Famed for its dramatic sandstone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and jaw-dropping lookouts, the Blue Mountains is an absolute paradise for bushwalking. It encompasses hundreds of hiking trails, whether you’re after a pram-friendly stroll or a challenging, multi-day adventure.
Can’t decide which trail to hike in this UNESCO World Heritage-listed natural wonderland? Read on to discover some of the top hikes in the Blue Mountains and what you can expect to see along the way.
Best Short Blue Mountains Walks
Mount Banks Summit Walk
With its double-humped peak, Mount Banks is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the Blue Mountains. This great walk boasts some of the most magnificent views in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area while still remaining relatively undiscovered. From the Mount Banks picnic area, follow the steeply ascending trail that leads through a forest of monkey gums and enjoy the panoramic views across the Grose Wilderness from the summit.
Dardanelles Pass Circuit Walk
With magnificent views, cascading falls and lush rainforest, this challenging circuit is one of the best walks in the Blue Mountains. From Echo Point, it takes you past the famous Three Sisters and down the Giant Stairway (with its 900+ stairs) before meandering through the sassafras, coachwood and lilly pilly of the Leura Forest. Continuing along the historic Dardanelles Pass trail, you’ll arrive at the photogenic Marguerite Cascades before hiking out of the valley along the Fern Bower Track.
Burramoko Ridge (Hanging Rock) Track
With sweeping views across the Grose Wilderness, it’s hard to deny that this is one of the best bush walks in the Blue Mountains. The trail leads along a ridge blanketed in heathland and open forest before arriving at a dramatic rocky bluff. At the end of the main trail, a short bush track leads to the Baltzer Lookout, otherwise known as Hanging Rock. It offers jaw-dropping views across the surrounding escarpments and is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. As the lookout is unfenced, you need to take extra care and children must be closely supervised.
Ruined Castle Walk
Beginning at the Golden Stairs, this short but challenging Katoomba bush walk offers an insight into the region’s mining heritage, not to mention superb views across the Jamison Valley.
It takes you to one of the most recognisable landmarks in the valley, the unique rock formation known as the Ruined Castle. Once you’ve descended into the valley, you’ll enter a lush rainforest of coachwood and sassafras, with the opportunity to spot lyrebirds along the way.
Take note of the mining cuttings and embankments that dot the valley, together with the ruins of historic mining cottages. After soaking up the Jamison Valley views from the Ruined Castle, it’s a steep climb back to your starting point.
Best Blue Mountains Walks: Best Multi-Day Hikes
Federal Pass Walking Track
While the Federal Pass walking track can be completed in one day, we recommend completing it over a few to really enjoy the scenery. It’s one of the best Blue Mountains walks if you’re after a challenge, taking you from the Leura Forest to Katoomba Falls, then along an old horse-drawn coal tramway line to the Ruined Castle.
Originally built by the local community, the Federal Pass Walking Track hugs the base of the cliffs while taking in iconic landmarks such as the Three Sisters. You can join the track midway by descending the Furber Steps or the Golden Stairs, which allows you to easily hike the Federal Pass over multiple days.
The Six-Foot Track
Following a former bridle trail from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves, this Blue Mountains hike is usually completed across three days. It begins at the Explorer’s Tree on the Great Western Highway and heads west through a tract of temperate forest and along the floor of the Megalong Valley.
Magnificent bushland and dramatic rock escarpments are a feature of the track, which passes the Bowtells Swing Bridge and the Carlotta Arch.
At the end of your trek, be sure to explore the Jenolan Caves, which is considered one of Australia’s most impressive cave systems. There are several campgrounds along the route where you can stay overnight, including the Coxs River Campsite and the Black Range Camping Ground.
Best Blue Mountains Walks with Waterfalls
Empress Falls Track
This short but steep walking track takes you to one of the most beautiful cascades in the Blue Mountains, Empress Falls. After a gentle descent into the valley, a side trail leads off to the Queen Victoria Lookout, which offers scenic views of the Jamison Valley. Continue to the Empress Lookout before heading down the metal stairs that lead to the falls themselves.
Beginning at the Wentworth Falls picnic area, this challenging trail takes you through the rainforested Valley of the Waters to several picturesque cascades. Enjoy sweeping views across the Jamison Valley towards Mount Solitary before taking a dip in the pool of Wentworth Falls, then descend into a lush forest en route to the Empress Lookout. The trail passes several creek crossings and small waterfalls before climbing up to Conservation Hut. From here, the Shortcut Track leads back to the Wentworth Falls picnic area.
Katoomba Falls Round Walk
Beginning at Scenic World, this short and relatively easy trail is ideal for all ages, meandering through a lush rainforest en route to Katoomba Falls. Along the way, you’ll be treated to spectacular views across the Jamison Valley and the breathtaking Katoomba escarpment. At Vanimans Lookout, take the time to appreciate the Three Sisters and Katoomba Falls, which plunge 150 metres into the valley below.
South Lawson Waterfall Circuit Walk
Just a stone’s throw from the centre of Lawson is this easy but rewarding circuit trail, which takes in four beautiful waterfalls. Nestled in scenic bushland, it is ideal for the entire family and all fitness levels, as well as being dog-friendly. Keep in mind that the trail can get muddy after heavy rainfall, so be sure to wear appropriate shoes!
