Route: Katoomba to Jenolan Caves or Jenolan Caves to Katoomba
Distance: 44.8km (one-way)
Time: Typically the hike is 3 days, 2 nights however you can do it in less.
Difficulty: Moderate. There were many kids doing this hike with their parents and the route is well-marked. Keep in mind that if you are doing this over more than one day, you need to carry your gear with you. Doing this solo in autumn, I carried between 15-18kg (with water) but you could get away with less if you are hiking with two or more people.
There are water tanks (and drop toilets as well) available at Coxs River camp are and Black Range camping area however if you’re doing the walk during a dry spell be mindful that water may be sparse. You can get water from Coxs River and there were some streams along the way. All water should be treated before consumption.
Getting There, Getting Away
By public transport, you can travel to and from Katoomba from Sydney by train. From Central Station it take approximately 2 hours and runs about every hour. Check out www.131500.com.au for timetables.
The best transport option to either start point is by Trolley Tours (trolleytours.com.au). Buses leave Katoomba to Jenolan Caves at 10:35am daily and leave Jenolan Caves for Katoomba at 3:30pm. At time of writing, the one way bus ride was $45.00.
In the 19th Century, to aid the rising tourism to Jenolan Caves, a new bridle trail from Katoomba was blazed, subsequently forming the Six Foot Track. It became disused for some years until it was re-established in the 80’s and signposted to the walk that it is today. This route can be done in two directions, Katoomba to Jenolan Caves or Jenolan Caves to Katoomba. Most people walk the Six Foot Track from Katoomba which means a killer 12km uphill slog on the second day.
I completed this track from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves. The walk starts at Explorer’s Tree almost 3km out of the Katoomba township. This tree is the place where Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Wentworth carved their initials after the first known crossing of the Blue Mountains in NSW in 1813. The tree died in the 1950’s but the stump still remains). You can park your car here if you are driving (it is just off the Great Western Highway) or you can walk or catch a taxi from Katoomba train station.
The start of the walk can be a killer with steep, uneven, downhills stairs for the first couple of kilometres. I took a trekking pole which was invaluable along the hike (particularly with a heavy pack). After descending into the rainforest of Blue Mountain National Park, the trail will then clear into paddocks and vineyards before re-entering forest and then leading to the Coxs River. You have two options for crossing the river. If the river is relatively low you can veer to the left and rock hop across the river. To the right, you will see Bowtell’s swing bridge, a large suspension bridge that is about 15m above the river. The bridge can only be crossed one person at a time and does sway a bit, but a nice and dry experience. After the bridge you will walk past the Six Foot Track Eco Lodge (which you can book in advance to have access to a water, warm bedding and catered meal, 6fttracklodge.com). The Coxs River camping area (at 15.7km mark) is just another 800m along and offers a spacious camping area, pit toilets and a water tank) and is generally where most people stay on the first night.
The second day is a 19km walk to the Black Range camping area- with most of it uphill to the Black Ranges where you walk along the ridgeline. 6.2km in to the second day you will reach Alum Creek camping area which is an option if you are looking to complete the walk in two days (there are no toilet or water facilities here). Unfortunately, I walked this day in relentless rain so missed out on the view back towards Katoomba- I am told that they are definitely there! There were three small river crossings on this day.
The third day is an easier 10km to Jenolan Caves. It is generally flat and downhill and ends near Carlotta Arch at the Jenolan Caves before you descend back down into the township of Jenolan Caves. Three kilometres into the third day you get to the main road (Jenolan Caves Road). Make sure the you cross directly to the Six Foot Track (there is a hiking marker which can be difficult to see from the road) as following the road will add some kilometres to your walking trip.
For more information on the walk visit: