The Grand Canyon Walk

The Grand Canyon walk in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park, NSW, was first established in 1907. In my opinion, it is one of the best walks in Australia.

The track will take you down carved steps, past waterfalls (even under one), over bubbling creeks and through a variety of stunning natural terrain, including a small but dark open-ended cave (below). Thanks to the excellent recent maintenance work, the track itself has never been easier to follow, taking walkers across a number of the shallow sections of creek on new, neatly carved stone steps.

This magnificent walk is suitable for walkers with good fitness levels, and due to the steep descent and ascent, it is not recommended for people with a tendency towards knee problems. The good news is that the entire route is well signed and can be enjoyed without specialist equipment. You will not require a map or compass but be sure to wear appropriate clothing and good walking shoes – and pack plenty of water.

Duration: 2-4 hour circuit. Distance: 5.4km. Climb: 425m. Grade: Hard. Details below.

The track: Begin by the Grand Canyon Loop car park at the very end of Evans Lookout Road, Blackheath. Check out the stunning view from the cliff top, then follow the signs down and to the right for the Grand Canyon walk. You will take a steep descent down into the canyon before finding yourself in an area of cool, lush rainforest. Cross the creek and continue through the canyon. Even on busy weekends most of the traffic will ease off after the first 30 minutes, and you will likely enjoy the rest of the track in solitude. Continue along the canyon floor and across the cliff edges (all with handy railings) following the signs. The ascent up the other side is slightly more staggered, though still steep in parts. You will emerge at the small Neates Glen car park on Evans Lookout Road. Turn right and head back to the Grand Canyon Loop car park at the end of the long road where you began, to complete the circuit. You will see a walking track off to the right, close to the road, so you won’t need to tread the pavement to find your way back. A map of the circuit can be found here.

The cool canyon makes this walk particularly nice on hot summer days, but it is wonderful in most weather. As the creek can flood after heavy rain, be sure to take care. Avoid this track (and others) in any extreme weather conditions.

* Be aware that maintenance is ongoing in some sections and the track may be closed on some weekdays due to the works in progress.

My Gear – Geeky Details for Hikers: I wore my trusty Scarpa hiking boots, Osprey women’s hiking pack, 100% Merino wool hiking gear from Mac Pac, and Helly Hansen charger pants for this hike – literally the only hiking pants I have ever found for my leg length. Though I generally prefer hiking skirts worn with canvas gaiters, the pants were breathable and comfortable. No windbreaker was needed in the protected canyon. I wore my fingerless wool/possum blend gloves to comfortably grip the cold railings.

I keep a small key light on my pack and it served me well while negotiating the cave, pictured above, where the rocky ground is uneven. (It’s good for making spooky faces, too.)

Our 19 month old daughter, Sapphira, was carried by Berndt throughout the walk in her Deuter Kids Comfort III backpack, which she has already travelled through Spain, Canada and New Zealand in. We highly recommended structured carries like this one for toddlers over age 1. They are excellent for long day walks.

I hope you enjoy this track as much as we do. Happy hiking.

2 Comments

  1. It makes me want to go and have a look for myself. But first, need to get the dodgy knee patched up again.

    I was only in my teens when I discovered that going out into nature like that can be such a wonderful experience, more than just getting fresh air but even spiritual-like. It was only when I was older that I realised how incredibly lucky we are to have some much of it so accessible.

  2. Tara,
    If you think the track is amazing, you should spend the day dropping right down into the canyon and exploring its dark recesses. It is one of the the most impressive easily accessible sandstone slot canyons in the Blue Mountains, and despite the tens of thousands of people who wander along the track high above each year, few have any idea what is deep below them.
    If ever you’re interested we’d be more than happy to show you the full canyon!
    http://fatcanyoners.org/2010/11/06/juggler-pilcher-and-grand-canyons/

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