Cox’s Cave Circuit, Mount Victoria: A challenging but interesting hike

A couple of weeks ago we went to the Blue Mountains and I searched for some hikes to do. I wrote a blog post about Mermaids Cave, but we did another cave walk called Cox’s Cave. Mermaids Cave is short, and in Blackheath, while Cox’s Cave is a longer loop trail that’s a bit over an hour, and about 1.6km in length. It’s located at Mount Piddington in Mount Victoria, and there are a couple of other trails in the area.

Cox’s Cave is was a sort of hidden gem where I couldn’t find much more information than a blog post – but the blog post I did find on the Walk My World blog was extremely detailed and helpful. They also got a couple of better photos and visited when the weather was better. We visited when it had been raining, so we had a bit more of an obstacle with some water on the track, and didn’t fully see into the cave because it was slippery and a bit dangerous.

We were staying in Blackheath and checked out of our accomodation, planning to do this hike before eating breakfast. We drove from Blackheath to Mount Victoria, and followed the brown recreational street signs to Mount Piddington. Mount Piddington is the highest point in the Blue Mountains that is accessible on foot, at 1094 metres (3589 feet). There is an unnamed peak in the Blue Mountains that is actually a bit taller than this but I don’t believe there is any way to access it. Mount Piddington is the start of a few hiking trails and has a small area for cars to park, with a short loop road around the peak. The loop road was blocked off for construction/restoration at the time we were there, but the hiking trails were still accessible.

A view from a spot high in the mountains. A giant rock is in the foreground and there are orange-green trees visible in front of lush green valleys. The sky is rather cloudy and grey.
The view from the top of Mount Piddington

I didn’t think Cox’s Cave would take that long. However, the extreme eagerness inside of me overruled any reasonable decisions I had to make, and even though we read the sign suggesting that the hike was of “hard” difficulty and would take an hour, I was insistent that it would be not much more than twenty minutes. I seem to lose all my consideration for the vertical when it comes to hikes, and I read 1.5 kilometres as 1.5 on flat ground. 🥴 Which of course, only takes about 20 minutes. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Cox’s Cave is really worth visiting. In terms of difficulty, if you have had some experience doing hiking or nature trails, and have durable, non-slip shoes, you will be alright. We didn’t think to bring water but I’d definitely recommend it.

A grey signpost in the bush, marked with arrows and three labels: Cox’s Cave Circuit, Via Grotto / Via Cox’s Cave, and Toll House (Fairy Bower)
I should have paid more attention to this sign, which suggests that the cave is actually to the right 😅

I was plainly obsessed with getting to this cave because I’m the kind of person who lives for the views and experiences at the end of a hike, and the mental challenge of getting through the journey. Nick likes to see interesting things on the actual journey, and feels bored by the same and same terrain over and over – even if the view at the end might be “worth it”. This was one of the more interesting hikes we’d been on because of the caves, and varying terrain of stone steps, marsh, low-lying canopies, and waterfalls.

A dirt trail in the bush, with some trees creating a canopy over the trail. The trail is covered in leaf debris.
Lots of dirt and debris on the trail, so watch your step as it could get slippery.
A big rock formation that looks like it creates a tiny cave, but the trail in the foreground doesn’t really lead very far into the cave area
Some interesting rock formations along the way

The main highlight of the trail is the steel ladder that leads up to a cave – that is, Cox’s Cave. As you start heading down the trail from Mount Piddington, you can go left or right since it’s a loop. We went left, which ends up being about a kilometre until you get to Cox’s Cave. If you go right, you only have about 700 metres until you reach it. Since we went left, we passed a grotto with a small waterfall, and a kind of dismantled picnic table. A nice spot for a break.

A grotto in the bush, with a cave to the left, and a broken wooden picnic table in the centre. Further away is a small waterfall slightly obscured by tree branches.
A somewhat serene little spot
A close-up of a small waterfall in the bush. The top of the waterfall can be seen and the photo is taken right from the base of the waterfall.
Close-up of the waterfall
Some small signs in the bush indicating a hiking trail to the left and a warning of slippery surfaces. A sign on the right has arrows and two labels reading: Mt Piddington, Cox’s Cave Circuit. Some stone steps in the foreground are covered in greenery.
We know we’re going the right way, at least 😊

If you go this way, you are led down a dirt track for a while, that is covered in a lot of leaf debris, and can get quite wet and slippery if it is has been raining recently. It has the feel of a rainforest. You do end up going down a lot of steep stone steps as well. The vegetation isn’t cut back, so you might find yourself brushing up closely to tree fronds and branches.

A rock and dirt path through the bush.
The track continues, a mixture of rock and dirt. At this point, we passed the rather challenging and marshy area
A view in the bush during the day, with trees in the foreground and light reddish rock formations in the background. There is a reddish rock ceiling towards the top of frame, and some big rocks to the bottom left.
Some spots on the trail that are close to large rock, are completely dry.
Giant stone steps in the bush, leading to a cave-like area to the right. The steps have a bit of natural water running over them
If it’s been raining you will definitely get some water running over some of the trail

If you go right from Mount Piddington, you get some rather open bush before giant steps lead you down towards Cox’s Cave. These steps can be slippery and covered in leaf debris as well. Of course, we went the reverse way so we had to walk up these steps.

There is a point on the trail that links to the Fairy Bower trail, but it would be a good idea to check that it’s open and not blocked off. The Blue Mountains has had many closures this year due to bushfire and flood damage. Temporary signs at the starting point of tracks should let you know if a route is temporarily closed.

Cox’s Cave is hard to miss, and there is a sign next to the ladder letting you know to take caution if you choose to climb it.

A spot on a hiking trail with leaf-littered steps leading upwards. To the left is a steel ladder, the top of which cannot be seen, and to the right is a grey signpost with an arrow and “Cox’s Cave” printed on it, along with some warning icons
You can’t miss this signpost

Once we climbed to the top of the ladder, we didn’t go all the way around and into the more vacuous space (go up to the left of the ladder and follow the cave around to the right), partially because I didn’t realise there was more to it until I re-read Walk My World’s blog post afterwards, but also partially because it was quite wet and slippery. At a great height it was a bit too risky to explore. Nick is not good with heights, and the clearance in the area at the top of the ladder is a bit tricky for someone who is six foot tall like he is.

The ladder itself isn’t much of a concern, as long as you take your time you will be fine. It’s sturdy and the rungs are placed close enough that it’s not a stretch for even someone as small as me. When you are going back down, get a good hold of the ladder and take your time.

A woman in black leggings and a dark hoodie, climbing a steel ladder up to a cave. She is halfway up the ladder. At the base of the ladder is a signpost with some warning information. The surrounds are bushy and green.
I’m 1.58m tall, this was not a difficult climb
A woman inside a cave that is at the top of a steel ladder in a rainforest-like setting. She is smiling and has two fingers up in the victory/peace sign.
✌🏼 hi!

If you were to ask me what direction is significantly better – turning left or right at the signpost – I don’t think there is a “better” way. I suspect that the rocks we walked up might be a bit tricker to walk down if it’s slippery. The other reason for going anti-clockwise and going in the opposite direction we did, is if you are mainly interested in the cave and don’t want to do the whole circuit. You would be able to see the cave and turn back.

Wet stone steps going upwards, leading into the bush. There is lots of vegetation.
Watch your step on the way back up

Even if, like us, you don’t get to fully see the cave, it’s still one of the more interesting hikes I’ve been on. You don’t necessarily get spectacular clifftop views, but you get to experience some different terrain and spend time in a rainforest-like trail.

Does Cox’s Cave sound like a spot you’d like to check out? 🤩

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