The Southern Highlands has many incredible hikes, epic waterfalls and beautiful scenery. Most will head to Macquarie Pass National Park, Kangaroo Valley, Budderoo and Morton National Parks for the very best of the Southern Highlands. And rightly so. But there are equally as impressive attractions in the lesser known parts of the Southern Highlands. We’re of course talking about Mittagong, and more specifically, about some of the best Mittagong walks.

So if you have explored the main parts of the Southern Highlands and are looking for something new, get your speed hiking buddies and head to Mittagong. In Mount Alexandra Reserve, you’ll find the four best Mittagong walks that have mindblowing attractions, waterfalls and viewpoints to enjoy.

Check out our Southern Highlands weekend itinerary for the best overall hikes and attractions in the area. If you’re keen for other epic waterfalls in the Southern Highlands, scope out our 5 Best Macquarie Pass Waterfalls article.

The Boxvale tramway tunnel - one of the main attractions of the best Mittagong walks. Beck stands inside the tunnel, partially blocking the light penetrating the entrance, that's in the distance.
The Boxvale tramway tunnel.

Options for the Mittagong Walks

If you’re keen for a day full of speed hiking, it’s actually possible to do all four of these trails, separately, in a single day. However, given they share the same initial section of trail, it makes sense to, at least, complete the Boxvale Walking Track and the Forty Foot Falls Track together. In other words, you hike the initial section, and from there, you do an out and back of each track, to their respective attractions.

Given we planned this trip very last minute, combining the Boxvale Walking Track and the Forty Foot Falls Track, was the most time efficient way to fit in all of the Mittagong walks into a day. So that means you’ll hike the Sixty Foot Falls Track as it’s own out and back trail (and you can also do the short Katoomba Lookout hike afterwards from the same car park).

SIDE NOTE: It’s also possible to combine the Boxvale Walking Track and Forty Foot Falls as a loop (Boxvale Loop) by following the Nattai River off-trail (11km | 5-6 hours). It’s also possible, from Forty Foot Falls, to hike to Sixty Foot Falls! So in total, doing all of the Mittagong walks combined, would be around 20km or so. Admittedly, it’s difficult to find precise information online about this longer option of combining all of the trails together.

Mittagong Walks Guide

So in this guide, we’ll mainly include information about combining the Boxvale Walking Track with the Forty Foot Falls Track and then doing the Sixty Foot Falls Track and Katoomba Lookout separately. This is our tried and tested Mittagong walks itinerary after all!

However, for thoroughness, we’ll also briefly include information about the other options, including:

  • doing the trails separately – in case you just want to do a one-off hike.
  • the Boxvale Loop – a possibly more adventurous trail for more experienced walkers.

Given we did not combine all four trails together and can find limited reliable information about it online, we won’t discuss this option. But there is a map for your convenience below to help you plan a longer hike if you’re interested!

Mount Alexandra Reserve Map - detailing all of the MIttagong walks.
Mount Alexandra Reserve Map.

SIDE NOTE: Beck and I had originally planned to go to Bungonia National Park but it closed for aerial pest control. We always check the NSW National Parks website before planning and setting out for a trip. But on this occasion, I somehow missed the memo! So with a free day up our sleeves, we decided to check out these Mittagong walks. And we’re glad we did! They were better than we expected.

1. Boxvale Walking Track

 (includes Boxvale Tramway Tunnel and Nattai Gorge Lookout)

  • Type: One-way
  • Distance: 9km
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 235m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Mount Alexandra Reserve Car Park

Travel Made Me Do It have personally rated this trails in this guide

Alongside the Boxvale Walking Track, you’ll find many side-trails and adjacent management trails in Mount Alexandra Reserve. So when speed hiking your way through to the main attractions of this track – the Boxvale tramway tunnel and Nattai Gorge Lookout, there are a few different trails you can take on the way. So it can get a bit confusing.

