The Six Foot Track – Complete guide!

Last weekend, my friend and I completed the Six Foot Track (#6fttrack) and I am still hungover by the excitement.

The Six Foot Track is a 3 days challenging hike in the Blue mountains between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves. It is a total of 44.8 kilometres. And we did the hike in 29 hours 20 minutes.

img_0636

While researching on the walk, we did not find much information on what to carry and what to expect. And hence I have decided to detail out the things that we carried and our entire planning of the walk.

Preparations & Planning

Hike:

The hike does need a lot of preparations and is for the regular hikers. It is a long hike of 44.8 kilometres with some sections very steep. The hike is between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves. And many hikers hike from Katoomba Explorers Tree, which is the starting point.

We walked from Jenolan Caves to Katoomba, the reason being we were trying to complete the walk over the weekend and the last bus from Jenolan Caves to Katoomba to return back to Katoomba was at 3:30 PM and we knew that it was not possible for us to complete 44.8 kilometres hike in just 25 hours.

See maps section below for the detailed maps.

Tip: Ensure you have completed few long hikes before attempting the #6fttrack.

Food & Water:

We had to carry the food for complete days i.e. to cater for 4 meals. Lunch & dinner for Saturday and breakfast & lunch for Sunday. Hikers who are hiking for 3 days will need to carry lunch for three days.

Our food was easy and my friend had planned really well for what we were going to eat for the 4 meals. We carried the below:

  • 16 boiled baby potatoes,
  • 3 onions,
  • Salt and pepper,
  • Peri peri mayo and
  • 1 pound of bread
  • 1 packet of chilli chips
  • Chocolates and energy bars
  • Biscuits
  • Portable stove (Note: we did not carry a stove.)
  • Oranges

Each meal we had was very tasty and we experimented each time. I am a very choosy person when it comes to food and trust me this was one of the best meals I have had.

  • Mashed 4 baby potatoes each time (2 for each of us)
  • Added half chopped onion
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Mixed all the above together
  • Mayo on each slice of bread
  • Added the mashed mixture between the two slices of bread
  • Sometimes added chilli chips to make the sandwich crispy and nice

We carried 3 litres of water each. There are water sources in five places along the way between Jenolan Caves and Katoomba. There are three camp grounds in between and all of them have rain water collected water tanks. We also carried a water filter to steralise the water that we drank from these water tanks and the creeks.

Camping & lodges:

There are three camping grounds in between Jenolan Caves and Katoomba:

  • Black range camping ground
  • Alum Creek camping ground
  • Cox River camping ground

All three have basic facilities like water tank, tables and eco-friendly toilets. They are all available for free.

As preparation for our camping, we carried the below things:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • Torch or lantern
  • Toilet roll
  • Toiletries
  • First aid kit (with some thick bandages)

There are three other stay options

  • Jenolan Caves Cottages
  • Six Foot eco-lodge
  • Dryridge Vineyard Homestead and Lodge.

Maps:

The hike is well marked and has signs to guide the hikers. Some sections of the hikes are on private properties and it is advisable to hike on the marked paths.

The below image shows the height of ascend and descend during the hike:

The map of the hike can be downloaded on Wild Walks website.

Tip: Ensure you carry a copy of the maps.

Backpack:

I carried ~8 kilograms of weight in my backpack whereas my friend carried ~11 kilograms in his backpack. And definitely a sturdy and strong backpack is required for the hike.

Tip: The lighter the backpack is, the easier it is to hike. So carry the minimal things required.

The following table provides the weight of each of the items we carried:

Backpack 1 Sleeping bag 0.75 kilograms
Tent 1 kilograms
Yoga mat 0.5 kilograms
Clothes  & toiletries 1 kilograms
Water bottles 3 kilograms
Potato 1 kilograms
Dry fruits 1 kilograms
Coffee powder 0.1 kilograms
Total Weight (Backpack 1) 8.35 kilograms
Backpack 2 Clothes, toiletries & first aid kit 2 kilograms
Water bottles 3 kilograms
Onions 1 kilograms
Bread 1 kilograms
Sleeping bag 0.75 kilograms
Chocolates and energy bars 0.5 kilograms
Plates, spoons, cuttlery, chips, salt, pepper & mayo 1 kilograms
Milk cartons 0.5 kilograms
Hooks 0.25 kilograms
Water filter 0.15 kilograms
Oranges 1 kilograms
Total Weight (Backpack 2) 11.2 kilograms

Hiking boots:

Having a steady hiking boots is very important. Having a nice grip and comfortable shoes are a must. I have worn my hiking boots for few of the walks previously and I also wore fresh socks every day to avoid blisters. It is also better if the boots are waterproof as the hike does have few small creeks that have to be crossed.

Tip: Ensure you have used these hiking boots before and you are comfortable in them.

