Skip to Content

Discover the Best of Mount Kaputar National Park

Discover the Best of Mount Kaputar National Park

Nestled within the northern tablelands of New South Wales (NSW) is the dramatic landscape of Mount Kaputar National Park. Formed through volcanic activity some 17 to 21 million years ago, the resultant scenery is as jaw dropping in beauty as it is in age. The sweeping green carpets of lush vegetation, perfectly shrouding the jagged hillside, are truly breathtaking. New vistas and vantage points spread out in every direction. It’s central monolith, Mount Kaputar, is a huge natural landmark rising majestically at 1489m above sea level.

Such is the magnitude of its beauty and wilderness combined, Mount Kaputar entices all. From hikers and cyclists to birdwatchers and general nature lovers, there’s no shortage of adventure options on offer. Far less known than other national parks in NSW, you’ll soon discover that the remote mountains of Mount Kaputar will leave you utterly charmed. Of course, we’ll be focussing on the hiking side of things!

We spent a wonderful two days hiking the length and breadth of Mount Kaputar National Park. Here we’ll detail our hiking itinerary, plus any extra hikes we were unable to complete at the time!

Girl in blue coat sits on top of some rocks looking out over rolling dark green hills in Mount Kaputar. The sky is blue with whispy clouds.
Beck enjoying the views from Governors Summit.

Mount Kaputar National Park Day One

1. Sawn Rocks

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 1.5km
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 50m
  • Difficulty: Grade 2
  • Trailhead: Sawn Rocks picnic area

All hikes in this guide are graded by NSW National Parks using the Australian Walking Track Grading System

Your first glimpse of just how epic Mount Kaputar National Park is going to be, is with a visit to Sawn Rocks. Behold, a huge 40m high rock structure formed from ancient basalt lava flow. It’s, by far, some of the best examples of ‘organ-piping’ in the whole of Australia. We’ve only come across similar on a trip to Iceland, and we all know how epic Iceland is.

To reach the star attraction, the quick and easy walk begins from Sawn Rocks car park. Following along a well maintained path, you’ll soon arrive at a purpose built wooden viewing platform. Here, you’ll taste your first full view of Sawn Rocks and sense the scale and wonder of just what nature can do.

It is possible to walk beyond the platform. This way you can climb a little around the base and scramble over some of the ‘organ-pipes’ which have broken off, over millions of years of weathering. We saw fellow visitors scramble to the right and up the steep slopes at the sides in order to access the top. Though views are far superior from below, so why take the risk?

Man in yellow shirt and black shorts sits on a rock looking directly up at the huge basalt columns of rock. They are piped shaped in shades of brown. No sky can be seen.
Dan sat beneath Sawn Rocks.
Huge basalt columns protrude from the sky fall sharply to the bottom of the picture. The top right hand third of the image is showing bright clear blue sky.
Looking upwards from the base of Sawn Rocks.

Sawn Rocks is one of those natural delights that will leave you in total awe and wonder. You’re unlikely to see anything quite like this throughout NSW and that alone makes it worth the visit. Still, lucky for us there’s even more to marvel at in Mount Kaputar National Park. Follow on, friends.

2. Yulludunida Crater Trek

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 3km
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 350m
  • Difficulty: Grade 4
  • Trailhead: Green Camp car park
  • Map: Wikiloc

Upon leaving Sawn Rocks, the itinerary will see you continue along Kaputar Road and begin to climb into the mountains. The road into the National Park is narrow and windy. Please note, the road is not suitable for caravans and should you visit during winter, when it can snow, then take extreme care.

The trailhead for the Yulludunida Crater Trek begins from Green Camp; a limited car park, just off to the right of the road, with room for maybe 10 cars at a time. There is a small picnic area but no toilets. Even though the name suggests otherwise, Green camp is not one of the Kaputar campgrounds.

The hike to this breathtaking crater is a steady but ongoing, uphill climb. The trail is straightforward though and follows carved out pathway as well as purpose built wooden steps in sections. The 350m elevation, within the short distance of 1.5km, makes the climb to the top a bit of a leg burner. The ascent through the forest is peaceful and the glimmers of dramatic scenery peeking between the tree trunks are enough to spur you on.

As you climb nearer to the summit, you’ll notice the odd opening overlooking the surrounding Kaputar scenery. Be sure to stop and soak it in. Or, if you’re in the zone and keen to utilise your current momentum, be sure to stop on the way back down.

Where’s the Summit?

