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Best hikes in and around Sydney

Shannon Barker

Beautiful beaches, good weather and a stunning harbour: Sydneysiders are truly blessed in their part of the world. They also happen to be surrounded on all sides by national parks. And not just any national parks – these are some best in Australia.

We’ve created a list of some of the best hikes and walks in and around Sydney. Spanning from lush bushland to sweeping coastal plateaus, you can find everything you need right here. So get out there, stretch your legs and see the natural beauty on offer in your own backyards.

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Grand Canyon Hike

This stunning hike is highly acclaimed by locals and visitors alike. With dramatic and varied views, lush rainforest floors and waterfalls a’plenty, the Grand Canyon Hike is well worth the drive to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains and a great way to spend your weekend.

Beginning at Evans lookout, soak in the views before beginning your descent into the valley floor. An abundance of native flora and fauna will greet you along the hike so be sure to bring your camera. The hike is relatively easy until the ascent out of the valley where there are some short steep steps. Bring plenty of water and pack a lunch to eat by the tranquil valley rivers before heading out.

If you’re feeling brave, you can pitch a tent at the remote and beautiful Acacia Flats for the night and tackle the longer hike that heads deeper into the Grose Valley.

Time: 3-4 hours
Distance: 6.3 km Loop
Difficulty: Moderate

Photo by Laura Cros Via Unsplash

Bondi to Bronte

A classic Sydney walking route, this sublime coastal walk takes you through some of Sydney's most famous beaches and landscapes. A much loved weekend stroll for locals, the Bondi to Bronte walk can be taken as fast or slow as you like it. Enjoy a dip at one of the beaches along the way or stop for lunch at a local cafe before continuing on.

This walk is dog friendly and is a great date idea or family weekend activity. You can extend the walk past Bronte for a greater challenger by beginning at Coogee or Clovelly. The walk is also home to the annual Sculptures by the Sea exhibition, which spans the length of Bondi to Tamarama and is the world’s largest free to the public sculpture exhibition.  

Time: 1 hour
Distance: 2.5 km
Difficulty: Easy (some stairs)

Royal National Park - Via Destination NSW

Royal National Park Coastal Walk

Following the coastline from Bundeena to Otford, this stunning walk will take you through the rugged beauty of the Royal National Park. The easiest way to begin your journey is to take a small privately run ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena, where you will start your walk. Also known as the Coast Track, it will take you past many famous Royal National Park sites, including Wedding Cake Rock, Wattamolla and the Figure 8 Pools (make sure you check the tide information before you go). With changing landscapes ranging from rainforests to waterfalls and sprawling clifftop grasslands, this walk is truly stunning. The campground at North Era is a picturesque spot to spend the night and although the campground is remote, it does have access to toilets.

Time: 2 days
Distance: 26 km (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate - Hard

Bouddi National Park - Via Central Coast Tourism

Bouddi Coastal Walk

Touted as one of the states most beautiful coastal walks, the Bouddi Coastal Walk is located on the Central Coast, around an hours drive from Sydney, and is a favourite walk for those drawn back time and again to explore what the region has on offer. The coastal walk takes you from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach, with campgrounds located at both Putty and Pretty Beach. Stumble upon shipwrecks and hidden beaches, while walking along the well maintained track through Bouddi National Park. This track turns back on itself as you head back towards the campground, so if you’re driving it is a good idea to leave your tent and heavier items in the car and take a day pack on the walk. Cool off at the beautiful Putty beach before setting up your tent and watching the moon rise over the Pacific ocean.

Time: 4-5 hours
Distance: 8 km
Difficulty: Easy

Valley of the Waters - Via Destination NSW

Valley of the Waters walk

Beginning at Wentworth falls lookout, this walk begins by winding down the cliff face and showcases jaw dropping views out over the Jamison Valley and Mount Solitary. Heading down into soaring eucalypts and rich rainforests, you will soon see how this walk got its same as it opens up to Wentworth Falls and the pools of water beneath its roaring torrent. Sit and enjoy the cooling spray before continuing the walk into the Valley of the Waters, where you will find yourself surrounded by running streams and waterfalls.

It’s a magical experience that is well worth the steep steps on the way out. Reward yourself with a lunch at The Conservation Hut, which will conveniently greet you at the end of the walk.

Time: 4-5 hours
Distance: 5 km loop
Difficulty: Moderate - Hard

Jenolan Caves - Via Destination NSW

Six Foot Track

Not for the faint of heart, this challenging walk will take you from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves. Starting at explorers tree in Katoomba, this walk follows an old horse track that dates back to the 1880’s. The three day walk can be cut up into more manageable chunks or even cut in half to stop in the Megalong Valley where you can enjoy lunch and a tipple at Dry Ridge Estate, conveniently located along the trail. Many spend the night in the Six Foot Track Eco Lodge next to Cox’s River before heading back to explorers tree.

If you are looking to complete the full three day journey, you will be rewarded for your exertions with an experience of the Blue Mountains shared only by a small few. The hike finishes at the historic Jenolan Caves house where you can stay the night and recharge before exploring the awe inspiring cave systems.

Time: 3 days (or shorter if you stop at Coxs River and return)
Distance: 46 km (for the full three day walk, shorter if return at Coxs River) Difficulty: Moderate - Hard

Ka-Ring-Gai national park - Via Destination NSW

Mount Ku-Ring-Gai to Berowra

Starting near Mount Ku-Ring-Gai Station this walk takes you through cliff overhangs, tranquil bays and rugged bushland. It’s a great day activity for families with lots of interesting historical sites along the way. While walking, look out for Indiginous middens - these mounds are often found near river banks and cliff overhangs and are a great indicator for archeologists as to the diet, lifestyle and activities of local Indigenous communities dating back thousands of years.

Stop for a dip in the turquoise waters of Appletree Bay where you can set up for lunch before continuing the remainder of the walk to Berowra.

Time: 3-4 hours
Distance: 10 km
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

Photo by Bobby Hendry Via Unsplash

Glow worm tunnel walking track

This must do walk takes you through a historic mine tunnel home to countless brightly shining glow worms. Only a two hour drive from Sydney in the famous Wollemi National Park near Lithgow, this easy walk is popular with Sydneysiders wanting to spot the glow worms in their natural environment. The walk begins at the carpark at the end of Glow Worm Tunnel Road.

Remember that the tunnel will be dark and slippery in some places and good footwear is recommended. So be prepared to switch off your torch and let the glow worms lead the way!

More information on the walk can be found here.

Time: 1-2 hours
Distance: 2 km return
Difficulty: Easy

Header image: Grand Canyon Hike - Via Destination NSW

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