Child-Friendly Blue Mountains Walks
Three Sisters Walk
Starting at Echo Point in Katoomba, this family-friendly walk is one of the Blue Mountains’ most popular and offers an up-close view of the iconic Three Sisters. Surrounded by eucalypt forest, it connects to the Oreades Lookout, from where you can admire the three sandstone turrets and the spectacular Jamison Valley. Climb the top of the Giant Stairway to Honeymoon Bridge, which connects to the first “sister”, then make the short detour to Spooners Lookout on your return. Because this walk gets incredibly busy, we recommend going early in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds.
Based in Glenbrook, this relatively flat fire trail takes you to a wonderful lookout over Penrith Valley and Sydney. It’s easy enough to complete with children of all ages and you can even bring the pram (provided it is equipped to handle a little bit of rocky terrain). It’s also possible to cycle along the trail, although some sections are quite bumpy and may not appeal to young kids.
Fairfax Heritage Track
Beginning at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, this family-friendly trail is one of the best Blue Mountains walks for those visiting with prams or wheelchairs. It is tarred and smooth and connects to several scenic lookouts with waterfall views. The Fairfax Heritage Track skirts the edge of a hanging swamp before entering a magnificent forest of peppermint and scribbly gums. Panoramas across the Grose Valley, Govetts Gorge and Jungle Falls are your rewards before returning along the same trail.
Pool of Siloam
This tranquil waterhole is a gorgeous spot to bring the family, with a pretty waterfall, a fern-draped gully and magnificent sandstone cliffs. An easy trail leads from the parking area of Gordon Falls Reserve where you’ll find play equipment, toilets, picnic tables and barbecues. Kids will love splashing around in the shallow pool and leaping across the sandstone steps that span the gully.
Best Of the Rest Blue Mountains Walks
Lapstone Zig Zag Walk
Following the abandoned line of an old railway line, the historic Lapstone Zig Zag Walk takes you to the huge, arched sandstone Knapsack Viaduct. It was constructed in the 1860s to carry the Zig Zag Railway across the Knapsack Gully and has been heritage-listed since the 1990s. The trail takes you through sandstone cuttings and past an old train station, with dogs welcome to join you if they are on a lead.
Cliff Top Walking Track
Following the cliff edge that connects Govetts Leap with Evans Lookout, this unforgettable trail boasts some of the most breathtaking views in the Blue Mountains. Overlooking the immense Grose Valley, it winds through dense heathland dominated by she-oaks, banksias and mallee scrub while offering sightings of yellow-tailed black cockatoos and king parrots. The trail is particularly impressive in spring when the wildflowers are in bloom. The Cliff Top Walking Track can be started at either end and connects to the famous Grand Canyon Walk at Evans Lookout.
Grand Canyon Walking Track
Beginning at Evans Lookout, this challenging walk is one of the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular, with countless waterfalls, trickling creeks and soaring sandstone walls as your backdrop. This historic trail has been in existence since 1907 and is still one of the area’s most popular, with lush native vegetation and golden wattles lining the route. While there are a few very steep sections, the Grand Canyon Walking Track can easily be completed by anyone with a good level of fitness.
Lockleys Pylon Walking Track
Boasting 360-degree views across the Grose Valley and Govetts Gorge, the Lockleys Pylon Walking Track still remains off-the-beaten-track. It is named after J.G. Lockley, a journalist who played an influential role in protecting the Blue Gum Forest from logging in the 1930s. The trail passes through a variety of habitats, including heathland, eucalypt forests and a sea of wildflowers, and offers excellent bird-watching opportunities. The final stretch to the summit of Lockleys Pylon is quite steep but the views from the top are more than worth it.
Tips for hiking in the Blue Mountains
Even if you’re an experienced bushwalker, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected when hiking in the Blue Mountains.
Getting to the Blue Mountains
Located just 90 minutes drive from Sydney, the easiest way to access the Blue Mountains is by car. The M4 Western Motorway connects from the city outskirts to become the Great Western Highway, passing Hazelbrook, Wentworth Falls, Leura and Katoomba before continuing to Blackheath and Mount Victoria.
Alternatively, you can travel on the Blue Mountains Line from Sydney Central Station to the Blue Mountains, with the journey taking roughly two hours. Trains stop at Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba, Medlow Bath, Blackheath and Mount Victoria, with many of the walking trails easily accessible from the stations.
Organised tours are also available from Sydney to the Blue Mountains and take in many of the region’s highlights. Most will only include short walks to the Blue Mountains’ lookouts and waterfalls, rather than full-day hikes that will get you off-the-beaten-track.
Where to Stay in The Blue Mountains
No matter where you decide to stay in the Blue Mountains, there is accommodation to suit everyone. If it is your first time visiting the Blue Mountains then I recommend staying in Katoomba, where there are lots of bars, cafes and things to do in Katoomba’s village. If you are on a budget then the best hostel in Katoomba is Blue Mountain YHA, or stay a night at the popular Lilianfels. If you truly want to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Blue Mountains then head to Wentworth Falls and stay at the budget-friendly Grand View Hotel or treat yourself to a bit of luxury with a stay at Falls Mountain Retreat.
The Old Leura Dairy
The Old Leura Dairy offers a unique experience, guaranteed to make memories for all the guests who stay here. Nestled in the quaint village of Leura, the Old Leura Dairy is central to restaurants, shops, experiences and natural beauty that the upper Blue Mountains has to offer.