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Crossing the Blue Mountains – Penrith to Katoomba

Stage 1: Penrith to Glenbrook via Mt Portal with Red Hands Cave detour

21km +760m -609m  (Allow 6-8 hours – depending on optional detour)

We walk along the Nepean River to an unnamed track that might be closed, but seems to be regularly walked despite it being a little overgrown. It runs along the river until you reach Glenbrook Creek. From here, we cross Nepean creek with an acceptance of wet feet (shoes off for some) – the water is fresh!

We find a goat track on the other side leading up to Mt Portal. Steep would be one way to describe the track – non-existent would be another description. But this is nothing compared to what we will find at the top of our goat track. Our surprise is presented by a large log leaning against a cliff edge with a frayed rope. It seems the way is up. It’s fun, albeit a little nerve-wracking. We have a good laugh at the top of the cliff (Mt Portal lookout) where we find a sign warning us that the rocks are for “Abseilers Only”.  In case you were wondering, you can access Mt Portal lookout via a gravel road….


From here, we meander to Tunnel Lookout and then find another steep track down. We cross the fast flowing Glenbrook Creek again and head towards Jellybean Pool. We opt for a 2 hour detour to Red Hands Cave with limited talking (we are all tired by now). And then head to Glenbrook Station via Blue Pool where we lose the track for awhile. We are running out of hours for the day and I decide that I want to return another day to explore and swim at Blue Pool. 


Post Trail Thoughts

This hike is not for the faint hearted, or for those with a fear of  heights. Navigation was challenging – our refrain at times was “it looks like a path” along with “this is a bit tracky”. Overall experience and fun level was high – in the words of one us “I had a blast!” Definitely one of our harder hikes in this series of walks.


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