Last updated: November 27, 2020
We have listed 15 of the best bushwalks in Sydney, some short and easy, others much more challenging and adventurous!
Sydney is well known for its beautiful coastline, but Australia’s biggest city is in fact also home to some of the best bushwalking tracks. What’s great is that you don’t actually have to go far away from the city to enjoy some native bushland.
While the Blue Mountains out west and the Royal National Park south of the city do have some fantastic bushwalks, there is also lots of bushland to explore in and around the city and the Harbour.
We have shortlisted 15 great bushwalks in and around Sydney, where you can enjoy beautiful natural scenery whilst also getting a good workout in.
|1||Winifred Falls Bush Trail||2 km (return)|
|2||Balls Head Reserve Walk||2 km (circuit)|
|3||Katoomba Falls Round Walk||2 km (circuit)|
|4||Lake Parramatta Reserve Circuit Walk||4.2 km (circuit)|
|5||Wentworth Pass||5 km (circuit)|
|6||Resolute Beach Circuit Walk||6 km (circuit)|
|7||Grand Canyon Walk||6 km (circuit)|
|8||Prince Henry Cliff Walk||7 km (one way)|
|9||Manly Dam Walk||7.3 km (circuit)|
|10||Hanging Rock Track||8 km (return)|
|11||Narrabeen Lagoon Trail||8.4 km (circuit)|
|12||Lane Cove Riverside Circuit Walk||10 km (circuit)|
|13||Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head Loop Track||10 km (circuit)|
|14||Cowan to Brooklyn via Jerusalem Bay||13 km (one way)|
|15||Six Foot Track||45 km (one way)|
Top 15 Sydney Bush Walks
Ordered from short to long, pick your favourite hike from the following list of the 15 best bushwalks in Sydney.
Note that when a walking track’s distance is measured as a return walk, that is because that particular walking track can only be completed as a return walk.
1. Winifred Falls Bush Trail
The Winifred Falls trail is a short but scenic bushwalk that leads a pretty waterfall on the South West Arm Creek, where you can have a picnic and go for a swim if weather permits.
The first part of the trail is an easy 10 minutes flat walk, before it turns into a bushwalk with very steep sections, surrounded by banksia plants and gum trees.
You can get the best views and photos of the waterfall if you walk a bit further downstream around the pool. There are several rock platforms right above and around the waterfall where you can relax and take in the beauty of this spot in the Royal National Park.
The trail doesn’t have to end at Winifred Falls. The South West Arm Pool is about 300m further away downstream, great for swimming in the summer months. You can also continue the Winifred Falls trail into the other direction, with a couple of small waterfalls to take in.
|Winifred Falls Bush Trail|
|Distance:||2 km (return)|
2. Balls Head Reserve Walk
If you’re looking for a great little bushwalk that is close to the city, Balls Head Reserve is where you need to go. Overlooking Sydney Harbour, this reserve is a true bushland oasis located quite literally next door to the city.
Boasting 9 hectares of scenic bushland, Balls Head Reserve is home to various bushwalking trails that are all connected. Exploring the reserve is a great little adventure, with great views of Sydney Harbour, the CBD skyline, the Harbour Bridge, Goat Island, and nearby peninsulas.
Along with Berry Island, Balls Head Reserve was declared public parkland almost a century ago. Now managed by North Sydney Council, the Reserve is a truly beautiful place to walk around.
When visiting Balls Head Reserve, it’s recommended to also visit Carradah Park. Overlooking Berrys Bay, this scenic park was once the location of a major oil storage facility, with remnants of this industrial use incorporated into the parkland design.
|Balls Head Reserve Walk|
|Distance:||2 km (circuit)|
3. Katoomba Falls Round Walk
Quietly tucked away between Scenic World and Echo Point in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba Falls is a truly spectacular segmented waterfall.
A picturesque circuit walk through lush rainforest, starting at Scenic World, brings you very close to the waterfall, with panoramic views of Jamison Valley.
Arguably one of the prettiest waterfalls in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba Falls forms part of the Kedumba River, which drops almost 150 meters into the valley.
The start of the Katoomba Falls round walk is located between the car park and the main entrance to Scenic World. The walk includes various scenic lookout points, before reaching the waterfall.
|Katoomba Falls Round Walk|
|Distance:||2 km (circuit)|
|Grade:||Easy / moderate|
4. Lake Parramatta Reserve Circuit Walk
Hiking in the Lake Parramatta Reserve offers a great day out, as you walk through 75ha of bushland, around an idyllic lake with a decommissioned dam.
