5 Places in NSW to Muddy Your Hiking Boots
With more than 870 national parks and plenty of state forests to explore, NSW has a stack of tracks worth hiking. We asked Milly McGrath (of Where’s Mildo) to share her top picks for places to get the hiking boots dirty.
Mount Solitary, Blue Mountains National Park
Sydneysiders are spoilt for choice with hiking trails winding through the Blue Mountains, but so many of these are riddled with tourists every day. Luckily, this 14km-return hike can be done in one big day, or spread over two days to enjoy the sunset and sunrise from atop Mount Solitary.
Pack your lunch, pop on a sturdy pair of hiking boots, and park your car at the top of the Golden Stairs (get there early, spots are limited!).
First, you’ll descend a seemingly endless series of stairs (not so “Golden”, might I add) before finally reaching a 6km stretch of flat, where shelter from the trees will protect you from the hot sun. Once you reach the toilet blocks and the campsite, there’s an option to turn off to climb Ruined Castle, a pile of rocks in the middle of the valley with excellent views of Mount Solitary.
Continue a few extra kilometres before reaching the foot of the mountain, where you��ll squeeze through narrow rocks before finally scrambling to the top of Mount Solitary.
Lucifer’s Thumb, Chaelundi National Park
This short hiking trail isn’t a challenge to walk, but it’s a challenge to get to. Deep inside Chaleundi National Park, the hiking trail starts at Chaelundi campground. To get there, study the map carefully and follow the correct un-paved roads. My advice would be to follow Chaelundi road (starting at Dundurrabin).
It shouldn’t take longer than two hours to hike there and back, but when you reach the outcrop of rock, nicknamed “Lucifer’s Thumb”, tread carefully as you look at Guy Fawkes River weaving through the valley below.
Alternatively, you could hike the full 13km loop of the Escarpment walk, passing Chaelundi Falls, Lucifers Thumb, and Spring Gully picnic area.
Yuraygir Coastal Walk, Yuraygir National Park
This 65km trek is a monster. Starting at either Angourie or Red Rock, you’ll walk along the sandy beaches passing creeks, rocky headlands and red-rock cliffs. It’ll take you 4–5 days to complete, so you’ll need to pack a tent, enough food for five days, and multiple layers to keep you warm and ready for all the elements.
Not keen on doing a multi-day hike? Search the map and pick your starting destination to do a much shorter (perhaps more enjoyable) day hike.
Bonus: Pebbly Beach Campground is one of our favourite four-wheel-drive destinations. Get in quick and book your campsite ahead of time – this spot is popular among the locals.
Mount Kosciuszko Summit, Kosciuszko National Park
Australia isn’t known for its mountains. Heck, the highest point on mainland Australia is just 2,228m. But, that doesn’t mean you should shy away from bragging about summiting our highest point, Mount Kosciuszko.
Start the hike early in the morning at Charlotte Pass and follow the well-marked trail to the top. Stop off for a bite to eat and rest your legs at the Seaman’s Hut, which was built in 1929 after a skier, Laurie Seaman, perished in a blizzard.
If you’re not keen on hiking the full 18.5km track, catch the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift to Eagles Nest Restaurant, and walk the remaining 6.2km to the summit. The two trails meet at Rawson Pass, where a mere 2km separates you from the top of Australia.
Note: A team of climbers who had completed the 6 of the 7 Summits failed to reach Mount Kosciuszko due to bad weather. Safe to say, even mountaineers can’t fight harsh weather conditions. Always check the weather before you start hiking, especially in winter when snow could be in the forecast.
Bouddi Coastal Walk, Bouddi National Park
Just 46km north of Sydney, Bouddi National Park’s 8km coastal walk is a treasure-trove of quiet beaches and cliff-top lookouts. Start the hike from either Putty Beach or MacMasters Beach, and enjoy the sea-spray as you stroll along the boardwalks and pass through the scrub.
Pack a picnic to enjoy on the rocks or at one of the quiet beaches – just remember to take every bit of rubbish back with you.
Turn the day hike into a full-weekender and pack a tent to stay the night at Putty Beach campground, which is kitted out with barbecue facilities, showers and toilets.
For more adventure inspiration, follow Milly on Instagram or visit her website.