The Grand Canyon Blue Mountains; a hidden sanctuary

Greaves creek running between the walls of the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

Topping the list of Blue Mountains walks for most people who have spent a lot of time hiking in the Blue Mountains, the Grand Canyon in Blackheath offers picturesque scenery, amazing views and glimpses of the native wildlife. It is probably the most well known Blue Mountains canyon, but unlike others it doesn’t require a guided tour and specialised equipment to experience. Hikers can enjoy the well established walking trail that runs through the Canyon without missing out on the best bits.

Given this is one of the most popular walks in the Blue Mountains, this isn’t one you are likely to have to yourself like some of my other favourite walks. But it’s worth it anyway! Descending through the canyon walls is like stepping into the lost world.

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The Grand Canyon loop

Suburb: Blackheath

Length: The walk itself is about 6 kilometres but if you park at the carpark the walk between the track and the car will add 1.5 kilometres.

Duration: Allow 3-4 hours depending on your pace. I comfortably do it in 3.5 hours with plenty of time for photos.

Difficulty: Parks and Wildlife officially have this as a Grade 3 and once you’re down in the canyon most of it isn’t a difficult track. It’s well constructed and maintained but whichever end you start at there is a big climb out, and the track will climb and descend a number of times. It’s not ideal for anyone who struggles with stairs or uphill and perhaps not for small children either. It will also include a short passage through a cave.

Things to know: You will not have phone service in the canyon so make sure someone knows where you are and when to expect to hear from you. Check out some essential safety tips for walking in the Blue Mountains.

If you enjoy bushwalking, Blue Mountains Best Bushwalks is a worthy investment.

 

Evans Lookout: start of the Grand Canyon track

Located in the upper mountains suburb of Blackheath, the Grand Canyon track kicks off at Evans lookout. Its worth a pause at the lookout before you head off to take in the valley views. The lookout is at the end of Evans Lookout Road which is a right turn off the Great Western Highway if you are heading west.

You can start on the other side too, but Parks and Wildlife do recommend Evans Lookout as the starting point for traffic flow. Either way, you’ll face a climb out of the canyon at the end.

View out over the Grose Valley from Evans Lookout in Blackheath, the starting opint for the Grand Canyon track

How to get to the Grand Canyon Blackheath

The easiest way will be to drive. The town of Blackheath is located 111 kilometres of Sydney CBD or 56 kilometres from Penrith at the base of the Blue Mountains.  Evans Lookout Road is a clearly signposted right turn off the Great Western Highway when traveling westbound.

Evans Lookout is five kilometres from Blackheath Train station so it is possible to walk from there if you don’t object to extending the walk by that amount. Alternatively you could arrange a taxi or Uber from the station.

 

Grand Canyon Track Parking

The Grand Canyon track has a dedicated carpark between the two entry points, but there is also a carpark closer to each end. Whichever one you choose you’ll be walking back to it so it doesn’t really make a difference.

 

Best time to do the Grand Canyon loop

As one of the most popular walks of the Blue Mountains, you’re pretty unlikely to have this spectacular place to yourself at any time.

However you may have better luck at these times;

  • Weekdays – I’ve done a Friday afternoon and saw maybe 20 people in nearly 4 hours
  • Early mornings

It is definitely cooler down in the canyon but some parts are still quite exposed so perhaps not one for the really hot day.

 

What you’ll see on the Grand Canyon Loop

 

Cool views and rock formations

The descent into the Grand Canyon takes you past spectacular views and through gaps in the immense rock. As you walk down you will notice the atmosphere change with the surroundings. It is often quite cool in the canyon earlier in the day, but the climate can become humid as the sun gets higher.

Image of cliffs and bushland on the descent into the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

A set of stairs carved into a gap between two rock faces on the descent into the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

Creek Crossings

The Grand Canyon track follows the path of Greaves Creek through the Canyon so the track is peppered with creek crossings and little waterfalls.

Stone steps across Greaves Creek in the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

a small waterfall on Greaves Creek in the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

 

Waterfalls

In addition to the small waterfalls you’ll see as you follow Greaves Creak through this Blue Mountains canyon, you can’t miss this larger one. In fact you’ll have to walk behind it!

