If you’re looking to find one of the best walks near Sydney, then look no further other than the Grand Canyon walk in Blue Mountains.
It was when we went on this hike recently I realised I had indeed done it before. Well, half of it before we turned back. And that was before I really got into hiking to properly appreciate it which is when we moved to Australia in 2011. Although I do remember at the time being in total awe of the tropical scenery.
So instead of doing half of the hike, we did the whole circuit a few days ago.
We’re here to let you know what to exactly expect of this walk because there were a few alarm bells that we felt we needed to prepare you.
Known as being the best hike in Blue Mountains, the Grand Canyon walk will give you access into the incredibly beautiful rainforest terrain that was once part of that Gondwana era. That’s right, it’s thought to be over 100 million years old…
…this is the rainforest where dinosaurs apparently once walked.
1. Grand Canyon Walk Blue Mountains Parking
We parked at Grand Canyon Look car park above.
After reading a few other blogs, it’s a bit confusing with where to park your car to start the Grand Walk walk in the Blue Mountains.
There are actually three car parks, although it doesn’t technically matter which one you decide to park at.
The first one you’ll come across is Neates Glen car park. If you drive on a little further you’ll come to Grand Canyon Loop carpark. And a little further on will bring you to Evans Lookout carpark.
We actually parked at the Grand Canyon Loop carpark. It wasn’t planned at all but in the end we were glad we parked at this one more than anything. Firstly it wasn’t as busy as the other two carparks and secondly, you’ll be pleased you parked here at the end of the walk. See point two for why we think this.
2. Where to actually start the Grand Canyon Walk Blue Mountains
Start the trek at Neates Glen car park above.
As we mentioned in point 1, we recommend you parking at Grand Canyon Loop car park. Because the walk goes in a circle, we think it’s best to park in the middle car park.
We had read online to do the walk anti-clockwise so that at the end of the trek you’ll be greeted with the knockout views of Evans Lookout. If you park at Evans Lookout, you’ll start with the views which is a bit disappointing personally. Trust us, you’ll want something to look forward to at the end of the climb back up the canyon.
Evans Lookout views.
So you’ll need to walk to Neates Glen Car Park to start the trek. If you’re wondering why not park at Neates Glen car park, the reason is that once you’ve seen Evans Lookout, you’ll probably want to get to your car. It’s a really boring path from Evans Lookout to Neates Glen on the road which is why we recommend parking in the middle at Grand Canyon Loop Car Park.
3. Are you sure about going anti-clockwise on the walk?
You’ll probably be confused about going anti-clockwise because the majority of people walk clockwise around the Grand Canyon. We stopped and asked a few people before we started because it did feel like we were going the wrong way. It was also quite annoying having to stop and let people pass but you’ll get that whichever way you go.
We also read that the because you’ll be essentially walking down into the canyon and back up, the stairs are steeper at the end of the trek if you go clockwise. To be honest, the people we saw climbing up at the end of their trek which was the beginning of ours looked pretty exhausted. So yeah, go anti-clockwise, OK?
4. How long does the Grand Canyon hike take in Blue Mountains?
From what we saw, this Blue Mountains bush walk is suggested to take between 3-4 hours to complete, but we timed it on my trusted Garmin 235 and it took us 2.5hrs. We walked really slowly, stopped and took loads of photos and videos along the way.
I did read trail runners complete this walk in something like 50 minutes. We did indeed see three runners on this path which was impressive.
5. Do I need a map to do the Grand Canyon walk?
Find out more about the Grand Canyon walk map here.
We came to the trek completely unprepared but to be honest you don’t need a map at all. The path is completely trodden on and there won’t be any of those ‘which way do we go?’ moments. The track is also maintained by the national parks so you should be fine.
For peace of mind, here’s a map above for the just in case.
As the Grand Canyon is one of the best Blue Mountains hikes, be prepared to see a few people along this path. This Blue Mountains canyon walk was by far not secluded but it wasn’t heaving with people. We went on a Sunday afternoon so I don’t think you need to expect a conga line or anything.
