About 80 km northwest of Sydney you can find Blue Mountains National Park. We stayed at Katoomba Falls Caravan Park for a couple of nights, situated right across from one of the three park entry points. So on a beautiful and sunny day, we decided to go for a hike and take in the beautiful scenery and views.
From where we were staying, it was a short walk to Scenic World. From there you can take the scenic skyway, walkway, cableway or railway to explore parts of the national park, provided you pay $35. We however decided we would be hiking through Blue Mountains National Park for free. At this point you’re probably wondering what’s so blue about these mountains. I know I was. Well, the national park is named for the (slightly) blue gleam the valley and mountains have, caused by the eucalyptus trees. Knowing this, we were ready to hike the Blue Mountains National Park.
We started with a lookout at the Katoomba entry point before kicking off our hike with the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. This part of our hike was quite easy: nice pathways, mostly paved, and fenced at the cliff side. Every once in a while we picked up a faint smell of eucalyptus. I wasn’t really convinced of the blue gleam however, but Brecht agreed with the name of the national park. We could already see the Katoomba Cascades from afar, which was amazing. Little did we know about the wonderful views of the waterfall that would follow. We also passed a small, but cute waterfall where we had some fun taking pictures.
All along the trails are beautiful views of the valley below and the mountains on the other side. There are lookouts and viewpoints everywhere, one of them being the Kedumba View. A plate was put up, showing what’s to be seen from that point. We found the ruined castle, but the Kedumba River was probably hidden beneath the trees in the valley.
We continued our hike until we reached the Queen Elizabeth Lookout at Echo Point. This park entry point has ample of parking space, free toilets and an information point. The paths surrounding Echo Point that lead to some amazing viewpoints, are wheelchair accessible, which we find admirable. This is a very busy spot, as hikers and tourists by car come together here to admire the jaw dropping view of The Three Sisters. It’s an eroded ridge formation with three “peaks”, part of The Seven Sisters and of profound spiritual significance for Aboriginal people.
We continued our hike on The Three Sisters Walk and found three (maybe you’ll find more) animal statues along the way, the first one being the peacock welcoming us on the path. We crossed the Honeymoon Bridge to the first one of The Three Sisters, granting us some more nice views.
We had to end up back at the caravan park, so Brecht had planned a loop for us to hike, which included descending the Giant Stairway. As you might have guessed, this is a stairway. It’s called giant because of the 900 steep steps you have to either climb or descend. I remember thinking I was so glad we were descending and not climbing it. While making our way down on this wooden construction, it dawned on me that going down now, meant we had to go up again at some point on the rest of our hike. Although there were some benches on little platforms every now and then to take a break, it was mostly small steep steps downward. I hadn’t thought this through and started preparing myself for hell.
As we neared the end of the stairway our legs were literally shaking from the strain of the descend. We took a short break at the bottom of the stairs before we continued over the Dardanelles Pass and the Federal Pass. These paths were a little more “adventurous”: not paved, surrounded by trees, and no fence on the cliff side. We crossed Cooks Crossing, a bridge over a part of the Katoomba Cascades, but not the most impressive view of the waterfall. On the other side of the bridge there’s a picnic point called Katoomba Falls View, with two picnic tables. Here we had lunch, listening to the sounds of the water falling.
Not much later we reached the inevitable: the path leading back up, called Furber Steps. Although I was prepared to die (not literally of course), it ended up being a much nicer and a lot more fun climb than the Giant Stairway would have been. There are plenty of steps as well, 909 steps to be precise, we counted them personally. They are not as steep though and it’s more of a path with carved steps going up (and sometimes down) instead of a wooden stairway. There are flat pieces as well, so you don’t have to be climbing constantly, but you have time to catch your breath without having to stop hiking. If you want some exercise though, feel free to hike this loop the other way around and climb the Giant Stairway.
At certain points on the stairs there are plates put up, showing you the way to small detours. Vera’s Grotto is one of them and we really recommend to make the small detour, it was absolutely beautiful! It leads to a waterfall (not the Katoomba Cascades) and will make for some great pictures.
The various lookouts you pass while climbing the Furber Steps are a nice distraction and comfortable break from the climb. The Furber Lookout made for an absolutely amazing view over the valley, and the Lynes Lookout provides the best view of the Katoomba Cascades, in our humble opinion. The Queen Victoria Lookout showed us The Three Sisters once again, still looking great and majestic from afar. At this point you’re near the end of the hike, but if you can handle a 10 minute detour including an extra 100 steps (one way, so 200 retour), you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous part of the Katoomba Cascades up close. So don’t miss out on this Underfalls Walk!
We arrived at our starting point feeling quite exhausted, but exhilarated as well. What a beautiful hike with great views! We felt like we had just discovered the perfect way of hiking the Blue Mountains: the right direction (descending instead of climbing the Giant Stairway) and the right starting point (ending with the climb up the Furber steps). This adventure took us 4 hours, including a lunch and cookie break, and many and more stops for taking these amazing pictures. Do bring enough water, mosquito spray, and a sweater for when it gets a little chilly under the trees. Depending on when you start, don’t forget lunch. And most importantly: enjoy and be amazed by the stunning views of Blue Mountains National Park!
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