Nichols Gorge & Clarke Gorge Walking Tracks

These two walks combined together are a great day out in the snowy mountains

Nichols Gorge & Clarke Gorge Walking Tracks

I recently returned to Kosciuszko national park for a hike. This one was located in the northern part of the park. To get to the start of the walk you enter the park from the Snowy Mountains Highway from Tumut. The drive to the trailhead is worthy of a day trip in itself.

I combined two short walks here and after doing both I would recommend this order.

Nichols Gorge Walk

After arriving at the car park I set off to do the Nichols Gorge walk. You head down from what is basically flat paddocks into a deep gorge. You are instantly presented with a massive rock with a cave visible from afar. There is an inviting small waterhole here with blue water. Good for a post-walk swim.

At the pool, I head right and follow the trail markers to the gorge. This walk is well marked and I never struggled to find the path even with various brumby trails scattered around.

After a small stroll, you enter the gorge and see your first rock formations. The creek at the bottom of the trail is flowing slowly. The banks are covered in thick tussocks of grass. The vegetation looks different to what I'm used to and that's probably because in winter this is all covered in snow. This is an alpine area. Which is pretty weird for Australia.

After a while, you will see Cooleman Cave. I crossed over and had a look inside. I sadly didn't have a torch with me as this cave connects up with other caves in the area. It did look pretty muddy inside.

After looking around the cave I continued up the gorge. Passing various large rock formations. At this point, you will start to notice brumby droppings along the trail.

After a while, you will get to another cave that links up to the other cave entrances. There is a cave map on the trail for those interested.

A trail marker suggests you should exit the gorge, up the hill. After checking the map, I scrambled up the left side of the cave and out of the gorge. I did see a trail that continued down the gorge and maybe a good alternative track. However, the next part of the track is quite special.

Once you're out of the gorge you will enter a wide-open plain. I looked around and spotted a kangaroo sheltering in the shade and some brumbies walking single file in the distance. After walking over a small hill I discovered a huge band of brumbies about a kilometre away. There was easily 50 of them.

The ground on the plain is covered with flowers. Mainly these bright yellow paper daisies and various other flowers. They have the texture of straw when you touch them.

After walking along the plain for a bit, the walk does a 270 degree turn back towards the gorge. I noticed that all the trails on the plain were quite narrow and difficult to walk on from decades of use from the brumbies. The trail heads back down the hill and wanders back to the road and down to the start of the walk. From there I start the Clarke Gorge walk.

Clarke Gorge Walk

This walk starts from the same waterhole at the start of the Nichols Gorge Walk. Once back at the waterhole I find a family relaxing in the waterhole, wave and set off down Clarke Gorge. I get to the first creek crossing and manage to cross it hopping from stone to stone. After 20m I get to the second crossing and find it impassable. I look down the gorge and it does look quite nice so I decide to get the shoes wet and cross over carefully. I prefer to do river crossings with shoes on as it protects my feet. At the start of the walk on the left is a small cave with water flowing out from somewhere above. It's quite a sight.

After crossing the river a second time the gorge narrows and becomes quite narrow. I catch up with a young couple walking precariously barefoot along the trail. I check the map and discover there are a lot of crossings. I see the trail enter the water and cross over to the river and find the track.

Every couple of meters, here and there I scare off various sized lizards. From skinks to blue tounges and large lizards I cannot identify. The walk is really nice and something you don't normally experience in Sydney. After 30 meters or so I have to cross the river again.

After a handful of water crossings, the gorge opens up and heads up a little out of the gorge and into the bush scattered with snow gums.

The walk passes a few more small caves. I pass another couple having a swim in the river. Mind you the river was absolutely freezing. By the end of the walk, my feet were freezing. I then catch up with an older couple putting on their shoes. It seems that everyone else was taking their shoes off for the several river crossings. After seeing my approach. They decided shoes on was the way to go.

After two more crossings, you will see one more cave and a spectacular waterfall. I stay here for a bit and take it in.

This is the end of the walk. I turn around and back track and criss-cross over the river several times and finish the walk. Just as I get to the car a massive rain cloud opens up and starts to rain.