Local Escapes

The Best Hikes In & Around Sydney

By Henry Brydon - 14 Dec 2017

best hikes in Sydney


Ahh hiking AKA “extreme walking” (okay, not really). It’s one of those weekend activities which make you feel like you’ve achieved something come Monday at the office. Plus it's a whole lot of fun too.

For those open to a hike near Sydney, you’re in for a more eye-opening treat than those freakshakes that have made their way around town of late. I’ve strolled a big chunk of these within a three hour radius of the city, and the following selections are my stand-out favourites based on their raw beauty, convenience and seclusion. Get those hiking boots on, people!

Note: now we know we don't have to tell you to do some research before setting out on a big ol' hike, so please, do that. Water, snacks, first aid kit—you know the drill.

Bundeena To Otford

Royal National Park

With magnificent white-cliff coastlines to bushwalk in the North and rugged, gym-free beaches to surf in the South (Garie Beach and North/South Era), the RNP is something to behold. Accessible by public transport (train to Cronulla, ferry to Bundeena, train back to Sydney via Otford), this gem of a walk has sprawling rainforests, hidden waterfalls, rockpools and a beachside campsite for those looking to spread the 26km trek over two days. Although becoming increasingly popular with Sydney escape artists, this is a definite addition to your bucket list this year.
Time taken: two full days

Mermaid Pools And Tahmoor Gorge Walk

Tahmoor

You’ve probably seen someone you know upload some incredible snaps of Mermaid Pools, so it’s about time you get your butt on the Mermaid Pools and Tahmoor Gorge walk, about a 75-minute drive southwest from Sydney. With a dip in the beautiful Mermaid Pools after as your reward, this is the perfect hike if you’re up for a challenge with some mates. Find out more here.
Time taken: Half day

The Grand Canyon Loop

Blue Mountains National Park

Not to be mistaken for the Big Daddy in Arizona, this 5.5km / four hour stroll competes in its grandeur however. Starting from Neates Glen Car Park in Blackheath, the walk descends through a hidden rainforest of luscious ferns, trickling creeks and hidden tunnels. You’ll weave through gorges towards the depths of the canyon and then climb back towards Evans Lookout to feast your eyes upon the Grose Valley. 
Time taken: Half day

Bouddi Coastal Walk

Bouddi Bouddi National Park

This is an undulating 8km beachcombing trek which is so nice, you should do it twice (which you’ll have to, to return to your car anyway!). Two campsites are nestled on golden beaches along it: Little Beach and Putty Beach, both of which will have your friends furiously double tapping the posts on your Instagram feed. Shipwrecks, wildflowers, whale-watching, deserted beaches... sounds like paradise to me.
Time taken: 1 – 2 days

Gloucester Tops Circuit

Barrington Tops National Park

A bushwalker’s utopia, Barrington Tops is a remote section of NSW offering hikers prepared to get off the beaten track the sweetest of rewards. Gloucester Tops Circuit is the standout 7km loop as it combines three of the park’s best walks into a manageable 7km trek. From towering snow gum forests and moss carpets to lively swamp wallabies and grey kangaroos, it’s an almighty experience that is best included as part of long weekend of 4x4ing, mountain biking and wild swimming in the National Park.
Time taken: 1 day

Grand Canyon Track

Blue Mountains National Park

People have been walking this stunning bushwalking track in the Blue Mountains since 1907 (so it must be good hey?). We’re talking waterfall on waterfall, native golden wattles, giant ferns and sandstone cliffs—beautiful right? Consider the Grand Canyon Track as a must-do walk for all Sydney-siders! Find out more here.
Time taken: Half day

Mt Ku-Ring-Gai To Berowra

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

The beauty of this one is that there is no need for a combustion engine! In fact, I did this one with two mates on a Wednesday night without having to take a minute of annual leave. Catch the train from Central to Ku-Ring-Gai station and follow the 9km walking track as it weaves down through precarious rock overhangs and narrowing gorges. There are two undisturbed bush campsites by the creek where you can rest overnight, before a sweat-drenching climb back out towards your commuter train back to home or work! #fixuplooksharp
Time taken: 4 hours or mid-week overnighter

Great North Walk

Sydney To Newcastle

This walk passes through Lane Cove National Park and leads all the way across Sydney, passing the Hunter Valley (ICYMI there’s wine here) and Newcastle (wine here too). If a 16-day hike to Newcastle doesn’t sound quite like you, can’t imagine why, parts of this walk can be tackled in a day or two, with heaps of scenic (read: Instagrammable) picnic and camping spots along the way. Find out more here.
Time taken: Up to 16 days (if you’re game enough)

Karloo Walking Track

Royal National Park

The Karloo Walking Track is a medium track ideal for those wanting a quick nature fix in Sydney. The walk leads you to Uloola Falls where you can picnic the day away while gazing upon the scenic waterfall and natural surrounds. You can even make a weekend out of it, camping at the popular Uloola Falls campground, but bookings need to be made in advance. Find out more here.
Time taken: Half day 

Here are all of our fave secret beaches in Sydney. 

Image credit: Henry Brydon

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