Lake Parramatta was created as a result of the damming of Hunts Creek in 1856. The lake is now a recreational area with three marked bush walking trails.
The longest one is the full circuit walk that loops around the entire lake. The other two walks are much shorter and easier to do.
|Lake Parramatta Reserve Circuit Walk|
|Distance:||4.2 km (circuit)|
|Grade:||Easy / moderate|
5. Wentworth Pass
One of the most popular and also challenging walks in the Wentworth Falls area in the Blue Mountains is the Wentworth Pass walking track. It’s a beautiful 5km circuit walk that starts and ends at the Conservation Hut.
From the Conservation Hut, the Wentworth Pass walking track passes through a section of the Valley of the Waters via Empress Falls.
From there, the Wentworth Pass continues through the valley, before climbing up the Slack Stairs at the actual Wentworth Falls waterfall. From the waterfall, the track continues to the top of the waterfall via the Grand Stairway.
You can find more info about the Wentworth Pass and other walks in the Wentworth Falls area in our guide to Wentworth Falls.
|Distance:||5 km (circuit)|
6. Resolute Beach Circuit Walk
Resolute Beach in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is one of those secluded beaches in Sydney that you should visit at least once in your life.
With amazing views of Pittwater and the Barrenjoey Headland, beautiful emerald green water and virtually no tourists around, this is a true hidden gem.
The 6km Resolute circuit walk is an exciting bush walking track that brings visitors to Resolute Beach via the Resolute Picnic Ground.
The trail also includes the West Head Lookout, which offers breathtaking views of Pittwater, Broken Bay, Barrenjoey Headland, Palm Beach, and the Central Coast.
|Resolute Beach Circuit Walk|
|Distance:||6 km (circuit)|
7. Grand Canyon Walk
The Blue Mountains is home to a great number of walking tracks, but perhaps the most impressive one is the historic Grand Canyon Walk.
Officially opened in 1907, the 6km long Grand Canyon walking track was the first of its kind and has since been challenged by thousands of bushwalkers each year. The trail meanders through lush rainforest, with several creek crossings and small waterfalls, surrounded by huge sandstone walls.
While the track does have some very steep sections, the Grand Canyon Walk can be undertaken by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness, but please do bring a large bottle of water with you.
The cooler temperatures in the valley make this trail a pleasant adventure all year round, including the warmer summer months.
|Grand Canyon Walk|
|Distance:||6 km (circuit)|
|Grade:||Moderate / hard|
8. Prince Henry Cliff Walk
The Prince Henry Cliff Walk is an adventurous 7km walking trail between Scenic World in Katoomba and Gordon Falls Lookout in Leura.
It follows the cliff edge overlooking Jamison Valley with lots of beautiful lookout points along the way where you can enjoy some of the best views in the greater Blue Mountains region.
Named in honour of the third son of King George V and Queen Mary, the Prince Henry Cliff Walk was completed in 1936 after several years of construction.
|Prince Henry Cliff Walk|
|Distance:||7 km (one way)|
9. Manly Dam Walk
Surrounded by 377 hectares of bushland, Manly Dam Reserve is known as the largest freshwater lake in Sydney. The lake was created as a result of the damming of Curl Curl Creek to create a water supply for the local area.
The pleasant bushwalking trail around Manly Dam is a 7.3km circuit track, with panoramic views of the dam and the large lake.
Manly Dam Reserve is now a popular recreational area, with lots of activities to do in and around the lake, such as hiking, mountain biking, swimming, picnicking, and also water skiing.
Although the circuit walk is rather long but, it isn’t super difficult at all. However, there are some steeper sections, plus some sections where the surface is rough with lots of loose rocks.
|Manly Dam Walk|
|Distance:||7.3 km (circuit)|
10. Hanging Rock Track
Whilst the bushwalk to Hanging Rock itself may not be super exciting, seeing this iconic landmark from close by against the backdrop of the Grose Valley and surrounding escarpments makes for a rewarding adventure.
If you’ve never heard of Hanging Rock before, it’s a large sandstone object hanging out from a cliff, right above the valley. It’s a spectacular sight, not just this rock itself, but more so the surrounding area.
The walking track to the Baltzer Lookout is a very straightforward 4km management trail through bushland. At the end of the track is the Baltzer Lookout, which stands at the very edge of Burramoko Head.
