So you fancy doing the walk to the base of Minyon Falls? There are actually three routes you can choose from! Read on to find out all you need to know, including the shortest route that hardly anybody ever does, as well as how to combat the difficult final 200 metre rock climb of the hike!
Minyon Falls is a 300ft (100 metre) high waterfall in a sub-tropical rainforest in Nightcap National Park that actually lies on the edge on an old volcano! It is located 33km west of Byron Bay, therefore a visit to Minyon Falls makes for a really popular day trip for those visiting Byron.
Accommodation near Minyon Falls
The nearest place to Minyon Falls for accommodation options is Byron Bay. To find accommodation in Byron Bay click below! There aren’t many hotels in Byron but there are heaps of cool Airbnb places to stay, so this is definitely the accommodation of choice if coming to Byron Bay!
How to get to Minyon Falls
Car is definitely the easiest way to get to Minyon Falls. Despite Minyon Falls only being 33km from Byron Bay the journey will however take close to an hour as the road to get here is very narrow and winding. Note if you are coming by hire car the last couple of kilometres are on unsealed roads. Hire cars generally aren’t allowed on unsealed roads as you won’t be covered if you have an accident on one, but still people choose to take the risk.
If you don’t have a car then you can join a tour to get to Minyon Falls. Many people prefer this as it means they won’t get lost trying to find the base of the waterfall (it is harder than it looks!) and they will get to meet likeminded people. Check this one out here that also includes an ocean kayak in Byron Bay afterwards! I did the ocean kayak a few years ago, and having wild dolphins swim right next to me as I kayaked was one of the most amazing experiences ever!
MINYON FALLS WALK
The Minyon Falls Walk goes in a loop from the top of the falls to the bottom and back up. It is an 8km circuit that will take around 3-4 hours to walk. Of course it involves walking down to the base of the falls from the top of the hill and then back up again so you’ll need a moderate level of fitness. If you don’t have 3-4 hours to spare however, you can still see it in half the time – see below!
As I mentioned earlier, there are three different ways you can do the walk. You can either:
- walk from Minyon Falls Lookout down to the base of the falls, then go back the same way – 8KM HIKE
- walk from Minyon Falls Lookout down to the base of the falls, then go back via Minyon Grass (or vice versa) – 8KM HIKE
- walk from Minyon Grass down to the base of the falls, then go back the same way – 4KM HIKE
It is totally up to you which one your prefer. You’ll get to see the same things whichever option you choose. Option 3 however is a lot shorter so you may want to do this.
Shorter walk (without missing anything):
If you want to cut the walk in half and just walk 4km instead of 8km, simply park your car at the car park on Minyon Grass Road as opposed to at the car park by Minyon Falls Lookout. From Minyon Grass you can do the Minyon Grass Walk down to the bottom of the falls and then come back the same way.
Then once you are done drive over to Minyon Falls Lookout. You won’t miss anything by doing it this way and you’ll save yourself a lot of time. That is the way I did it and it meant visiting Minyon Falls didn’t take up my whole day. I was done in less than 2 hours and so still had time to visit Nimbin before enjoying Byron Bay in the afternoon.
Walking from Top of Minyon Falls to Base of Minyon Falls
Distance: 4km (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Time: 3 hours one way
Note this route is twice as long as the route from Minyon Grass down to the base of the falls!
You will park your car at Minyon Falls Lookout and then head to the starting point of the walking path which is on your right. The first part of the walk down is the steepest before it then levels out for about a kilometre. When you get down to the bottom you’ll need to cross over the creek and then take the path immediately after that leads to the left. It isn’t very easy to spot but it is just after crossing the creek and before the path verges sharply to the right.
Walking from Minyon Grass to Base of Minyon Falls
Distance: 2km (one way)
Time: 1 hour one way
The Minyon Grass path is a much more direct route to the base of the falls and is the route I recommend. You’ll be taking Minyon Loop East down to the falls from the Minyon Grass car park.
Click here for the exact route you need to take down to the base of Minyon Falls or look at the maps below. The walk starts from the Minyon Grass car park which is where the red pin is.
The path from the car park starts with a lot of backswitches and descends quite quickly. It drops 70 metres within the first 500 metres of the walk, so you’ll quickly be right in the middle of the rainforest! The path then levels out as you walk through the rainforest and there is lots of shade here, perfect for those hot sunny days. You will walk alongside Repentance Creek – it will be on your left but you never cross it. Some of the trees on this walk are so fascinating – look at the bark of the tree on the left picture!
You’ll then reach the junction where the right hand path will lead you to the base of the falls and the left hand track will lead you on the long path up to the lookout at the top of the falls. You want to make sure you don’t miss the turning! Whilst on the right hand side map above the turning off to the base of the falls looks pretty obvious, believe me when I say it can be easy to miss!
It is only a very slight bend in the track. Blink and you’ll miss it, seriously. I met two guys who had somehow done the whole walk and missed the turning. At least they were local so they could come back, but how devastating! The three tips I can give you to ensure you don’t miss the turning are:
- have an offline map on your phone so you can see the turning on the map (I use maps.me).
- you’ll see a placard on your right giving some local information. The turning is right after this but there is no sign that directs you to the falls at this point. The path is only very faint in front of you as there are lots of big boulders, but it is still easy enough to make out at this stage.
