This is the Premier walk in the Warrumbungles & is a 12.5 km return trail, that takes you to circle the Breadknife before returning.
It is a challenging walk due to its length & steep ascent to get to the High Tops Circuit. The walk starts at the Pincham carpark & progresses along beautiful native Australian bushland on the Pincham Trail, for about 3.5 km. This part of the track is mostly flat & you are shaded by surrounding trees. A short sidetrack at about 3.3km, (160 metres of steep incline) will take you to Spirey View. Here you get your first unobstructed look at the looming Belougery Spire & the Breadknife. Well worth the deviation.
After leaving Spirey View, the track slowly starts to climb, to soon become quite steep as you make your way towards the Grand High Tops Circuit. The track is well maintained & a large portion of it is paved. There are a few places (with views) to take a rest on the way up. The ascent continues up several levels of steps, (didn't count them but I'd guess easily more than 300). Eventually you get to the start of the Circuit. The circuit (we walked it in a clockwise direction), is a rough steep rocky track & requires a small amount of rock scrambling over bald rock with virtually nothing to grab onto. I found this a little intimidating, especially when the drop behind me was hundreds of metres to the ground but I managed it. Once past this point there was no further rock scrambling, but you are very high up & need to watch your step carefully. Yellow markers point the way. On reaching the highest point of the circuit, we enjoyed lunch with the most glorious views completely surrounded by Belougery Spire, Crater Bluff & the Breadknife. We were alone & took some time to enjoy our surroundings before beginning the descent down more very rough, steep, track, (from here it is all downhill).
At Dadga Gap we took the right hand fork in the track to continue along the other side of the Bread Knife to complete the High Tops Circuit. At this point you can continue straight ahead via Spirey Creek. This also leads back to Pincham carpark but is 2 km longer. We continued on the circuit walk which lead us back to the steps we had previously climbed. Retracing our earlier steps we made our way back to the start.
The walk was amazing & rewarding. The scenery is stunning & you will probably have it to yourself. Proper hiking shoes with good grip are essential. It's hot out there so try for an early start & don't forget a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent & water. The walk took us about 5 - 6 hours which included rests, lunch & time for photography. We started early in the cool of the morning, but the temperature rose to about 30C by the time we were having lunch.
If the rock scrambling worries you, you can do the circuit in the opposite direction, by taking the path to Balor Hut & Dadga Shortcut to the right of the steps about 3/4 way up. The track is mostly flat as you walk along the side of the Breadknife until you get to Dadga Gap where you would take a left turn to continue on the circuit. It is steep & rough underfoot, going up but you don't have to do any rock scrambling. When you get to the top you can decide if you want to return the same way or have a go at tackling the short bit of rock scrambling. I would have done it in this direction had I known. You don't really miss any scenery as you get to see it all at the top.
This is a great walk & well worth the effort.
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