Chase adventure in the Blue Mountains
Located in a historic building in buzzy Katoomba, in the heart of the Blue Mountains, YHA Blue Mountains provides a comfortable and convenient base for adventure, whether you’re visiting on your own, with mates, or even with your family, with a range of private and co-living rooms to choose from. After an action-packed day out, cook up a feast in the well-equipped kitchen and cosy up in front of the log fire alongside fellow travellers before another day of adventures.
Lace your boots for an epic hike
Echo Point Lookout - image credited to Time Out
Discover dozens of hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels to choose from in Blue Mountains National Park, with several trailheads conveniently located within walking distance of the Blue Mountains YHA. Get your bearings at Echo Point, at the southern tip of Katoomba, where you can admire a spectacular panorama of the blue-tinged wilderness area and its most famous rock formation, the Three Sisters, and pop into the Echo Point Visitor Information Centre for the latest info on local trails.
Get closer to the Three Sisters on the family-friendly 0.8km-return Three Sisters Walk, or enjoy the views for longer and follow the 7km (one-way) Prince Henry Cliff Walk that hugs the escarpment from Katoomba to Leura. Retrace your steps back to Katoomba or take a shortcut through the peaceful area’s leafy backstreets.
For a more challenging tramp, pack a picnic lunch and tackle the historic Federal Pass, which will see you climb down into the lush Jamieson Valley and follow the base of the cliffs from Leura to Ruined Castle, passing enchanting waterfalls along the way. Allow 12 hours to complete the full 13km route both ways.
Get on your (mountain) bike
Narrow Neck Plateau Trail - image credited to Destination NSW
Blue Mountains National Park isn’t only laced with wonderous walking trails – it also has some awesome mountain biking (MTB) trails to explore, with bike hire available in Katoomba. One of the region’s most popular MTB trails, the 19km-return Narrow Neck Trail begins at the end of Narrow Neck Road in Katoomba. Feel on top of the world as the cliffs fall away on either side of the challenging route at its narrowest point, taking your time to soak up the dazzling views, and breathe in the heady aroma of the vibrant wildflowers that line the trail. * The Narrow Neck Trail currently has limited access, so be sure to check on its status before venturing out..
Or jump on a train to Woodford (five stops from Katoomba) with your bike and enjoy an invigorating ride to Glenbrook on the 28km Oaks Trail. Suitable for novice riders, the scenic fire trail weaves through heathland and into open forest, with views across the Lower Blue Mountains valleys. Pack a picnic lunch to tuck into at The Oaks Picnic Area before tackling the steep ride up Glenbrook Gorge to the train station.
This is the place to try canyoning
Climb into a harness, fasten your helmet and get your heart pumping on an exhilarating canyoning tour that takes you deep into the dramatic sandstone canyons and gorges of the Blue Mountains. Departing year-round from Blue Mountains YHA (with accommodation packages available), local operator High and Wild’s canyoning tours take you on transformative adventures into ‘wet’ canyons with electrifying waterfall abseils and natural-pool jumps in summer (September to April), while winter tours (May to August) will see you rappel into immense canyons that are mostly dry, so you won’t get too chilly as you explore these incredible wild places.
Rock climbing is big here, too
Blue Mountains National Park - image credited to Tyson Mayr
Blessed with more than 2000 kilometres of rock face, the Blue Mountains offers some of Australia’s finest rock climbing. Blue Mountains YHA accommodation packages are also available with High and Wild’s rock climbing adventures, which run year-round and cater for all abilities, from nervous beginners to advanced climbers. Get a fantastic taste of abseiling and rock climbing in one day on the Abseiling and Rock Climbing Combo day tour, or test your skills (and nerves) on the Full-Day Rock Climbing Adventure, with qualified instructors on-hand to explain the finer techniques of climbing as you scale some of the most breathtaking cliffs in the wilderness area.
Embrace soft adventure at Scenic World
Scenic Railway train at Scenic World - image credited to Destination NSW
Admire the Blue Mountains from an enlivening new angle at Scenic World, a nature-based attraction in Katoomba that boasts the world’s steepest railway as well as the southern hemisphere’s steepest aerial cable car. Both the Scenic Railway and Cableway whisk you down to the floor of the Jamieson Valley, where you can explore kilometres of elevated boardwalks weaving through lush forest before heading back up to Katoomba as you please.
You can also float along the edge of the escarpment on the Beyond Skyway cable car, suspended 270m above the ancient rainforest canopy. During the experience there’s an opportunity for harnessed guests to climb up through a hatch onto the rooftop to fully immerse yourself in the surreal landscape for a few electrifying – if vertigo-inducing – minutes.
All Scenic World experiences are suitable for children, and the attraction’s main building along with the Cableway and Skyway are wheelchair accessible.
Explore Australia’s largest cave system
Jenolan Caves - image credited to Destination NSW
Experience the otherworldly magic of the Jenolan Caves, a 90-minute drive southwest of Katoomba, on a fascinating guided tour that takes you deep into Australia’s largest and most famous cave system. There are seven guided group tours to choose from – for the ultimate adventure, opt for the 2.5-hour ‘Plughole’ tour which will see you abseil, squeeze, crawl and climb into the heart of the subterranean cave system, with only a headlamp to light your way. Emerge with the ultimate sense of achievement and a whole new perspective on the Blue Mountains.
Words: Sarah Reid
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