- if you cross over the creek you have missed the turning.
The final 200 metres to the base of the falls
So whichever path you choose to take down, for the last 200 metres of the walk you will need to scramble over big boulders to reach the base of Minyon Falls.
This is where the challenge begins. I didn’t enjoy this part so much as I got lost a couple of times and found the path so hard to navigate! Plus I was on my own so I had nobody for company. There was literally nobody around so I literally didn’t know which way to go. Plus I was visiting when the waterfall wasn’t in full force so I couldn’t even try to follow the sound of the waterfall! You won’t see a sign for the walk until a few metres into the path. And even then it is quite hard to miss and isn’t exactly labelled, it is just an arrow.
The walk really wasn’t signposted well so you just ind of have to guess where to go. There are some red triangles on the trees, but if you are looking down at your footing (which you will be as you’ll need to climb over the boulders!) you may not even notice them! Plus there definitely could have been more triangles as like I said – I took the wrong turn twice and found myself in impassable places so had to go back. In the end I only found the correct way because I looked behind me and saw a couple of people coming back from the waterfall. They had come from a completely different direction that I was going in, so I am glad I spotted them! Look at the images below and you’ll see how easy it is to not even see the red triangles!
It is hard to guide you when it is basically just a load of big boulders you have to navigate around, but keep your eyes open for the red triangles. Don’t walk too high up the mountain – you kind of need to keep to the left. If something feels too dangerous, then you are probably going the wrong way so go back, look for the triangles and try to find the path. Hopefully when you are there it will be a bit busier than when I arrived.
Make sure you are wearing adequate footwear especially if it has rained lately as the boulders can get slippy!
Staying at the base of the falls
When you (finally) arrive at the falls you can take a dip in the natural pool at the bottom, or just enjoy the magnificent view of the water crashing down past the side of the cliff. Normally it is quite crowded but I had the place to myself! Normally I would love that, but actually I found it a bit creepy being here alone as it was so isolated.
Once you have finished at the falls head back whichever way you prefer. You can either walk back the same way you came or walk back the other way if you want to make the walk into a loop. As my car was at Minyon Grass and I was on a bit of a tight time schedule, I headed up the path to Minyon Grass – which is just 2km as opposed to the 4km walk to the Minyon Falls Lookout.
The Minyon Loop Walking Track
Distance: 8km return loop
Time: 5 hours
To make the walk into a loop, once you have hiked back up (whichever path) you simply walk along the road from one car park to the other via Minyon Drive. So you can either walk from Minyon Grass back to Minyon Falls Lookout or vice versa. This part is 1.5km long and will take around 30-40 minutes to walk. All in all, adding this ontop of all the hiking you have done it is a long day. When I drove past people who were walking along the road to complete the walk and get back to their cars, they did look pretty tired and I must say I was glad I took the Minyon Grass Walking Track both ways and then just drove to see the lookout point as it saved me so much time and a lot of walking!
If you want to skip the walking on Minyon Drive part out you can always just go down and back up the same path you took (ie: park at Minyon Grass and go up and down the same path, or park at Minyon Falls Lookout and take the same path down and back up). You can always then drive the 5 minutes from one parking place to the other.
Minyon Falls Lookout
The local Aboriginal people believe Minyon Falls to be cursed and to possess bad spirits, and in recent years it has sadly become a popular suicide spot. Many people have fallen to their deaths here, including sadly 41 year old Ben Unwin, an Actor from the popular TV series Home & Away.
The lookout is just to the side of the waterfall and you get a great view of he water crashing over the edge of the cliff. You can’t see below to the pool underneath but you do get some lovely views out across the hinterland. The boardwalk is accessible from the car park – it will take less than one minute to reach the lookout.
The lookout fortunately now has barriers around it for safety, but it can’t prevent everything. You’ll notice Lifeline signs here in an attempt to help anyone here who may need it – like at The Gap at Watson’s Bay in Sydney which is another notorious suicide spot. If you see anyone who looks like they need help please ask them if they are okay or call 000 if you are concerned.
There are toilets and a picnic area if you want to use the facilities before heading back.
What to bring on the Minyon Falls Walk:
- adequate footwear, especially if it has rained in the past few days
- swimming costume and towel if you want to swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall
- water bottle – there are no amenities on the walk so make sure you have enough water
- try to have a backpack and not a handbag so that your hands are free during the walk (you’ll need them free to help you clamber over the boulders!)
When should you visit Minyon Falls?
Note that depending on which time of the year you visit the waterfall might be completely dry or there may only be a trickle! Some summers it is completely dry and so it definitely won’t look as impressive as it does after heavy rain.
I visited in mid-September (spring) and this is how the falls looked at this time of year. They were a little underwhelming as there wan’t much water, but I went in totally the wrong season. It was still impressive, but definitely not the best waterfall I have seen. Hopefully you will visit when the water is a lot more powerful and you can get better pictures than I did!
So in conclusion:
Park at Minyon Grass and walk down and up the same path if you just want to walk 4km as opposed to 8km. If you want to do the full loop, park your car at Minyon Falls Lookout, walk to the falls then head up to Minyon Grass before completing the last part of the journey on the road.