Carlotta Arch walking track

Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve

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Overview

Short but steep Carlotta Arch walking track, also called Shaping Waters walk, offers fantastic views of limestone formations and beautiful Blue Lake, at Jenolan Caves.

Where
Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve
Distance
1km one-way
Time suggested
45min - 1hr 15min
Grade
Grade 3
Price
Free
What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen, suitable clothing
Please note
  • This walking track is short but it's steep and has many steps, so a reasonable fitness level is recommended.
  • Self-guided Nettle Cave is accessed via the stairs and turnstile inside Devil's Coach House Arch.
  • Check with the ticket office for cave and walking track closures before you set out.

Carlotta Arch walking track is part of the Jenolan Caves network in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Also known as Shaping Waters walk, it's easily combined with a self-guided tour of Nettle Cave.

The track starts opposite historic Jenolan Caves House and climbs steeply uphill behind the ticket office. Stop to catch your breath and soak in the views of Caves House nestled in the valley. Spot Cunningham's skinks basking on the rocks, wallabies, and pretty little rock warblers.

You'll soon be face-to-face with the enormous, freestanding Carlotta Arch. Steps lead from the lookout under the limestone arch to a lower viewpoint, with birds-eye views of the brilliant Blue Lake.

Head back to the main track, passing the Six Foot Track, to reach the steps that lead down into the next valley towards Devil's Coach House cavern. The track continues through this massive limestone chamber before meeting Jenolan Caves entry road. From here, walk through Grand Arch to return to Caves House. 

If you want to explore more, visit the free, self-guided Nettle Cave, accessed from inside Devil's Coach House, or connect with Jenolan River walking track. Majestic Carlotta Arch also forms a sensational backdrop as a wedding venue.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/carlotta-arch-walking-track/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Carlotta Arch walking track.

Track grading

Grade 3

Learn more about the grading system Features of this track
  • Time

    45min - 1hr 15min

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Short steep hills

  • Distance

    1km one-way

  • Steps

    Many steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track, some obstacles

  • Experience required

    Some bushwalking experience recommended

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Carlotta Arch walking track is in Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. To get there from Sydney:

    • Take M4 Motorway, then Great Western Highway over Blue Mountains to Hartley
    • Turn off after Hartley onto Jenolan Caves Road
    • It’s around 45 minutes' drive from here to Jenolan Caves.

    Park entry points

    Road access and closures

    Jenolan Caves is located at the bottom of a steep valley.

    • The main road to Sydney is closed to uphill (departing) traffic 11.45am to 1.15pm to give more road room for incoming coaches.
    • During this 11.45 to 1.15pm period, leave Jenolan Caves via Edith Road to Oberon. This steeper, narrower road is fully sealed and open 24hrs a day.
    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    Weather restrictions

    • All weather

    Parking

    • Parking is available at any of the 3 main carparks at Jenolan Caves. It can be a busy place on the weekend, so parking might be limited.
    • Designated disabled parking spots can be found next to the Guides Office and behind Caves House.
    • Bus parking is also available.

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    This park is in a remote location, so please ensure you’re well-prepared, bring appropriate clothing and equipment, and advise a family member or friend of your travel plans.

    Bushwalking safety

    If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Prohibited

    Swimming is prohibited in Blue Lake, as it's an important platypus habitat. You can swim at the waterhole below Blue Lake, reached via Jenolan River walk.

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Learn more

    Carlotta Arch walking track is in Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    Binomil

    Stalagmites in Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. Photo: Jenolan Caves Trust

    The beautiful and mysterious Jenolan Caves holds special significance to the Gundungurra people who knew it as 'Binoomea' meaning 'dark places'. According to Gundungurra Elder, Old Jimmy Lynch, Aboriginal people knew the caves, carrying sick people as far as the subterranean water which they believed to have great curative powers. The Dreamtime myth of Gurrangatch relates to the forming of Wombeyan and Jenolan Caves. The caves are said to have been formed during a contest between Gurrangatch, a mythical being that was part fish and part reptile, and Mirragan, a legendary tiger cat.

    Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area

    Blue Lake track, Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. Photo: Jenolan Caves Trust

    It is truly amazing to think that a city the size of Sydney has a large World Heritage Area on its doorstep. The World Heritage listing recognises the geographic, botanic and cultural values of the area. The forests of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area have been described as a natural laboratory for the evolution of eucalypts; and more than 90 different eucalypt species occur here, some 13 per cent of all eucalypt species in the world. They grow in a great variety of communities, from tall closed forests, through open forests and woodlands, to the stunted mallee shrublands on the plateaus.

    Historic tourism

    Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. Photo: David Hill

    Jenolan Caves is one of Australia's first tourist attractions; with land having first been set aside for public recreation and enjoyment in 1866. In the years following this, a number of buildings were constructed, the most notable being Caves House; an excellent example of early Victorian architecture and comfortable heritage accommodation. Innovations in engineering and cave lighting are evident - particularly in Chifley Cave. There are more than 300 caves within the Reserve, all containing a range of geological features and formations, like stalactites and stalagmites, plus rarer helictites and stromatolites The best way to find out about the caves is on a guided or self-guided tour. There are eleven caves to choose from.

    • Jenolan River walking track Jenolan River walking track takes in amazing Blue Lake, waterfalls, bridges and Jenolan Caves' hydro-electric heritage. Also called Working Waters walk, it's great for bird watching and wildlife spotting.
    • McKeown's Valley walking track McKeown's Valley walking track, also known as Healing Waters walk, is a short and easy return walk at Jenolan Caves offering fantastic karst landscapes and wildlife spotting in the Blue Mountains.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Eastern bentwing bat. Photo: Ken Stepnell

      Eastern bentwing-bat (Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis)

      In colonies numbering up to 150,000, eastern bentwing-bats congregate in caves across the east and north-west coasts of Australia. These small Australian animals weigh around 13-17g and can reach speeds of up to 50km per hour. Eastern bentwing-bats use both sight and echolocation to catch small insects mid-air.

    • A juvenile platypus saved by National Parks and Wildlife staff. Photo: M Bannerman/OEH

      Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

      One of the most fascinating and unusual Australian animals, the duck-billed platypus, along with the echidna, are the only known monotremes, or egg-laying mammals, in existence. The platypus is generally found in permanent river systems and lakes in southern and eastern NSW and east and west of the Great Dividing Range.

    • Brush tail possum. Photo: Ken Stepnell

      Common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

      One of the most widespread of Australian tree-dwelling marsupials, the common brushtail possum is found across most of NSW in woodlands, rainforests and urban areas. With strong claws, a prehensile tail and opposable digits, these native Australian animals are well-adapted for life amongst the trees.

    • Common wombat. Photo: Ingo Oeland

      Common wombat (Vombatus ursinus)

      A large, squat marsupial, the Australian common wombat is a burrowing mammal found in coastal forests and mountain ranges across NSW and Victoria. The only other remaining species of wombat in NSW, the endangered southern hairy-nosed wombat, was considered extinct until relatively recently.

    • Echidna. Photo: Ken Stepnell

      Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

      One of only 2 egg-laying mammals in the world, the short-beaked echidna is one of the most widespread of Australian native animals. Covered in spines, or quills, they’re equipped with a keen sense of smell and a tube-like snout which they use to break apart termite mounds in search of ants.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    Stairs decend to Blue Lake, seen through a limestone arch, on Carlotta Arch walking track at Jenolan Caves. Photo: Kevin McGrath/DPIE