|Maps:||LPI Jamison 8930-2N 1:25000|
|LPI Jenolan 8930-3N 1:25000|
|LPI Kanangra 8930-3S 1:25000|
|LPI Katoomba 8930-1S 1:25000|
The walk from Kanangra to Katoomba is one of the classic longer walks of the Southern Blue Mountains, along with the Six Foot Track and Mittagong to Katoomba. Crossing two national parks, it takes in some of the best scenery of both, including excellent views from the high plateaux of Narrow Neck and Kanangra Walls.
Much of the walk is through wilderness, for which there are no signs, and tracks in places are vague. Many parties have run into trouble over the years, and walkers need to be competent navigators.
While the walk is most commonly done over three days, it can be done in two days by fit parties overnighting somewhere in the vicinity of the Coxs River. It is also done by some groups in one day as a challenge - "K to K in a Day" is one of the well known "hard" walks in the Blue Mountains, along with the significantly tougher Three Peaks.
There are numerous routes that can be taken, and these notes only point out the most commonly taken route. Some suggestions for alternatives are given.
There are plenty of good campsites along the way. The ones at Dex Creek and Mobbs Swamp usually have water available, which is why they are popular. However, they can be crowded at times. Most saddles between Mt Berry and Mt Strongleg offer a flat grassy area. Konangaroo Clearing is a large grassy area next to Kanangra Creek, and would be an excellent campsite if doing the walk in two days. Likewise there are numerous flat grassy areas between Mt Yellow Dog and Medlow Gap.
The walk is best done in the cooler months, as there are plenty of ups and downs, and limited water options along the way.
Kanangra to Katoomba requires a long car shuffle. Leave one car in Katoomba, either on Narrow Neck at the Golden Stairs car park or the locked gate, or in Katoomba itself. The distances below assume a car at the locked gate.
The other car you will need to get to Kanangra Walls. For details on how to get to Kanangra Walls, see the information in the Kanangra Walls region, to the right.
If you have a large group you may be able to avoid the car shuffle by splitting in two, and doing the walk in opposite directions. However, you will need to make sure you can meet in the middle to exchange keys.
From 06 Nov 2004, last checked 17 Apr 2023
Day 1: Kanangra Walls to Mt Cloudmaker to Dex Creek (13km, 400m ascent)
From the car park at Kanangra Walls, follow signs to the Plateau Track. Avoid a turn off to the right to Dance Floor Cave and ascend a short climb on to the plateau proper.
The track out along the plateau crosses a number of rocky clearings, but is fairly wide, obvious and well-maintained. At a large clearing about 1km on to the tops the cliff edge is easily reached for stunning views. The track divides, and becomes narrower. From the east side of the clearing, one branch heads initially east, and then south towards Maxwell Top, while the other heads north east from the northern side of the clearing. Take the north east branch, which keeps close to the northern edge of the tops. The views in this section are excellent, with the spectacular Kanangra Falls and Kalang Falls in full glory after rain, and the magnificent Thurat Spires glowing red in the morning light.
Near the end of the plateau, the track heads down and into a small gully. A short steep scramble is needed down the gully, and follow the track around and up on to Kilpatrick Causeway. After a further kilometre, the track climbs briefly to the bottom of Crafts Wall, and traverses along steep slopes along its north west side. Reaching the corner of the Wall, take the track to the north west, which heads down a hill, and then up to the conglomerate bluff at the southern end of Mt Berry. Keep to the right of the cliff until you can walk up a gully on to the tops. The cliffs on the west side of Mt Berry have superb views of Crafts Wall and Kanangra Walls.
The descent to Gabes Gap, the low point of the day, follows. The steepest ascent of the day is from here, up to Mt High and Mighty. The views from the top are good and it is not a bad spot for lunch.
After a break, continue on to Mt Stormbreaker. Then there is the final up and down (but more up than down) around Rip, over Rack, around Roar and over Rumble, before you reach Mt Cloudmaker. The top of Mt Cloudmaker is covered with trees and there are no views. There is a log book on top of the summit cairn that you can sign.
From Mt Cloudmaker, head NE on a vague track that traverses the northern flank of the summit ridge to its eastern end, before dropping off to the north down to Dex Creek at MGA401416. Note there is another track from the top of Mt Cloudmaker that heads generally south east, and then east on to the Ti Willa Tops, so don't just assume any track is the right one. Dex Creek usually has flowing water, but it can dry up after longer dry spells. There are a number of small campsites on both sides of the creek.
