The best hikes & walks in NSW
NSW is an absolute treasure chest full of hiking and walking gems. From easy strolls suitable for all ages to rugged, multi-day treks that can challenge even the most seasoned outdoorsmen and women, those looking to cover some ground won't be short of options.
Bondi to Coogee Walk
In a nutshell: 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 Bondi to Coogee Walk gives you an up-close-and-personal view of some of Sydney's greatest sights. Each inlet and bay has a flavour all its own, and if you were to poll 100 Sydneysiders, you'd 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. This also gives you more time to marinate in the spectacular views of one of the most breathtaking walks in the country.
There are lots of parking options, 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 15-minute 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
Six Foot Track
In a nutshell: A three-day hike through the Blue Mountains region 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 region, starting in Katoomba, passing through Kanangra-Boyd National Park and finishing at Jenolan Caves.
As you work your way through the challenging terrain, you'll be rewarded with some of the state's most spectacular scenes. From rainforests and protected heritage sites to plunging waterfalls and the world’s most ancient open caves, 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.
You'll start your trip at the site of the Explorers Tree on Pulpit Hill Road. 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 the site of Explorers Tree.
- Distance: 46km one way
- Difficulty: Difficult
The Bathers Way Walk
In a nutshell: 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 Ocean 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 Ocean Baths, King Edward Park, Bar Beach, Dixon Park Beach and Nobbys Lighthouse.
- Distance: About 6km
- Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Cape Byron Walking Track
In a nutshell: An amazing way to explore the natural beauty and signature landmarks of one of the most beloved spots in NSW.
Popular with surfers, wellness enthusiasts and the bohemian crowd alike, 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 and comes with plenty of gorgeous scenery, winding its way through the Cape Byron State Conservation Area.
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 30 minutes from the centre of town.
- Distance: 3.7km loop
- Difficulty: Moderate
Bynguano Range Track
In a nutshell: 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 among 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
Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk
In a nutshell: 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 1,400 metres 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 in to 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
Spit to Manly Walk
In a nutshell: 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 Walk, 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
Tomaree Head Summit Walk
In a nutshell: A coastal classic with a pristine pay off for your hard work – and an Instagram shot at the top that will make jaws drop.
What's the point of the Tomaree Head Summit Walk? Why, the summit, naturally. This undertaking will see you lacing up your shoes and heading to Tomaree National Park in Shoal Bay.
This walk in the park isn't necessarily a walk in the park. Just over 1km each way, it might seem like an elementary hike. But that couldn't be further from the truth. This little package features some big challenges, mainly in steep grade, rating as a Grade 5 track. But, as with many things in life, the hard yards pay off, with an incredible view once you reach the summit. From there you'll look out over Port Stephens and other pieces of the enchanting North Coast. It makes for a prime picnic spot, that's for sure. If you can take your eyes away from the breathtaking horizon, see if you can spot any dolphins or whales in the waters below.
The walk begins where Shoal Bay Road ends (right around where the sand runs out). It's well signposted, so you won't miss it.
Parking? Yes, at Lower Zenith Beach and Upper Zenith Beach car parks.
Distance: 2.2km return
Please note: Due to works and weather conditions, tracks and sections of tracks may be closed for certain periods throughout the year. When planning your hike, always check the NPWS website for more information.
Think Before You TREK
Think Before You TREK
Going bushwalking? Stay safe by planning your trip for all conditions and telling someone about it. Think Before You TREK is a bush safety initiative between NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Police.