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.
There's a trail that runs all the way along Narrow Neck from Glenraphael Drive out to the end of plateau. From Cliff Drive along Glenraphael and then out to the end of Narrow Neck is about 12.5k. The track starts as a road with vehicle access, then at a locked gate becomes a bike and walking track running the rest of the length of Narrow Neck.
At the end of the plateau there's a picnic table and plenty of space to 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 — more on that here).
Hiking Narrow Neck
Narrow Neck plateau also provides access to some other Blue Mountains walking tracks 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. If you'd like to stay up on the plateau itself, you can do the Castle Head track which is accessible and signposted on the eastern side of Narrow Neck plateau, not too far past the locked gate.
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 certainly came across more riders than walkers on my trip) the distance is between 20km-30km return. As 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 felt every step of the climb on my (sweaty) return. It was only the promise of hot chips from the takeaway joint near the train station that got me up the steep streets of Katoomba at the end of the day.