Day 2: Dex Creek to Mt Strongleg to Mobbs Swamp (16km, 650m ascent)
The next morning, get an early start and navigate carefully on to the ridge leading from Carra Top to Mt Moorilla Maloo. The ridge drops off steeply to the west, so it is usually easiest to keep to the west side. The regrowth post bushfires of 2019-20 means there is little sign of a track between Karrung Top and the northern side of spot height 953. There are excellent views from the northern side of 953 just above a short rocky scramble. The saddle between 953 and Mt Moorilla Maroo has less regrowth so the track can be followed to Mt Moorilla Maloo.
The route heads WNW and then north to Mt Amarina, but it is worth climbing Mt Moorilla Maloo if you have time. From Mt Moorilla Maroo to the knoll where the ridge swings north the regrowth is thick and the going is slow. The regrowth reduces slightly from Mt Amarina and it is possible to pick up a track to Kullieatha Peak, down into the saddle and around the east side of Mt Strongleg (approx. following the 740m contour).
The trail heads steeply north down the obvious ridge, finishing at Kanangra Creek where you can fill up with water. The track down the upper half of the ridge is relatively clear, but it becomes harder to follow as you get closer to the creek. If you have sufficient water, you can take a short cut about half way down aiming for the bottom of Yellow Pup Ridge. The Coxs River is generally easy to ford just before a small set of rapids on the west side of Yellow Pup Ridge. The river should only be about knee deep at this point. If it is more than waist deep then it is dangerous to cross, and you may need to wait or return to Kanangra Walls.
Some parties may prefer/need to camp at the Coxs River (preferably at the base of Yellow Dog Ridge to avoid the river crossing at the start of Day 3) now that the section from Dex Creek to the Coxs River is slower due to regrowth. This makes for a long day 3, but as the final section is on fire trail, it is possible to finish in the dark.
The next section is the longest climb on the walk. Head around to the bottom of Yellow Pup Ridge and up the track. There is a steep eroded section about half way up, after which the track goes into a series of long switchbacks. One last steeper section gets you to the top.
The trail continues along the east side of Yellow Dog Ridge to the flats below Mt Dingo. The track from Yellow Dog Ridge to Mobbs Swamp is overgrown and slow going, at times requiring care in finding the track, but nothing like some of the sections encountered between Dex Creek and Mt Strongleg. At Mt Dingo, a well defined track branches off to the right up to the summit, and you can visit the lookout at Splendour Rock if you have the time. A high traverse via Mt Merrimerrigal, Mt Warrigal and Mt Mouin is an alternative route to Medlow Gap, but requires that you have sufficient water.
Otherwise, continue along the track for a further 2km to Mobbs Swamp, a convenient campsite for the night. Mobbs Swamp is on the south side of Warrigal Gully, at the head of the creek, and is reached after a steady downhill on the track. Water can usually be found in the creek below the campsite, or a little further along where the creek crosses the main track. There is a large but gloomy camp cave just above the creek below the campsite.
Day 3: Mobbs Swamp to Medlow Gap to Katoomba (16km, 300m ascent)
From Mobbs Swamp, head north on the track, which swings around to the east as you pass Blue Dog Ridge. It contours for a further 2.5km until you hit a fire trail, at White Dog Ridge. Head left on the fire trail for 700m and cross a locked gate to reach Medlow Gap. Cross the main fire trail onto a track that heads ENE over Mt Debert. This is a steep climb to start with but eases off, passing through pleasant open forest. Drop down into Little Cedar Gap, and climb on the fire trail, and then on another track, to the bottom of Narrow Neck Peninsula.
Traverse around the west side of the cliff for about 20m to find Tarros Ladders. These are in fact a set of climbing spikes fixed into the rock. The climb is about 8m, but could be difficult for some people with a full pack. If you are nervous about this, you may want to take 10m of thin cord to haul packs up. The track climbs up a cleft in the rocks, along a shale ledge on the west side, and up another cleft to a ladder which takes you up to Clear Hill at the top. The view here is excellent, but is unfortunately marred by the electricity line that runs across Little Cedar Gap.
Follow the fire road along Narrow Neck. It climbs steadily to the fire tower at Bushwalkers Hill and then descends to the narrow point of the Neck. There is a steep hill shortly after this, and one more downhill and uphill brings you to the locked gate. Due to a landslide you will have to continue walking a further 3km (?) to the Narrow Neck Lookout on Cliff Drive (if you’ve left your car there).