* Warning: Geeky hiker stuff.
The ‘Mystery Tour of Porters Pass’ circuit in the Blue Mountains is highly recommended for hikers/bushwalkers/trampers (to use the NZ term) interested in an excellent, medium level 2-4 hour walk with sweeping views, waterfalls – and a touch of history, with the beautiful stone steps of Porters Pass dating back to 1888.
The Walk: Medium level. Circuit. 2-4 hour trek through some of the most varied and beautiful territory in the mountains.
Start by taking the fire trail at Centennial Glen Road, Blackheath. Free parking is available on the road. The fire trail will become a clear, narrow track that drops down under Walls Ledge. Views are breathtaking. Today was sunny and clear, and a number of rock climbers were enjoying the sheer escarpment rock walls. Once you pass the more frequented climbing area you will drop down into shady gully, pass a waterfall and a creek (Which you will need to cross. It is not difficult, though a walking stick came in handy.)
Beware of the massive wasp’s nest under the overhang on Colliers Causeway.
After Colliers Causeway, follow the signs to Porters Pass. After taking the gorgeous stone steps up you will emerge at Burton Street. (This is where you will have to follow a few streets to get back on your path.) Take the fire trail immediately to your right, turn left into Cecil Road and right into Kanimbla Road. At the end of Kanimbla Road, take the fire trail that skirts the left hand side of Gateway Christian School. Follow the fire trail for about 10 minutes until you arrive at a stunning rocky outcrop called Fort Rock. Follow the sign to Centennial Glen, leading down carved, mossy rock steps. Continue through Centennial Glen, ducking under a stunning waterfall at one point and passing under dramatic rock ledges. At the sign to Centennial Glen Road, head up to your left and return to your car or original drop off point.
* Though some of the trails are well worn and signed, trails do intersect. A map is highly recommended, as well as appropriate shoes and footwear and plenty of water. Conditions are quite changeable.
My Gear: I wore my trusty Scarpa hiking boots and Osprey women’s hiking pack, and 100% Merino wool hiking gear from Icebreaker (singlet and tights/pants) and MacPac (Merino wool hiking skirt) for this walk. I have found light or mid weight 100% Merino wool hiking clothes to be more comfortable for bush walking than any other fabric in this weather (Aug/Sept). The wool whisks away moisture and keeps you comfortable, and the long wool tights are breathable and protect against scratches from the bush. I threw on a fleece at times in the cooler areas. No windbreaker was needed today.
Today I tried out my new, Canadian-made Tilley hat for the first time. This T4 model came highly recommended by a number of experienced hikers and was available in a variety of sizes at The Hattery, Katoomba. The Tilley is durable, machine washable and comes with chin straps for windy days. (Also, there’s a kind of fascinating and gross story about one of these nearly-indestructible hats being eaten by an elephant THREE TIMES. And surviving. Did I mention it was machine washable?) I found it comfortable and it certainly offered some pretty helpful protection from the low lying branches in areas of tight vegetation on this track.
All round, my gear made the walk comfortable, though with the sun brim on the Tilley, I occasionally found that I had less visibility from above than I realised. Some branches came as a surprise.
A hiking stick, found on the trail, also proved helpful on the more uneven and muddy areas and for testing the depth of water and stability of rocks when crossing the small creek.
I hope you enjoy this track as much as we did. Happy hiking.
(PS I have listed my gear because I find similar information helpful on other blogs. This post is not sponsored.)