Empress Canyon is a short but very impressive canyon in Valley-of-the-Waters Creek near Wentworth Falls. It is very popular, particularly with commercial groups, due to its easy access, sustained constriction, and number of jumps and swims. It finishes with a spectacular 30m abseil down a large waterfall into a pool in front of the tourists.
From the Conservation Hut at Wentworth Falls, follow the National Pass track, and signs to Valley of the Waters. At a T-junction just below a few sets of steep metal stairs, a sign to the National Pass track points left and a sign to the Nature Track points right. Head along the Nature Track, which follows alongside the creek on the right. Continue past Lilians Bridge (where you can look down into the canyon) staying on the right until you reach stepping stones across Valley of the Waters Creek. This is the start of the canyon. There is a log book to fill in, so that crowding can be minimised.
There is also an upper section that is worth having a look at some time.
The canyon narrows immediately. There are a number of tricky climb downs and an optional jump. If you have less confident people in your group you may wish to use a handline. There are also quite a number of short but cold swims. The canyon is quite short, and after about half an hour you find yourself at the top of the abseil.
There are chains on both sides, as well as clip in points for safety. Both sides have overhung starts. The left side is typically a little easier as it does not go straight down the waterfall. The left side drops 15m or more to some slippery ledges, or 28m to the pool at the bottom. The right side has drops 28m straight down the waterfall to a pool at the bottom.
Follow the track up to where it rejoins the entry track and from there back to the car park.
- Difficulty: EM
- Abseils: 1
- Longest abseil: 30m
- Quality: 6/10
- Time: 2-3 hours
- Distance: 2km
- Ascent: 200m
- Wetsuits: Recommended
- Maps: 8930-1S Katoomba
A short but attractive little canyon with very easy access. A good beginner's trip, although the abseil is overhung from whichever side you start. Wetsuits may be useful, particularly if your party is large or inexperienced. A fast moving party on a warm day can probably make do without.
The canyon is heavily used by commercial groups. The peak time is between about 12pm and 2:30pm on weekends, and if you reach the abseil around those times then you may have a significant wait. To avoid crowding, it's advisable to get going fairly early in the morning (say before 10am) or wait til mid-to-late-afternoon (after 3:30pm).