The Colo River begins at the junction of the Wolgan and Capertee Rivers, roughly in the middle of Wollemi National Park from east to west. It heads east for a short distance and then south east for some 50km until it flows into the Hawkesbury River near Lower Portland, north of Windsor. The Colo River gorge is one of the largest in the world other than the Grand Canyon, stretching 30km in length, and around 300m deep for much of that. The area around the river offers some of the wildest country remaining in NSW, and that is one of the big attractions to bushwalkers. While there are a number of fire trails and tracks on the east side of the gorge, the west is almost untouched. However, access is difficult and often requires strenuous climbs and exposed rock scrambling.
There are a number of fire trails that give reasonable access to the Colo River, although there is invariably a steep walk in at the end. From the south, the two main access trails are at Mt Tootie, and Sams Way at Mountain Lagoon. Further around to the east you can walk in from the end of the road at Upper Colo - this one is actually flat! North on to the Putty Rd, there are four main trails that lead off on the east side. Bob Turners Track is the first, which is a relatively easy walk down. Drip Rock is the next to the north, however, there is a locked gate near the start which requires a longish walk on the fire trail. Grassy Hill Fire Trail is further north, and there are a number of possible routes in to the Colo from its end. The last is the Culoul Range Fire Trail, from which some walks lead to excellent lookouts and some tricky access routes to the river. These fire trails are discussed in more detail in walks which use them as the access points. Most other fire trails have locked gates near their beginnings and involve a long walk to get to the river.
Most of the bushwalks in the Colo River area involve a steep climb in and out, but the rewards are great. The gorge is spectacular, and swimming holes abound for relief on hot days.
For beginners, the best walks are those in the lower Colo region. Bob Turners Track is an easy day walk, and from Mountain Lagoon to Colo Meroo is a good overnight walk. The T3 Track from Mountain Lagoon to the Colo is a bit more challenging, as is Canoe Creek, although experienced walkers will find both relatively easy day trips.
Further upstream the walks are more challenging. The walk to Crawfords Lookout, at the end of Culoul Range is quite easy and has excellent views, but it is a steep descent to the river from there. Bob Buck's Colo River sketch map has passes into and out of the Colo marked on it, but many of these are tricky and exposed, and may require exploratory trips just to locate.
The Colo River is navigable by kayak, however, this requires a significant amount of rain, and is an extremely difficult undertaking (Grade 6). Flat water paddling can be undertaken in the lower reaches of the Colo, near Upper Colo.
Generally speaking the canyon band is further west than the Colo River. However there may be a few canyons around the start of the Colo nearer the junction of the Wolgan and Capertee Rivers.
There are a number of crags in the Colo area worth checking out. Mandalay Cliff, near the Colo River bridge just before the town of Colo, is probably the most extensive. Others include Funnelweb Gulch, Slab City and Cracks Corner. See the Wild Guide "Sydney and the Sea Cliffs", "Rockclimbs In the Lower Blue Mountains" or Sydney Climbing for more information.
The Colo River is liloable for most of its distance, although there are occasional rapids that need to be shot. The main challenge is finding sections where the walk in can be easily connected with the walk out. Otherwise a car shuffle is required. If you are starting out, a good weekend would be to walk in on Bob Turners Track or the T3 Track and lilo to Colo Meroo.
The fire trails off the Putty Rd, such as the Culoul Range Trail and the Grassy Hill Trail, are suitable for mountain biking, although you should watch for cars and 4WDs. There are also a number of fire trails in the Mountain Lagoon area which offer decent mountain biking.
Time: 4 hrs; Distance: 6km; Fitness: EM; Skill: EM; Ascent: 400m
A relatively easy route to the magnificent Colo River, with good swimming and the option of camping.
Time: 2 hrs; Distance: 6km; Fitness: E; Skill: E; Ascent: 280m
One of the easiest routes to the Colo River. A lovely pool and beach make it a delightful spot for swimming, although it is a decent climb in and out.
Time: 2 days; Distance: 29km; Fitness: MH; Skill: M; Ascent: 520m
A challenging river walk along the lower reaches of the Colo River.
Time: 2 days; Distance: 21km; Fitness: M; Skill: MH; Ascent: 460m
A challenging walk through some of the best scenery in the upper Colo River.
Time: 2 hrs; Distance: 8km; Fitness: E; Skill: EM; Ascent: 240m
A short walk to a spectacular lookout over Wollemi Creek and the upper Colo River.
Time: 2 days; Distance: 24km; Fitness: EM; Skill: EM; Ascent: 580m
Good views of the Colo River on the way to this excellent camp ground by the river itself
Time: 4 hrs; Distance: 6km; Fitness: M; Skill: EM; Ascent: 500m
A steep but short and spectacular walk to the Colo River at its junction with Tootie Creek