Sunday, October 23, 2011

Running the north side - a Blue Mountains adventure

The Blue Mountains has long been a haven for crazy climbers, wild canyoneers, and trail runners with mountain goat willpower. The distinctive plateaus that drop off into alluring canyons and gorges make for a playground tempting to any adventure seeker. I had run the trails to the south of Leura and Katoomba many times in preparation for The North Face 100km trail race, but knew little of what lay in the wilderness of the north side. Luckily, what are friends for, if not to take you on grand adventures that involve stunning views, good weather, and in my case, running rugged single track trails through the northern Blue Mountains? Thanks to my guide, local mountains resident Mick (and gun trail runner), I had an amazing 2 days of running and adventuring!

Day 1: 
Trail: Lockley Pylon Track and down into the Grose Valley to Blue Gum Forest
(Wild walks has awesome information on trail access here)
We ran this 8km trail as an out-and-back, starting from Mt Hay Rd and turning around in the Blue Gum Forest. It was challenging and offered great training on rolling terrain the transitioned into some steeper, steady climbs up out to Du Faur head and again out of the Grose Valley. Carrying sufficient water is a must, as the trail is open and exposed most of the way down into the valley.

Beautiful rolling terrain running across open plains with views across to the northern cliffs:

In the Grose Valley, Mick attempting to cross a small stream on a fallen Blue Gum:

Running through Blue Gum Forest:

Looking up to Du Faur Head (776m) where we will eventually climb to:

Day 2:
Trail: The Grand Canyon via the Cliff Top trail.
This is just an awesome circuit that left me feeling so inspired to keep running and exploring! The views are grand as you run on the Cliff Top Trail that follows the contours of the plateau, before you drop down and enter the Grand Canyon. Repairs have been done to the stairs winding down into lush rainforest, making for a fast, heart-stopping descent into a green paradise. Running through the canyon takes you up onto a winding trail that runs along the side of the cliffs, sometimes taking you through small waterfalls. The trail out of the canyon again challenges the legs and heart and makes for some solid training.

The views from the Cliff Top trail into the Grose Valley:

Running in the Grand Canyon:

Crossing a stream running through the canyon:

Looking up from the canyon at a crack of sky:

The trail running along the side of the canyon:

1 comment:

  1. That area is AWESOME! We did a crazy loop from Govetts Leap, down the insane cliff trail to Govetts Falls, all the way dooooooown to junction with Blue Gum Forest but came up and out via the Grand Canyon instead. The Cliff Top connected it back up for the loop. Crazy beautiful. Keith was tired. :)