Unlike most places in Sydney, walking tracks in the Blue Mountains are more scenic once winter rolls in. The fog gathers, the people dissipate and the mountain air is even more crisp and refreshing. Pack a warm jacket and take on one of these - there are options for casual hikers, professional backpackers, and those who just want a picnic and a stroll.
This easy one-hour track starts at the Jenolan Caves’ surreal Blue Lake – a man-made, dreamlike swimming hole fringed by palm trees and filled with unnaturally blue water. Walk over the rocky grand arch that winds above the lake, bypass a few waterfalls and take a break at the waterfront picnic area. Look out for resident platypuses along the way.
Follow Leura Creek until you reach the base of Leura Cascades – a gentle waterfall with an accompanying picnic spot. From there, stop at multiple lookout points until you reach the top of a bigger waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls, and enjoy magnificent views of the Jamison Valley. Loop back to the start, or descend into the rainforest and the Fern Bower track. With more waterfalls, lakes and leafy green scenery, this path is moderately challenging and takes around three-and-a-half hours to complete.
One of the region’s most popular walks (and one of the best ways to see the Blue Mountains), this three-and-a-half hour trek winds through the national park with stunning views of waterfalls and valleys. Begin at Wentworth Falls, and then climb the Grand Stairway – a man-made, 800-step staircase on the cliff face. From there, make your way through the Valley of the Waters (a set of beautiful waterfalls – Empress Falls, Silvia Falls, Lodore Falls) and to the Conservation Hut. Stop for a picnic and enjoy the sweeping valley views or loop back around. As long as you’re okay with stairs, this is a relatively easy track. You can finish it in around three hours.
Full Day or Overnight
This challenging track begins at the Golden Stairs in Katoomba and passes through the area’s heath, woodlands and rainforest. It takes six to nine hours to finish, so tackle it in a day if you’re experienced (and up for a challenge), or pack your camping gear for an overnight trek. It’s a rough path, dotted with textured hills, dramatic cliff lines, and areas of unmarked track, but the spectacular valley views at the top of the mountain are well worth it.
Up for a challenge? Take on the Six Foot trail that begins in Katoomba and ends in Jenolan Caves. Winding through rainforests, national parks and woodlands, this is one for those with hiking experience, as the whole route takes two to three days to complete. Start at the Explorer’s Tree and descend into the Megalong Valley, then head to Nellie’s Glen and walk over Cox’s River via the iconic swing bridge built in 1999. The route is dotted with campsites – you may only need to stay one night, but just in case, always pack for two.
Think Before You Trek is an initiative which runs in the Blue Mountains area – always plan ahead considerably before you hit the track.