Hike the Six Foot Track // Blue Mountains (NSW)

Here’s the low-down on one of the Blue Mountains’ most historic hikes, the Six Foot Track…

Highlights

  • Lots of time for team bonding
  • Great introductory walk for overnight treks
  • Sick swim spot at Cox’s River Campground
  • Epic cable bridge over the river
  • An extremely diverse walk exploring a wide range of Australian bushland
Photography by Gus Armstrong and Tom Walker

Day three; you’re hungry, tired, sore, thirsty, hot, tired, hungry, cous cous, aching, tender and stiff. You have just walked, using only your legs, through 44 kilometres of ever changing Australian bushland from wide open forest tracks, single file rock hopping on steep hillsides to navigating a swinging steel rope bridge spanning some 40 metres over the river below to arrive at your destination, where the temptation to turn around and just do it all again plays a sneaky suggestion on your mind.

The Six Foot Track began its life as bridle trail from Katoomba to the Jenolan caves, but has since become a popular walking trail between the two. Even more unbelievably, it plays host to the annual Six Foot Track Marathon on the 8 March every year.

So myself and fellow adventurers Tom Walker, Robbie Nichols and Jacob Tant, with Tant having to turn back from a previous back injury at work, set off with our chins high and springs in steps from the Jenolan end of the track at roughly midday heading back towards Katoomba. Doing the track this way means you spend slightly more time walking downhill than up, clever I know! The first 8.5kms of the track snakes it’s way to the Black Range Camp, where there are tables, toilets and tanked water available (but it’s advised you treat all water before drinking).

We pushed on further doing another maybe 6kms before sunset to where we found a cleared site and rolled the beds out for our first night in the bush, serenaded by the native insects and the irregular grunting of what we can only assume to be a drop bear.

Day two starts with porridge, comparing each other’s sweet gear and packing the bags for another jaunt into the unknown. After walking downhill on slippery gravel for what feels like an eternity, eventually the ground levels out and hardens to coast you into Alum Creek Camp, which is where you would camp if you were attempting the track in 2 days, a rough half way point. There are no facilities here but the opportunity for a scrub in the river and a snooze present a walker with a joyous time indeed.

Continuing from there up the steep Mini Mini Saddle the track brings you back into full sunlight as you pass through the sloping terrain of the Megalong where you catch first sight of the cliff edges of Katoomba on the horizon some 20kms away. Eventually you arrive at Cox’s Creek Camp for the most deserving dip in the river you have ever deserved. Full facilities are available here, even a cold drink at the eco lodge some 300 metres further up the trail.

Feeling rather energetic after the swim and a snooze we decided to push on to cross the wild steel rope bridge, not to be underestimated, as sturdy as it may be, I did lose my nerve trying to get a sweet photograph looking straight down from the middle only to learn of how wobbly that thing can be. Other than that, a walk in the park. We continued for a few more kilometres to find a comfortable spot on the side of the hill to set up camp and rather quickly became victim to the depths of sleep.

The final day and the final push is a deceiving jaunt, a slight uphill trek to the base of those cliffs you have been eyeing off for the past 20kms to where the steps begin. Listening to your heart pounding through your ears as the water in your Camelbak warms up and your legs test the threshold of spontaneous combustion, you push on through some of the most beautiful and dense rainforest the mountains have to offer. Springs sprout out of the rocks on the side of the track, ferns a mess blocking out the sun above.

The steps went on and on until we saw some fresh bloke in a deep v-neck shirt walking towards us holding a doughnut in one hand saying something like ‘how ya goin’ mate’… Six Foot Track complete, it was good to be back.

Essential Gear

  • Trek bag
  • Waterproof bag cover
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • 3L Camelbak style water bag
  • Water filter
  • Hiking tent
Food & Prep
  • 500 mL methylated spirits
  • Spirit burner
  • Mess tin
  • Cutlery
  • Steel wool
  • 4 dehydrated dry meals
  • 3 tins tuna
  • 500g couscous
  • Quick porridge
  • Muesli bars
  • Bananas
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cajun spice
  • Bush spice
  • Sugar
Other
  • Matches
  • Pocket knife
  • Multi tool
  • Headtorch
  • Spare batteries
  • Microfibre towel
  • Hat
  • Duct Tape
  • Flint
  • Deck of cards
  • Paracord
  • Garbage bag
  • Toilet paper
Clothing
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Thermals
  • Undies x 3
  • Socks x 3
  • Rain poncho
  • Dunlop K26 utility joggers
  • Hat
Technology
  • Phone
  • GPS beacon
  • Camera
  • Solar charger

Getting There

The Six Foot Track starts at the Explorers Tree near Katoomba, there is a large information hut about the walk and really has all the information you could ask for. The other end is at Jenolan Caves opposite the main guest house.

Six Foot Track map

This is a photograph of the map at either end of the trail and has all the information you will ever need. Make sure you snap a pic of this on your way past and keep your phone charged. Printed versions are available at the Jenolan Caves National Parks office.

Activities

  • hiking
  • mountain climbing
  • rock scrambling
  • photography
  • swimming
  • camping
  • sweet camp banter

Skill Level

Obviously good fitness is required for this walk as the kilometres really start to weigh up on the last day, but only a medium level of skill is required. Being prepared and having the right equipment is more important in this situation.

Distance Covered

From start to finish it is 44km, starting at Jenolan its broken into 8.5, 20 then 15.5km segments to coincide with the campsites. We evened the trip out by camping on the side of the track to make it an even 15kms a day.