Cathedral Rock Summit
North Coast NSW
Cathedral Rock National Park
Allow 2.5 hours
Elevation gain (m):
Max. elevation (m):
Hard (Grade 5)
Click to see full image.
A challenging walk that offers incredible 360-degree views of the park, as well as further across the New England Tablelands, from the vantage point of stacked granite boulders.
This lightly trafficked walk starts from the day-use car park of the Barokee campground in Cathedral Rock National Park, at the end of Barokee Road in Ebor.
The track begins on the shorter and easier Cathedral Rock Track, which loops the Rock, with a turn-off to the summit at about the mid-point of the loop.
Walk through sub-alpine woodland, past hulking granite boulders, to the summit turn-off, keeping left at the first junction (walking the loop track in a clockwise direction).
There is a gradual incline on the way toward the turn-off. The small but beautiful Snowy Creek runs parallel to much of the loop track, with a few footbridges along the way.
The summit turn-off is on the right, and from here the track gets much steeper. Graded paths give way to 400 metres of rock-hopping over boulders and straddling crevices. Look for the small yellow makers with black arrows to guide your way.
As you slowly emerge from out of the trees you start getting glimpse of the stunning views to come, as well as the stacked boulders that punctuate the horizon.
Near the summit, you will pass through a tunnel created from stacked boulders, before using a chain to assist you to the top.
The summit of Cathedral Rock is perched on 200 metres of stacked boulders, with uninterrupted 360-degrees views of the rocky outcrops throughout the park and further across the New England Tablelands.
To the south-west, you will see the air navigation facility atop Round Mountain (a white dome and building) – which is the highest point in the New England Tablelands at 1,584 metres – albeit only slightly higher than Cathedral Rock which is 1,514 metres high.
The summit is an especially spectacular vantage point for sunrise and sunset, where the sun casts a warm glow across the surrounding rocks.
If going for sunrise or sunset, be sure to pack headlamps, warm clothes and a raincoat and be appropriately skilled for rock-hopping in low-light conditions. Conditions at the summit can change rapidly and it is often extremely windy.
To return, backtrack to the summit turn-off and head right to continue along the loop track, through a protected valley of manna gums. At the following junction, keep right to stay on the summit loop track.
Cathedral Rock National Park can be visited as part of the 185 km Waterfall Way scenic drive from Coffs Harbour to Armidale.
Track: The loop track section consists of graded paths and is well-signed with only a minimal amount of elevation change, steps and footbridges. The summit track is a steep ascent involving rock hopping and navigating with yellow arrow makers.
Difficulty: The track to the summit requires at least moderate fitness, as well as confidence rock-hopping, primarily due to the short side-track to the summit. There are a few sections with some exposure on the way to the summit, although no climbing involved.
Direction: This is a loop track with an out-and-back side-track to the summit. Although the loop track can be done in either direction, it is advised to follow the circuit in a clockwise direction.
The trail starts from the day-use car park of the Barokee campground in Cathedral Rock National Park, at the end of Barokee Road in Ebor – approximately 5.5 hours drive south of Brisbane, 1 hour drive east of Armidale, 1.5 hours drive west of Coffs Harbour or 6.5 hours drive north of Sydney.
The road to the campground is unsealed, however is suitable for 2WD vehicles in normal weather conditions.
Parking is typically ample for how trafficked the walk is.
best time to go
The walk can be completed year-round.
Be sure to check the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service website for updates regarding track closures.
Note that there are park fees associated with entering many national parks in New South Wales. Check the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service website for more information.
Remember, whenever venturing into the outdoors, practice the Leave No Trace principles and be considerate of others. This means: dispose of your waste properly, don't remove things or move things from their natural position and respect all wildlife. Also be sure to plan ahead and adequately prepare for any adventure.
I respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which all activities listed on this website are found, as well as Elders past, present and emerging. I strive to not promote sites where requests have been made for people not to explore due to the cultural significance of the site to Indigenous peoples, or note how to respectfully visit a site. If I have a promoted a site with cultural significance, please send me a message and let me know.