The Blue Mountains have an incredible variety of walking trails ranging from 30-minute strolls to multi-day hikes. I have written about some of the more adventurous walks that feature steep ascends and descends between the cliff tops and the valley floor.
But if you are looking for an easy walk in the Blue Mountains, Prince Henry Cliff Walk from Echo Point to Scenic World packs a lot of awe-inspiring sights in a 1-hour easy walk. With a few mild exceptions, this is a relatively flat walk perfectly suitable for families. And the best thing is, even though you walk along the cliff tops, you still get to see a stunning waterfall and impressive cascades, not to mention the sweeping 180-degree vistas of the mountainous landscape.
Track at a glance
- Start: Echo Point
- Finish: Scenic World, or return to Echo Point
- Distance: 2.1 km one way
- Time: 1 hr 15 min
- Difficulty level: 3 – Moderate Track
How to get to Echo Point
Home to the Blue Mountains’ most iconic rock formation, Echo Point is the main tourist hub of the National Park. It is easy to reach by public transport if you are not motorized.
- By train. A 2-hour ride on a BMT line train from Central will bring you to Katoomba village. From the train station, cross the road and walk to the bus stop on Katoomba Street. Take 686 public bus to Echo Point. Alternatively, you can purchase a ticket ($55) for the Blue Mountains Hop-On-Hop-Off Explorer bus and ride it to Echo Point.
- By car. From Sydney, take Great Western Highway (M4 and A32) towards Katoomba. At Katoomba, turn left off the Great Western Highway at the traffic lights, then follow the signs to Three Sisters and Echo Point.
Echo Point to Katoomba Falls Reserve
Prince Henry Cliff Walks starts in Leura, but it’s most scenic stretch is between Echo Point and Scenic World that makes for a 1-1.5hr walk one way.
The first order of business at Echo Point is to check out the Three Sisters and the expansive view of Jamison Valley framed by the distant sandstone walls. No matter how many times you see this view, it doesn’t get any less spectacular.
The Katoomba section of Prince Henry Cliff Walk starts from the viewing platform at Echo Point, on the opposite side from the Three Sisters. The start of the trail is a good bird-watching spot, there are usually a few Eastern spinebills, Brown thornbills, Red wattlebirds and Crimson rosellas around.
The trail meanders along the top of the cliff past a few lookouts and dramatic rock formations pushing onto the trail from the side of the cliff. Some of these rocky outcrops are covered by colorful lichen and moss, making them dark red or deep green.
Now and then, the trail ducks into shaded gullies dominated by the magnificently tall eucalypt trees. These are some of the steeper parts of the trail but they are absolutely magnificent. The gullies are also good spots for catching a glimpse of the tiny little Brown thornbills. As the trail climbs out of the gullies, you find yourself almost level with the tree canopy and if you stop and listen for a few minutes, you will hear the thornbills as they flutter and chatter among the branches.
As you pass the Skyway East Station, consider it as an option for the return journey (more on this later). From here, it is a paved, flat walk to Katoomba Falls Reserve. The Reserve itself is just a grassy playground but is not why you are here.
Katoomba Falls Reserve to Scenic World
While the first half of the walk was all about dramatic views, the second half is a surprise – it takes you past Katoomba Cascades and Katoomba Falls. Keep following Prince Henry Cliff Walk signs from Katoomba Reserve, down a set of stairs and within five minutes you find yourself at Katoomba Cascades.
The cascades flow all year round but they are at their best after the rain. The creek at the base of the cascades is wide and shallow, and you can get very close to the cascading falls. Or you can admire a wider view of the cascades from a small bridge that spans across the creek.
Photography tip: The best time to photograph Katoomba Cascades is in the afternoon when the sun moves behind the tree crowns softening the contrast between the brightly lit and shaded parts of the cascades.
From the cascades, cross the creek and continue along Prince Henry Cliff Walk. In another 15 minutes, you reach a junction with a few options. Follow the sign to Katoomba Falls Lookout. There are two falls that you can see from this lookout: the smaller Witches Leap Falls and the spectacular Katoomba Falls. You won’t mistake the two!
Katoomba Falls is one of the most scenic waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. Their fed by the Kedumba River that plunges about 150 meters from the top of the cliff to the valley below. From the lookout, you can only see the first drop of the falls. If you would like to see the entire waterfall, take the Katoomba Falls Round Walk from Scenic World.
From the lookout, continue along Prince Henry Cliff Walk until you arrive at the Scenic World. Here you have a few options for a more strenuous hike. You could take the 2-hour Katoomba Falls Round Walk or put your body through its paces on the steep Furber steps that take you down to the valley floor and the Scenic Railway – the steepest passenger railway in the world. Originally developed as part of a coal mine in the 19th century, scenic railway ascends at an incredible 52-degree incline. You would think there were easier places to excavate coal from!
Whether you decide to ride the cable car or not, you may want to have lunch or a snack at the Scenic World cafe before making your way back.
There are a number of options for the return journey. If you purchased the Explorer bus ticket, you can catch it to your next destination. You can take 686 public bus back to Echo Point or to Katoomba. For something a bit more interesting, you can take the cable car across the sweeping valley back to the Skyway East Station that you walked past not far from Echo Point.
The most popular option, of course, is to walk back the way you came. Not only will you get twice the scenic sights, you will also see them in a different light, if you head back in the afternoon.