Even though we already have a Grand Canyon Track microadventure on We Are Explorers, it’s such an iconic track that we couldn’t resist when Rach Dimond sent us this tale of actually exploring up the canyon itself. Just don’t try it in high heels!
- Feeling like a badass canyoner (no special skills required)
- Beautiful waterfalls
- Lush ferns and mosses
- Epic sandstone cliff views
Off To The Grand Canyon
Pack water, food, camera and high-heeled sandals, just your standard day hiking packing list.
We left Sydney in the wee hours of the morning due to the popularity of the walk and the fact that it was a weekend. A cheeky sunrise followed by a quick loop of one of the premier hikes in the Blue Mountains; we were buzzing at the idea.
The last time I ventured to the Grand Canyon the track was under development with ugly rubber wire fences and doors littering the track, so I was keen to see what NSW parks had done with the place. Although you can just do the Grand Canyon Track itself as a fairly easy hike, I planned to hike up into the canyon itself for the first time and make things a bit more interesting.
Rumour has it that the Grand Canyon is the most beautiful, easily accessible slot canyon out.
As it turned out, the hike was even more interesting than I’d bargained for…
An Unfortunate Mistake
“Raaaaach! I messed up.” I hear as I reverse my car into a park at Evans Lookout.
“Oh god, what is it?”
I shit you not, she held up a pair of high-heeled sandals. “This is all I brought.”
“What! Why?” I laughed uncontrollably. “I told you to bring shoes suitable for walking in that you didn’t mind getting wet!”
“Yeah, I messed up.”
There was nothing for it, she slipped on her sandals (and socks) and off we walked.
I have always preferred to walk the Grand Canyon Track in an anti-clockwise direction, so we set off back up the road toward Blackheath and turned left onto the trailhead. Before even getting to the bottom of the gully the scenery is quite stunning and the vegetation changes rapidly as you descend. You go from being surrounded by dry scrub and gumtree to lush ferns and mosses, not to mention the arresting sandstone cliffs. It’s the Blue Mountains at its finest.
A Peek Of Things To Come
Once at the bottom of the gully you hike along a path cut out of the sandstone walls, and if you’re brave (and safely behind the railing) you can sneak a peek down into the canyon. It’s deep and dark and narrow and I guarantee it will make you want to take up canyoning when you come across the canyoners entrance. In many places the walls are so thick with ferns you can’t see the bottom. I was getting jazzed about seeing it from below.
We passed a few groups of people and exchanged some friendly hellos, but mostly we got sideways glances and muffled laughs, (the sandals) — we laughed it off. Around about halfway through the walk we came to Greaves Creek and instead of following the track to Evans Lookout we took a hard left up along the creek — this is where the fun begins.
There is a faint track and hashed out steps in a few places but essentially you follow the creek up the canyon as far as you like.
We passed a rather large group coming out of the canyon who had also walked up for a squiz and they seemed pretty psyched on it. They looked at us (again, the shoes) and asked if we had taken a wrong turn. We said no but 5 minutes later we heard yelling from the main track. One of the group we had passed appeared.
“Just checking you guys know you are going into the canyon, this is not the track to Evans.”
After much giggling and gasping we managed to explain that despite appearances we were quite competent outdoorswomen and we knew where we were going and what we were doing.
The next kilometre or so was slow going, partly because I couldn’t rock hop with my neck craned skyward and partly because high heeled sandals are not appropriate for rock hopping. It was the most impressive display of poise and grace I’ve ever seen, wouldn’t recommend it though.
We spent about an hour gazing up through the slots, watching the light beams permeate the canyon and admiring the lush ferns but then it was time to go. No matter how many photos I took it could never do this place justice. Once we turned around the walk back to the car didn’t take long, although I think hindsight is making the steep ascent out of the gully seem shorter than it was.
Safety Info: Don’t enter the canyon after, or with the forecast of, heavy rain as flash flooding can occur and there will be a lot more slip hazards etc. The canyon part of the hike is much trickier than the Grand Canyon Track itself and you’ll need to be comfortable scrambling over very uneven ground and getting soggy feet. Helmets are also recommended for canyon environments.
High heeled sandalsSuitable river-walking shoes
- Snacks and water
How To Get There
Follow the Great Western Highway from Sydney to Blackheath. There will be a big brown sign just before the township denoting the right-hand turn to Evans Lookout from where you can access the Grand Canyon Track.
- River walking
The Grand Canyon Track is suitable for intermediate level hikers with some fitness.
The Grand Canyon Track is a 6.3km circuit, you will experience a 425m change in elevation over the duration of the circuit and it should take around 3.5 hours.
More Blue Mountains magic…