Federal Falls walk

Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area

Open, check current alerts 

Overview

Take the challenging walk to Federal Falls near Orange. Keep your eyes out for birds and butterflies along the way and be rewarded with waterfall views at the end.

Where
Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area
Distance
4km loop
Time suggested
1 - 2hrs
Grade
Grade 3
Price
Free
What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen, raincoat, sturdy shoes, clothes for all weather conditions, snacks
Please note
  • Because of the altitude, the weather can change quite quickly. You should always check the weather forecast before setting out for a walk. 
  • The walk starts and finishes at Federal Falls campground
  • Most of the walk is easy, however the last 336m of the walk is a very steep incline down to the falls and while there is a rail to assist, it should only be attempted by confident walkers.
  • Roads may close when it snows (generally once or twice each winter)

This loop track starts and finishes at Federal Falls campground, passing through snow gum forest and past gigantic rock faces on its way down to Federal Falls. If you’re there after the rain, you’ll be in for a pretty sight.

You can start the track at either the northern or southern end of the campground. If you want an easy return trip to the falls, it’s best to take the northern track there and back, and if you’re planning to hike the loop track, it’s recommended to walk in a clockwise direction; starting at the southern end as you’ll be heading downhill on the steeper sections.

Whichever way you choose to hike, you’ll be accompanied by a range of flora and fauna along the walk. See flag flowers and Australian pea flowers and notice the colourful butterflies as they flutter by. You might also hear the song of the grey currawong as you make your way towards Federal Falls.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Also see

  • Tents in Federal Falls campground. Photo: Debby McGerty/DPIE

    Federal Falls campground

    Pitch your tent at Federal Falls campground in Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area near Orange. Explore walks, enjoy scenic views and go birdwatching.

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/federal-falls-walk/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Federal Falls walk.

Track grading

Grade 3

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

    1 - 2hrs

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Short steep hills

  • Distance

    4km loop

  • Steps

    Many steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track

  • Experience required

    No experience required

Getting there and parking

On entering Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area, follow Mount Canobolas Road before turning right on Towac Road. Federal Falls campground will be on  your right.

Parking

Parking is available at Federal Falls campground

Best times to visit

There are lots of great things waiting for you in Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area. Here are some of the highlights.

Autumn

Wake up to misty mornings and enjoy clear, sunny skies – it's a magical time of year to visit.

Spring

See the violet kunzea, fringe myrtle and mirbelia flowers blossoming in the heaths around rocky outcrops.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature

Average

13°C and 26°C

Highest recorded

36.7°C

Winter temperature

Average

0°C and 8°C

Lowest recorded

-3.3°C

Rainfall

Wettest month

August

Driest month

March

The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

124.2mm

Facilities

Barbecue facilities

Federal Falls campground is equipped with barbecues and picnic tables for a pre- or post- walk lunch

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

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

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.

Nearby towns

Millthorpe (23 km)

Millthorpe has several fine restaurants and a wide range of accommodation that includes charming B&Bs and exclusive retreats. Located at the heart of a dynamic food and cool-climate wine region, Millthorpe is also a centre for truffle production in the State.

www.visitnsw.com

Molong (27 km)

Follow the heritage walking tour of Molong in Country NSW to see the many fine 19th-century buildings. Wander through craft shops or art galleries and visit nearby historic villages such as Yeoval, Cumnock and Cudal.

www.visitnsw.com

Orange (14 km)

The bustling city of Orange, with its many cafes, restaurants and shopping opportunities, has something for everyone, plus there's a huge range of places to stay. The real highlight is the town's food and wine, so bring your thirst and your appetite.

www.visitnsw.com

Learn more

Federal Falls walk is in Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

An Australian menagerie

A flame robin on a tree branch in Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area. Photo credit: Rosemary Stapleton/DPIE © Rosemary Stapleton

Mount Canobolas has an abundance of native animals which thrive in this special environment. Around 950 species of plants and animals have been recorded in the park, including several species that exist nowhere else in the world. Thornbills, treecreepers, flame robins, wrens and honeyeaters, as well as good old magpies, currawongs, rosellas, kangaroos and wallabies call Mount Canobolas home. Threatened and endangered species like the antechinus marsupial mouse and silver-leaf candlebark can also be found in the area. When the sun goes down, grab your torch to spot the many possums and wombats, all the while being serenaded by the southern boobook owl.