Hike

Statistics:

  • Distance: 44.8 kilometres one way
  • Starting point: Katoomba Explorers tree if hiking from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves or Jenolan Caves if hiking from Jenolan Caves to Katoomba
  • Time: 3 days for comfortable hiking
  • Elevation (highest point): 2066 meters or 6778 feet
  • Difficulty: Hard

Transportation:

  • Frequent trains run between Sydney and Katoomba. For more information on trains, visit NSW Transport planner.
  • run frequent buses between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves. They are the only bus tour providers that provide one way drop off between the two places. The cost of one way bus trip is AUD 50 (USD 39).
  • The Explorers Tree is about 3 kilometres from the Katoomba station. We booked a taxi that costed us about AUD 15.

Weather:

The weather definitely plays an important role. The weather during our hike was very favourable. It was cloudy. Hence the weather was neither too hot nor too cold. I would definitely recommend the walk during the Spring or Autumn seasons.

Tip: Ensure to check on the updated weather conditions. Some sections of the national parks are closed when the weather is too hot.

Telephone network:

There is no network on the phones. It is advisable to carry Personal Locating Beacon (PLB). The PLB is a hand held device sending an emergency message with your location to the emergency services. The PLB is available for hire for free from the NPWS office.

The two days of our hike

Our itinerary:

Day 1:

We took a train from Sydney Central to Katoomba station. We arrived at 9:30 AM at Katoomba station.

The bus picked us at 10:30 AM to drop us off at 12:30 PM at Jenolan Caves.

First Stop: Jenolan Caves to Jenolan Caves Cottages – We started the walk at around 1 PM and walked from Jenolan Caves to Jenolan Caves Cottages, which was our first stop.

  • Distance: 4.1 kilometres
  • Grade: Hard

Second Stop: Jenolan Caves Cottages to Black Range camping ground – We had our lunch here and yes, it was pretty late for a lunch.

  • Distance: 6 kilometres
  • Grade: Moderate & few sections Hard
  • Facilities: Water tank, tables and toilets at Black Range camping ground

Third & Final Stop: Black Range camping ground to Alum Creek camping ground – We camped here for the night. And we camped under the stars which was pretty cool.

  • Distance: 8.7 kilometres (Black Range camping ground to Pluviometer) + 4.3 kilometres (Pluviometer to Alum Creek camping ground) = 13 kilometres
  • Grade: Moderate & few sections Hard
  • Facilities: Water tank, tables and toilets at Alum Creek camping ground

Day 2:

We were supposed to start the day at around 6 AM but we started at 7:30 AM.

First stop: Alum Creek camping ground to Cox River camping ground – We had our breakfast here. The camping ground at Cox River is very beautiful.

  • Distance: 2 kilometres (Alum Creek camping ground to Mini Mini Saddle) + 4 kilometres (Mini Mini Saddle to Cox River camping ground) = 6 kilometres
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Facilities: Water tank, tables and toilets at Cox River camping ground

Second Stop:Cox River camping ground to Bowtells Swing bridge – Walking on the swing bridge is pretty awesome. There are signs at both ends that only one person can cross the bridge at a time.

  • Distance: 1.5 kilometres
  • Grade: Moderate

Third Stop:Bowtells Swing bridge to Megalong Cemetery – We did not actually see the cemetery but there is an information board at the end of Cemetery.

  • Distance: 7.4 kilometres
  • Grade: Moderate & few sections Hard

Fourth Stop: Megalong Cemetery to Megalong Village

  • Distance: 3.7 kilometres
  • Grade: Easy

Fifth Stop: Megalong Village to Explorers Tree – The last one hour is the steepest section of the hike with lots of stairs.

  • Distance: 4.6 kilometres
  • Grade: Hard

Our experience:

We knew this was a challenging hike. We had hiked quite a bit before but not with heavy backpacks. Everyone including my family and friends believed I could do this walk. But I had my doubts, not because I have not walked 44 kilometres before, it was because of the time constraint and the weight of my backpack. The whole hike was testing my limits. This has by far been my best record – 44.8 kilometres in 29 hours 20 minutes. And we are very proud of ourselves to have completed this walk.

Our recommendation is definitely to walk from Jenolan Caves to Katoomba Explorers Tree.

Total expenses:

  • Groceries for two days = AUD 120 (~USD 93) for two people
  • Bus tour between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves = AUD 100 (~USD 78) for two people
  • Train from Sydney Central to Katoomba = AUD 17 (~USD 13) for two people
  • Train from Katoomba to Sydney Central = AUD 17 (~USD 13) for two people
  • Camping on the camp ground = FREE
  • Taxi from Explorers Tree to Katoomba station = AUD 15 (~USD 12) for two people

Total expenses for two people = AUD 269 (~USD 209)

More information

The NSW national park and the wild walks websites have the latest and updated information.

Tip: Ensure you watch out for snakes and leeches.

Have fun!

And most importantly click lots of pictures, stay hydrated and have fun!

I would like to conclude this post by quoting a famous quote by an unknown person and by thanking my friend for encouraging me throughout and pushing me to do things that I never imagined.

“It’s impossible”, said pride.

“It’s risky”, said experience.

“It’s pointless”, said reason.

“Give it a try”, whispered the HEART.

© 2017 Raksha Nagaraj All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, or re-transmission, in whole, or in part, or in any manner, without prior written consent of the author, is in violation of the copyright law.