But the most simple way is to just follow the Boxvale Walking Track from the very beginning. It weaves its way around Nattai and Kells Creeks, following the old tramway trail, leading you through the epic tunnel, heading towards Nattai River. Otherwise, to save time, it’s possible to use the Nattai Creek Fire Trail initially, before joining the Boxvale Walking Track.

Either way, you’ll start on unsealed and uneven dirt management tracks, so watch your footing when speed hiking. Assuming you’re following the Boxvale Walking Track from the start, you’ll pass Nattai Creek and then Welby Reservoir. From here, the trail becomes more sturdy and stable as leaf-littered floors are created by the dense bushland. The initial sections are calming as you’ll feel remote and removed from the nearby suburbs. But all the same, the scenery is nothing spectacular.

WHAT IS SPEED HIKING? Very simply, it’s hiking at a faster speed than your usual walking speed. Like anything you do at a quicker speed, there can be new challenges in execution, timing and co-ordination. When speed hiking on unsteady surfaces, you have less time to plan where your foot lands and less time to react if you lose your footing. So for those with ”dodgy” ankles, be mindful to slow down if need be, on uneven terrain, when speed hiking.

Tramway Track

At around 1.75km, you’ll arrive at the junction for Forty Foot Falls. It’s totally up to you, in what order you want to do the Mittagong walks. You’re more than welcome to head to the waterfall first. For the purposes of this itinerary, we’ll detail completing the Box Vale Track initially, and then heading to Forty Foot Falls afterwards.

After a largely uninspiring beginning, the Boxvale Tramway Track section really comes to life. You’ll finally feel like you’re truly following the old tramway line. That’s because you’ll hike in between cliff walls, or boulder cuttings, carved for the tramway. Not only is this a fascinating trail, but the scenery and surrounds start to diversify with more lively plants, ferns and trees.

You’ll walk through a few more boulder cuttings with the height of the cliffs either side of you, varying as you progress. Covered mostly in tree roots and bush, portions of the cliff walls are a light brown, even an orange clay complexion. Some of the boulder carved trails are clear, whilst others, require a bit more agility to navigate fallen trees and mildly overgrown areas.

Dan speed hikes through one of the boulder cuttings on the Tramway Track - one of the coolest parts of any of the Mittagong walks. Cliffs either side, are filled with ferns and plants within the carved trail in between them.
Dan speed hikes through one of the boulder cuttings on the Tramway Track.

Boxvale Tramway Tunnel

Nearing the end of the trail, you’ll finally catch a glimpse of the long, imposing tramway tunnel. It’s certainly one of the highlights of all of the Mittagong walks. Even before setting foot in the dimly lit tunnel, you’ll be blown away!

It’s about 100 metres in length, with either end creating a picturesque silhouette of the surrounding bushland. Given its enormity, during daylight hours, the tunnel is bright enough to not require a headlamp. Although we brought one just in case. Beck and I tried our hand with photography here, finding the lighting quite challenging.

Camera or no camera, you’ll feel quite adventurous hiking the old rungs of the tramway tunnel. After you make your way through the tunnel, it’s time to head to the final attraction of the Boxvale Walking Track.

Nattai Gorge Lookout

Not too far from the tunnel is the Nattai Gorge Lookout. Up until this point, your views of the surrounding landscape would have been mostly hidden. With the increasingly dense bushland, boulder cuttings and even a tunnel, you’ll feel pretty closed-in for much of the trail. This concealed and covered feeling is one of the trail’s best features, but it actually amplifies and brings a stronger sense of contentment when you finally reach a viewpoint.

With some imposing landforms and bush covered cliff walls in the forefront, you won’t have the most sweeping of views. But the lookout reminds you that you’re truly in the Southern Highlands, even if in a less frequented part of it. With that said, the lookout is a decent way to finish the ”out” part of the out and back Boxvale Walking Track.

Nattai Gorge Lookout - one of the best lookouts in all of the MIttagong walks. Bush covered mountains are seen in the forefront, with similar looking landforms, seen very far in the distance, making them hard look quite minuscule in comparison. The sky is partly cloudy.
Nattai Gorge Lookout.

