Blue mountains are chock-a-block full of spectacular walking trails, but the ones I love the most are those that take you to the waterfalls. Whether it’s the epic streams of water tumbling down an exposed cliff face or the silky veils cascading along sandstone shelves, Blue Mountains waterfalls are among the most beautiful waterfalls around Sydney.
Most trails in the Blue Mountains feature some kind of waterfalls even if it’s a gentle trickle of a stream making its way from the top of the escarpment to the forested valley below. Wikipedia lists a whopping 48 waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. Mind you, these are only the ones accessible via the park’s extensive trail network. I can only imagine all the hidden falls that lie deep within the mountains.
And even among the 48, there are a few waterfalls that stand out. Here are some of my favourite waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. This list will probably grow as I discover more hidden gems.
Tip: Make sure to check for local alerts and trail closures on the National Parks website before heading out on your walk. Many plans have gone awry because the trails were unexpectedly closed due to flooding, landslides or fire damage.
Wentworth Falls are the biggest and the best known of all Blue Mountains waterfalls. Fed by the Jamison Creek, Wentworth Falls drop 187 meters in two spectacular drops, the upper and the lower falls respectively.
The easiest way to see Wentworth Falls is from Fletchers Lookout. It is an easy and well signposted 10-minute walk from Wentworth Park Picnic area along the main Wentworth Falls walking track. From this lookout, you get a close-up view of the top of Wentworth Falls and a panoramic view of Jamison Valley.
Another fantastic vantage point is from the stepping stones across Jamison Creek just as it drops over the cliff edge. Watch gallons of water rush underneath your feet to fall 180 meters to the valley below. You can also view the beautiful Queens cascades formed by the creek just before it approaches the edge of the escarpment.
The best way to see the falls, however, involves a steep descent down the cliff face and a hike across the valley along Wentworth Pass that starts at the bottom of the first drop of the falls. Looking back from Wentworth Pass you get to see Wentworth Falls in their entirety. Plus, the descent down the stone steps brings you so close to the falls that you even feel the spray on your face. You can read my guide to walking Wentworth Pass Look Track here.
How to get to Wentworth Falls
- Drive: Take Great Western Highway to Wentworth Falls then turn on to Falls Road at the traffic lights and follow to the end, where you’ll reach the picnic area. Parking is available at the picnic area.
- Train: Catch a train to Wentworth Falls. Exit the station on the western side, on Station St, turn left and head down to the Great Western Highway past the shops. Cross the highway at the lights and turn right, heading down the hill. After a colourful bus stop turn left into Wilson Park and walk through Wilson Park. When you reach the center of the park, veer left towards the start of Charles Darwin Walk. Follow this lovely walk and it will take you to Wentworth Falls picnic area.
Katoomba Falls is one of the most scenic Blue Mountains waterfalls. They are fed by the Kedumba River that plunges about 150 meters from the top of the cliff to the forested Jamison valley below.
The easiest way to see Katoomba falls is from Katoomba Falls Lookout that can be reached by a 15-minute walk from Scenic World along Prince Henry Cliff Walk. You can read my guide to Prince Henry Cliff Walk here. If you would like to see the entire waterfall, take the Katoomba Falls Round Walk from Scenic World. It is a hard 1.5 km track that takes about 1.5hrs to complete.
How to get to Katoomba Falls
- Drive: Drive to Scenic World carpark on the corner of Violet Street and Cliff Drive. Park your car here and follow the signs for Cliff Henry Cliff Walk. Soon you will come to an intersection with signs pointing towards both Katoomba Falls Lookout and Katoomba Falls Round Walk.
- Train: Catch a train to Katoomba. From the station walk to Katoomba Street. Take 686 public bus to Scenic World. Follow the signs for Cliff Henry Cliff Walk. Soon you will come to an intersection with signs pointing towards both Katoomba Falls Lookout and Katoomba Falls Round Walk.
Govetts Leap Falls
Staying with the category of record-setting waterfalls, the 180-meter-high Govetts Leap Falls, also known as Bridal Veil Falls (not to be confused with Bridal Veil Falls in Leura) is the tallest single-drop waterfall in the Blue Mountains. The word leap is an old Scottish word for waterfall, so there is a little colonial history to the waterfall’s name.
The easiest way to see Govetts Leap Falls is from Govetts Leap Lookout. To your right, the view from the lookout sweeps over sheer cliff walls and deep canyons of the Grose Valley. To your left, Govetts Leap Falls drop from the top of the escarpment 180 meters to the bottom of the valley. This is as vast a landscape as Blue Mountains get.
