Is Valley of the Waters the most beautiful walk in the Blue Mountains?

Balancing on the slippery stepping stones at the edge of a cliff, I was standing inches above the magnificent Wentworth Falls. Underneath my feet, gallons of water rushed off the top of the cliff and plummeted 180 meters to the bottom of the densely-forested valley. The only thing preventing me from following suit was a thin metal guardrail bolted into the rock. Sounds pretty spectacular for a start of a bushwalk, right? But believe me, it gets even better.

I stared at the vertical sandstone slabs of the monumental Kedumba Walls that rise out of the endless expanse of the Jamison Valley, and my mind that usually runs at a million miles an hour slowed down to a blissful calm in the face of such vastness.

The Blue Mountains National Park is all about vastness. Located only 2 hours by train or car from the centre of Sydney, this rugged World Heritage-listed wilderness is a 2,690 square kilometre-medley of mountains, gorges, canyons and waterfalls.

Start of Wenworth Pass Loop Track

The dramatic clifftop is just the start of the 5.6-kilometre hike. Well, to be accurate, the walk starts at Wentworth Falls picnic area and follows the Wentworth Falls track. Before you reach the falls, there is a turn off for Fletchers Lookout. Take the minute to walk over to it for the view of the top of Wentworth Falls.

Once you get to the falls themselves, you get yet a different perspective again. Here you find the beautiful Queen’s cascades as Jamison Creek flows over sandstone ledges before it tumbles over the edge of the cliff as the magnificent Wentworth Falls.

Steep descent alongside Wentworth Falls

From the top of the Falls, the trail dives into a steep descent via hundreds of roughly hewn stone steps cut into the side of the cliff alongside the waterfall. You will want to take it easy down the rough steps – they are too high to skip along and the 200-meter drop to your right will be the only reminder you’ll need to keep your eyes on the trail.

The descent continues alongside the thundering Wentworth Falls constantly giving you views of the solid wall of water tumbling down the exposed cliff face. At times you even feel the spray on your face. This part of the walk is quite a wild experience. Not to mention the incredible views of Jamison Valley that are always in front of your eyes.

As you clamber down the rocky stairwell one giant step at a time, imagine the hardships that the builders of this trail faced. The stairs are part of the National Pass track that first opened to the public in 1908. This was well before the days when helicopters would deposit pre-processed sandstone blocks along the trail.

These stairs were carved by a team of four men known as the “Irish Brigade” with nothing more than shovels, crowbars, and dynamite.  In comparison to such a feat of endurance, the effort of merely climbing down these steps begins to feel like a walk in the park.

When you finally reach the bottom of the stairs at the base of the first drop of the falls, you will be 110 meters below the start of the trail. Here the falls split into a myriad of smaller veils cascading over weathered sandstone shelves. It a great spot plonk yourself on a shaded rock among the fellow hikers enjoying their hard-earned reward for the arduous climb.

Down the Slack Stairs

Once you are ready to soldier on, follow the trail to Wentworth Pass track that zig-zags over relatively flat grown with the backdrop of dramatic views of the falls and the Jamison Valley. These are the best views of Wentworth Falls you will ever get. Only from this stretch of the trail can you see the falls in their entirety, meaning both the upper and the lower falls. But the deeper you go, the rougher the trail becomes until it plunges into the steepest descent yet.

View along Wentworth Pass
View along Wentworth Pass

Known as the “Slack Stairs” this part of the trail is made up of a set of extremely steep steps and stairs encased into protective iron shoots. While perfectly safe, this stretch is not for the faint-hearted. Especially if, like me,  you are carrying a heavy tripod, and only have one free hand to lower yourself into the shoots that seem to be suspended in mid-air over hundreds of meters of empty space. Well, this may be a touch over-dramatic. The shoots are snuggled closely to the wall of the cliff so you don’t really feel like you are walking on air when climbing down these steps.

After the challenges of the Slack Stairs, the pool at the bottom of the second drop of the falls is a refreshing oasis of trickling water and cool air. I was tempted to take a dip in the pool, but as I thought about it, a large group of noisy hikers emerged from the trail, and the tranquillity was lost.

Into the Valley of the Waters

I left the rowdy teenagers to their selfie sticks and followed the trail along the base of the cliffs through the open eucalypt forest. After about 1.5 kilometres I came to the first creek crossing. It looked like there used to be a bridge here, but it was long gone. The eucalypt trees gave way to the mossy rainforest with a closed canopy.

Tripod in hand, I scrambled over the huge boulders across the creek and climbed back onto the trail.  I was now in the Valley of the Waters – a waterfall wonderland with five falls packed into a relatively small area of dense forest.  It is a photographer’s dream, and the few people I met on the trail were all busy with their cameras and tripods. There was no noise, no crowds, just the sublime beauty and tranquillity of nature.

Red Rock Falls in the Valley of the Waters
Red Red Rock Falls

After a while, the trail started to ascend along the side of the cliff crossing the creek back and forth, and at every crossing, there was a new waterfall. Red Rock Falls, Lodore Falls, Sylvia Falls, Flat Rock Falls and Empress Falls followed in quick succession, as the creek ran down the side of the mountain. 

Each waterfall was more picturesque than the last. This was by far the dreamiest landscape I have ever explored in the Blue Mountains. And it was all the more rewarding to be here for the arduous journey it took to get here.