As you emerge from the tree cover at the summit, you’ll notice the path soon ends and a rock platform begins. From here, the trail can seem a little confusing. However, we soon discovered the trail ends there because, well, that’s where the trail does, in fact, officially end. The rock platform, therefore, signals a chance for a little scramble and exploration if you like, but take that at your own risk and leisure.

You’ll observe a wooden sign on the rock platform giving you a little detail about the wonderful flora and fauna which calls the Yulludunida Crater home. To the right of this sign, you’ll see the rocks stack and begin to form a wall. If you backtrack a little here, you’ll find a way to safely scramble up the side. We scaled just a few metres up for the below view. We were more than satisfied with the scene that lay out before us.

Man in yellow shirt, black shorts and beige rucksack stands in the centre of the picture. His back is turned. He faces out to a deep crater and volcanic landscape. The sky is blue and a little cloudy.
Peering into the crater at Yulludunida.

In the distance, the clear dip of the crater, gently curving from the left and rising back up on the right, is shown off magnificently. Like viewing the ruins of an ancient era, you’re soon transported to a prehistoric time.

Retrace your steps to make your way back down. Just enough time for one more hike for the day.

3. Mount Coryah Walking Track

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 4km
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 230m
  • Difficulty: Grade 4
  • Trailhead: Coryah Gap car park
  • Map: Wikiloc

Mount Coryah walking track was perhaps our favourite hike in Mount Kaputar National Park. The trail was quiet, the spring scenery enchanting and the views from the top truly outstanding.

The trail begins from Coryah Gap car park, just set a little off to the side from the main Kaputar Road. After leaving Green Camp and Yulludunida, it’s the next stop you’ll find along the road, around a 6.5km drive.

At a 4km out and back, the hike is a little longer than the previous of Yulludunida, though the slightly lower elevation gain of 230m is far pleasanter. Still, the trail does require some effort, but hey, it’s the last push of the day.

Again, we found this trail to be lovely and quiet, meeting only one other couple on their way back down. They kindly offered a little advice upon reaching the looped section around the top. Apparently, they’d encountered a few people who’d struggled to find the path. Although this couple was unsure how that was possible as the path is pretty clear. Nevertheless, they told us to stick left and follow the loop in a clockwise direction, and we shouldn’t go wrong. We had no problems following the trail this way, so we recommend you guys do the same.

Ascending through the forest canopy, where tall trees, dense grasses and bright spring flowers litter the woodland floor, I was reminded of bluebell season back in the UK. For those unfamiliar, bluebells flower in the UK for just a couple of weeks in the spring, transforming woodland grasses into plush violet carpets. It’s quite beautiful.

Summit Views

At just over a kilometre you’ll reach the fork in the road. Follow the trail to the left, as previously mentioned, and continue the climb. You’ll soon reach an expanse of the flat tableland. From here you can leave the trail a little to explore and head over to the edge for the most jaw dropping views of the mountainous landscape.

SIDE NOTE: Having just been to the Warrumbungles, we were a little worried about how anything could measure up. Needless to say, Mount Kaputar more than holds its own, and we were mightily impressed.

As far as the reaching eye can see, which in my case isn’t quite as far as Dan’s, the undulating hillside ripples with a tranquillity that’s almost hypnotic. The green vegetation resembles a giant sheepskin throw that’s been draped over the rugged edges of an old armchair and left to settle, cosily, in its troughs. I imagine the scene to be quite magical if it snows.

Undulating green hills fill the image. There is a cloudy sky over head but the weather is sunny.
Breathtaking views from Mount Coryah.

Once you’ve finished drooling over this vista, retrace your steps back onto the trail and continue to follow in a clockwise direction. The track soon dips a little and you’ll find you’re now walking just below the viewpoint from where you just were.

This section of the hike is perhaps the most exposed. Hugging the cliff, the narrow trail is met with a rock wall to your right and cliff edge to your left. The views are, as expected, fantastic. Though the trail does feel a little overgrown in sections, still, it’s a worthwhile exploration.

Once the loop rejoins the initial track, follow it back down to the car park. Cool hike, eh.

4. Doug Sky Lookout

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 10m
  • Time: 0.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: N/A
  • Difficulty: N/A
  • Trailhead: Doug Sky Lookout Lay-by

Last on the day’s agenda is Doug Sky Lookout. It’s worth coming here for sunset and so, depending on the time of year you visit, you can decide whether it’s worth setting up camp before or after the stop. We were camping at Bark Hut (more on accommodation below) and so set up camp first, knowing Doug Sky is just 1km up the road from here.

