Litchfield Cascades Walk - Top Hikes In The Top End: Part 3
Nigel and Sue head to Litchfield National Park for Part 3 of their Top Hikes In The Top End series. Here they wandered the Cascades, experiencing an epic day hike full of challenging climbs, amazing landscape views, refreshing rockpools and even an idyllic waterfall. Watch their video here and read on for your detailed destination guide below.
Location: Litchfield Upper Cascades Loop Walk, Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory
Time: 2 hours (plus swimming time)
Grade: 4 - Moderate to Difficult
Access: Cascades Car Park
The Path Ahead:
Wow! This hike was really amazing - and an easy choice for our favourite hike in Litchfield National Park. We parked at the Cascades car park, and despite what we had read about the carpark being a tight squeeze, there was plenty of space. I think it helped that we were the first to arrive that morning. There are a couple of picnic tables and toilets just near the carpark.
This walk is in sections, and not all sections can be walked all the time. During the wet season a lot of the Lower Cascades section is closed, and the walk down the river from the Upper to Lower Cascades is closed until the water levels drop sufficiently so it's safe. Fortunately, we were there when the entire walk was open (mid-August).
The first section of this walk follows the river upstream, passing through the monsoon forest where there is plenty of birdlife to hear, even if you can't see too many birds (insect repellent recommended though!). The trail is well formed, relatively smooth and flat. At the T-junction we went right to continue to the Upper Cascades. The next section of the walk heads up the escarpment, so it's a bit more of a challenging climb up the loose, rocky path with uneven steps - some requiring hand-holds. Once atop the escarpment there are a couple of lookouts to view over the forest to the north west. There were bushfires around the area when we visited, and we could see smoke from the remnants of fires smouldering on the horizon.
Some challenging climbs up the rocky paths of the Upper Cascades make you earn it. (Images courtesy of Nigel & Sue Adventures)
After walking along the top of the escarpment for a while, the trail dropped down to the river, and the Upper Cascades. This is an absolutely beautiful area, with plenty of small rockpools to jump in and cool off. Which of course, we did! After our swim we continued along one of the most beautiful sections of trails we've ever walked along - there was no path, we were literally walking down the cascades, jumping over little streams and from one rock to another. The colour of the rocks is a beautiful red, and although the sky was hazy from the smoke, everything we were seeing was amazing.
A short few hundred metres downstream and we came to the Curtain Falls. Although small in height, this is a stunning waterfall, with a rock ledge behind. I've always loved swimming behind waterfalls, and to be able to actually sit on the rock ledge behind this one was a completely amazing experience (tip: climb up to the left of the waterfall). Perhaps because we had started the walk so early, there was only one other couple at this rockpool when we arrived, and they were just getting out, so we basically had it to ourselves!
Refreshing rockpools cool the searing NT heat (left) and a stunning waterfall moment for Sue (right)! (Images courtesy of Nigel & Sue Adventures)
After another refreshing swim, we continued walking down the river, where we crossed a few bridges that had been put in place for those just coming up the Lower Cascades Walk. We did see a couple of families coming up this part of the trail as we were walking back to the carpark. Despite the bridges, there is still quite a bit of rock-hopping to do below Curtain Falls, which would be why this walk is graded Moderate - Difficult.
Sheer beauty of the Cascades. (Image courtesy of Nigel & Sue Adventures)
Rounding out the walk, which had a little bit of everything for the day hiker. (Image courtesy of Nigel & Sue Adventures)
Eventually the path veered away from the river and re-joined the main trail at the intersection where we had gone up the escarpment earlier. A short walk took us back to the van. We really enjoyed this walk, it had a bit of everything, a good heart-starting climb, amazing views, gorgeous rockpools to swim in, and of course, a waterfall.
Video & Photo Credits
All video and imagery supplied by Nigel & Sue Adventures