8 of the Best Circuit Day Walks in The Blue Mountains
We all know how incredible bushwalking can be in the Blue Mountains but sometimes getting yourself to the trailhead then popping out of the track at the other end requires masterful levels of organising and preplanning. Car drop offs (drop one car at the end, drive back to the beginning, pick up other car at the end, drive back to first car etc etc) or a reliance on taxis, which are both expensive and scarce, can just make the day too long and hard.
Here are 8 of the best well known and lesser known circuit walks in the Blue Mountains where you simply park the car, hike and end up back at your car without the fuss of taxis, car drop offs or backtracking.
1. Little Zig Zag and Rienits Pass Track, Mount Victoria: This is a lovely historic walk that should take about 2 hours to complete. It is graded as ‘medium’ and has a few tricky spots that require a scramble over fallen tree trunks or up mossy stairs. Park the car at the end of Kanimbla Valley Rd and head down the fire trail. The track is well signposted and takes you down an old zig-zag bridle track, past vertical sandstone ledges (perfect for rock climbers) and into an old cave, where legend has it was once the refuge for escaped bushrangers in the 1800’s. Further on you will pass cool ferny gullies, a waterfall and rocky pools and be rewarded at the end with magical views over Kanimbla Valley from the amusingly hat-shaped pulpit rock.
2. Grand Canyon Circuit Track, Blackheath: This popular and stunning walk showcases the immense beauty of the area as it follows the course of a deep cut canyon. It’s a 6km loop and graded as hard, mainly because of the steep ascent and seemingly endless thigh burning stairs at the end. The loop takes about 3 ½ hours to complete. The trail begins and ends on Evan’s lookout Rd near Neate’s Glen. The walk passes sandstone walls and cliffs on the edge of the canyon, leading into Jurassic style ferns and abundant waterfalls and swimming holes, making it a perfect walk for a hot day.
3. Porters Pass/ Centennial Glen, Blackheath: One of the oldest and lesser known walks in the mountains, dating back to 1888, the Porters pass/Centennial Glen walk, situated west of Blackheath, offers great views of Kanimbla Valley as well as a variety of waterfalls, ferny gullies, mossy glens and sandstone overhangs, popular with local rock climbers. Graded as medium, this 5.5km circuit will take about 3 hours and begins and ends at Centennial Glen Rd. Great trail if you are looking to avoid the crowds.
4. Prince Henry Cliff Walk/Federal Pass, Katoomba: Combining the most iconic sight of the mountains, The Three Sisters with the famous Grand Stairway and ending with a ride on either the vertical railway or cable car of Scenic world, this walk gives you a great sense of the Blue Mountains landscape. The circuit is about 6.5km in length and should take you about 4-5 hours. Probably best to park at scenic world and start with the gentle cliff walk to the three sisters, then tackle the descent of the 998 steps of the Giant staircase into the valley. The steep stairs grades this walk as ‘hard’ but the cliff walk section is mostly flat and easy. You’ll need to bring some money with you to pay for the railway/cable car (about $16) back up or if you’re really keen for a challenge you could climb out of the valley using the Fuber Steps, which are only 996 steps up!
5. National Pass, Wentworth Falls: Honestly one of my favourite trails in the Blue Mountains which features breathtaking views, iconic waterfalls, lush ferny grottos and cool water holes. The circuit is best completed clockwise by parking at the Falls car park and picnic area and ending at the Conservation Hut café for refreshments before ducking back to the car park via the short cut track. The walk should take you about 3 hours and is about a 5kms loop graded as ‘hard’ due to the steep descent and ascent of about 200 metres. Go early or midweek to avoid the crowds.
6. Nature Track, Wentworth Falls: This is a great little circuit walk starting and ending at the Conservation Hut, and a great option if you don’t want to face a big walk but still enjoy a challenge. This 3 km circuit can be completed in as little as an hour or longer if you want to explore the enticing diversions along the way. This walk is a condensed version of all that’s great about the Blue Mountains including canyons, picturesque waterfalls, beautiful views, ferny gullies and of course ending with a ascent challenging up sandstone steps and steel ladders. It’s proximity to the Conservation Hut café makes it even more attractive.
7. Waterfall Circuit, Lawson: If you’re an avid chaser of waterfalls, you will love this easy going trail, that is less crowded but just as pretty as the more iconic mountain walks. There are five waterfalls in total over the 3 km walk, which begins on Honour Ave opposite Livingstone st, Lawson. Pack a picnic lunch and your swimmers for this one, which should only take you about 1 ½ hours in total.
8. Sassafras Gully and Wiggins track, Springwood: Possibly the nicest circuit walk in the lower mountains, beginning at Sassafras Gully Rd. This 5 km circuit is graded medium and should take you about 2 ½ hours to complete. Try walking this one in spring, where wildflowers abound along the banks of the creek.