Last Updated: April 12, 2021

Best Hikes in NSW Australia: Bushwalks & Coastal Hikes

Looking for trails in New South Wales? You’ll find ten excellent options in this guide! We’ve included coastal hikes, bushwalks, and multi-day treks for the most avid hikers. And most trails are easily accessible with public transport, so they’re suitable for hikers without a car.

Whether you’re looking to go on a quick walk in a nature park or want to challenge yourself with a long-distance hike, we’ve got something for you. From Bondi Beach to the Blue Mountains National Park – here are the best hikes in New South Wales!

Tips For Hiking In Australia

NSW Beach

Apply sunscreen generously. I’ve included several coastal walks that reward hikers with breathtaking views of the ocean. However, most of these hikes have very little or no shade whatsoever, so make sure to apply a truckload of sunscreen before you commit to a three-hour walk under the hot Australian sun. It’s also a good idea to bring a hat or a sun umbrella.

Bring bug repellant. I’m sure you’ve seen at least a few photos of giant bugs in Australia – well, most of them aren’t photoshopped. The climate in New South Wales is ideal for mosquitoes, flies, scorpions, and all sorts of insects. Bug repellant is a necessity everywhere in Australia, and it’s particularly helpful on hikes through forests.

Watch out for snakes. If you’re doing bushwalks or hiking through forests, be on the lookout for snakes. There are lots of them in Australia, and getting bitten by one is a sure way to end your hiking trip early. Be as loud as possible while you’re hiking in forested areas, and wear sturdy hiking boots. I’d also advise against loose and long pants – having a snake crawl up your pant leg is not something you want to experience in this lifetime.

Grand Canyon Track

Blue Mountains National Park

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 5.8 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 295 meters
  • Hiking Time: 90 minutes
  • Starting Point: Parking lot of Evans Lookout Road
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Transportation: Car, bus, train

Not to be confused with the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Grand Canyon Track is a 5.8-kilometer loop hike in Blue Mountains National Park in New South Wales, Australia. This moderately difficult hike features a waterfall,  wildflowers, a forest, and a cave, so it’s quite rewarding even though it’s a relatively short trail.

This national park is home to many exciting hiking trails, but the Grand Canyon Track is by far the most popular one. It’s partly because of the amazing views you get to enjoy along the way, and partly because it’s not a very difficult trail.

The trailhead is at a parking lot near Valley View Lookout, and it’s up to you whether you want to enjoy that scenic view before you set out on the trail, or after you’ve finished the hike.

Although it’s a short loop that you can complete in under two hours, it’s rated as moderately difficult. That’s because the terrain is rocky, and you’re required to scramble at times. But the elevation gain is minimal, and I’m confident patient beginners can complete this hike without much difficulty. You just need to go at your own pace and wear appropriate footwear!


Great North Walk: Thornleigh to Cowan

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 35.9 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 1422 meters
  • Hiking Time: 12 hours
  • Starting Point: Thornleigh train station
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Transportation: Car, bus, train

The Great North Walk is one of Australia’s many long-distance hiking trails. The total trail is over 260 kilometers long, and it takes hikers all the way from Sydney to Newcastle. If you’re up for an epic overland hike, consider doing the entire Great North Walk – it’s without a doubt worth it.

And if you’re not really in the mood to walk 260 kilometers through the bush forest, walking from Thornleigh to Cowan should be enough. It can take nearly 12 hours to cover the 36 kilometers of this section of the trail, so you’d better be at the train station at dawn. Why the train station? Because that’s the trailhead, as is the case with most long-distance hiking trails.

Although the trail starts in Thornleigh town, it heads straight to Berowra Valley National Park, and it follows various park trails to Cowan. There are several rest stops and campsites along the way, so in case you can’t do the entire hike in a single day, you don’t have to give up on it entirely.

This section of the Great North Walk is rated as difficult, and it’s suitable only for experienced hikers. That’s because of the rugged trail conditions, large elevation change, and length of the trail. Also, you should be in good physical condition, if you’re planning on covering all 36 kilometers of the hike.


Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Walk

Bondi Beach

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 11.6 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 175 meters
  • Hiking Time: 3 hours (out and back)
  • Starting Point: Bondi Beach
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Transportation: Car, bus, walk

Bondi Beach is undoubtedly a gem of the New South Wales area. The soft sand of the crescent beach is iconic, and the exact reason why so many people decide to stay in Bondi.

A walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach is a must if you’re staying in the area. It’s about 6 kilometers from one beach to the other, and a little over 11 kilometers for the return trip back to Bondi Beach. The first three kilometers of the hike (from Bondi to Bronte) follow a coastal walkway. There’s absolutely nothing difficult about this walk, as long as you are capable of walking for 1.5 hours in either direction.

It gets a bit more difficult after Bronte since there’s no wooden walkway to follow, but it’s still minimal elevation gain and easy terrain. The sweeping coastal views along the way are mesmerizing and make the easy hike 100% worth it. Also, you will be passing by several beaches along the way, so there are ample opportunities for a quick and refreshing swim.

In case Bondi and Bronte beaches are a bit too crowded for your liking, you’ll be happy to know that this panoramic walk features multiple smaller beaches that are usually deserted.


Kiama Coast Walk

Kiama Coast

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 20.3 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 302 meters
  • Hiking Time: 5 hours
  • Starting Point: Parking lot in Minamurra
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Transportation: Car, bus

Kiama Coast Walk is a moderately difficult coastal hike featuring gorgeous greenery and scenic views. This trail is popular with hikers, runners, and mountain bikers, especially in the morning and evening. The main reason for that is the total lack of shade and exposure to wind on the trail, both of which can be quite uncomfortable on a hot summer day.

It takes the average hikers about five hours to cover the 20-kilometer point-to-point trail. The terrain is easy for the most part with very few rocky segments. And the total elevation gain over those 20 kilometers is just some 302 meters, making the trail suitable even for inexperienced hikers. That being said, walking for five hours under the Australian sun is not exactly a newbie-friendly experience, so maybe attempt some easier hikes before you commit to this one.

This coastal walk is exceptionally rewarding, featuring spectacular views of the Tasman Sea and stunning nature. It’s a dog-friendly hike but it’s best to keep them leashed, especially on a very gusty day.


Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

Manly

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 10.1 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 216 meters
  • Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
  • Starting Point: Parking lot at Spit Bridge
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Transportation: Car, bus, ferry

Spit Bridge to Manly hike is a point-to-point trail that can be done in either direction. Most hikers start in Spit Bridge and follow the trail to Manly, and continue to Collins and even North Head. This is another coastal hike that features stunning scenic views and sandy beaches, so make sure to put on a lot of sunscreen – especially since there’s very little shade on the trail.

Also, sections of the trail can be wet, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear with lots of grip and traction. You can stop for a swim on any one of the beaches along the way, and you’ll likely even encounter wildlife as you pass through various parks.

Hikers who are adequately prepared and dressed can do this hike in two hours or less, while the less-experienced will likely require more time. But you shouldn’t rush it – the trail is beautiful, and it’s better to stop now and then to enjoy the views than to miss this gem of New South Wales.


Lane Cove Riverside Walk

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 10 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 179 meters
  • Hiking Time: 3 hours
  • Starting Point: Below De Burghs Bridge
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Transportation: Car, bus

The Lane Cove Riverside Walk is a moderately difficult loop hike in Lane Cove National Park, near Lindfield. It follows the Lane Cove River from the Blue Hole, down to Lane Cove Wier fishing area. For the most part, you’re walking on higher ground with a gorgeous view of the river, except for the section at the middle of the loop when you cross the river. So, make sure to wear sturdy shoes with good traction.

Some segments of the trail are narrow, and there are quite a few steps to climb. Also, there are several rocky segments, but for the most part, the terrain is easy. The trail is well-marked, easy to follow, and it is even kid-friendly!

It’s a loop hike in a national park forest, so there’s lots of shade on the trail. You’ll most likely encounter some wildlife along the way, but nothing scarier than lizards and turkeys. Nature here is truly spectacular – there’s lots of greenery, which is a nice contrast from the sandy beaches and rocks.

There are lots of picnic areas along the entire trail, so feel free to bring some snacks on the hike.


Royal National Park: The Coast Track

Royal National Park

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 25.7 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 967 meters
  • Hiking Time: 8-9 hours
  • Starting Point: Bundeena
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Transportation: Car, ferry, train

Royal National Park Coast Track is a seaside hike that starts in Bundeena. The trail sticks to the coast whenever possible, continuing for almost 26 kilometers to Otford Lookout in Royal National Park. This is a difficult trail that should only be attempted by experienced hikers. Segments of the trail are exposed, rocky, and with steep ascents.

