Clarke Gorge walking track

High Plains area in Kosciuszko National Park

Open, check current alerts 

Overview

The 5km Clarke Gorge walking track follows Cave Creek downstream through limestone gorges and cave formations. Stop along the way to do some fishing and birdwatching.

Where
High Plains area in Kosciuszko National Park
Distance
5km return
Time suggested
3hrs 30min - 4hrs 30min
Grade
Grade 5
Trip Intention Form

It's a good idea to let someone know where you're going. Fill in a trip intention form to send important details about your trip to your emergency contact.

If you're planning to hire a free Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) from one of these locations, please wait to fill in your form in person at that location.

Opening times

Clarke Gorge walking track is open between the October and June long weekends, but may have to close during these times due to poor weather or fire danger.

What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, topographic map, compass, personal locator beacon, clothes for all weather conditions
Please note

This walk is medium to hard difficulty, requiring several water crossings and scrambling over rock surfaces. Please take care on uneven and wet surfaces and ensure you have good boots and appropriate clothing.

As you hike through the narrow gorge cut by Cave Creek, spectacular limestone cliffs, and cave formations on either side, you’ll never imagine that Clarke Gorge walking track could get any better. But it does, finishing at the top of Cave Creek Falls . There’s a 15m drop of water as well as views down Wilkinsons Gorge. Unsurprisingly, this walk is very popular with photographers.

As well as the beauty of the rock features, some of which were formed more than 400 million years ago, the landscape is dotted with snow gums and black sallee (another high-altitude eucalypt with dark bark), rare discaria shrubs, and vibrant yellow billy buttons. You’ll likely see grey kangaroos bounding in the distance and wedge-tail eagles circling overhead. Fishermen might also want to bring their lines with them because there are a few waterholes along Cave Creek where they can try their luck catching trout, before returning to the walk's starting point at Blue Waterholes campground.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Map


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/kosciuszko-clarke-gorge-walking-track/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Clarke Gorge walking track.

Track grading

Grade 5

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

    3hrs 30min - 4hrs 30min

  • Quality of markings

    Limited signage

  • Gradient

    Short steep hills

  • Distance

    5km return

  • Steps

    Occasional steps

  • Quality of path

    Rough unformed track

  • Experience required

    Some bushwalking experience recommended

Getting there and parking

Clarke Gorge walking track is in the Blue Waterholes precinct of Kosciuszko National Park, 25km north east of Snowy Mountains Highway via Long Plain Road and Blue Waterholes trail. The track starts near Blue Waterholes campground.

Road quality

  • There's no vehicle access to the trackhead of Clarke Gorge walking track in winter, and roads may close in extreme weather.
  • Check the weather before you set out as Long Plain Road and Blue Waterholes trail can become boggy when it rains.

Parking

Parking is available on Blue Waterholes trail, next to Blue Waterholes campground.

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Cave Creek can experience strong flows and can be very cold, so please ensure you're well-prepared. Bring appropriate clothing as weather can be extreme and unpredictable in this remote location.

Adventure sports

Adventure sports like climbing, caving, canyoning and abseiling offer a thrilling opportunity to explore our unique environments. Before you head out, be aware of the risks and stay safe during adventure sports.

Alpine safety

Alpine areas present special safety issues. Conditions can be extreme and may change rapidly, particularly in winter. It’s important to be prepared and find out how to stay safe in alpine areas.

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.

Fishing safety

Fishing from a boat, the beach or by the river is a popular activity for many national park visitors. If you’re planning a day out fishing, check out these fishing safety tips.

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).

River and lake safety

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

Permitted

Fishing

A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.

Prohibited

Drones

Flying a drone for recreational purposes is prohibited in this area. Drones may affect public enjoyment, safety and privacy, interfere with park operations, or pose a threat to wildlife. See the Drones in Parks policy.

This area may be a declared Drone Exclusion Zone, or may be subject to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) rules for flying near airports, aerodromes and helicopter landing sites. See CASA's Drone Flyer Rules.

Commercial filming and photography

Commercial filming or photography is prohibited without prior consent. You must apply for permission and contact the local office.

Pets

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

Smoking

NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Learn more

Clarke Gorge walking track is in High Plains area. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

Experiences and facilities

Horses tethered to posts in northern Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

The vast grassland plains, with their hidden huts, are a superb backdrop for walking tracks, mountain bike trails and scenic drives. Blue Waterholes campground is a favourite summer destination to explore stunning walks, creeks, and gorges. There are plenty of campgrounds to choose from across the plains, and with horse riding popular here, many offer facilities for camping with horses. These include: Cooinbil Hut, Long Plain Hut, Ghost Gully, Old Snowy, Wares Yards, Rocky Plain, and Bullocks Hill campgrounds. You can also bring your horse if you’re staying at Currango Homestead, Daffodil Cottage or The Pines Cottage (fees and limits apply, bookings required).

