A Step Back in Time // The Grand Canyon Track (NSW)

Highlights:

 

  • Sydney day trip classic for over a century
  • Waterfalls
  • Sandstone cliffs
  • Canyoning

Summary

Situated two and a half hours from the Sydney CBD, the Grand Canyon track winds six kilometres through the Blue Mountains National Park a five-minute drive from the town of Blackheath.

The easy to intermediate level loop can be tackled from both directions, but counter-clockwise leaves the climb up to Evan’s Lookout as a grand closing act. Walking will take between two and four hours.

We were lucky enough to hike after a solid night’s snowfall, but after a smart descent into the wrinkles of the Great Dividing Range temperatures settled a few degrees higher than on the mountaintop.

The track is well maintained with hundreds of sandstone steps elevating portions of the track above streams and boggy forest floor. The first blocks were laid more than a century ago and wind along with a natural intent.

A series of rickety ugly wooden fenced doorways litter the track and appear intended to regulate entry during heavy rains; a “track closed” sign would probably be more effective.

Towards the halfway point, climbing chains set into a cliff-face next to the track offer an opportunity for experienced canyoners to traverse deeper into the abyss. Those with acrophobia may choose instead to simply peer into the depths before continuing the more conventional route.

As the valley deepens, the age of the place becomes apparent. Landscape, plant life and climate have evolved here with symmetry of purpose.

Low hanging rock overheads and small cave shoots push the walkway around and behind waterfalls of varied height and currency, the largest of which falls into a lovely natural amphitheatre about halfway along the track.

The path crosses Greaves Creek a few times with the closest crossing to Evan’s Lookout being the most spectacular. At this spot, a huge fallen tree lies across the river next to a wide gully bathed in zebra sunlight. It is the best place to stop for lunch if that’s your plan.

From here the climb out of the canyon is tough and short, helped immensely by intelligent track design and well-maintained stairs. After one false glimpse, Evan’s lookout arrives with a rush; a stage for the gods.

Once at the top, it is a short walk along the road back to the initial car park. Groups with two cars should begin with one car at the lookout to avoid this boring epilogue.

For those still looking to explore, the nearby Cliff Top walking track will take another hour or two out of your day. Make sure you swing by the Bakehouse on Wentworth before heading back down the highway. The pies are exceptional.

Essential Gear

Hikers only need bring 2-5L of water, snacks or potentially lunch, wet weather gear and a camera. Climbers and canyoners can bring ropes and full kit to explore further.

How to get there

From Sydney, head out along the M4 and then into the Blue Mountains along the A32 all the way to Blackheath. Turn off east down Evans Lookout Road just before getting into Blackheath itself. The car park is 100 metres past Victoria Road on the right hand side.

Activities

  • Bushwalking
  • Canyoning
  • Photography

Skill

Easy to moderate. Steep entry and exit from the valley.

Distance covered

6km – 2 hours.