These three walks from Leura Cascades in the NSW Blue Mountains are great choices for your next day trip west. While the key attraction of the Blue Mountains may be its lookouts, time spent on one of the three Blue Mountains walks, which are a little off the tourist radar, will give you a chance to enjoy this unique environment.
Some areas around Leura Cascades have been closed after significant flood damage. Stages are reopening as they are fixed. Cliff Drive between Leura and Katoomba is closed to all traffic. The Prince Henry Cliff walk is closed between Gordon Falls lookout and Olympian lookout. Please check this before heading off on any of these walks.
Why you should start your day-hike with one of these walks from Leura Cascades
Google ‘best day walks in the Blue Mountains, and you’ll get a pretty solid hit list, ranging from 15-minute strolls though to full-day mountain climbs. But, most, if not all, of these walks will have two starting places; Scenic World or Wentworth Falls. What you might not see mentioned too often is Leura Cascades. Kind of like the awkward middle child, the cascades are sandwiched between their bigger, brighter and shinier siblings; Wentworth Falls and Scenic World.
This is a good thing, though, so shhhhhhhh. They fall under the radar of the standard tourist, remaining peaceful and lush, with heaps of parking, no rubbish, and an excellent base for several unique trails in the mountains. Read on for three great walks that start from the cascades.
Walk 1: Prince Henry Cliff Top walk towards Echo Point and Scenic World
Starting with the easiest options, the clifftop track, named in honour of the third son of King George V and Queen Mary, was completed in 1936 to help boost post-depression tourism. It follows the cliff edge (hence the ‘inventive’ name), staying high above the valley and offering some of the best lookouts and vistas of the Blue Mountains.
Moderate in intensity, it’s mostly flat, with only a few minor ups and down’s following the natural landscape all the way towards Scenic World. Finishing at Scenic world will give you the chance to rest in their coffee shop and tuck into a pastry for some fuel before returning to your car.
Highlight: Sometimes the most popular things really are the best, e.g. The Three Sisters. It involves some stairs, but head down to your left just before Echo Point (it’s signed, don’t worry). Cross the bridge between the rock formations for a serious “wow, I’m really small, and the world is really big” moment.
Length: 7km one-way
Time: 2-3 hrs, depending on how many photos you take.
No car? Check out our guide to using public transport to explore the Blue Mountains
Walk 2 Prince Henry Clifftop walk towards Sublime Point Lookout
Update: You can still do this walk despite the closures if you begin at Gordon Falls Reserve. September 2020
Surprisingly, this walk isn’t mentioned anywhere, despite being a real bang-for-your-buck track. It combines several shorter walks into one, offering cliff tops views, lush rainforest gullies and even a beautiful waterfall into a tranquil pool.
Start at Leura Cascades (duh!), but this time, head left and follow the signs to Gordon Falls, which then becomes signs to the Lyrebird Dell trail. Along the way, you’ll stop at the pool of Siloam, a shady, cool little waterfall that offers the chance for a little splash and paddle.
Leaving the Pool behind, you’ll head out towards the Golf Link lookout. This is undoubtedly one of the more under-visited lookouts in the Blue Mountains; take some time out to sit and enjoy it, and then hop back up and follow the ‘Grand clifftop walk’ (yep, I really wasn’t kidding about the combining a bunch of short walks into one big one) out to the road.
You can certainly turn around at this point, but if you wanted to keep going, you’d need to head towards the Fairmont resort. Stick on the Sublime Point road for a bit, then turn left just before the resort (don’t worry, you’re allowed to walk here) and join up with Lillian’s Bridge Walk. Connecting onto Valley of the Water’s track (yes, another ‘short walk’), you’ll casually pass by a few more waterfalls, finishing at the Conservation Hut.
You can rest, refuel and learn a little history if you’d like before reversing the whole thing back to Leura Cascade.
Highlight: The local knowledge required for this trip, as it’s combining so many different tracks, you can’t google this walk. You heard it here (exclusively) first!
Length: 8km one-way
Time: 3-4 hrs
Intensity: Moderate – challenging; some steeper ascents and descents
Check out our self-drive itinerary for exploring the Blue Mountains.
Walk 3: Fern Bower Track
Down to federal pass and the Three Sisters
Finishing my list with the hardest track, this stunning circuit will take around 3-4hrs to complete and involves some serious climbing.
This time, we’re heading down into the valley, following the cascades right to the bottom to reach Leura Forest, a shady oasis that was once home to a popular tea house. You can still find the foundations of the tea house and rest under the historic rotunda.
Double-check you’re on ‘Dardanelles path’ when you leave (there are a few options) and follow the windy track to the base of the Golden stairs. From here, it’s a steep climb to the top, but there are several rest points along the way with rewarding views – it’s worth it, trust me!
At the top, turn right and follow the signs along the Prince Henry Clifftop walk, which will take you right back to your car.
Highlight: Along the Dardanelles path, stop for a moment to listen. The beautiful bellbirds are numerous through here, and it’s also not uncommon to spot a lyrebird scratching away!
Length: 5km circuit
Time: 3-4 hrs
Want to stay awhile? We have written a guide on our favourite places to stay in the Blue Mountains.
A little bit of history of Leura Cascades
Now, before you rush out to start trekking around, stay a moment longer to learn a little about the history of the cascades.
Already natural watercourses down into the valley, the Leura Cascades was turned into the Leura/Katoomba Baths in 1913. If you start walking down the stairs, near the weirdly wonderful ‘cave’ toilets and stand on the grass, you’ll actually be standing inside one of the pools and would have been underwater 100 years ago. There is a small and very faded information board that can help explain this a little better, and the picture below can also give you an idea.
The baths were constructed as a tourist attraction. Due to their popularity, the first road connecting Leura and Katoomba was built to help tourists and locals to access the area easily. Of course, segregation was imperative, and there were two pools, one for males and one for females, which was located where the kid’s playground is now.
Unfortunately, despite some extensive research, there isn’t much more known about the pools, and no one recorded when they were closed down and why.
If you need to work out how to get to the mountains check out our post on how to visit the Blue Mountains for transport advice.
About the author: Sara owns and operates Freeland Hiking, a company that offers multi-day hikes in the Blue Mountains. We love supporting this local company not just because of the high-quality experiences they offer but also for their commitment to sustainability.