There’s no better reward at the end of a walking track or bushwalk than a cascading waterfall or refreshing swimming hole, and New South Wales’ Blue Mountains National Park has plenty. Whether you’re caravanning from Sydney or heading back to a glampsite between treks, here’s where to find some of the best waterfall trails in the Blue Mountains. Just head out after some rain for the best chance at powerful flows.
One of the Blue Mountains’ loveliest waterfalls, the multi-tiered Katoomba Falls, between Echo Point and Scenic World, tumbles 150 metres into the Jamison Valley. The best way to view it is via the 3-kilometre Katoomba Falls Round Walk, an easy trail filled with ferns and eucalypts that begins at Scenic World carpark and takes about an hour to complete. (You’ll also find the start of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk here.) Along the way, get glimpses of the thundering Katoomba cascades from several rock lookout spots—stop to see the Three Sisters at Vaniman’s Lookout before reaching Juliet’s Balcony for a wide-angle view of the falls, then hit the Underfalls Walk Lookout for an up-close look. Although unsuitable for swimming, Katoomba more than makes up for that with its visuals.
Many Blue Mountains National Park visitors are content to view this stunning, 180-metre cascade from a fair distance, parking at the clifftop Govetts Leap lookout for sweeping views. But campers can also strap on their hiking boots for a much more intimate look via one of several bushwalks that begin at the Govetts Leap carpark. The Cliff Top Walking Track is a 3-km (one-way) easy walk that winds through Australian native flora including banksia, eucalypt and she-oaks, ending at Evan’s Lookout to see the Grose Valley. The best place to take out your camera along the way is Barrow Lookout, which gives you spectacular views of the cascading waters.
Note: The Govetts Leap carpark and lookout closed for upgrades until February 2023. Walking tracks and toilets remain open.
On the Sydney-side outskirts of the park, the Glenbrook Gorge Track starts at the Glenbrook Information Centre car park and takes visitors to two swimming holes in one trip: the shallow, family-friendly Jellybean Pool and Glenbrook Gorge itself. Jellybean Pool is the easiest to reach, whereas you’ll need to bushwalk through rockier terrain to get to Glenbrook Gorge. Each swimming hole has its own small, sandy beach that serves as a great picnic area, and at Glenbrook Gorge, you may spot a few tiny fish as swimming companions, thanks to the gorge’s connection to the Nepean River.
It’s not really deep enough for a proper dip, but on a warm day, it’s worth stripping down to your swimmers and lying back in the shallow, sandy Pool of Siloam to smell the eucalyptus in the air and listen to the tumbling waterfall’s surrounding birdlife. Nearby, you’ll also find the start of the walking track at the Gordon Falls Reserve, as well as the Leura Cascades walking track, both of which feature grassy picnic areas and barbecues.
The pretty Empress Falls are one of several mossy waterfalls that you’ll find on a bushwalk from the Conservation Hut kiosk. Press onward and you’ll also get to stunning Sylvia Falls, Wentworth Falls, and other cascades on the Valley of the Waters track, all surrounded by Australian native rainforest. It’s just a short walk on the track to arrive at Empress Falls—only about a kilometre—but the trek is quite steep. Even still, stairs and handrails help out. Keep an ear out for the distant call of a lyrebird or other birdlife while you explore.
There’s something magical about being able to walk directly behind a waterfall—and you can do just that at the small but spectacular Horseshoe Falls, 20 km east of Leura. For added fairytale wonder, the shallow cave and rocky overhang behind the falls is home to a twinkling glow worm colony, making this bushwalk worth putting on the itinerary for a night-time adventure. On the other side of the Great Western Highway (A32), the South Lawson Waterfall Circular Walking Track is another highlight.
The steep walking track to the pool at the base of the Victoria Creek Cascades guarantees you’ll work up a sweat—especially as you trudge your way back up—but the chance to wade beside a waterfall? Worth it. This wide, short waterfall tumbles into a shallow, green swimming hole that can be a little chilly thanks to its dark rainforest surrounds, but don’t worry—you’ll warm right back up on the return walk to the carpark at the end of Victoria Falls Road. Take a short detour on the walking track for a stellar look at the rock escarpments of Victoria Falls itself.
A deep, gold-green swimming hole sits at the base of one of the Blue Mountains’ best waterfalls, Minnehaha Falls in North Katoomba, making this a dreamy spot for a picnic and a summer dip. The bushwalk passes the rocky escarpments of the Grose Valley, and it’s a relatively easy walk (1.5 km one-way), one you can even bring your dog on if you keep them on a leash. On the way there or back, it’s worth taking a quick detour from the main walking track (it’s signposted) to have a quick look at the smaller, but also lovely, Yosemite Creek.
Perhaps the most well-known of the Blue Mountains waterfalls (or even in all of NSW), the three-tiered Wentworth Falls is a highlight on a number of hiking trails through the area, including the namesake Wentworth Falls Walking Track. Fed by the Jamison Creek, this bushwalking destination is best reached by parking at either the Wentworth Falls Picnic Area right near the falls or the Conservation Hut. With views of the Jamison Valley and Mount Solitary along the way, try the Princes Rock Walking Track for a Wentworth Falls panorama, or get up close to the top of the falls from Fletchers Lookout.
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