The Boxvale Loop Option

Of course, if you intend on completing the Boxvale Walking Track and Forty Foot Falls as a loop, you’ll actually continue the walk down a steep decline (actually called the ”incline”). You’ll then literally follow the creek back down and around to Forty Foot Falls. But don’t expect much in the way of signage, whilst hiking creekside can get quite muddy and boggy.

Plus, given the steepness of the trail, you’ll need to guide yourself down with a series of metal chains. So although the loop is shorter in distance than doing the proposed two out and backs (11km as opposed to 12km), it takes a lot more time to navigate the tricky terrain and chains (5-6 hours as opposed to 4 hours). But it does look fun! Well, maybe next time for us.

2. Forty Foot Falls Track

  • Type: One-way
  • Distance: 4km
  • Time: 1.25 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 110m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Mount Alexandra Reserve Car Park

Whether you do the combined out and backs or loop, it’s time for Forty Foot Falls – arguably one of the best features of all of the Mittagong walks. In terms of the combined out and backs, you’ll remember that there is a turnoff about 1.75km into the Boxvale Walking Track. This yellow Forty Foot Falls Fire Trail sign very clearly marks the turnoff for the waterfall.

If you’re visiting during spring, look out for wildflowers. Even being close to a couple of creeks, most of the bushland here looks arid, dry and harsh. So the mix of vivid colours littered along the somewhat barren trail, in the form of wildflowers, is a bright change of scenery.

Spring wildflowers seen on the Forty Foot Falls Track. White spring flowers are dominate the scene, with Beck, blurred in the background, hiking on a fair trail.
Spring wildflowers seen on the Forty Foot Falls Track.

The fire trail leading to the waterfall seems mostly flat, and is fairly even, despite the loose rocks. Other than the pretty wildflowers, the trail is nothing extraordinary up until the waterfall. Very clearly marked, is a sign pointing you to the right to access the falls. Even though there is no further signage, there’s an obvious trail that descends to Forty Foot Falls.

After an initial set of steep dusty steps, you’ll arrive at a flat platform, which seems to split into a T-intersection. From here, you should notice a rock overhanging a metal step ladder to your left. Similar to the metal step ladders on the Overcliff-Undercliff Track of the Blue Mountains, they’re fun and add something adventurous to an otherwise tame trail, up to this point. There were plenty of spiders and cobwebs on the ladder and below, so keep an eye out!

Forty Foot Falls

Once you descend the ladder, you’ll find a faint trail leading you towards Nattai Creek where the waterfall is located. The trail initially leads you to the left-hand side of it, where you get your first unimpeded view. It gorgeously drops from, what we assume is, a forty-foot cliff overhang, onto a fallen log, wedged into the creekbed. As you look around, you’ll feel immersed in a bush-covered amphitheatre, where the waterfall gracefully spills and steals the show.

Forty Foot Falls - an impressive waterfall, gracefully drops from a  cliff overhand, onto a large fallen tree
Forty Foot Falls.

With a bit of agility, you can even navigate over some other fallen trees and overgrowth to walk behind the waterfall. But be careful as it’s mighty slippery. Instead, we backtracked and found a faint side-trail leading down into the creek. By following this trail, you’ll be able to get a front-on view of the waterfall, facing almost directly opposite it. You’ll need to watch your step as you negotiate wet rocks. Again, it’s quite slippery down there so don’t rush.

Of course, Forty Foot Falls isn’t one of the humungous waterfalls of the Southern Highlands. If you’re after the tallest and most voluminous waterfalls, head to Budderoo and Morton National Parks. But, there’s no doubt that Forty Foot Falls is one of the most picturesque, quaint and charming waterfalls of the area. After you’ve hung out with the local duck and skink residents, it’s time to head back out of the naturally created amphitheatre.