Situated on a bend in the road, the lookout has a small pull in area for vehicles, with limited space. There’s a purpose built wooden viewing platform, with steps one side and ramp the other. We were very lucky to have the lookout to ourselves, but I imagine, given the ease of access, that Doug Sky Lookout can become quite crowded.

As you peer out into the purpling sky, you’ll have your first sighting of Euglah Rock, perched rather regally, in the immediate foreground. As far as I’m aware, Euglah Rock is not accessible to climb, so you’ll just have to enjoy the views of it, rather than from on it. They’ll be plenty of views of Euglah to come tomorrow, too.

As the sun set in Mount Kaputar and on what was also Dan’s birthday (lucky Dan), I was reminded of just how vast and diverse Australia is. The pristine beaches and sought after coastal life is a huge part of Australia’s appeal, but actually such a small part of just what this boundless country has to offer. To explore more and more of it has been such a treat.

Once the sun has set, its time to light that camp fire, get the marshmallows out, and settle down for the night.

Mount Kaputar National Park Day Two

5. Mount Kaputar Summit Lookout

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 200m
  • Time: 10 mins
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 10m
  • Difficulty: Grade 3
  • Trailhead: Mount Kaputar Summit Lookout

Dan and I are through and through morning people. We’re also big sunrise fans and so setting the alarm, getting up when it’s dark and heading off for a hike isn’t the biggest struggle in the world for us. However, I appreciate that isn’t everyone’s thing, and the warmth of a sleeping bag can feel too good to leave.

That being said, I urge you to rise early for sunrise atop Mount Kaputar. You can even drive there which, I dare say, sweetens the deal somewhat. From the summit car park, it’s then about 100m walk to the summit, up a purpose built wooden staircase and resultant platform lookout.

We were worried the clouds might interrupt the view a little. But in reality, seeing those clouds transform into floating bundles of pink fairy floss (candy floss for my Brit’s out there) and the rock glow, intensely, in hues of orange and red, was one of the highlights of our entire stay in Mount Kaputar National Park. Bundled up against the crisp morning air in the mountains, it was wonderful to be stood on this epic peak welcoming in another new and exciting day of hiking and exploration.

The summit of a mountain is lit up orange in the foreground. The sun is rising. The surrounding landscape is still in shadow. The sky is just turning blue and the clouds are shades or orange and pink.
Sunrise summit views at Mount Kaputar.

At just a 15 minute drive from camp, it’s a quick journey back to warm up with a coffee and bowl of hot porridge.

6. Euglah Rock Track

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 1.2km
  • Time: 20 mins
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 50m
  • Difficulty: Grade 2
  • Trailhead: Bark Hut Campground

Another benefit to staying at Bark Hut is the closeness of the Euglah Rock Track. The trailhead begins at the bottom end of the camp and actually right next door to where we had pitched the tent. At just 1.2km return and with hardly any change in elevation, it’s an easy add on to the day. The path is paved and a fairly simple walk.

Yes, the views of Euglah Rock are, in some ways, a little better from Doug Sky Lookout. From there you get a greater sense of the magnitude of this whole national park. You better grasp just how striking Euglah Rock is as it sits proudly in the surrounding scenery.

Nevertheless, the Euglah trail leads you that bit closer to this most interesting landmark. The detailed columns making up the rock that protrudes so abruptly out of its green tuft, are that bit clearer. From this vantage point, Euglah dominates the skyline alone and commands all of your attention.

Against a clear blue sky a rock formation rises out of the green hill it sits on top of. The hills slope gently around it and are shades of light green.
Euglah Rock Track.

7. Governor Summit Track

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 3km
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 120m
  • Difficulty: Grade 4
  • Trailhead: The Governor car park
  • Map: Wikiloc

Once your camp is packed up and ready to go, it’s on to the Governor Summit and lookout. Driving back towards Mount Kaputar Summit, you’ll see a turn off for the GovernorSummit car park. It’s a couple of kilometres after Doug Sky Lookout. From here, the trail to open rock expanse and awe-inspiring views begins.

Also know as Corrunbral Borawah, the Governor Lookout and Summit Track offers some truly outstanding views across Mount Kaputar National Park and beyond.

The 3km out and back won’t take you long to complete, though don’t be fooled into thinking this hike is a walk in the park by the fairly level gradient and sealed boardwalk of the first few hundred metres. This takes you to the very accessible Governor Lookout. If you don’t have it in you for a longer hike, then this lookout still provides you with wonderful views northward of Mount Kaputar National Park. However, the adventure is still to come.