Unique landscapes

Cave and creek at Blue Waterholes, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

As you explore the High Plains area you’ll see plains of snow grass, herbs and heath. Snow gums and black sallee eucalypts dominate the woodland, while mountain gum, candle bark and alpine ash also appear at higher elevations. The karst environment of the Cooleman Plain is best seen in the steep cliffs, narrow gorges, limestone caves and remarkable blue-tinged spring around Blue Waterholes.

  • Clarke Gorge walking track The 5km Clarke Gorge walking track follows Cave Creek downstream through limestone gorges and cave formations. Stop along the way to do some fishing and birdwatching.
  • Nichols Gorge walking track The 7km Nichols Gorge walking track, suitable for experienced hikers, follows Cave Creek and passes some karst features before rejoining Blue Waterholes trail.
  • Snowy Mountains adventures with Cochran Horse Treks Join Cochran Horse Treks for an unforgettable adventure in Kosciuszko National Park. Their 3 to 7-day guided tours are a great way to experience stunning Snowy Mountains landscapes on horseback.

High country huts and heritage

Coolamine Homestead, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

From the mid-1800s into the 1950s, the high plains of Kosciuszko National Park attracted summer graziers who constructed timber and tin huts as shelter throughout the area. More than 20 of these photogenic high country huts are dotted along the many tracks and trails of the plains. Larger properties, like Currango or Coolamine Homesteads, became permanent residences and now provide a fascinating window into pioneer life.

A wonderland for wildlife

Eastern water dragon. Photo: R Nicolai/OEH

The complex karst environment of Cooleman Plain supports a rich community of animals and plants. Platypus, wombats, brushtail and ringtail possums, eastern grey kangaroos and red-necked wallabies are commonly seen along tracks and at campgrounds. The caves provide an important roosting site for the vulnerable eastern bentwing bat, and winter refuge for one of Australia’s highest populations of eastern water dragons. Keep an eye out for the leafy anchor plant along the banks of Cave Creek - it’s one of Australia’s only deciduous native plants.

  • Clarke Gorge walking track The 5km Clarke Gorge walking track follows Cave Creek downstream through limestone gorges and cave formations. Stop along the way to do some fishing and birdwatching.

World-class wilderness

Aerial view of Clarke Gorge, near Blue Waterholes, in the High Plains area of Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Robert Mulally/DPIE

In recognition of Kosciuszko's unique value as a conservation area, it's been named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. More than half the area of the park, over 350,000ha, has been declared wilderness and includes the Goobarragandra, Bramina and Bimberi wilderness areas, which cover 61,500ha.

  • Snowy Mountains adventures with Cochran Horse Treks Join Cochran Horse Treks for an unforgettable adventure in Kosciuszko National Park. Their 3 to 7-day guided tours are a great way to experience stunning Snowy Mountains landscapes on horseback.
  • Snowy Mountains multi-day horse ride treks Immerse yourself in the wild beauty of the Snowy Mountains on a multi-day horse riding trek guided and supported by Reynella Rides. You'll enjoy hearty mountain food and roomy tents as you explore the High Plains area in Kosciuszko National Park.

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.

  • Swamp wallaby in Murramarang National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)

    The swamp wallaby, also known as the black wallaby or black pademelon, lives in the dense understorey of rainforests, woodlands and dry sclerophyll forest along eastern Australia. This unique Australian macropod has a dark black-grey coat with a distinctive light-coloured cheek stripe.

  • 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.

  •  Superb lyrebird, Minnamurra Rainforest, Budderoo National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae)

    With a complex mimicking call and an elaborate courtship dance to match, the superb lyrebird is one of the most spectacular Australian animals. A bird watching must-see, the superb lyrebird can be found in rainforests and wet woodlands across eastern NSW and Victoria.

  • Eastern water dragon. Photo: Rosie Nicolai

    Eastern water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii)

    The eastern water dragon is a subaquatic lizard found in healthy waterways along eastern NSW, from Nowra to halfway up the Cape York Pensinsula. It’s believed to be one of the oldest of Australian reptiles, remaining virtually unchanged for over 20 million years.

  • Common wombat. Photo: Keith Gillett

    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.

  • Yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Photo: Peter Sherratt

    Yellow-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus)

    The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is one of the largest species of parrot. With dusty-black plumage, they have a yellow tail and cheek patch. They’re easily spotted while bird watching, as they feed on seeds in native forests and pine plantations.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Environments in this area