Here are 11 waterfalls in the Blue Mountains worth travelling for.
Be it a roaring torrent of white water tumbling into a ravine or a skinny stream cascading over a mossy staircase, it’s worth stopping to chase waterfalls on your next road trip to the Blue Mountains.
Don’t miss: The best hikes in the Blue Mountains
Horseshoe Falls, Hazelbrook
Wear sturdy hiking boots to make the trek to Horseshoe Falls, which is located in Hazelbrook, some 18 kilometres outside of Katoomba. Start your walk to the falls on Oaklands Road, and be sure to stick to the path which includes large stairs with steep drops either side. Hug the water’s edge for the most direct route to the waterfall and, when you get there, duck behind the curtain of water to explore a cave with a soaring ceiling. Head to the falls after dark and you will find it twinkling with glow worms.
Distance: 3.5 kilometres
Duration: 1.5 hours
Federal Falls, South Lawson
The South Lawson Circuit Walk takes in four waterfalls in the lovely town of Lawson, 14 kilometres east of the blue-hued mountains of Katoomba. Start the walk to Federal Falls in Honour Avenue, about one kilometre south of the train station. Wait until after rainfall to do the walk, which also loops in Adelina Falls, Junction Falls and Cataract Falls. The forest trail ends at the base of the falls, where there is a shallow pool. Listen carefully and you may hear lyrebirds mimicking the hum of the highway.
Distance: 2.5 kilometre (circuit)
Duration: 1.5 hours
Bring your binoculars with you on the walk to Wentworth Falls and keep your eyes peeled for native flora and fauna while breathing in the fresh air. The Blue Mountains Adventure Company explores the lesser-travelled path to a pool at the base of Wentworth Falls on the Wentworth Pass and the Valley of the Waters guided tour. The walk takes in the scenic waterfall and Jamison Valley views as well as Mt Solitary, which loom in the distance like the ramparts of a castle.
Distance: 6 kilometres
Duration: 6 hours (including stops for lunch and cups of tea)
The walk to Empress Falls from the Conservation Hut car park starts off down a steep path of timber steps before opening out above the Valley of the Waters where you can take in views over the Kings Tableland and Mt Solitary escarpment. The stairs make for an enjoyable feat of mountaineering and the path includes the chance to take a few slight detours to lookouts suited to lingering. Curve around the valley until you reach a rainforest walk that crosses a creek punctuated with stepping stones. After heavy rainfall you will hear the waterfall thundering down to the pool below before you see it. Reward yourself with a light post-prandial lunch at the Conservation Hut Wentworth Falls.
Distance: 1 kilometre
Duration: 1 hour
Leura Cascades Leura
Listen for the call of the wompa pigeon, which sounds like water bubbling down a blocked drain, or the wailing of catbirds hidden in the canopy as you go through the stone arch and head downstream to view Leura Cascades. The track collides with the Fern Bower track and there are many diversions to lookouts where you can admire the soaring sandstone cliffs. Savour the panorama along the Prince Henry Cliff walk until you get to the waterfall, which is worth the somewhat lengthy effort to get here.
Distance: 4.5 kilometres
Duration: 3 hours
Grade: Difficult; for experienced bushwalkers only.
Linda Falls, Leura
Linda Falls is the loveliest of the three waterfalls dotted along the circuit that extends from Kiah Lookout, in Leura. To get to Linda Falls, which cascades 10 metres down into a pretty pool, you must first cross the footbridge near Lila Falls, and if you want to include Marguerite Cascades it’s another 10-20 minutes of walking time after you reach Linda Falls. The ideal time to hit the trail, which curls around the Echo Tree and Flat Rock Lookout is late autumn, winter, and early spring.
Distance: 2.5 kilometres
Duration: 2 hours
Minnehaha Falls, Katoomba
This waterfall has wow factor. It cascades for 20 metres over slabs of sandstone sandwiched together over a pool surrounded by a rich mosaic of greens in a pocket of rainforest that is heart-stoppingly beautiful. The walk into Minnehaha, named by a Victorian settler after the more famous Minnehaha Falls in Minnesota, is popular with local families who come to the natural swimming pool to cool off in the summer months. There is a rope swing and a platform to jump off.
Distance: 2.7 kilometres
Duration: 90 minutes
Katoomba Falls, Katoomba
This spectacular waterfall is tucked away near Echo Point in Katoomba and to reach it you must set out on a short but picturesque walk from Scenic World. Carry binoculars for the hike and listen out for the lyrebird as you complete the circuit that leads to the waterfall. The path to Katoomba Falls includes many diversions to lookouts that offer views over the dramatic falls, which hammers down a 150-metre rock face. Romantics hoping to pop the question should do so at Juliets Balcony, the most spectacular of them all, jutting out over a craggy rock buttress near Orphan Rock.
Distance: 2 kilometres
Duration: 1 hour (depending on how many times you stop to take selfies)
Katoomba Cascades, Katoomba
Tucked away off the road between Scenic World and Echo Point, the path to Katoomba Cascades now snakes upstream along a section of new boardwalk that meanders through forests and ferns and a hauntingly beautiful hanging swamp. There are stepping stones at the bottom of the falls, and seating in the shade near to the pool, which is now lit up at night for visitors who want to admire the sandstone peaks during an evening hike.
Distance: 254 metres return
Duration: 15 minutes
Govetts Leap Lookout, Blackheath
You can stride heroically toward Govetts Leap without breaking into a sweat to appreciate the view over Bridal Veil Falls, which was awarded this name due to being laid out like lace over the landscape. The waterfall, which thunders down into the Grose Valley for some 180 metres, is also known as Govetts Leap (‘leap’ is a Scottish word for waterfall) named after William Govett, the first European man to have enjoyed this view which was well known to the Aboriginal Dharug, Gundungurra, Wana Aboriginal Dharug, Gundungurra, Wanaruah, Wiradjuri, Darkinjung and Tharawal Nations. If you want to explore the park further, take one of the walks that starts from the lookout.
Distance: 20 metres
Duration: One minute
Victoria Falls, Mount Victoria
The steep track to Victoria Falls requires a fair level of fitness. The zig-zagging path descends down the soaring sandstone cliff to pretty Victoria Cascades and onto one of the most beautiful of all the Blue Mountains waterfalls. Pause for breath and maybe a picnic lunch to enjoy the stunning waterfall, which drops around 20 metres over a rock overhang that juts out over the landscape like an open drawer. Hikers should follow the escarpment back up to the car park where they can then find a comfortable landing at one of the Blue Mountains’ historic hotels.
Distance: 4 kilometres
Duration: 2.5 hours