Narrow Neck Plateau
Narrow Neck Plateau separates the Megalong and Jamison Valleys and offers sweeping views across the Blue Mountains at Katoomba. At a little over 30km return from Katoomba train station, the Narrow Neck trail is the longest day hike I've done in quite some time, perhaps ever — but the stunning valley views and fresh mountain air made it well worth the effort.
The trail runs all the way along Narrow Neck from Glenraphael Drive out to the end of plateau where you can rest up and enjoy the view across the valley toward Lake Burragorang (a man-made reservoir that forms part of Sydney's drinking water supply — before it was a lake providing water to Sydney, Burragorang was a valley).
In addition to being a trail in and of itself, Narrow Neck plateau provides access to some other Blue Mountains walks via the Golden Stairs which take you down into the Jamison Valley to join Federal Pass or head out to Ruined Castle and Mt Solitary. You can also access Castle Head lookout on the eastern side of the plateau.
Depending on where you start your Narrow Neck plateau walk (or ride — it’s listed on the NSW Parks website as a cycling route and I definitely came across more riders than walkers on my trip) the distance is between 20km-30km return. Aa far as facilities go, there's a toilet at the fire tower toward the end of the plateau, but no drinking water, so be sure to take plenty with you (you'll need it).
Including a lunch break and plenty of photo stops, this walk took me all day — I saw a sensational pink sunrise on the early train heading out of the city to the mountains, and a golden sunset on the train back — both made me wish I was in the mountains, not on the train!
It felt awesome to have smashed out 30km+ in a day hike, though I definitely felt every little climb on my (sweaty) return. The walk up the steep streets of Katoomba toward the train station home really tested me.
Next time I tackle Narrow Neck Plateau I reckon I’ll save my legs a few kilometres by driving along Glenraphael Dr, parking up at the locked gate, and walking in from there.