How to get to Govetts Leap Lookout
- Drive: Take Great Western Highway towards Blackheath then turn off the highway at Blackheath village traffic lights to Govetts Leap Road. Drive around 2.5km to the park entrance, and continue to the end of the road, where you’ll reach Govetts Leap lookout carpark.
- Train: Catch a train to Blackheath. From the station, Walk south towards Great Western Highway and turn right onto the highway. Then turn left onto Govetts Leap Road and follow it for 2.9 km until you reach Govetts walk. Continue on to the Lookout. They walk is just over 3 km and should take about 35 minutes.
The next five waterfalls are located next to each other in the magical setting of the Valley of the Waters. Empress Falls is the biggest of the five waterfalls. It is particularly popular with canyoning tours – these tours conclude with abseiling down Empress Falls.
Because Empress Falls are so popular, it is best to visit them in the first half of the day, the earlier the better. Luckily it is the first waterfall you reach on the Valley of the Waters trail from Conservation Hut at Wentworth Falls.
If Empress Falls happen to be busy with a group of abseilers when you arrive, you can while the time exploring all the other tiny little falls that flow down the rocks around the falls.
Sylvia Falls is one of the most photographed Blue Mountains waterfalls. It is a beautiful waterfall with water flowing across eroded sandstone shelves on the side of a forested cliff. Like most waterfalls, Sylvia Falls are best after the rain when running water covers most of the rock face.
Lodore falls are my favourite falls in the Valley of the Water. With large rocks at the bottom of the falls, they have a wild look to them, as if water just happened to run down the mountain here and you happened to be in the right place at the right time to see it.
Flat Rock Falls
Flat Rock Falls look exactly like their name suggests – they flow down a relatively flat rock. They are not as full as the other waterfalls in the Valley of the Waters, but they are lovely in thier difference.
The beautiful thing about the Valley of the Waters falls is that you can approach all of them along the trail and even dip your toes into the brown-tinged water at their bases.
It is also very quiet and tranquil in the valley, the crowds don’t make it here. So you can take your time admiring and photographing the waterfalls. No one will mind your tripod. In fact, most people I come across in the Valley of the Waters are waterfall photographers.
Red Rock Falls
Red Rock Falls is a stunning waterfall – the last in the line of five falls in the Valley of the Waters. It flows alongside the trail and you’ll have to get onto the rocks at its base to get a proper look, and especially to photograph it. Red Rock Falls is the most concealed waterfall in the valley and you could walk past it unless you know its there. You can read my guide to Valley of the Waters track here.
How to get to the Valley of the Waters
- Drive: Take the Great Western Highway to Wentworth Falls then turn left onto Falls Road, and then right onto Fletcher Street. Continue to the end of Fletcher Street, where there’s a carpark.
- Walk: From Wentworth Falls Picnic area take the 2.2km Shortcut track to Conservation Hut.
Bridal Veil Falls (Leura)
Here we go with the confusing Bridal Veil Falls again. These Bridal Veil Falls are located in Leura (not to be confused with Govetts Leap Falls) downstream of Leura Cascades (see below for the details fo Leura Cascades). It is a cascade waterfall, fed by the Leura Falls Creek, the same creek that feeds Leura Cascades. It can be reached by a 30-minute walking track from Leura Cascades.
How to get to Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls lookout is reached by a short Bridal Veil lookout track from the bottom of Leura Cascades. For directions to Leura Cascades, see below.
Leura cascades is a set of lovely waterfalls where Leura Falls creek cascades down sandstone shelves. It is a very picturesque forested setting with a few bridges across the creek. It is sheltered from the sun, which means its quite cool here in summer.
The cascades are reached by a 10-minute walk from Leura Cascades Picnic Area via a boardwalk. It is one of the shortest walks in the area, so you could easily combine it with a walk to Bridal Veil Falls (see above). You can read my guide to Leura Cascades to Gordon Falls walk here.
If you are interested in a full-day adventure, you could take Prince Henry Cliff Walk to Echo Point (3.2 km) or all the to the Scenic World (5.3 km). You can read my guide to Prince Henry Cliff Walk here.
How to get to Leura Cascades
- Drive: Take Great Western Highway towards Katoomba, turn off the highway at the Leura exit and follow Leura Mall through town. Then turn right on to Cliff Drive and continue until you reach Leura Cascades Picnic Area.
- Train: Catch a train to Leura. Once you exit the station at Leura, walk south-west on Leura Mall for about 1 km and then turn left onto Olympian Parade. Then turn right to Olympian Pl and continue onto Olympian Rock Walking Track. After about 100 meters, turn right onto Prince Henry Cliff Walk. Continue along Prince Henry Cliff Walk until you reach Chelmsford drive and Leura Cascades Picnic Area. The walk takes about 30 min.