Blue Mountains waterfalls: Sylvia Falls in the Valley of the Waters
Sylvia Falls
Valley of the Waters - Lodore Falls
Lodore Falls
Flat rock Falls
Flat Rock Falls

Empress Falls

Empress Falls is the most famous waterfall in the Valley of the Waters. Honestly, I am not sure why. It is the biggest of the series of waterfalls in the valley, but it not the most picturesque.

It is very popular with canyoning tour groups that conclude the tour by abseiling down Empress Falls. So as you explore the waterfall, watch out for abseiling ropes flying from above.

Because of the abseiling tours, Empress Falls is also the busiest spot in the Valley of the Waters. I had to wait for a group to depart before I could take a photo of the falls. Not that it was a problem with so many tiny streams to photograph around the falls.

As I wandered from waterfall to waterfall, I was slowly climbing out of the valley. The ascent became more arduous when I left Empress Falls behind since there were no more distractions taking my mind off the climb.

What followed was a long stretch of steps that eventually took me past the Empress and Queen Victoria lookouts towards the Conservation Hut Cafe. Of course, I spent too much time in the Valley of the Waters and the café was already shut. With a bit of planning, you should try to get to the cafe by 3 – 3.30 pm if you’d like a drink and a snack after the track.

Of course, you could also visit Valley of the Waters by a much shorter trail from the Conservation Hut (Fletcher St, Wentworth Falls). It is a reasonably steep track that would take an hour or so to complete.

After a brief rest and an encounter with a lyrebird, I headed along the Shortcut Trail that brought me back to the Wentworth Falls picnic area about 20 minutes later. By then I felt, and probably looked, like a battle survivor, but it was the kind of fatigue that I had been looking forward to.

By the way, If you enjoy chasing waterfalls as much as I do, check out this epic guide to the most remarkable waterfalls in Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Track stats

  • Track Name: Wentworth Pass Loop Track
  • Grade: 4 – Hard Track
  • Distance: 5km loop
  • Time to complete: 4-5hrs

How to get to Wentworth Falls

By car: Coming from Sydney via Great Western Highway, turn left at Falls Road near Wentworth Falls and the picnic area is at the end of the street.

By train: Take the Blue Mountains line train to Wentworth Falls station. From the station, cross the Great Western Highway, turn left onto Falls Road and follow the road to the end.

More Scenic Hikes around Sydney

Prince Henry Cliff Walk in the Blue Mountains – Epic Views and Waterfalls

Glow worms and Waterfalls of Horseshoe Falls Walking Track in Hazelbrook

Leura Cascades to Gordon Falls – a picturesque walk in the Blue Mountains

Gordon Falls to Pool of Siloam and Lyrebird Dell – one walk, endless waterfalls

Most picturesque Blue Mountains waterfalls you will want to explore

Echo Point to Scenic World walk – an easy but stunning walk in the Blue Mountains

The Lost World of the Grand Canyon walk

The Giant Stairway and the Dardenelles Pass – An Epic Walk in the Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains wildlife at Euroka clearing

Valley of the Waters walk in Blue Mountains

18 thoughts on “Is Valley of the Waters the most beautiful walk in the Blue Mountains?”

  1. I love the Blue Mountains. It’s so close to Sydney and easy to get to. I’ve been there a couple of times and going there again next week with my family. Hopefully the weather is perfect for a picnic at one of the waterfalls. Can’t wait!

    Reply
  2. Hello, which month did you visit? … I have seen similar pictures on many sites, but whenever I went it was more or less like leaking mountains :( ..

    Is it from June to August ?

    Reply
    • Hi Rohini,
      Last time I visited in January. The water levels do fluctuate a fair bit, but even a little bit of rain fills the waterfalls. Plus the slow shutter speed helps to create the appearance of full cascades.

      Reply
  3. I keep seeing amaaazing hikes in the Blue Mountains, but all these waterfalls make this look like the best one so far! Plus I always love loop walks. :)

    It must be even better if you visit when there is more water in the springtime.

    Reply
    • Thanks Josy! I keep waiting for the rains before I head back on this hike, but it’s been such a dry year! Wentworth Falls, in particular, are incredible after heavy rain.

      Reply
  4. I am in awe of the photography here Margarita – these are just stunning. You seem to be quite the nature buff and I hope to explore more of such posts on your blog. Cheers :-)

    Reply
    • Thank you Kylie. I really wanted to get that effect of silky water flow, so I lugged a heavy tripod with me on this hike. I would definitely settle on a shorter route next time :)!

      Reply
  5. You are speaking my language with all these stunning waterfalls!! They never cease to amaze me, and your photos are so beautiful!

    Reply
  6. I wish I had known about this when traveling there! The slack stairs and empress falls … I will put this area on my list for next time! I had to look up what a lyrebird is and I am pretty such we encounter them while there!

    Reply
    • Lyrebirds are those birds that mimic the sounds of other birds and various human activities, like chainsaws or camera moto-drives. They are really fun to listen to. The males are also quite attractive with long, elaborate tails. The females, however, look like bush chickens :). So you may not think much of them if it is a female you happen to spot.

      Reply
  7. Wow! All the waterfalls are absolutely breathtaking! It’s looks like a dreamy paradise in a fairytale. Beautiful post and with great details. 😁

    Reply
  8. The Blue Mountains is a beautiful place to visit particularly if you like hiking and seeing what natural wonders the ‘bush’ has to offer. Great post on a great place to visit.

    Reply
  9. Looks amazing! I was meant to be going to the Blue Mountains this year but won’t be happening now unfortunately. But one day I will get there!

    Reply

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