This point-to-point hike can be done in a day or as an overnight trek. There are several camping spots along the way, but you will need a permit to spend the night on the campground. It’s also recommended that you reserve a spot in advance since this area can be very popular with campers and trekkers.

The trail features spectacular coastal views, waterfalls, forests, wildflowers, and even wildlife. Additionally, both the start and the end of the trail are easily accessible with public transport (train, ferry) so you can do the hike even if you’re without a car in New South Wales. It’s recommended to do a southbound hike starting in Bundeena, but it’s entirely possible to do it the other way around if that’s what you prefer.

Because this is a coastal hike, you will need a lot of water – bring more than you think you need, especially if you’ll still be hiking past noon.


Karloo Pools Track: Heathcote to Waterfall

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 5 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 173 meters
  • Hiking Time: 90 minutes
  • Starting Point: Heathcote train station
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Transportation: Car, train

Karloo Pools track is a moderately difficult out and back hike in Royal National Park. The trailhead is at Heathcote train station, so you can easily do this hike if you’re entirely relying on public transport. It’s about 2.5 kilometers to Karloo pools, and the elevation gain along the way is minimal.

The trail is rated as moderate because there is a lot of gravel and rocks on the path. You will have to watch your step since there’s a lot of large rocks that protrude from the ground. Sturdy hiking shoes are required, especially since this is in a forested area – you never know what wildlife is hiding in the bushes.

The Karloo Pools track is heavily frequented, so chances of you encountering a snake are minimal. It can get crowded on the trail, and Karloo Pool is often packed with swimmers in the warmer months. But if you get there early enough, you might just have the place to yourself.

One thing to note is that there are several other trails in the area, so you can continue hiking if the 45-minute track to the pool is not enough for you. Nearby trails all continue from the Karloo Pool area, taking you to Uloola Falls, Kangaroo Creek, and on a circuit around the national park.


Six Foot Track

Jenolan Caves

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 46.5 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 1,825 meters
  • Hiking Time: 2-3 days
  • Starting Point: Katoomba/Jenolan Caves
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Transportation: Car, bus to Katoomba

The Six Foot Track is a long-distance hike from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves. The trail passes through Blue Mountains National Park featuring waterfalls, rivers, swing bridges, caves, and historic sights along the way. If you manage to hike the entire 46.5 kilometers of this trail, you’re in for one of the best experiences of your life.

This long-distance hike can be done in either direction – the best option for you will depend on how you’re getting around New South Wales. Buses from Sydney will take you to Katoomba, so the traditional direction is best for hikers who are relying on public transport. It’s a $70 taxi ride from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves if you want to do the hike in reverse.

Many people choose to hike the trail in reverse to avoid the nasty ascent from Cox to Alum that comes on day two. Plus, if you do the hike in reserve, you finish it in a town with a bus stop and all the amenities you need to recover. If you have a car, you’re better off starting the Six Foot Track in Jenolan Caves.

Whatever you decide, you’ll want to bring a filtered water bottle or a LifeStraw, if you have one. There are no clean water sources after the Alum Creek campground, and you will likely be getting water from creeks and rivers the rest of the way. Unless you pack a gallon of water, which I wouldn’t recommend since this is a 3-day hike with an elevation change of 1,825 meters.


Platypus and Burraga Loop

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 7.7 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 176 meters
  • Hiking Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Starting Point: Near Eric Mobbs Reserve park
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Transportation: Car, bus

Platypus and Burraga loop is an easy circuit hike in Bidjigal Reserve, just outside Sydney. It can be done in two hours or less, depending on your pace and whether you’re stopping randomly just to enjoy the view. The trail features wildlife, wildflowers, a river, and beautiful greenery.

The terrain is easy with minimal elevation gain, making this trail suitable even for inexperienced hikers. There are exposed roots and protruded rocks in some sections, but as long as you watch your step you will be fine. Also, watch out for snakes – this is a hike in the Australian forest, and hikers have reported encountering them on the trail.

There are several stream crossings, so wear good hiking boots that have traction even on wet terrain. Also, you’ll want to check your map now and then – the trail is not marked throughout, and it’s really easy to wander off on a different path. But it’s nothing to worry about – the trail is not deep in the forest, and it’s almost impossible to get lost, especially if you just use the map on your phone. This is a child and dog-friendly hike that anyone can do as long as they’re prepared.