From the Governor Lookout, the trail becomes steeper and more tricky as you traverse the rock, with the aid of ladders and scrambling in sections. It’s less than a kilometre from the lookout to Governor Summit, but the terrain demands a little care underfoot.

A Vast Expanse of Open Nature

The Governor summit is open and unfenced. It’s more than inviting for a little exploration to really appreciate the 360 degree views that are on offer. To the north, the vast expanse of the Nandewar Range is to be marveled at. To the south, is another opportunity to enjoy Euglah Rock, this time a little more nestled in its surroundings, but eye-catching and instantly recognisable nonetheless.

From here, it’s easy to feel like tiny specs within this boundless stretch of wilderness. With such little human activity, it’s easy to get lost in the abundant nature enclosing you. If it weren’t for the farming fields viewed in this distance from this elevation, it would be easy to feel a million miles from civilisation. We could have stayed put all day, soaking up this ancient volcanic landscape. I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

A woman in blue coat stands in the centre of the picture with arms stretched wide. She stands on top of a large rock expanse. In the background are rolling hills and farmers fields. The sky is clear.
Euglah Rock from Governor summit.

Take care when out on the summit, we found it to be rather windy and exposed.

8. Mount Lindesay Rock Tops Walk

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 1km
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 50m
  • Difficulty: Grade 3
  • Trailhead: Lindsay Rock Tops car park
  • Map: Wikiloc

What this hike lacks in excitement it makes up for with incredible landscape. Often compared to otherworldly scenery and walking around on Mars, Mount Lindesay Rock Tops is more about exploration then it is a definitive finish line.

The short hike out onto the rock tops is fairly uneventful and requires little effort. It’s easy to reach the rock expanse and feel a little let down by what you arrive to. But shake that off. In actual fact, Lindesay Rock Tops is quite an outstanding find. The vibrant orange of the ‘moonscape’ pops against the bold greens of the odd patch of vegetation that has found a home here.

Look out for other residents too. Not uncommon is to spot the Kaputar Rock Skink. Such is the biodiversity of the area, you’ll find many endangered or rare species of both flora and fauna, so always be respectful of such.

A man walks down an orange rock plateau. There are pockets of green vegetation growing out of the rock. The shape of the rock slants across the picture and to the left are rolling hills in the background.
Lindsay Rock Tops

Lindesay Rock Tops is a great place to crack the flask out and enjoy morning tea or even lunch. It’s also possible to rock climb from Lindesay Rock Tops, we sat and watched a group do their thing for a while.

9. Dawsons Spring Nature Trail

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.5km
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 30m
  • Difficulty: Grade 2
  • Trailhead: Dawsons Spring Campground

Last of the hikes in Mount Kaputar National park is the Dawsons Spring Nature Trail. I guess you could say we left the easiest until last.

Beginning from Dawsons Spring Campground, this short 1.5km loop guides you through sub-alpine snow gum woodland on sealed pathways and raised wooden boardwalks. In spring, especially, the wildflowers are out in abundance and make this trail even more spellbinding.

A small bridge crosses the charming cascade into Horsearm Creek, though I’m aware this may just be seasonal. Along with the floral plumage, there’s also 185 bird species to spot. Perhaps this quick walk might take you a little longer than expected.

There may not be a summit, nor views across vast valleys, but Dawsons Spring Nature Trail takes a different angle. Its relaxed and picturesque pathways are the perfect end to two days of hiking in Mount Kaputar National Park.

SIDE NOTE: Pink slugs galore. On our wider trip around northern NSW, we’d met a fellow camper who had also recently enjoyed the delights of Mount Kaputar. He asked if we’d seen the pink slugs. To our disappointment, we hadn’t. He then proceeded to show us the pictures he’d taken of them. Oh. My. Goodness. Before our eyes were giant slugs of a hot pink hue. They stood out perfectly against the brown of their bark perches. Utterly incredible. Now, before you think, ‘ew, slugs’, I should inform you of just how rare these creatures are. The Mount Kaputar Pink Slug is only found on Mount Kaputar. You’ll likely see them on cool, wet mornings on their way back down trees from their nighttime feed. We don’t often long for rain, but you will at Kaputar.

Additional Hikes in Mount Kaputar National Park

Dan and I had just two days in Mount Kaputar National Park, and boy did we pack in as much as we could. However, due to track closures and bushfire damage, there were some trails we were unable to complete during our visit. Here’s a little overview of them;

Let us know in the comments below whether you managed to fit these hikes in. We’d love to hear about them.

