This 30km overnight hike from Katoomba to Cox’s River Campground will help warm up your legs before you tackle the entire length of the Six Foot Track.
- Amazing views across the Megalong Valley
- Beautiful campsite
- Wild swimming
- A range of environments
An Overnight Hike on The Six Foot Track
The Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains is one of the more popular and well known multi day hikes in the Sydney area. It stretches from Nellies Glen on the western edge of Katoomba to Jenolan Caves 46km to the west.
However, if you only have one night to spare, a good place to start is the 15km hike from Nellies Glen to Cox’s River Campground where you spend the night, before heading back the way you came the next day. This overnighter has the advantage of starting and finishing in the same place, so you don’t have to worry about the car shuffle or expensive taxis that are involved if you’re walking the whole route.
Before starting out on your adventure, you need to register your trip on the Crown Land website. They own a chunk of the land you’ll be walking across and need to know who’s coming and going.
Hitting The Trail
Despite the name, the start of the track is considerably narrower than six feet, as it winds its way down a tight gulley through beautiful rainforest, following the gurgling Megalong Creek as it drops into the valley below. After rain and under heavy backpacks you’ll need to take your time to avoid any missteps here.
Once out of the gulley things get a bit easier and the trail opens up to a width more fitting to its name. The going is easy, giving plenty of time to take in the scenery and catch up with your mates.
The trail’s easy to follow thanks to small, red markers dotted along the way. Discrete but easy to spot. These markers guide you across an amazing scenery of rolling hills, towering sandstone cliffs, and vivid wild meadows.
About 10km in you start to hear Cox’s River rushing through large, worn-smooth boulders far below you. The path starts to descend and you catch glimpses of the river as you drop to join it. A few more kilometres and you eventually reach the feat of engineering that is Bowtell Suspension Bridge.
Built in 1992 it’s a reliable way to cross the river and ultimately reach the campsite when the river is too high to cross downstream. The bridge only takes one person at a time and during busy periods there can be a long wait under a hot sun.
If the river isn’t too high, you can continue heading downstream towards the campsite, but you’ll need to wade across the river to reach it. On a hot day, this might be a nicer (and cooler) option to waiting at the bridge.
Arriving at Cox’s River Campground
However you reach it, Cox’s River Campground is a few kilometres past the suspension bridge and has to be one of the most beautiful campsites in the area. The river bubbles over smooth, round boulders, while butterflies dance in the light, flitting through the stand of pine trees, and a small river beach provides a great spot to sit.
There’s a good amount of space to spread out your tents, a basic toilet block nearby keeps things civil, and a rain collection tank provides basic water, but you’ll need to treat it before drinking.
And the best bit? Six Foot Track Eco Lodge is only a short walk from the campsite and they sell ice cold beers, wine, cider, soft drinks, and snacks for you to enjoy while you put your tired feet up and stare out across the forest canopy from their raised deck.
No need to weigh your pack down with that cheeky celebratory beer. The family that runs it are a great bunch and always up for sharing stories over a drink or two.
After a night under the stars, listening to the chirps and whistles of the forest at night, it’s a simple case of retracing your steps the way you came back to the Nellies Glen car park. Remember to save some water and snacks for the climb back up the Megalong Creek gulley. It’s a killer after a second day under heavy packs.
- Camping essentials (tent, sleeping bag, torch, etc)
- Enough water for two days or a means to treat rainwater at the campsite
- Food and snacks for two days of hiking
- Cash for the Six Foot Track Eco Lodge
- Sturdy, grippy footwear
- Weather appropriate clothing
- Swimmers for the river
- Consider a Personal Locating Beacon for safety
How To Get There
Nellies Glen is a short drive west of the town of Katoomba. It’s possible to arrive by train, getting off at Katoomba Train Station and jumping in a cab for the short trip to the trail head.
If coming by car there’s a small car park, but it’s likely you’ll need to park on the road. The start of the track is easy to find, with a number of picnic benches, information signs and a large metal gate making it obvious.
Hikers have often used the Explorers Tree as a marker for the start of the trail, however the tree has recently been removed.
While the trail is easy to read, you’ll need a good level of fitness for the climbing and technical sections under a heavy backpack. Knowledge of map reading will also be handy in the event of an emergency. If you know how to safely treat rainwater, you’ll be able to reduce the amount you carry each day.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
The trail is roughly 15km each day. Day one is relatively easy as the trail is mostly descending, meaning there are only 400m of climbing to deal with. Day two is tougher as you retrace your steps and climb 1,200m back the way you came, with a real kick in the final few kilometres.
Expect to spend around 4-6 hours on the trail depending on your speed and how many stops you make. If you start early enough each day, you can take it easy and enjoy the views.