Best Hikes & Walks in NSW
NSW is an absolute treasure chest full of hiking and walking gems. From easy strolls suitable for walkers of all ages to rugged, multi-day treks that can challenge even the most seasoned outdoorsmen and women, those looking to get the blood pumping and cover some ground won't be short of options all over the state.
Whether you prefer to walk with the sea over one shoulder, like to get lost (figuratively, not literally!) in serene bushland or crave a mix of both, here are some of the best NSW hikes and walks to tick off next time you're ready for a bit of exercise and adventure.
Eastern Beaches Coastal Walk (Bondi to Coogee Walk)
This iconic clifftop walk is a must-do for any amblers living in or visiting Sydney
Arguably the most famous walk in all of NSW, the Eastern Beaches Coastal Walk, better known as the Bondi to Coogee Walk , gives you an up-close-and-personal view of some of the capital's greatest sights. Each inlet and bay has a flavour all its own, and if you poll 100 Sydneysiders you'll get plenty of different answers regarding the best beachside cafe or pub. A shorter version of the walk, from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach, is a popular alternative.
The only downside is that the Bondi to Coogee Walk is anything but a secret. Unless you're greeting the sunrise (which is a fantastic idea, by the way), it's often quite busy, so don't expect to break any speed records. Instead, mentally prepare to take your time and be polite. It all just gives you more time to marinate in the spectacular views of one of the most breathtaking walks in the country.
There are heaps of places to park depending on where you want to join the route. If you don't want to sweat time limits and paid parking, try to nab a spot near the famous Waverley Cemetery (perhaps the most scenic resting place in the country) on Trafalgar Street. You can link up with the walk at Calga Reserve, turning left towards Bondi or right toward Coogee Beach. Alternatively, if you're willing to walk/work for it, you can find free, untimed parking a 10-15min walk up from Coogee Beach. There are also buses that run between Bondi and Coogee (with a change at Bondi Junction), so you can park at one end and bus back.
- Parking? Yes, though many car parks and street parking will be timed and paid.
- Distance: 6km one way
- Difficulty: Easy
A three-day hike through Blue Mountains National Park that takes you to the foot of the Jenolan Caves
If you're going to tackle this monster, you’ll need to put on your sturdiest hiking boots, gear up with ample snacks and hydration, and make sure your tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad are up to scratch. One of the best multi-day hikes in NSW, the Six Foot Track covers 46km in the Blue Mountains National Park.
As you work your way through the challenging terrain, you'll be rewarded with some of the state's most spectacular scenes. From rain forests and protected heritage sites to plunging waterfalls and the awesome Jenolan Caves at the end, there are plenty of rewards for completing this hike.
This is a popular route for experienced hikers. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be busy, but it does mean that there are plenty of great camping spots throughout the journey with smooth spots for setting up tents, as well as working toilets and water refilling stations. If you don’t want to go it alone, join a tour with one of the local operators like Life’s An Adventure or Peak Potential.
You'll start your trip at Explorers Tree, on Pulpit Hill Road in the Blue Mountains National Park. While there is parking, your best bet is to get somebody to drop you off or take the train to Katoomba station and walk the 3km to the starting point. Three days later, you can be picked up from Jenolan Caves.
Note: even if you've been hiking for decades without issue, consider registering for a free Personal Locator Beacon before your walk.
- Parking? Yes, at Explorers Tree
- Distance: 46km one way
- Difficulty: Difficult
Hop from beautiful beach to beautiful beach on the sunny shores of Newcastle
While there's plenty of great hikes and walks in Newcastle, this one probably takes the cake. Newcastle beaches are some of the most glorious coastal spots in the country and, luckily for you and other willing walkers, many of them are connected on this flat, paved pathway.
In addition to sensational swimming, you'll also be treated to wonderful views of the city and its most famous landmarks. In the winter, when it might be a bit too chilly to take a dip, keep your eyes peeled for whales playing out in the sea.
There are plenty of easy spots to hop on the Bathers Way Walk. It begins at Merewether Baths, where you can start your day with a little picnic or a coffee and use the facilities before you set off. You'll pass by Dixon Park, Bar Beach, the moving ANZAC Memorial Walk and Newcastle Beach before ending at the famous Nobbys Lighthouse. If you've still got some juice in your legs, continue on out to the end of Nobbys Breakwall for a truly uninterrupted view of the expansive sea.
- Parking? Yes, at Merewether Baths, King Edward Park, Bar Beach, Dixon Park Beach and Nobbys Lighthouse.
- Distance: About 6km
- Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Combining the stunning NSW coastline with nearby bushland, this hike provides the best of both worlds
It's all in the name. The Coast Track is truly one of the best hikes in NSW, a wonderfully winding walk along the cliff tops overlooking the glittering Pacific Ocean. Starting in Bundeena, just on the edge of Sydney, you'll work your way south across 26km of Royal National Park land before wrapping up in Otford.
While those on a mission have been known to knock out this walk in just one session, you'd be better off splitting it across two days to fully enjoy the experience without running yourself ragged. Doing so will mean a night in the great outdoors at the North Era campground overlooking North Era Beach. Bookings are essential.
