Carlotta Arch walking track

Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve

Open, check current alerts 

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.

Distance
1km one-way
Time suggested
45min - 1hr 15min
Grade
Grade 3
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 Area World Heritage Property. 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

Map


Map legend

Map legend

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

Features of this track

Distance

1km one-way

Time

45min - 1hr 15min

Quality of markings

Clearly sign posted

Experience required

Some bushwalking experience recommended

Gradient

Short steep hills

Steps

Many steps

Quality of path

Formed track, some obstacles

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Carlotta Arch walking track is in Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. Access to Jenolan on Jenolan Caves Road (5-Mile Road) is closed indefinitely. The only access is via Edith Road (2-Mile Road). This road is suitable for standard vehicles only. There is no access to Jenolan for caravans, trailers or any vehicle longer than a 12-seat minibus.

    From Sydney:

    • Travel west on the M4, which becomes the Great Western Highway at the foot of the mountains.
    • Pass through Katoomba and Blackheath and turn left onto Jenolan Caves Road at Hartley.
    • Drive through Hampton and turn right onto Duckmaloi Road. Do not continue along Jenolan Caves Road, access is closed.
    • Continue along Duckmaoi Road for 20km, then turn left onto Titania Road.
    • At the end of Titania Road, turn left onto Edith Road and continue until you reach Jenolan.

    From Goulburn:

    • Take Taralga Road out of Goulburn and travel north towards Taralga.
    • Pass through Taralga and continue north on Taralga Road towards Oberon. Taralga Road turns into Abercrombie Road at the Abercrombie River.
    • At Black Springs, turn right and continue on Abercrombie Road.
    • At Oberon, turn right onto O’Connell Road and then left onto Carrington Avenue.
    • Turn right onto Ross Street, then turn left onto Edith Road and continue until you reach Jenolan.

    Please note:

    • The last 5km of Edith Road is steep, narrow and winding, with several hairpin bends. Drive carefully and allow yourself plenty of time.
    • Edith Road is not suitable for caravans, trailers or any vehicle longer than a 12-seat minibus.
    • Traffic in and out of Jenolan is regulated for safety. Please check Live Traffic NSW before you set out.

    Road quality

    • 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 Plus 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 Area World Heritage Property

    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 Area World Heritage Property 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 and Blue Lake are closed after being damaged by fire and floods between 2020 and 2022. The track will re-open after infrastructure upgrades allow for a safe walking experience.
    • 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 protected in this park

    Animals

    • Eastern bentwing bat. Photo: Ken Stepnell

      Eastern bentwing-bat (Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis)

      Eastern bentwing-bats congregate in caves across the east and north-west coasts of Australia, in colonies of up to 150,000. 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.

    • Bare-nosed wombat. Photo: Keith Gillett

      Bare-nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus)

      A large, squat marsupial, the Australian bare-nosed 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.

    • A spotted-tailed quoll walks across a moss-covered forest floor at night. Photo: Lachlan Hall © Lachlan Hall

      Spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus)

      The spotted-tailed quoll is the largest remaining carnivorous marsupial on the Australian mainland. It’s protected as a vulnerable species in NSW.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)