Forty Foot Falls - a gorgeous waterfall pours into a creek, with damp rocks around the base and bushland surrounding the cliff overhang.
Forty Foot Falls.

Out of all of the Mittagong walks, the hike back to the fire trail from Forty Foot Falls is the toughest. It’s not technically difficult, but physically challenging, as you emerge from the base of the falls and struggle back up the stairs.

3. Sixty Foot Falls Track

  • Type: One-way
  • Distance: 3.5km
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 200m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Mount Alexandra Lookout Road

After some lunch at the picnic area of the Mount Alexandra Car Park, it’s time to head over the other side of the Hume Highway for the remaining Mittagong walks, starting with the Sixty Foot Falls Track. Similar to the Boxvale Walking Track, you’ll be hiking via a tunnel. This time, it’s the Coke Tunnel! It’s much smaller, but we’re sure you’ll agree that any tunnel brings its own appeal and intrigue to a trail.

From the car park, a sign labelled ”Green Tramway Track”, signals the beginning of your hike. Almost immediately, you’ll enter dense bushland as you slowly descend towards Coke Tunnel. The tunnel’s ceiling is quite low, so you’ll need to duck or bend forward to get to the end. But it’s only around 5 metres in length, so your awkward shuffle is only short-lived. In the 1870s, the tunnel was used to transport coal from the Nattai Gorge to the local iron works.

Beck kneeling at the entrance of Coke Tunnel - another tunnel is found on one of the Mittagong walks. A small hole is seen at the end of the tunnel, creating a gap for light to penetrate. A boulder and plants are seen near the entrance of the tunnel.
Beck kneeling at the entrance of Coke Tunnel.

Immediately following the tunnel, is some interesting orange cliff overhangs with incredible ripples and patterns in the ceiling. Soak up the beautiful geology, as the next section of the hike is the trickiest.

Dan scopes out the incredible cliffs around the Coke Tunnel - wavy ripples and interesting patterns cover the ceiling of the orange cliff overhand.
Dan scopes out the incredible cliffs around the Coke Tunnel.

The trail becomes quite steep and with many a loose rock underfoot, you may find the terrain slippery. This is a good example of a time when speed hiking is inappropriate! Watch your footing and slowly make your way down to the fire trail below. Don’t worry, there’s much flatter and safer trail ahead!

Sixty Foot Falls

Once you’ve reached the bottom and regathered your hiking speed, keep notice of the yellow ”Falls View Fire Trail” to your right. Follow this, and soon enough, you’ll find another yellow sign labelled ”Sixty Foot Fire Trail”, again to your right. These signs are hard to miss and will lead you towards Sixty Foot Falls!

Once you’ve passed a small creek, you’ll then arrive at a fork. Admittedly, Beck and I struggled to find information online about how to proceed further. Assuming you could reach the falls going either direction, we chose to stay left at the fork, following a flat winding trail. By doing so, after 200-300 metres, you’ll arrive at a rock platform and essentially, a river bed, that forms the top of the waterfall.

Your views of the waterfall are minimal from the top, so it’s best to carefully rock scramble your way down to the base of the waterfall. On a dry day, this is safe to do. We don’t recommend attempting this if it’s been, or, is raining, as the rocks would be too slippery. So better save the Sixty Foot Falls Tracks for a nice dry day!

Once you’ve reached the base, you’ll have unimpeded views of this small, but pretty waterfall. There’s a small and seemingly shallow swimming hole where the falls gently plummet, but we didn’t stop for a swim.

Sixty Foot Falls - another waterfall to be found on another one of the Mittagong walks. A small and slender waterfall slides down two main tiers of rock platform into a small discoloured swimming hole.
Sixty Foot Falls.

Admittedly, we found Forty Foot Falls more mesmerising and charming. Plus, hearing sounds of nearby traffic certainly took away from the ambience and peacefulness at Sixty Foot Falls. You can even see large trucks pass by on the Hume Highway when looking over the top of the falls, above the bushland!

