by Wentworth Falls and through the attractive Valley of the Waters. The longest of these circuits visits Hippocrene Falls and Vera Falls. There are the usual grand sandstone cliffs the region is famous for, as well as numerous waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, and lush forest down in the valley. Probably one for the more adventurous walker, as sections of this quite long walk are on less distinct tracks.

Many of the sights can also been seen on an alternative and shorter circuit via the spectacular and cliff-hugging National Pass. (Note though that as at 2019 this track is closed due to a rock fall.) The Wentworth Pass is a third option. And if you just want views of the Jamison Valley and Wentworth Falls from afar, then you can stick to the network of tracks on the cliff’s edge.

Bushwalks Near Katoomba

Mt Solitary and the Ruined Castle

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Sophia and friends on the Ruined Castle, with Mt Solitary in the background.
Difficulty: hard (Ruined Castle: moderate)

When my wife Sophia and I first started regular bushwalking we did the first half of this walk as far as the Ruined Castle. This is already a classic Sydney walk, with 360 degree views from the top of this rocky outcrop. But continuing on to the summit plateau of the stately looking Mt Solitary provides more great views, with the added satisfaction of a big day’s walking in fairly isolated country. Note that the climb up to Mt Solitary is quite steep, so you’ll need reasonable fitness for this section.

Federal Pass & Prince Henry Cliff Walk

The Three Sisters viewed from Echo Point. The Blue Mountains’ most famous landmark. And Mt Solitary in the background.
Difficulty: hard, with easy to moderate options

This fairly long circuit takes in some of the best bits of the Blue Mountains near Katoomba, and is highly recommended. You’ll enjoy views of cliffs, waterfalls and lush forest along much of the route. And definitely visit Bridal Veil Falls and Leura Cascades on your way down to or up from the Federal Pass. 

Perhaps best done on a weekday to avoid the crowds at popular and accessible spots, such as Echo Point, where you get the classic view of the Blue Mountains’ most famous landmark, the Three Sisters. The Katoomba Landslide section of the Federal Pass is also worth a visit, and could be done as a side trip from Furber Steps, or as a separate walk. You can also shorten this walk by doing sections of it, such as returning via the Giant Stairway. And you could just stroll along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk without descending into the valley.

Devils Hole Track

Devils Hole Track, Katoomba, Blue Mountains
Walking through the Devils Hole, a break in the cliff line on the edge of the Jamison Valley at Katoomba.
Difficulty: short but steep

This short but atmospheric walk descends steeply through a narrow and deep gap in cliffs called the Devils Hole. At the bottom of Devils Hole you turn left to view a scenic waterfall. And you can continue on along the bottom of these cliffs for a while. You’ll see evidence of rock climbing here, including some rather impossible looking overhangs.

Lower Blue Mountains

Shaws Ridge-Blue Gum Swamp-Grose Mountain Circuit

Shaws Ridge - Grose Mountain Circuit, Blue Mountains NP
Blue gums in Blue Gum Swamp.
Difficulty: hard, with a moderate ‘forest only’ option

I’ve snuck in this walk as one of my favourites in the Lower Mountains. It starts near Winmalee, and summits Grose Mountain via Shaws Ridge and Blue Gum Swamp. Whilst not as spectacular as some of the Upper Mountains walks, there’s impressive forest scenery and good views over the Blue Mountains and Grose River Gorge on a worthy (and longish) side trip. The section up to Grose Mountain feels fairly remote compared to some of the more popular walks on my list.

More Information

If you’d like more information on the region then you can check out the Blue Mountains section of the National Parks & Wildlife Service website. There are are also various online and printed walking guides, a few of which I’ve listed on my track notes resources page. For more general info on the area there are tourist sites like Visit NSW, Blue Mountains Tourism, and Blue Mountains Australia. And of course you’re welcome to contact me or comment on this post.

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Me on the Ruined Castle, Blue Mountains National Park.

Enjoy your walking!

Martins Lookout to Lost World Lookout, Springwood, Blue Mountains NSW

A walk near Springwood in the Lower Blue Mountains taking in three lookouts above Glenbrook Creek, and involving a couple of steep climbs.

A short walk with lots of climbing, starting up high at Martins Lookout, dropping down steeply to Glenbrook Creek, and ending up high again at Bunya Lookout and later Lost World Lookout. The views are good if not mega, and there’s a few interesting rocks and plants along the way. A good option in the lower mountains for half a day’s walking with some decent climbing (about 500m of ascent/descent all up). Continue reading “Martins Lookout to Lost World Lookout, Springwood, Blue Mountains NSW”

Wentworth Falls Circuit via Hippocrene & Vera Falls, Blue Mountains NSW

An excellent circuit at Wentworth Falls that takes in numerous waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, including the lesser visited Hippocrene Falls and Vera Falls.

An excellent circuit walk taking in a less travelled section of the Jamison Valley at Wentworth Falls. There are the usual grand sandstone cliffs the region is famous for, as well as numerous waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. Continue reading “Wentworth Falls Circuit via Hippocrene & Vera Falls, Blue Mountains NSW”

Bundanoon Gorge Lookouts, Southern Highlands NSW

This easygoing walk along forestry management roads takes in three viewpoints over Bundanoon Gorge and nearby valleys. 

The main highlights of this walk are the views over Bundanoon Gorge and adjacent valleys from three viewpoints, all accessed on the first half of the walk. The route is mostly flat along forestry management roads, and passes through eucalypt forest and pine plantations.  This kind of walking isn’t the most interesting, but I think I was just happy to be outside after time off in part due to a leg injury, so I enjoyed it nevertheless. The views from the lookouts are good, and there were sections of many wattle trees, so early spring is a good time for this walk. Continue reading “Bundanoon Gorge Lookouts, Southern Highlands NSW”

Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW

An excellent walk that passes through the atmospheric Tahmoor Canyon, and also visits the particularly scenic Mermaids Pool.

