I’ve done the Katoomba to Wentworth Falls bushwalk in both directions, first as an overnight walk from Katoomba to Wentworth Falls, and a year later as a day-walk from Wentworth Falls to Katoomba. The Katoomba to Wentworth Falls route is more commonly done as an overnight bushwalk (with multiple camping sites along the way), but can also be completed as a fairly demanding day-walk. The advantage of starting at Wentworth Falls is that you’re not finishing with the rather soul-destroying walk up the Sublime Point Trail and Kedumba River Road, and once you reach Katoomba there are multiple options for extending or reducing the walk.
For my second (solo) Katoomba to Wentworth Falls walk, I’m staying at the Grand View Hotel in Wentworth so I can get an early start the following morning. It’s misty and still a little dark when I set out around 6am, starting at Wilson Park. The Charles Darwin Walk follows Jamison Creek, with the boardwalk and bush track traversing open forest, shrub, and hanging swamps.
There are many rock pools and small cascades along the creek, as it gently descends through the Council reserve.
Just after the junction with the Weeping Rock Track (which marks the national park boundary), is Weeping Rock. Jamison Creek tumbles over a large platform, before cascading down the rocks to a small pool below.
A small detour to Fletchers Lookout provides a nice view of the Upper Wentworth Falls, where Jamison Creek plunges into the Jamison Valley. There’s also a great view into the Jamison Valley – but with the low cloud, I can’t see beyond the nearest cliff.
Once back on the Weeping Rock Track, I pass the Queen’s Cascades, which are just above the top of Wentworth Falls.
Shortly after this small waterfall, keep left on the Rocket Point Circuit, which heads towards Tableland Road. The road is initially sealed up to the Old Queen Victoria Hospital (if you’re coming from Katoomba, once you reach the old hospital you can get a taxi up to Wentworth Falls station.) The Kings Tableland Road continues another 20km as a 4WD and mountain-biking trail, to the McMahons Point lookout. Veer right onto Kedumba Valley Road, an unsealed road that’s closed to card and mountain bikes (as it goes through a water catchment area restricted zone).
The Kings Tableland area is one of the most historically important areas in the Blue Mountains, having been used as an Aboriginal Gathering Place for over 10,000 years. Not that I really appreciated the history of the area when I trudged up the never-ending Kedumba Valley Road on a hot afternoon – it’s much more pleasant hiking down! If you’re coming from Katoomba, make sure you’ve got plenty of water from Kedumba River (treatment needed) before you start the long ascent. Look out for the junction with the Sublime Point management trail junction (-33.78044, 150.37679) and then another one with the Mount Solitary Track, a bushwalking trail.
Eventually you reach Kedumba River, crossed via a large log – or by walking through the shallow water (note that the river has a large catchment and may be impassable after rain). Although the water looks clear, the river starts in Katoomba before flowing over the Katoomba Falls and through the Jamison and Kedumba valleys before reaching its the Coxs River – so treating this water before drinking is essential!
There’s no official camping site here – but there are a few places you could camp near the river crossing. (There’s also the Kedumba River Crossing campground – bookings required via NPWS web site – but this requires an additional 3.3km walking down Kedumba River Road from the Sublime Point management trail junction.)
After crossing Kedumba River there’s a pretty gruelling ascent, with 700m of elevation gain/loss from the river to the Mount Solitary summit plateau. The lower part of the track is through casuarina forest, before the forest changes to eucalyptus. About halfway up is a saddle with a small campsite. The very last part of the track is an almost vertical scramble up the final cliff edge to the top.
Mount Solitary has a long summit plateau, so the track continues to ascend more gently towards the highest point. There’s another campsite at the western end of the summit; the more popular camping areas ate at Singa-Jingawell Creek and Chinaman’s Creek. Both used to hve fairly reliable water in the creek, but now there’s a good chance both creeks will be dry if it hasn’t reecntly rained. On my overnight trip, we camped at Chinaman’s Creek where some large overhangs provide additional shelter [update: camping may no longer be permissable at Chinaman’s Creek ,as it’s been recognised as an Aboriginal heritage site].
Just above Chinaman’s Creek campsite is Melville’s Lookout, a rock platform on the edge of the summit plateau, which provides an expansive view to the south over Lake Burrogorang.