Beck admiring the surrounding bushland of Sixty Foot Falls - by the side of the top of the waterfall, Beck looks towards the surrounding bushland. The sky is mostly cloudy.
Beck admiring the surrounding bushland of Sixty Foot Falls.

4. Katoomba Lookout

  • Type: One-way
  • Distance: 1.5km
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 75m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Mount Alexandra Lookout Road

Once you’ve re-emerged from the base of Sixty Foot Falls, and returned via the Coke Tunnel, there’s one more of the Mittagong walks to complete. From the same car park, you can check out Katoomba Lookout. Admittedly, this small trail is the least exciting and enjoyable of the Mittagong walks. At 750 metres to the lookout, it’s not as if you need to invest a lot of time into the walk. But the mostly ascending and unsealed management trail provides quite a disappointing finish.

Almost completely covered in surrounding bushland is the Katoomba Lookout. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the Aussie bush! But for an actual named lookout, there should be some ongoing maintenance or clearance to make it worthwhile visiting. By doing so, we’re sure this would help promote tourism in the area. Although, having visited after the severe 2019-2020 bushfires, we understand that the local council has bigger fish to fry!

A lookout between tree cover of a winding road in the valley. The hills are green in the distance and the sky is blue and clear.
Views from Katoomba Lookout.

So for a quick smash and grab hike, and decent workout, we can recommend this short trail. Whilst you’re going to be at the trailhead anyway for the Sixty Foot Falls Track. So might as well. But don’t specifically come here for the Katoomba Lookout, expecting, well, a lookout! How foolish. At the very least, you’ll have a calm and quiet hike to finish your day.

Mittagong Walks Combined

Boxvale Walking Track & Forty Foot Falls Track

  • Type: 2x Out & Backs
  • Distance: 12km
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 335m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead:  Mount Alexandra Reserve Car Park

Sixty Foot Falls Track & Katoomba Lookout

  • Type: 2x Out & Backs
  • Distance: 5km
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 275m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead:  Mount Alexandra Lookout Road

The Best Mittagong Walks Recap

The Southern Highlands remains one of our favourite places to explore in New South Wales. But alongside the Blue Mountains, the Southern Highlands can get pretty busy on the weekends. Thankfully, Mittagong is a far less known hiking area. So if you like to avoid the crowds, these Mittagong walks will help fulfil your speed hiking needs without the hoards of tourists.

For the best waterfalls in and around Sydney, check out our Top 10 Waterfall List. For possibly the best hike in NSW, that’s not too far from Mittagong, check out Bungonia National Park day trip itinerary which includes the incredible Bungonia Slot Canyon trail.

Getting to Sydney

Flights: Of course, you’ll need to fly to Sydney to do this trip from abroad. If you’re travelling to Sydney from overseas, use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search.

Also, if you’re based in the UK or US, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. If you’re interstate, subscribe to I Want That Flight for the best flight deal alerts to and from other states. You can usually find cheap flights with Jetstar or Tiger Airways.

Getting to/from Mittagong

Located next to Bowral in the Southern Highlands, Mittagong is located as somewhat of a halfway point between Canberra and Sydney. For Canberrans and Sydneysiders alike, you’re looking at around a 2 hour drive,.

Reaching the trailheads for all of the Mittagong walks is much easier with your own set of wheels. Otherwise, it’s about an hour’s walk to and from these trailheads from Mittagong train station. So if you need a car, use RentalCars.com. It’s a fantastic search engine for finding the cheapest car hire.

For the Boxvale Walking Track and Forty Foot Falls Track, follow directions to ”Box Vale Walking Track” on Google Maps, and that’ll take you to the main car park of Mount Alexandra Reserve.

Alternatively, it’s possible to shave some time of each hike, by parking at the end of Morris Road. But we are unsure of the quality of this road. Besides, the car park at Mount Alexandra Road is spacious, accommodating probably 20-30 cars whilst it has a nice picnic area.