Katoomba Cascades are located within a 5-minute walk from Katoomba Kiosk, along Prince Henry Cliff Walk. You can walk right up to the cascades or admire them from a little bridge that had been constructed over the creek.
They get quite popular with walkers so you may have to wait a while for an unobstructed view. If you are keen to photograph the cascades, visit in the second half of the day when the sun moves behind the tree crowns. Earlier in the day, the cascades are bathed in the dappled light that creates too much contrast for photography.
How to get to Katoomba Cascades
- Drive: Take Great Western Highway towards Katoomba, turn off the highway at the Katoomba exit and follow Katoomba Street through town. Then turn right on to Cliff Drive and continue until you reach Katoomba Falls Park. From the Park, it is a short walk down a set of stairs to the cascades
- Train: Catch a train to Katoomba. From the station walk to Katoomba Street. Take 686 public bus to Blue Mountains Tourist Park. From the park, take a 5-minute walk to the cascades
The falls and cascades described above are some of the best-known locations in the Blue Mountains. Most of them are easy to get to and enjoy. There are however plenty more waterfalls in the mountains, some of which are no more than a picturesque trickle amid the lush vegetation and moss-covered rocks. The benefit of visiting the less-known waterfalls is the lack of crowds on the trails and at the waterfalls themselves.
Pool of Siloam
The Pool of Siloam is an unexpected oasis deep within a sandstone gorge. As Gordon Creek cascades over a rocky outcrop it flows into a scenic pool at its base that’s framed by sandy banks and fern-covered cliff faces. It takes a bit of effort to descend from Gordon Falls Reserve at the top of the escarpment to the pool along a steep trail, and the tranquil beauty of the Pool of Siloam is all the more welcome after the trek. The walk from Gordon Falls Reserve, while steep is not very long – it’s only 450 meters. You can read my guide to Gordon Falls to Pool of Siloam walk here.
How to get to the Pool of Siloam
- Driving: Take the Great Western Hwy out of Sydney and exit at Leura. Drive along Leura Parade to Lone Pine Avenue where you can park at or near Gordon Falls Reserve.
- Train: Catch the train from Central to Leura. Once you leave the train platform, follow Leura Parade through the quaint Leura village. At the end of Leura Mall, veer left onto Olympian Parade and follow it to the reserve.
Lyrebird Dell Waterfall
This lovely waterfall on Gordon Creek is so much a hidden gem that it doesn’t even have a name. Those who know about it refer to it as Lyrebird Dell waterfall since it’s located in the lovely Lyrebird Dell. The waterfall is not much more than a trickle (although it flows all year round), but its setting is so scenic that it became one of my favourite spots in the Blue Mountains.
It is located at the end, or the start, of Lyrebird Dell walking track (depending on which direction you walk the trail). The waterfall and the scenic pool at its base are not visible from the trail until you are right in front of them, so there is some sense of discovery to finding Lyrebird Dell waterfall. There is a feeling of a secret oasis to this waterfall and since this trail doesn’t get busy even on the weekends, there is a good chance that you’ll have the waterfall to yourself. You can read my guide to walking the Lyrebird Dell trail here.
How to get to Lyrebird Dell
Lyrebird Dell is reached by a walkign trail from Gordon Falls Reserve in Leura. See directions to Gordon Falls Reserve above, in the Pool of Siloam description
Linda Falls is an atmospheric little waterfall hidden away along the Dardenelles Pass trail. As Linda Creek makes its way down from the top of the escarpment it flows as Linda Falls and then as Marguerite Cascades down the trail. The Dardenelles Pass is quite a steep trail and the falls provide the perfect opportunity to have a break in a tranquil setting.
Also fed by Linda Creek, Marguerite Cascades are located downstream from Linda Falls along the Dardenelles Pass trail. Thanks to the runoff from the clifftops, the creek never really dries up, even during the hot and dry summer months. The cascades flow over sandstone shelves into a shallow pool fringed by the ancient-looking ferns. Check my guide to the Giant Stairway and Dardenelles Pass trail here.
How to get to Linda Falls and Marguerite Cascades
Lila Falls can only be accessed by a trail to Leura Forest. You can reach it either via the Giant Stairway or the Dardenelles Pass. You can read my guide to Giant Stairway and the Dardenelles Pass here.
What are your favourite waterfalls in the Blue Mountains? Share you ideas in the comments below.