After 13 years of bushwalking around Sydney we are still doing new walks that exceed expectations. The Southern Highlands circuit visiting Mermaids Pool and passing through Tahmoor Canyon was one such walk. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it was fairly popular so it’s evidently not a secret. Mermaids Pool is probably the most scenic pool I’ve seen in NSW, and Tahmoor Canyon was deep and very atmospheric in places. Definitely recommended. Continue reading “Mermaids Pool & Tahmoor Canyon, Southern Highlands NSW”

Katoomba Landslide Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

A circuit walk taking in one of the better and yet less frequented sections of the Federal Pass at Katoomba, and also all of the most touristy areas for some contrast!

The Katoomba Landslide section of the Federal Pass in the Blue Mountains appears not to get that much traffic, and I hadn’t done it before this trip in June 2019. Turns out though it is one of the most spectacular sections of this longish track beneath sandstone cliffs, as a landslide in the early 1930’s has opened up views over a nice corner of the cliff lined Jamison Valley. Continue reading “Katoomba Landslide Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW”

Grand Canyon Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

A unique and atmospheric walk through a narrow, shaded canyon in the Upper Blue Mountains near Blackheath.

The Grand Canyon Circuit offers a fairly unique Blue Mountains experience, passing through the shadowy recesses of a narrow canyon carved out by Greaves Creek, near the town of Blackheath in the upper mountains. There’s lush rainforest vegetation, tall and dark cliffs, as well as more open sections with dryer vegetation. There’s also excellent views from Evans Lookout of the Grose Valley, looking like a smaller, forested version of that other (slightly more famous) Grand Canyon. Evans Lookout is outside of the canyon, but a part of the circuit walk. Continue reading “Grand Canyon Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW”

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

This is one of the classic circuit walks in the Blue Mountains, with great valley views, various attractive waterfalls, tall cliffs, rainforest and moody creeks.

You can sample some of the best of the upper Blue Mountains on this harder than average circuit walk near Blackheath. You get the usual grand valley and cliff views, but also numerous waterfalls, rainforest, and creek scenery. And you can combine the Rodriguez Pass with the Grand Canyon Circuit (as we did) to make a full and varied day of it.

Track notes at the end.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit: The Scenery

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
The Grose Valley from Govetts leap Lookout, which is where we started.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Grose Valley panorama from a little below Govetts Leap Lookout, on the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Govetts Leap to the right.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Govetts Leap

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Govetts Leap (falls) on the right, and further right still, a hanging swamp.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Dropping down the cliff line.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Govetts Leap from below.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A section of rainforest as we dropped down deeper into the Grose Valley.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Sophia in front of one of many small waterfalls along the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A birds nest fern.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Lots of dark and moody sections of creek.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
On the valley floor by this stage.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Very lush in places.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
At Junction Rock, looking up at cliffs lining the Grose Valley.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A panorama of some cliffs viewed from the valley floor at Junction Rock.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Cliffs lining the Grose Valley.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A cascade as we climbed higher up towards the Grand Canyon.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A cascade on Greaves Creek.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A very atmospheric spot on the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Maiden hair Ferns I think.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Beauchamp Falls

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
A cliff near Beauchamp Falls.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Beauchamp Falls

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
An injured yabby that was not very long for this world, but still photogenic.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
You get up close and personal with cliffs on this walk.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Looking back as we climbed higher up the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW
Looking back as we climbed higher up the Rodriguez Pass.

Rodriguez Pass Circuit, Blue Mountains NSW

Track Notes

The NPWS has information on the Rodriguez Pass. Starting at Govetts Leap Lookout on the edge of Blackheath, we dropped steeply down the cliff face into the Grose Valley via the bottom of Govetts Leap itself (apparently the largest single drop waterfall in the Blue Mountains). Continuing on through mostly lush rainforest along Govetts Leap Brook (beware leeches in hot and wet weather!) we eventually reached Junction Rock. From there we set off towards the cliff line again, initially along Govetts Creek, then Greaves Creek, stopping to look at the attractive Beauchamp Falls on the way up (very short side trip – you should hear the falls). About 650 metres ascent and descent.

You can return to Govetts Leap Lookout directly via a small section of the Grand Canyon Circuit to Evans Lookout, then along the Cliff Top Track. But we went the long way around the rest of the Grand Canyon Circuit to make it a full and varied day walk (6-7 hours with lunch and photos). (You can see my pictures of the Grand Canyon Circuit here).

Bungonia National Park Green and White Tracks, NSW

Spectacular gorge and canyon scenery on this relatively easygoing circuit walk in Bungonia National Park, in the NSW Southern Highlands near Goulburn.

Bungonia National Park was a new find for me, and its spectacular karst landforms make me wonder why it’s not more famous. Without a great deal of time I did a fairly easy circuit walk, the Green Track, taking in the main lookouts over  spectacular canyon and gorge scenery. A short side trip along the White Track added one more excellent lookout over the Shoalhaven River Valley.

Continue reading “Bungonia National Park Green and White Tracks, NSW”

Castle Head & Narrow Neck Plateau, Blue Mountains NSW

Two mostly flat walks that visit a number of vantage points on Narrow Neck Plateau for views over the Jamison Valley in the Blue Mountains near Katoomba.

Two reasonably easy going walks here on Narrow Neck Plateau in the Blue Mountains at Katoomba. They both offer sweeping views over the famous landmarks of the Jamison Valley from a different angle than the more famous vantage points, and there’s also views of the Megalong Valley. Continue reading “Castle Head & Narrow Neck Plateau, Blue Mountains NSW”