Just 90 minutes west of the Sydney CBD, the Blue Mountains region is a convenient and beautiful destination for a weekend getaway from Sydney. While many locations within the national park are off limits to dogs, find out about the many dog-friendly Blue Mountains lookouts, hikes, gardens and more you can enjoy with your pup, along with some great dog-friendly accommodation options, from luxury resorts to farm stays.
Are Dogs Allowed in the Blue Mountains National Park?
The same rules apply at the Blue Mountains National Park as for nearly all national parks in Australia: strictly no dogs are allowed inside of the park, even in your car. As the Blue Mountains National Park is extensive, wrapping around most towns in the region, this rules out many sightseeing options for dog owners, including many lookouts and hiking trails.
The one exception is when thoroughfares pass through the national park (distinct from access roads into the national park). For example, much of the Bells Line of Road, the northernmost road over the Blue Mountains, passes through the national park. Dogs are allowed in your vehicle in that case, but you shouldn’t stop and use the facilities while passing through the national park.
Dog-Friendly Lookouts in the Blue Mountains
One of the top reasons for heading to the Blue Mountains is to take in the glorious mountain views from the many lookouts, the sandstone cliff faces shimmering in the sunshine, swathes of bushland stretching as far as the eye can see.
Just because you’re visiting the Blue Mountains with a dog, doesn’t mean you to have miss out on the views. While lookouts located inside the Blue Mountains National Park which surrounds many of the villages are off-limit (including Wentworth Falls, Evans Lookout and Govetts Leap Lookout), there are other lookouts that are looked after by the local council.
For dog-friendly views head to:
Echo Point Lookout: The most famous lookout in the valley, this lookout provides close-up views of the famous Three Sisters. Note that during mid-2020 most of the lookout is closed for major renovations, and during the coronavirus lockdowns the remainder has been closed for crowd control reasons. Also, it’s not possible to walk up to the Three Sisters with your pup, as the walking path is on national park land. Parking on nearby streets is $4.40 per hour, as of May 2020.
Eagle Hawk Lookout: Also in Katoomba on the other side of Scenic World, this lookout is a good alternative to Echo point. It offers similarly amazing views of the Jamison Valley, but only a distant view of the Three Sisters. Parking is free, but there is only room for three cars, so it’s best visited during quieter periods.
Cahill’s Lookout: This lookout at the western end of Katoomba looks out over the Megalong Valley and its farmland. It’s best known as a sunset lookout. Parking in the small carpark is free, and there’s also some picnic tables. A sign next to the carpark lists local walks along the clifftops.
Sublime Point Lookout: Jutting out into the Jamison Valley from the village of Leura, Sublime Point is just outside of the national park. The lookout is a short 5 minute walk from the carpark and even has a few scenic picnic tables close to the tip of the point.
Dog-Friendly Hiking in the Blue Mountains
If you’re interested in spending more time exploring the natural scenery of the Blue Mountains, there are a number of dog-friendly hikes available. Most of the famous hikes of the region are located inside national parks, but the more you look, the more dog-friendly options are uncovered.
One of the most popular dog-friendly hikes in the Blue Mountains is the South Lawson Waterfall Loop Track. I recommend starting from the point marked as the “Five Waterfall Walk Southern Carpark” on Google. From here, you can complete a short 600m return walk to Cataract Falls, or the full 2.5.km loop visiting four beautiful waterfalls.
Be warned that it can get muddy, and smaller dogs are best carried on some of the many stairs. There’s also a metal mesh bridge near the start, which most dogs will dislike, so consider letting them walk through the creek There’s plenty of opportunities for pups to have a splash in the water, great for warm days.
While dogs can’t actually visit Wentworth Falls, located in the national park, they are allowed to walk along the Charles Darwin Walk that leads to the falls, as far as Fletcher Street (about the first two-thirds of the walk). Unfortunately though, the walk is currently closed following a landslide in early 2020, but once it re-opens, dogs on a leash are allowed. It’s an easy walk, about 1.5km long until the turnaround point for dogs.
For a paved, mud-free walk, there’s a bike track that follows the railway line from Katoomba Station to Medlow Bath Station, then Medlow Bath Station to Blackheath Station. The former stretch is 6km each way, while the latter is 5km each way, with the option to turn around earlier. The most scenic section is the stretch immediately north of Medlow Bath, heading towards Blackheath.
For more dog-friendly hiking ideas in the Blue Mountains, check out this long list.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in the Blue Mountains
If you’re after a luxurious stay, there’s not one but two luxury resort options in the Blue Mountains that are dog-friendly. First up is Lilianfels, that has been dog-friendly for many years. Not far from Echo Point, it’s a grand country house set in 2 acres of English-style gardens.
Their Bring Your Own Dog Package includes overnight accommodation in a Deluxe Resort View Room, a dog bed and bowl for your dog plus a welcome treat, and room-service breakfast. A maximum of one dog is permitted per room, and they can’t be left alone or taken into public areas where food is served.
I’ve previously has the pleasure of staying at Lilianfels and can highly recommend it. In particular, enquire about organising a pet-sitter so you can enjoy the fine-dining Darley’s Restaurant. If bringing along your dog, you need to book the package directly by telephone or email.
In Leura, the Fairmont Resort and Spa Blue Mountains, an MGallery by Sofitel luxury hotel, also has a pet room available. One of their spacious Standard rooms, this specially selected room is situated on the ground floor connected to a fully-fenced courtyard. It also has a pet bed for your four-legged friend, in addition to your king bed. Direct bookings are required.
For a more rustic stay, head to the Bells Line of Road where two of the great farmstay options are pet-friendly. I’ve previously stayed at Bilpin Country Lodge as part of a large group for a wedding, but it also rents out individual rooms when not booked out. All bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms, breakfast is provided and there is a shared kitchen and BBQs, along with 10 acres of gardens and bushland, a dam with canoes, farm animals, a hot tub and more.
For pets staying with you, they are accommodated in the onsite kennels, free for bookings of at least two nights. There are three separate kennels, suitable for different sized animals, and a yard. For cold winter nights, heated mattresses are provided and the door can be shut on each kennel enclosure. See the video on the website.
Alternatively, head to Madison’s Mountain Retreat in Kurrajong Heights, slightly closer to Sydney. Located on acres of land bordering the Wollemi and Blue Mountains National Parks, each of their eight self-contained one-bedroom cedar cottages are dog-friendly. (The two train carries do not allow pets.) Each of the cottages can accommodate up to five people and has a cosy log fire. There is an additional charge for pets.
Another pet-friendly option if you’re looking to camp or have your own campervan is the Blackheath Glen Tourist Park. Pets are permitted on powered, unpowered and ensuite sites, but not in cabins, and only during off-peak periods. Notify the office in advance of your pet’s arrival, and make sure you keep them on a leash. Note that pets are not permitted at the Katoomba Falls Tourist Park.
Dog-Friendly Dining in the Blue Mountains
During our recent visit to the Blue Mountains, we dined at Lily’s Pad Cafe. This cafe located just behind the Woolworths Carpark is open 8am to 4pm daily, with all-day breakfast and lunch, as well as house-made breads and cakes. Dogs are welcome in the courtyard, which has heaters to keep you toasty warm during the winter.
Other dog-friendly dining options around the Blue Mountains include Little Paris Cafe in Katoomba, an accredited Slow Food Cafe, Graze on Main, on the main street of Katoomba, and the trendy Leura Garage. All have outdoor seating. While heading to or from the Blue Mountains, also consider stopping by 2773 Cafe in Glenbrook.
Another fun foodie option in the Blue Mountains are the many orchards that surround Bilpin, on the Bells Line of Road. While pets aren’t generally allowed inside the orchards when they are open for pick-your-own (January to June for apples), most of the orchards have roadside stalls where you can buy ready-picked fruit and locally made apple juice, apple pies and cider. Some of the options include the Bilpin Fruit Bowl and The Pines Orchard.
If you prefer wine, head to the Megalong Valley, where Dry Ridge Estate and Megalong Creek Estate are both located, with dog-friendly cellar doors. While in Megalong Valley, perhaps also drop into the dog-friendly Megalong Valley Tea Rooms.
Dog-Friendly Parks in the Blue Mountains
There’s a large number of off-leash dog parks in the Blue Mountains region, although some of them have restricted hours due to being used as sporting venues.
One of the best options is the Former Lawson Golf Course, not far from the South Lawson Waterfall Loop Track. Much of the former golf course is off-leash, with wide open expanses for plenty of running, and no time restrictions. Note though that it isn’t fenced and some sections aren’t off-leash.
Some other options around Katoomba include:
- The Lower Oval of the Katoomba Falls Reserve (limited hours)
- Whitley Park in Blackheath (24-hour access, fenced)
- Medlow Bath Park on Railway Parade, Medlow Bath (24-hour access, fenced)
- Leura Oval (Before 10am in the morning, after 4pm until dark)
For a full listing, see this page.
Dog-Friendly Gardens in the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains is renown for its gardens, many featuring large displays of cool-climate loving flowers and deciduous trees. I’ve managed to track down two gardens that welcome dogs on a leash.
Campbell Rhododendron Gardens is located in Blackheath and is open year round, with entry by donation. Prime flowering time for the rhododendrons is early October to mid-November, when the Rhodo Tea Rooms also operate.
The gardens contain many maple trees and other deciduous trees, making Autumn also a great time to visit, although we found late May to be too late in the season.
To the north in Mt Wilson is Breenhold Gardens. One of the most extensive privately owned gardens in Australia, the gardens are over 45 hectares in size and contain thousands of exotic and native species planted over the last 40 years. The focal points are six stone walled gardens, some with pools and fountains. Check the website for opening dates and entry fees.