Jenolan Caves

A Walk in the Woods is Good for your Soul

April 20, 2017

May is a lovely time of year in the Blue Mountains, with perfect weather for enjoying the many bush tracks.  The Blue Mountains is a famous bushwalking destination and Jenolan Caves has several excellent above ground walks, which cost nothing to enjoy.  If you are feeling energetic and have maybe 2 hours to spare, a particularly good Jenolan walk takes in Carlotta Arch followed by either the Nettle Cave and Devils Coach House Cave or the McKeown’s Valley, or both. Make sure you are wearing secure, non-slip shoes and follow these instructions:

  1. At the stairs directly opposite Jenolan Caves House, see the sign to Carlotta Arch.  Follow the zigzag path uphill until you come to the huge limestone arch.  It will take you around 15 minutes.  Leave the main path for a few minutes, to walk under the awe-inspiring arch, wonder at the stalactites hanging far above and then gaze down to the Blue Lake and out to the distant mountains.  Take lots of dramatic photos! 

    At the dizzying heights of Carlotta Arch, you can peer into the Arch Cave, which has been closed for many years.
  2. Return to the path and, after only a few metres, you will come to some stairs and a sign to the Devil’s Coach House.  266 stair steps take you down a steep hill into the McKeown’s Valley. 

    Half way down, take a break to explore a small cave on your right, from which you can peer down into the huge Devil’s Coach House Cave – ever so cautiously!  Carefully exit this secret vantage point and continue down the stairs.  
  3. When you reach the bottom of the stairs, you have a choice.  You can either:

Go right, to explore the massive Devil’s Coach House Cave and then proceed through the turn-style into the Nettle Cave.  It costs nothing to explore these 2 huge ‘twilight’ caves and your exploration will take 30 minutes to an hour.  The Nettle is quite different to Jenolan’s numerous ‘dark’ caves, and features rare, ancient stromatolytes. When you have finished, return the way you came.


Go left and wander along the McKeown’s Valley Track, named after the bushranger who used the caves as a hideout in the 1830s.

As you walk through this narrow, thickly wooded valley, you might spot wallabies, echidnas and lyrebirds.  On warm days, Cunningham’s Skinks may be seen enjoying the sun.  Two small bridges take you across the dry creek bed. When you reach the clearing, called ‘Old Playing Fields’, you may spot kangaroos. 

Continue along the valley floor, until you reach ‘Mammoth Flat’. Then, turn around and return the way you came. The valley continues, but the track ends here. The walk from the stairs to Mammoth Flat and back takes around 40 minutes. Beware of the abundant stinging nettles, after which the Nettle Cave is named.

Whether you explore the McKeown's Valley Track or the Devil's Coach House Cave, when you are finished, you must return via the stairs to Carlotta Arch.

Along all paths, you will encounter information signs about geology, Aboriginal culture native animals and more.  Here are more tips:

  • If you stay overnight at Jenolan, and do your bushwalking in the early morning or at dusk, you are much more likely to spot wild native animals on your stroll. 
  • If you explore these walks in the tranquil period between school holidays, you are likely to have the tracks all to yourself, increasing the likelihood of spotting wildlife.
  • Jenolan also offers a beautiful walk down the Jenolan River and back.

Carlotta Arch

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4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains NSW. Ph: 1300 76 33 11 or +61 2 6359 3911

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