Mount Solitary’s highest point is about 700m after Chinaman’s Creek, and there’s another two informal campsites on either side of this high point. At the end of Mount Solitary is the Korrowall Knife-edge, a series of rock walls that provides access to Mount Solitary. The track initially passes between two large boulders, before climbing vertically up some rocks and through crevices in othes to reach to the top. There’s a few vantage points along the ascent of the cliffs that form the edge of the Blue Mountains escarpment.
Directly ahead you can see Ruined Castle – the small hill topped by a big rock – which is a short detour off the Mount Solitary track.
From the bottom of the Korrowall Knife-edge the track continues to descend gently, before ascending again to the junction of the Ruined Castle Track. Around Ruined Castle are a few campsites, although none have reliable water. (They are a good option if you are starting late in the day.)
It’s worth doing the detour to Ruined Castle, if you have the energy… it’s a short (but steep) climb up to a rocky outcrop in the middle of the Jamison Valley. There are fantastic 360-degree views, with Castle Head to the north.
To the south is Mount Solitary, where I’ve just come from, with the Korrowall Knife-edge providing access to the summit plateau.
From Ruined Castle, the Mount Solitary Walking Track becomes the Federal Pass. It’s now fairly easy walking along the valley (the track follows a horse-drawn coal tram route) through tall forest. A sign marks the Golden Staircase, a steep climb up to Glenraphael Drive – this is the first of a few exit routes if you’re coming from Wentworth Falls, although unless you call a taxi it’s a fairly long road-walk from the top into Katoomba.
The Federal Pass continues along the valley, and is one of my favourite parts of the walk. Some sections are a bit rough, especially where the path traverses The Landslide, but most of it is through deep and shaded rainforest.
The next exit options are the Scenic Railway (the steepest railway in the world) and Furber Steps, both of which end up at Scenic World in Katoomba (a 2.8km walk or bus to Katoomba Station).
Continue until the intersection with the Dardenelles Track, just below Echo Point, which climbs gently up to the Giant Stairway. Originally constructed in 1909, the Giant Stairway consists of 998 steel and stone steps that ascend steeply up to the base of the Three Sisters.
The Honeymoon Bridge connects the Giant Stairway to the base of the first Sister. There’s some nice views over the Jamison Valley from this popular destination.
From Echo Point it’s a 2.6km walk (or bus ride) to Katoomba Station – a similar distance as it is from Scenic World.
The total length from Katoomba to Wentworth Falls is 32km; you can decrease the length by starting (or finishing) near the old Queen Victoria hospital on Tableland Road, and if starting at Wentworth Falls you could even avoid the last ascent by catching the Scenic Railway up. The toughest section is the ascent (if you’re starting at Wentworth Falls) up from the Kedumba River to the top of Mount Solitary; in the other direction you’ve got the steep descent down Mt Solitary, followed by a very long and grinding walk up Kedumba River Road to Wentworth Falls… try and avoid either of these ascents in the middle of the day in summer.
0.0km Wilson Park, Wentworth Falls 2.4km Junction with Weeping Rock Track 2.5km Queens Cascades 3.8km Tableland Road 6.8km Veer onto Kedumba River Road 8.3km National Park boundary (locked gate) 11.4km Kedumba River Road / Sublime Point management trail junction 11.8km Sublime Point management trail / Mount Solitar track junction 13.8km Kedumba River crossing (178m) 17.3km Singa-Jingawell Creek Campsite 19.0km Chinanans Gully campsite 19.8km Mount Solitary (highest point at 975m) 20.1km Corrowal Knife 21.8km Ruined Castle track junction (north) 22.9km Ruined Castle track junction (south) 25.4km Junction with Golden Staircase (first exit point} 28.5km Scenic Railway (bottom station) 28.6km Furber Steps (exit point) 30.5km Junction with Dardenelles Pass 31.0km Junction with Giant Stairway 32.0km Echo Point
Best time of year for Katoomba to Wentworth Falls walk
Although it gets fairly cold in winter, you can do this bushwalk at any time of the year. There are some tough ascents and descents, so carry plenty of water in summer. The best time of year is spring and autumn.
Accommodation near Ruined Castle
If you’re doing this bushwalk as a day trip, you may want to stay in Katoomba or Wentworth Falls so you can get an eatly start. I stayed at the Grand View Hotel at Wentworth Falls, which offers basic accommodation. There’s a lot more accommodation at the Katoomba end of the bushwalk.