Along the way, you'll have plenty of opportunities to cool off with a swim, gaze out across the mesmerising coastline, see if you can spot any whales out and about, and snap a few pics of the very Instagrammable Wedding Cake Rock. This is a Grade 5 track, meaning it's only suitable for experienced hikers. In addition to its sheer length, there is also changing terrain and steep sections.
In terms of transportation, you can pay a daily rate inside Royal National Park, but your best bet is to probably take the ferry to Bundeena Wharf and head toward the start of the trail, about 2km away in Royal National Park. Enter the park at the southern end of Beachcomber Avenue and you'll be on your way. On the other side, you'll finish up in Otford a few hundred metres from the train station.
- Parking? Park entry fees of $12 per vehicle per day, but consider public transportation.
- Distance: 26km
- Difficulty: Difficult
An amazing way to explore the natural beauty and signature landmark of one of the most beloved spots in NSW
Built on independent, alternative living and a focus on mental and physical wellness, thousands flock to Byron Bay to get away from it all. The Cape Byron Walking Track represents much of what is great about the area. It's a beautiful way to get some exercise, gets you out amongst natural beauty and comes with plenty of gorgeous scenery.
You'll be treated to majestic coastal views (and potential whale, dolphin and stingray sightings) while dipping in and out of luscious rainforest over this 3.7km loop. The path takes you right up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, which has stood tall on watch at the most easterly point of Australia since 1901.
The trail isn't too difficult or long, but does feature some moderately steep sections.
- Parking? Yes. There is paid parking on the streets near the start of the walk, and there are car parks at The Pass, Captain Cook lookout, Wategos Beach and the lighthouse. You can also walk from Byron Bay to the start of the trail – it’s less than 30min from the centre of town.
- Distance: 3.7km loop
- Difficulty: Moderate
Bynguano Range Track
Head off the beaten track and out of your comfort zone with this difficult day trek in northwest NSW
If you think just because you've covered hundreds of kilometres along the east coast of NSW you've ticked off all the great walks in the state, think again. Out near Broken Hill sits Mutawintji National Park and its arid, rocky landscape that's just waiting to be explored. One excellent way to do so is on the Bynguano Range Walking Track, an offshoot of the Homestead Gorge Track.
As if the captivating natural terrain and unique environment of far western NSW wasn't enough, you'll have an opportunity to see Aboriginal art, as well as kangaroos and emus amongst some of the rocky outcroppings that make up this incredible national park.
This Grade 5 walk is for serious hikers only. Park at the Homestead Creek campground car park and start your journey from there. On your way into the park, stop by the (unmanned) visitor centre to get some key information and use the facilities before getting underway.
- Parking? Yes, at Homestead Creek campground car park.
- Distance: 7.5km loop
- Difficulty: Moderate
High mountain action at altitude provides an experience unlike any other in Australia
When it comes to the best hikes and walks in NSW, it's hard to find one that can offer the same thrills as the Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk. While the distance can be intimidating, the 18.6km return effort features a well-maintained track, earning it a very manageable Grade 3 difficulty rating.
For your hard work, you'll be treated to views of some of the country’s tallest peaks, fields of wildflowers in spring and icy cold glacial lakes. Of course, this trek wouldn't live up to its name if you didn't have a chance to head up to the very top. While much of the hike is shared between walkers and bikers, the two-wheelers aren't allowed on the final 1,400m to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. Breathing in the thin air on a crisp day as you stand on the highest point of Australia is an experience you won't soon forget.
As you can imagine with a walk that takes place at such high altitude, the winter months can mean snowy conditions. While the route isn't closed, it's recommended that you don't try to conquer it after snowfall unless you're an experienced snowshoer or otherwise well-versed in such hiking conditions.
The walk starts at Charlotte Pass inside Kosciuszko National park. There's some parking near there, but it can be limited, so you might want to look into shuttle or bus services if possible.
- Parking? Yes, near the start of the walk at Charlotte Pass, though it may be limited.
- Distance: 18.6km return
- Difficulty: Moderate
The pride of the Northern Beaches, this walk will have you dipping in and out of bushland on the way to one of the most happening spots in Sydney
Another coastal walk in the Big Smoke, the Spit to Manly walk provides excellent views of the Northern Beaches. But instead of the consistent boardwalk-clad coastline of the Bondi to Coogee track, the Spit to Manly Walk puts your feet on largely unfinished (but very well maintained) trails. You'll still get gorgeous coastal views, this time of Middle Harbour coupled with a nice mix of bush and brushland, and even some Aboriginal rock engravings.
The route is a little light on cafes and rest stops, so it’s a good idea to bring some water and snacks. But save room for lunch in Manly, a just reward for your work. Head to 4 Pines for refined pub grub and delicious local craft beer, or sit on the deck at Wharf Bar and look out over the sea, watching the ferries come in.
Take a bus to the traditional starting point, which is at the northern side of the Spit Bridge. You'll see a sign designating the path's head, and if in doubt make your way to Ellery's Punt Reserve. If you're driving there, you can often find untimed, free spots on surrounding streets near the northern end of the bridge. Then you can take a bus back to your car when you're finished in Manly. Or you can take a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly if you want to invert the walk and end at the Spit Bridge.
- Parking? Yes. You can find untimed, unmetered spots on the streets surround the northern end of the Spit Bridge. It's harder to do so in bustling Manly.
- Distance: 10km one way
- Difficulty: Moderate