From the Baltzer Lookout, it’s only a short walk to Hanging Rack. Be mindful though that this short section is quite steep with some rock scrambling involved, so good shoes are absolutely essential.
|Hanging Rock Track|
|Distance:||8 km (return)|
11. Narrabeen Lagoon Trail
The scenic Narrabeen Lagoon circuit trail is a stunning 8.4km walking track around Narrabeen Lakes in Sydney’s northern beaches.
Completed in February 2015, this track is now a popular weekend escape for walkers, joggers and cyclists, all enjoying the natural beauty and serenity of this idyllic lake surrounded by thriving bushland.
Narrabeen Lakes is also referred to as Narrabeen Lagoon, because the lake is essentially a coastal lagoon, separated from the sea on the other side of Ocean Street.
The area around the lagoon has been a popular camping and leisure spot since the beginning of the 19th century, when the tram line was extended to Narrabeen, making transport to the area so much easier.
|Narrabeen Lagoon Trail|
|Distance:||8.4 km (circuit)|
|Grade:||Easy / moderate|
12. Lane Cove Riverside Circuit Walk
The perfect example of a great bushwalk close to the city is the Lane Cove Riverside circuit walk. Located only 20 minutes north-west of the Sydney CBD, Lane Cove National Park is a large pocket of scenic bushland surrounding the banks of the Lane Cove River which flows into Sydney Harbour.
A scenic and enjoyable 10km circuit bushwalk along both sides of the river makes for an excellent way to explore the natural beauty of this unique national park.
Popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists, Sydney’s metropolitan Lane Cove National Park extends from Pennant Hills in the north to East Ryde in the south.
This central part of the national park is home to the Riverside Walking Track and the Lane Cove Valley Walk, which is part of the Great North Walk. These two bushwalking tracks combined from a moderately challenging 10km circuit walk.
|Lane Cove Riverside Circuit Walk|
|Distance:||10 km (circuit)|
13. Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head Loop Track
While Bobbin Head is a beautiful destination in itself, it’s also a starting point for some great bushwalks.
One of these bushwalks is a 10km circuit walk that consists of the Bobbin Head track, the Sphinx track and the Warrimoo track.
The start of this walk is behind the Empire Marina, clearly signposted with Warrimoo and Bobbin Head track. You can choose to go clockwise or anti-clockwise which ultimately doesn’t make much difference.
The Warrimoo track follows the western shoreline of Cowan Creek through thick mangroves with several remnants of Aboriginal middens to be discovered.
Created by a returned soldier in the 1920’s, the Sphinx Memorial along the Sphinx track is a sandstone monument created in memory of lives lost in WWI. It’s an unusual yet fascinating structure in an unlikely spot.
|Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head Loop Track|
|Distance:||10 km (circuit)|
14. Cowan to Brooklyn via Jerusalem Bay
The challenging bushwalk from Cowan train station to Brooklyn via Jerusalem Bay through stunningly beautiful scenery is a true bushwalkers delight.
If you do have the time and weather permits, a refreshing swim in Jerusalem Bay is highly recommended. The quiet and peaceful surroundings of the bay make swimming there a pleasant experience.
From Cowan train station, you have the option to hike to Brooklyn, which is 13 km, or simply do a short return hike to Jerusalem Bay, which is much easier.
The bushwalk between Cowan and Brooklyn is part of the Great North Walk, an iconic 250km track between Sydney, Hunter Valley and Newcastle. This 13km section is definitely not the easiest, but well worth the effort.
The best way to get to Cowan is to simply use public transport, as the start of the walking track is right opposite the train station. Simply follow the signs for Brooklyn and the Great North Walk to find the start of the track. Once in Brooklyn, you can catch the train back to Cowan.
|Cowan to Brooklyn via Jerusalem Bay|
|Distance:||13 km (one way)|
|Time:||4 – 5 hours|
15. Six Foot Track
The Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains is the ultimate bushwalk which also involves overnight camping, although some bushwalkers have actually completed this historic track in one day.
Originally built in 1884 as a bridle trail, the 45km long Six Foot Track is a challenging trail between the Explorers Tree in Katoomba and Jenolan Caves, passing various rivers, creeks, and small waterfalls.
One of the highlights along the Six Foot Track is the Bowtells Swing Bridge, a suspension footbridge over the Coxs River. The bridge was built to offer bushwalkers an alternative route during periods of heavy flow in the river.
The track passes various overnight camping spots where you can settle in for the night. Check out our guide to the Six Foot Track for more details about this once-in-a-lifetime bushwalking adventure.
|Six Foot Track|
|Distance:||45 km (one way)|
>> Best bushwalks in the Blue Mountains
>> Best walking tracks in Royal National Park
>> Best bushwalks in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park