Hiking Mount Kaputar Recap

So that’s our rundown of discovering the best of Mount Kaputar National Park. Whether you decide to follow our jam-packed itinerary or cherry-pick the bits that you feel work best for you, I’m sure Mount Kaputar will leave a lasting impression on you. Regardless of the national parks you’ve visited before, prepare to be enchanted.

Please see below more details on accommodation, getting to/from Mount Kaputar and total costings.

Getting to & from Mount Kaputar National Park

You’ll need a set of wheels. At a 6 hour drive from Sydney, Mount Kaputar National Park is not the most strightforward place to visit, especially for a weekend. We visited as part of a wider NSW road trip, encompassing Mudgee, the Warrumbungles and Pilliga Nature Reserve, and can hugely recommend the trip.

The nearest town to Mount Kaputar is Narribri and is a good stop for amenties and supplies.

Whether coming from Sydney or closer, the best way for hiking and navigating Mount Kaputar National park is by car. No scary 4WD roads either, a 2WD is more than sufficient. If you don’t have access to your own set of wheels, we recommend and typically use

If you’re travelling to Australia from overseas, we recommend using 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 with international travel.

You’ll need a parks pass to enter and park in Mount Kaputar. Make sure to organise one before hand at NSW National Parks website, click here.

Accommodation in Mount Kaputar National Park

Camp! Dan and I camped at Bark Hut Campground. It’s a fabulous little set up with just nine unmarked sites to choose from, and so you’ll find the ambience peaceful and remote. The campground has a lovely little amenities block, sort of half indoors, half outdoors, with full flushing toilets and hot showers- a real treat for national park campsites in this part of the world.

e tent is pitched on dirt ground surrounded my tall trees. Between the tree blue sky can be seen. There is a picnic bench and fire pit next to the tent.
Our camp for the night.

Although the camp spots are unmarked, most have their own individual picnic bench and fire pit. The camp is surrounded by tall forest which offers little glimpses to the starry sky as you look up. The trees also offer a degree of added weather protection and light protection.

Five Camping Gear Essentials for Mount Kaputar National Park

We loved camping in Mount Kaputar National Park. Camping gear can make or break a trip. Without the right camping kit, your experience may not be as enjoyable. These are our five camping gear essentials for Mount Kaputar. You can find more information on camping gear by visiting our in-depth packing checklist and travel essentials guide.

  • Vango Banshee Pro Tent 300 – this tent packs down so small, is super light and easy to put up/down. Ideal for when your days consist of hiking from dawn till dusk.
  • Vango Ultralite Pro 200 sleeping bag – the campgrounds in Mount Kaputar are up in the mountains and so it can be a little chilly at night. This sleeping bag is light, but it really packs a punch when it comes to keeping you warm.
  • Sea to Summit Aeros Premium inflatable pillow – trust us, a pillow will revolutionise the whole sleeping on the floor thing. Plus, you won’t believe how small these things pack down. They can easily fit in your pocket!
  • HIKENTURE inflatable sleeping mat – again, a game changer in our camping trips. The added comfort makes all the difference. Especially after a hard day of speed hiking.
  • Portable mini gas stove – Nothing better than a hot coffee and bowl of porridge after an early start watching the sunrise. This mini stove has accompanied us on many a trip.

Five Hiking Gear Essentials for Mount Kaputar National Park

These are our five hiking gear essentials for exploring Mount Kaputar National Park. For a more comprehensive packing list, please check out the Ultimate Packing Checklist. It’s a great general summary of everything you’d need for a trip. For even more information check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. We go in-depth into what hiking and camping gear we use. There, you’ll find specific recommendations for all the products we love.

Bonus Tips

  • Spring: Some of the walking trails are further enhanced by the arrival of spring flowers – so time your visit.
  • Slug alert: If it rains, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these snazzy little creatures. Bright pink in colour and on the rather large side for slugs, the pink slug can only be found in Mount Kaputar. Literally, nowhere else in the world!
  • Driving through Kaputar: The mountain road through Mount Kaputar is windy and narrow with sheer drops off the side of the road. As such, caravans are unable to drive through the park for safety reasons. It is also advisable to take extra care when conditions are wet and misty. Even more so if it has snowed, which is not unusual in the winter.

We hope you enjoyed this Discover The Best Of Mount Kaputar National Park guide. Feel free to pin it, save it or share it to access it quickly in the future.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *