Last updated: January 4, 2024
The Empire Pass and Dantes Glen Waterfall Circuit is a beautiful bushwalking trail in North Lawson, taking in four small but pretty waterfalls.
Over a century old, the not-so-well-known Empire Pass navigates through a scenic rainforest environment along various creeks.
If you’d like to do a shorter walk, the Dantes Glen Track is only 1.8 km long and includes three of the four waterfalls. Keep reading to find out more!
|Empire Pass and Dantes Glen Waterfall Circuit
|5.5 km (circuit)
|2-3 hours (depending on stops)
|Moderate (some steep sections)
|Only allowed in the Dantes Glen area
How to Get There
Because this is a circuit walking trail, there are various entry points, but the best spot to park your car and start hiking is at North Lawson Park at the end of St Bernards Drive (see map location).
To get there, turn into San Jose Avenue from the Great Western Highway and navigate to St Bernards Drive via Park Road. Ample parking is available in the park. Alternatively, Lawson train station is a 20-minute walk away.
As mentioned, there are two circuit walks to choose from. The full Empire Pass and Dantes Glen Waterfall Circuit is 5.5 km long, and the Dantes Glen Walking Track is 1.8 km long. Both walking tracks start from the same location.
Also note that Dantes Glen Walking Track is on Council land and, as such, is dog-friendly (on a lead). The Empire Pass beyond Dantes Glen is on National Park land where dogs are not allowed.
Below is a map of the Empire Pass and Dantes Glen Waterfall Circuit with four waterfalls (5.5 km):
- Dantes Glen
- St Michael’s Falls
- Frederica Falls
- Fairy Falls
And here is a map of the much shorter Dantes Glen Walking Track with three waterfalls (1.8 km):
- Dantes Glen
- St Michael’s Falls
- Fairy Falls
Empire Pass and Dantes Glen Track Notes
The Empire Pass and Dantes Glen Circuit Walk is a moderately challenging hike with a few steep sections and areas with uneven surfaces. Bring hiking shoes and a bottle of water.
If you’re only doing the Dantes Glen Track, look for the turn-off a few hundred metres north of St Michael’s Falls (see notes below).
Once you’re ready to start hiking, look for the signpost as in the picture below and walk straight ahead from there.
1. Dantes Glen
The first section of the waterfall circuit is the Dantes Glen Walking Track.
After approximately 150 metres into the walk, you’ll see a turn-off for the Fairy Falls waterfall, but you will need to go straight ahead to visit the first waterfall of the day: Dantes Glen.
The track descends quickly via various staircases, some with handrails, navigating into a beautiful, lush rainforest environment where the first waterfall awaits.
The Dantes Glen waterfall may not be very big, but it certainly is a beauty. But it’s not just the waterfall that’s pretty; it’s also the peaceful, gully-like surroundings.
2. St Michael’s Falls
From Dantes Glen, continue on the main trail alongside the creek to visit the second waterfall of the day.
After approximately 150 metres, you will need to cross the creek via a set of rocks, after which you will see a signpost for St Michael’s Falls.
It’s only a short detour along the creek to St Michael’s Falls from that signpost. This waterfall is similar to Dantes Glen and just as beautiful.
However, We should mention that the best time to visit these waterfalls in North Lawson is after some rainfall, as that is when you will see more water flowing. During extended dry periods, there may not be any water at all!
3. Frederica Falls
The next waterfall, Frederica Falls, is quite a bit further away, first via the Dantes Glen Walking Track, followed by the Empire Pass Walking Track.
Where the Dantes Glen Walking Track evolves into the Empire Pass Walking Track (signposted), you need to turn right up the stairs if you only want to do the much shorter Dantes Glen circuit walk.
Otherwise, keep going straight via the Empire Pass. Also note that this is where Council land evolves into National Park land, which means dogs cannot go beyond this point.
The Empire Pass to Frederica Falls is easy to follow and is a true bushwalker’s delight. The scenery is beautiful, with the path mostly following the creek, which you’ll cross a few times.
It’s quite a long stretch of walk though, and you may at times feel like you’ve missed Frederica Falls, but not to worry!
Frederica Falls is located at the Empire Pass and North Lawson Fire Trail junction, and you won’t miss it. It’s the smallest of the four waterfalls but certainly very pretty.
4. Fairy Falls
From Frederica Falls, turn right, heading onto the North Lawson Fire Trail, following signs for Echo Point.
This stretch of fire trail is not very exciting (and also quite steep), but there are better things to come.
After approximately 500 metres on the fire trail, you will end up at a gate. On the other side of that gate, turn right, following signs for Echo Point/Bluff. You are now back on the Empire Pass.
After another few hundred metres, make a left turn following signs for Empire Pass and Lawson Park. This is where the final stretch to Fairy Falls begins, navigating through a patch of thriving bushland.
Fairy Falls is not a very big waterfall, but it’s quite wide. The water falls gently over a rock overhang onto a flat rocky platform. It’s a fantastic spot to relax after a few hours of hiking.
Once you’ve finished admiring the beauty of Fairy Falls, it’s only a short stroll back to North Lawson Park!