  • Guided nature weekend in Orange Reconnect with nature and embrace your creative side on The Orange Wild Weekend with Lokale Blumen. Go wine tasting, forage for mushrooms and learn about the local plants and animals in majestic Mount Canabolas.
  • Snowgum walking track Snowgum walking track is short and easy, it starts from the summit of Mount Canobolas or from Federal Falls campground. It’s a great way to work up a hunger for a barbecue lunch.
  • Spring Glade walking track Spring Glade walking track provides easy access to the summit of Mount Canobolas via a pleasant easy walk through grassy woodland, offering birdwatching and picnic opportunities.

Ancient connections

Nature walking track, Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area. Photo: Boris Hlavica

Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area incorporates the traditional land of the Wiradjuri People. The name Canobolas comes from the Wiradjuri words Gaahna Bulla meaning two shoulders, referring to the two main peaks, Old Man Canobolas and Young Man Canobolas. The area has a strong Aboriginal connection as an important place for male initiation ceremonies and stone tool making, as well as being a rich source of food and medicines. Find out more about this area's Aboriginal heritage at Federal Falls campground.

Outstanding landscapes

Lichen covered boulders and snowgum forest in Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area. Photo credit: Boris Hlavica © DPIE

Now extinct and with a violent past, Mount Canobolas was an active and aggressive volcano responsible for creating the landscape between 11 and 13 million years ago. The result? Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area boasts vents, dykes, peaks and plugs which all can be seen here and the large rocky outcrops are home to rare lichens, towering basalt cliff lines and impressive waterfalls. The high altitude, cool climate and moist environment make this fertile ground for more than 300 plant species in the region. Large areas of snow gum subalpine woodland, grassy woodland and rocky outcrops covered with a variety of mosses and lichens make this a great place to visit. It’s hard to say what is most beautiful here, but certainly the heaths in spring which burst with purple, white, yellow and red flowers are a sight to behold.

  • Mount Towac walk This short walk will take you to Towac Peak where you can enjoy panoramic views of Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area and the scenic countryside of Orange.

Rising from the ashes

Close up view of a pink spider orchid flower, Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area. Photo credit: Colin Bower © Colin Bower

Mount Canobolas is recovering strongly from devastating fires that burned nearly 70% of the state conservation area in 2018. NPWS staff is working with the Orange Field Naturalist and Conservation Society to monitor, audit, and survey plant vegetation communities, insect and animal species, and Aboriginal sites. The park’s after-fire monitoring and conservation program has increased the number of known plant and animal species in the park, including discovery of 2 new ground orchid species new to science and rediscovery of 2 orchids unseen for over 20 years. As animals return, trees sprout new growth and plants come back there’s hope for the recovery of our native plants and animals.

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • Superb fairy wren. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

    Superb fairy wren (Malurus cyaneus)

    The striking blue and black plumage of the adult male superb fairy wren makes for colourful bird watching across south-eastern Australia. The sociable superb fairy wrens, or blue wrens, are Australian birds living in groups consisting of a dominant male, mouse-brown female ‘jenny wrens’ and several tawny-brown juveniles.

  • Eastern common ringtail possum. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    Common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus)

    Commonly found in forests, woodlands and leafy gardens across eastern NSW, the Australian ringtail possum is a tree-dwelling marsupial. With a powerful tail perfectly adapted to grasp objects, it forages in trees for eucalypt leaves, flowers and fruit.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)