Large waterfall on the Grand Canyon track, the path walks behind it

These little falls flow into one of the rock pools and are just off the side of the track

several small falls on Greaves Creek in the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

There is also a small diversion you can take off the main track where the sign indicates Rodriguez Pass. A short way along Beauchamp Falls can be found.

 

Rock Pools

Perhaps my favourite part of the Grand Canyon track is the beautiful reflections of the rock and rainforest off the pools of the creek.

Rock pool at the base of cliff in Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

Rock and Rainforest reflecting off the surface of a pool in the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

I have seen people swimming in some of the deeper pools along the Grand Canyon track.

 

Native Wildlife

If you’re keen for a swim though, you might find yourself sharing it with some of the locals! I’ve spotted these freshwater Sydney crayfish in a few spots along the creek, and some of them can get quite big. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a nip from those claws!

Freshwater Sydney Crayfish in a pool on Greaves Creek in the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

Given the proximity to water, it’s quite likely you’ll spot some Eastern Water Dragons scampering around, especially on a sunny day.

An Eastern Water Dragon basks in the sun on a rock in the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

Depending how many people are on the Grand Canyon track, you might be lucky enough to glimpse one of these remarkable native birds. The Lyrebird is quite shy so it isn’t that common to see them, especially in the open, but you’ll have undoubtedly heard their song. The Lyrebird is a master imitator and in his quest to attract a mate he will incorporate any sounds he hears into his song. This includes both other birds, and other sounds such as car alarms and emergency sirens.

A Lyrebird prepares to practice his song on a railing in the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

I was exceptionally lucky to catch this, having walked past him in the undergrowth and watching him scratch around for a while I continued on. A short way past I stopped at a creek crossing and heard him launch into song so doubled back to see if I could get a good recording. To my delight he was up on the railing dancing and singing and I was able to get some remarkable footage.

It’s fun to try and see how many bird calls you can pick out.

There is also a chance you will see snakes on this trail, I did on my last walk and invested in a Personal Locator Beacon as a result.

 

Luscious Rainforest

As soon as you get into the Grand Canyon you will notice the change in the vegetation around you.

Stone stairway through the Rainforest of the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains

 

Rock Shelters

You will pass by a number of smaller rock shelters and walk under a number of overhangs as you traverse the Grand Canyon loop. The largest of these is known as The Rotunda and it was once an Aboriginal rock shelter. The sandy bottom makes it a great place to stop for a breather before starting the climb out of the canyon.

The Rotunda is a large rock overhang with sandy floor located in Blackheath's Grand Canyon. It was once an Aboriginal shelter

The track also passes through a small cave. You can see this in my video below.

 

What you need for the Grand Canyon walk Blue Mountains

This isn’t one of those walks you can set off on with no supplies. At the minimum you should be carrying the following;

As I mentioned I did see what I believe was a venomous snake on my last walk through this Blue Mountains canyon, and even though a friend knew I was in the canyon, the thought of how long it might have taken for help to come if I had been bitten seriously bothered me and I bought a Personal Locator Beacon straight away. It’s one of those things you hope to never need, but you’ll be grateful to have it if you ever do. These can be borrowed from some Parks and Wildlife offices and police stations.

This GME Model is different to the one I have, but is cheaper than some of the other models available and has overseas capability.

 

Can you canyon in the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains?

On my last walk I did hear people down in the canyon as I was walking in one of the higher parts and Eagle Rock Adventures do run Canyoning experiences through here.

The Grand Canyon is one of many Blue Mountains canyons you can do a canyoning experience, check them out to see which one is perfect for you.

Don’t forget that canyoning is a dangerous activity and in certain conditions it will not be safe to undertake. Never attempt this activity without an experienced guide.

 

Blackheath Accommodation

If you’re looking to make an early start you might like to look at staying nearby. Check out these options in Blackheath.


If you loved these highlights of the Grand Canyon Blue Mountains, please share!

As one of the most popular walks in the Blue Mountains, the Grand Canyon in Blackheath almost has to be seen to be believed.

As one of the most popular walks in the Blue Mountains, the Grand Canyon in Blackheath almost has to be seen to be believed.

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