Looking for the best walks in Southern Highlands and wondering if the Box Vale Walking Track in Mittagong is worth doing?
Irish expat and bookseller Erin Coyle, is sharing her beautifully written guide for what to expect on one of the most popular walks in the Southern Highlands. Make sure you follow Erin and her expat adventures on instagram at @erin.coyle.k.
Table of Contents
1. Where Is The Box Vale Walking Track?
The Box Vale Track is located in Mittagong in Nattai National Park. It is approximately a 22 minute drive from Moss Vale which is where we camped.
It is also around a 10 minute drive from Bowral and a 1h30m drive from Sydney. Unfortunately there’s no public transport options to get there but it makes a fab day trip from Sydney.
We love visiting the Southern Highlands and we are constantly blown away by the selection of amazing walks and National Parks in the area. One recent walk that ticked so many boxes was The Box Vale Track.
It is a 9km return walk and is predominately flat, suitable for families and pets. Being a State Park, dogs are allowed! For a little extra leg burn and challenge we added on the detour to the Forty Foot Falls along the way, which is an extra 3km.
It is well laid out with stairs where needed but is indeed a steeper descent.The 12km return walk took us approx. 3 hours with plenty down time to drink in the scenery even if it did say it would take 5 hours.
For me, this walk had so much to offer, so full of texture, history, character, and my favourite was seeing plenty of waterfalls.There is also an option to do the overall circuit.
The Box Vale Track is part of a much bigger loop that involves a steep cable assisted climb down what is known as the incline (where the coal was once brought up from the gorge). We did not have time to do the whole circuit, but we are eager to get back and take on the full challenge.
3. Discovering Forty-Foot Falls
The Box Vale Track is quite a popular track and we met people along the way of all ages, including families, couples, walking groups and lots of furry friends on leads. About 15 minutes into the walk, we arrived at a junction with a sign for Forty Foot Falls to our right and the Box Vale Track continued straight ahead.
There were a few walkers at the junction headed for the Box Vale Track, so we decided to check out the falls first. Because of the steep climb back up from the falls most people decide to do this detour last, which in hindsight is a better idea.
Taking a right at the junction we followed the fire trail until we came to a small signpost for Forty-Foot Falls where the descent begins. It is staired most of the way but is quite a steep descent. The track leads right to the falls where we stopped to take in the view and have a snack.
At the top of the falls, we threw off our shoes and bathed our feet in the water. Is there anything better that fresh water running through your toes?
4. Continuing Along The Old Tram Lines
We headed back on the fire trail to the junction and followed the Box Vale Track towards the old tram lines. Make sure to keep a look out for the trail sign to your left. This took us off the fire trail and onto a muddier but much more textured path where there is much more to see.
Here we navigated our way through beautiful sandstone cuttings, boulders, towering trees and fallen trees, and lush greenery. After the heavy rainfall in March, everything was bursting in colour. I really loved this part of the walk and resolved to take photos on my way back to I could soak it all up without distraction.
5. The Old Railway Tunnel
If this wasn’t a treat enough, we arrived at one of the coolest and most anticipated features of the walk, the old railway tunnel, carved into the rock. Here we soaked up the cool temperature, relished in the echoey eerie dark and tiptoed our way through the 100-meter passage steeped in history.
Kids raced past laughing and shouting and loving the acoustics. It was fascinating to think how they possibly got trains and tacks to this place that felt so squirreled away.
6. Nattai Gorge Lookout
Beyond the tunnel there was a sign for the Nattai Gorge Lookout, a must do when one has come this far. This was another lovely rest stop with picnic tables placed to lap up the cracking view of the Natti Gorge. From there one can continue to do the full circuit which we unfortunately did not have time to do on the day we went.
Next time, we will set off earlier and make sure to pack our gloves for the cabled descent. On the way home we wanted to catch the sunset at the popular Jellore lookout, just a 12-minute drive away. The golden hour lookout over Mittagong was the perfect way to end a day of adventuring in the Southern Highlands.
7. Box Vale Track Tips
When heading out on this hike, make sure you bring the following: water, snacks, hiking boots, sun cream, bug spray.
There is a larger circuit which is much more taxing and takes over 5 hours. I have heard people recommend gloves for the steep cable assisted descent. Also the track was very muddy after rainfall so good walking boots and bug spray recommended.
We accessed the car park from the beginning of Boxvale Road, near the Hume Highway overpass at Welby.
More Southern Highlands Guides To Read
You might like to check out our complete guide for visiting the Southern Highlands. Packed full of absolutely everything that makes this gorgeous area more than a day trip from Sydney worth visiting, you’ll fall in love with it just like we have.
We also have an awesome guide for finding the best waterfalls in Kangaroo Valley as well. Complete with hidden gems and wild swimming spots, you could easily spend a few days waterfall hopping!
And, we’ve created guides for the following places so you can focus on one area at a time as there really is so many things to do in the Southern Highlands!