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A Guide to the Walks and Hikes at Kings Canyon

Home to the most impressive rock formations and rich cultural heritage, Watarrka National Park is very much an essential part of any Central Australian trip. At the heart of the park, is Kings Canyon which has many incredible trails that are rated among some of the best walks in Australia.

The area is the traditional land of the Luritja and Arrente people and the national park is jointly managed by the Traditional Owners and the Northern Territory government.

For a map of the park, click here. Use the Avenza Maps App to track your walk on the interactive park map.

 

Kings Canyon

Though the Watarrka National Park covers over 70, 000 hectares, it is Kings Canyon that steals the spotlight. There are rock walls that come in different hues of red, vertical drops into the gorge and towering cliffs to lookout for, however, the best way to explore Kings Canyon is on a hike. There are a number of Kings Canyon walking tracks in this national park.

Whether it’s the flat and gentle Kings Creek walk or the iconic Rim Walk, you’re sure to experience the park’s natural beauty. The carpark at Kings Canyon is the trail head for most of the walks you can do in the area. The walks at Kings Canyon are colour coded and well-marked; all you need to do is follow the right colour arrow.

Kings Creek Walk

One of the easiest King Canyon trails, the Kings Creek Walk is a Grade 2 easy 2.6-kilometre walk that follows a trail between the two colossal canyon walls and takes you along the bottom of the gorge. The first 700 m can be accessed by wheelchair-bound visitors with some assistance. 

The Kings Creek Walk starts from the car park where clear signage posts are placed and ends at a raised platform with a spectacular lookout point that treats you to scenic views and stunning canyon scenery. Using the same trail, you can walk back to the Kings Canyon carpark. It takes around an hour to complete this walk.

Rim Walk

The Rim Walk, as the name suggests, takes you along the rim of the dramatic canyon. This 6-km loop walk takes between 3 to 4 hours to complete and is a Grade 4 easy to moderate hike. The Rims Walk is done in a clockwise direction.

The Rim Walk starts from the car park by climbing up some 500 odd steep steps up the Heartbreak Hill. There are a number of places to rest and take in the amazing views across the desert plain. And do not fret, because once you have reached the top, the trail becomes flat and easier. 

The Lost City

From the top, you will cast your eyes upon a series of weathered sandstone domes. The sandstone domes are collectively known as the Lost City as they resemble an ancient walled city. A section of the trail passes between these rock domes. 

The Garden of Eden

From the main trail, cross a metal bridge and climb down via a series of staircases to a magical oasis - the beautiful Garden of Eden. This is a permanent waterhole that is shaded with some exotic plants. It is a sacred spot for the Traditional Owners, so do not swim or disrespect the place. 

South Wall Return Walk

Another popular Kings Canyon Walk, the South Wall Return, is a 4.8 km Grade 3 walk that takes around 2 hours to complete. The walk starts from the car park with a steep climb to the south wall of Kings Canyon. There are still plenty of sights to see along the way - stunning views of the Cotterill’s Lookout as well as the Garden of Eden down below.

The walk ends at a one-way gate. Return to the carpark via the same route.

Giles Track

Giles Track stretches for 22 km along the George Gill Range, making it the perfect trail for those with an adventurous spirit. The walk begins at Kings Canyon and ends at Kathleen Springs and can be done from either direction. A grade 3 trail, this walk can be done as a long day trek. However, it is recommended to do the Giles Track as an overnight walk, when the temperatures are cooler.

There are campsites between the 3 km and 20 km track markers. However, the recommended place to camp is Reedy Creek at around 8 km from the Kings Canyon car park. Carry your own food, water and sleeping gear.

 

Kathleen Springs

Kathleen Spring Walk is a Grade 1 Kings Canyon hiking trail that leads to a spring-fed waterhole at the head of Kathleen Gorge. This natural waterhole is an important place for Traditional Owners. The trail is very flat and is wheelchair accessible.

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