7. Grand Canyon Walk With Children
We were quite surprised that within the first 10 minutes of the trek we saw loads of families with young kids and even babies doing this trek. To be honest, I wouldn’t be bringing young kids or babies on this walk. If you’re child has done loads of walks before then they should be fine but if they haven’t then I wouldn’t bring them.
We saw one young girl who looked no older than six years old crying her eyes out because she just didn’t want to walk any longer. I don’t blame her, it was way too much to take a child on a hike that would have probably taken them a good 3.5-4hours to complete.
I also wouldn’t take babies on this hike because there are a lot of stairs to walk up and down and when we went, it was quite slippery and wet.
You don’t need to be super fit to do this trek but it’s definitely a bit more challenging than some of the other hikes we’ve done in the Blue Mountains like Hanging Rock or Wentworth Falls.
We did see a lot of older people doing this walk but you’ll need to make sure you can walk up and down at least 1000 steps. Believe me, our legs ached for the next few days.
9. What time of day should I start the trek?
We started the trek at around 1pm. We were a bit worried about the light because we did it in June. I would recommend doing the trek as early as possible to avoid crowds and to make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy it.
The Grand Canyon walk is so beautiful, we found it to be one of the best hikes in NSW. The walk takes you right into a tropical rainforest that you’ll wonder if you’ve been transported into another time in history. It’s quite spectacular. You won’t need to climb over or under any rocks, it’s a decent path anyone who can climb those 1000 steps can do.
The main highlight of this Blue Mountains canyon walk is the waterfall you’ll be able to walk underneath which is around the half way mark. The landscape itself is exceptional that you’ll want to sit back on a rock and take in the beauty of this spot.
11. What do I need to bring with me?
We recommend bringing a small backpack with you on this walk that you’ll be able to easily carry.
Make sure you bring plenty of water with you – we recommend at least 1.5 litre per person.
12. What should I wear for this trek?
Because the walk takes you down into the canyon, the temperature is all over the place which will make sure you take layers off and put them back on constantly. Make sure you bring a rain coat with you, we recommend this one which has taken us to Everest Base Camp and is really light weight.
Also wear some lightweight trekking trousers, and a tshirt so when it gets a bit hot walking back up those stairs on the way back, you’ll be glad you’re wearing a tshirt under those layers.
13. Can I trek in trainers?
We always, always recommend wearing trekking boots and this walk is no exception. Because you’re going into a rainforest, it can get really wet and you don’t want to be falling all over the place. Always wear appropriate clothing and shoes when hiking.
We saw one woman who honestly looked like she had just come from the shops with her handbag slung over her shoulder. We did wonder what she had signed up for.
14. Can I camp in Grand Canyon?
If you’re looking to camp in the Grand Canyon, I’d suggest heading over to Perry’s Lookout campground nearby which has absolutely beautiful views. And did we mention it’s also free camping in the Blue Mountains as well?
Camping isn’t your thing? We absolute strongly recommend staying at the YHA in Katoomba which also has onsite parking. As a (cough, not so young) couple, we were super impressed with the facilities at this Blue Mountains budget accommodation.
Expect central heating in your room too, a bonus if you’re visiting during winter like we did. When we stayed, we saw loads of families here as well as a mixture of people. We wouldn’t hesitate to stay again.
You can go canyoning in the Grand Canyon, something that looks absolutely amazing! Be prepared to abseil 16 metres down into the canyon and then it’s a two hour walk and swim through the canyon. This is something on our bucket list and it costs around $250 per person with Eagle Rock Adventures available between September – April.
We once accidentally went canyoning by ourselves through the Mares Forest Creek Canyon in Wombeyan Caves (it’s just half an hour or so fro Jenolan Caves) which was absolutely amazing. But I’d prefer to go on a tour so we’ll let you know what it’s like when we get around to ticking this one off the bucket list!