For the remaining Mittagong Walks – Sixty Foot Falls Track and Katoomba Lookout, you’ll find parking at the end of Mount Alexandra Lookout Road. The initial sealed road is very steep, ascending to an unsealed, bumpy and rocky car park. With a 2WD, you’ll only be able to access the right side of the car park. Altogether there’s probably enough space for a dozen cars or so, but only half of those can a 2WD be able to survive unscathed!

SIDE NOTE: The end of Leopold Street is an alternate start for the Sixty Foot Falls Track. It’s a much flatter and easier trail, but you’ll miss out on the fascinating Coke Trail!

Accommodation

For accommodation options around Mittagong, please refer to our Southern Highlands Guide. We camped in Moss Vale which is quite closeby and can recommend that for a non-flashy budget stay. But if you’re not into camping, unfortunately, other accommodation options in the Southern Highlands aren’t cheap. Regardless, you should compare Booking.com and Airbnb when looking for the best-valued accommodation.

Local Supplies

To get the most out of the day, bring a packed lunch plus plenty of water and snacks. Thankfully, there is a large shopping complex in Mittagong if you’re needing some last-minute supplies. Usually, our go-to grocery stores when travelling in Australia are Aldi and Woolworths. They will cover all of your basic requirements.

Total Costs

  • Petrol: $15AUD/person ($11USD)
  • Food: $5AUD/person ($4USD)

= $20AUD/person ($15USD)

If you can day trip, you’ll save big on accommodation. Otherwise, it’s a fun-filled and inexpensive day out exploring the best Mittagong walks!

Five Hiking Gear Essentials for Mittagong

For a more detailed summary on hiking gear, please check out 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a comprehensive packing list, check out our Ultimate Packing Checklist.

  • Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger – if you’re needing to charge your electronics on a long day of speed hiking, look no further than this affordable, reliable, lightweight and compact portable charger.
  • GoPro HERO 9 – the latest and greatest in capturing your hiking endeavours!
  • Buff Unisex Coolnet Neck Gaiter – these are so versatile and useful. They’re great for protecting your neck from the sun. Also, particularly on the Sixty Foot Falls Track, the trail is quite dusty, so this gaiter can help shield you from inhaling dust particles – ideal for asthmatics.
  • Merrell Moab 2 Mid Goretex hiking boots – these well-rounded hiking boots are good quality, affordable and comfortable.
  • Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack – this backpack is perfect for any type of hiking – it’s compact but spacious!
We either saw a red belly black snake or a eastern small-eyed snake on the Sixty Foot Falls Track. If you know, please let us know in the comments section below! A black snake slithers away in the bush.
We either saw a red belly black snake or an eastern small-eyed snake on the Sixty Foot Falls Track. If you can tell, please let us know in the comments section below!

Trail Navigation

Trail navigation is fairly straightforward for all of the Mittagong walks described above. However, it’s useful to have for the Sixty Foot Falls Track, where directions can get a tad confusing near the end of the trail, around the waterfall. Whilst doing the Boxvale Loop is partly off-trail, so you might benefit from trail navigation.

Unfortunately, when we tried recording GPS directions for these Mittagong walks, our GPX files weren’t able to recover all of the necessary details, so you’ll have to search using Wikiloc or AllTrails.

For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.

Bonus Tips

  • Make a weekend out of it: close to Mittagong are so many more wonderful hikes, waterfalls and attractions in the Southern Highlands, so use one of our other guides to make a weekend hiking itinerary.
  • Check the weather: getting to the base of Sixty Foot Falls can be dangerous in wet weather. Only attempt in dry conditions. In saying that though, these waterfalls can look a bit worse for wear during drought. So it’s good to organise a trip to Forty and Sixty Foot Falls after some decent rainfall for fuller-looking waterfalls, once the terrain and trails have dried up again!
  • Break up your journey: if you’re looking for a way to break up the journey from Sydney to Canberra or vice-versa, stop in at Mittagong for one or more of these fantastic hikes.

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