Golden Staircase to Mt Solitary via Ruined Castle
Dharug & Gundungurra Country

5 h 30 min to 7 h 30 min

11.9 km
return

↑ 1065 m
↓ -1065 m

Very challenging
With quite significant hills, this is a great walk is for the day-walker looking for something more challenging than the average Katoomba cliff top walk. With fantastic views at Botting's Lookout, from the top of the Ruined Castle, and especially good views from Mt Solitary, this walk is well worth the time invested. Let us begin by acknowledging the Dharug & Gundungurra people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we travel today, and pay our respects to their Elders past and present. 
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The Golden Staircase Carpark. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Katoomba Cliffs from Botting's Lookout. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
From Mt Solitary. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Going down the Golden Staircase. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
Going through the fern environment in the valley. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2008.
The Ruined Castle. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2007.
The view from the top of Mt Solitary. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2007.
Going up Mt Solitary. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2007.
The campsite at the top of Mt Solitary. | Photo by Matt McClelland (wildwalks), 2007.
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Warning
This journey requires significant bushwalking experience, specialised equipment and navigation skills.
Please ensure you and your group well prepared and equiped for this journey.

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Safer Bushwalks
Tips on staying safe on track
Before you start any bushwalk ensure you;
• Tell someone you trust where you are going and what to do if you are overdue
• Have adequate equipment, supplies, skills & knowledge for the whole journey
• Consider the impact of weather forecasts, park/track closures & fire dangers
• Can respond to emergencies & call for help at any point
• Are healthy and fit enough for this journey
If not, change plans and stay safe. It is okay to delay and ask people for help.
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Getting There
Transport options and directions
Start At the intersection of Golden Stairs & Glenraphael Drive (-33.7344207,150.2823585)
Mode Car (There is free parking available.)
DirectionsFrom Great Western Highway, A32
  • Turn on to Bathurst Road, BMD then drive for 75 m
  • Turn right onto Bathurst Road, BMD and drive for another 145 m
  • Turn left onto Valley Road, BMD and drive for another 1.8 km
  • Turn slight left onto Cliff Drive, BMD and drive for another 210 m
  • At roundabout, take exit 3 onto Cliff Drive, BMD and drive for another 770 m
  • Turn sharp right onto Glenraphael Drive and drive for another 990 m
  • Keep left onto Glenraphael Drive and drive for another 870 m
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Track Notes
Turn by turn instructions & maps
Getting started
From the Golden Stairs car park and information sign on Glenraphael Dr, the walk follows the 'Golden Stairs / To Federal Pass' sign along the narrow track. The track leads gently downhill past the black and yellow 'Warning - Sections of the Golden Stairs are unfenced and can be slippery when wet' sign, with the occasional glimpse out to Malaita Point and towards the Three Sisters. The walk soon heads down a few steep eroded sections of track and passes through a couple of switchbacks. The track then leads to a fenced rock platform signposted as 'Botting's L.O.'.....
Turn map Directions & comments
At the intersection of Golden Stairs & Glenraphael Drive Start heading along Golden Stairs (a walking track).
Find the Golden Stairs Car Park at the start.
After 35 m pass the sign (5 m on your left).
After another 150 m find the "Botting's Lookout" (5 m on your left).
Botting's Lookout
Botting's Lookout

Botting's Lookout offers great views over the Jamison Valley and the cliff line, including the Landslide, Malaita Point and the Golden Stairs. A plaque at the lookout states that the lookout was named after Walter Botting (1887-1985), a pioneer trail-maker of the Katoomba District.
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Botting's Lookout offers great views over the Jamison Valley and the cliff line, including the Landslide, Malaita Point and the Golden Stairs. A plaque at the lookout states that the lookout was named after Walter Botting (1887-1985), a pioneer trail-maker of the Katoomba District.

After another 500 m (at the intersection of Federal Pass & Golden Stairs) turn sharp right, to head along Federal Pass.
After another 25 m pass the sign (on your right).
After another 1.7 km come to the camp site (10 m on your right).
Open fires are not allowed.
After another 660 m find the "Miners Campsite" (10 m on your right).
Miners Campsite
Miners Campsite

This flat campsite beside the Federal Pass walking track about 2.2km south of the intersection at the bottom of the Golden Stairs. There is short constructed stone wall left over from when there area was habited by miners. The campsite is surrounded by a tall forest, bracken ferns and some nice fern trees. There is no water or facilities.
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This flat campsite beside the Federal Pass walking track about 2.2km south of the intersection at the bottom of the Golden Stairs. There is short constructed stone wall left over from when there area was habited by miners. The campsite is surrounded by a tall forest, bracken ferns and some nice fern trees. There is no water or facilities.

The starting point of an alternate route. An alternative route linking Northern Ruined Castle campsite to Intersection South of Ruined Castle. To take the alternate route turn left here. Details below.
After another 155 m (at the intersection of Ruined Castle Track & Federal Pass) veer right, to head along Ruined Castle Track.
After another 115 m pass the toilet (25 m on your left).
After another 155 m come to the camp site (on your right).
After another 440 m continue straight, to head along Ruined Castle Track.
After another 70 m find the "The Ruined Castle" (15 m on your left).
The Ruined Castle
The Ruined Castle

A formation jutting out of the Jamison Valley, the Ruined Castle has great views of the Jamison Valley from Katoomba to Leura. It is also possible to see Mt Solitary to the south-east.
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A formation jutting out of the Jamison Valley, the Ruined Castle has great views of the Jamison Valley from Katoomba to Leura. It is also possible to see Mt Solitary to the south-east.

After another 15 m pass the "The Ruined Castle" (8 m on your left).
The alternate route finishes here. Continue straight to rejoin the main route at the 4.3 km waypoint. Details below.
After another 280 m (at the intersection of Mount Solitary Walking Track & Ruined Castle Track) turn right, to head along Mount Solitary Walking Track.
After another 25 m pass the sign (on your left).
After another 740 m come to the camp site (6 m on your right).
After another 255 m come to the camp site (on your right).
After another 390 m come to the viewpoint (on your left).
After another 70 m come to the viewpoint (on your left).
Continue another 140 m to find the end. Then turn around here and retrace the main route for 5.9 km to get back to the start.

An alternative route linking Northern Ruined Castle campsite to Intersection South of Ruined Castle.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
After 20 m pass the sign (on your left).
After another 20 m find the "Northern Ruined Castle campsite" (on your left).
Northern Ruined Castle campsite
Northern Ruined Castle campsite

A short distance south east of the intersection with the Federal Pass and the northern access track to the Ruined Castle, is a fairly large basic campsite. There are two main flat areas for camping, both with fire scares. The area is surround with tall trees and ferns. There is no water nor any other facilities.
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A short distance south east of the intersection with the Federal Pass and the northern access track to the Ruined Castle, is a fairly large basic campsite. There are two main flat areas for camping, both with fire scares. The area is surround with tall trees and ferns. There is no water nor any other facilities.

After another 540 m pass the "Ruined Castle campsite" (10 m on your left).
Then pass the picnic table (15 m on your left).
Then pass the shelter (20 m on your left).
After another 50 m find the "Ruined Castle mine campsite" (10 m on your left).
Ruined Castle mine campsite
Ruined Castle mine campsite

This campsite is almost due east of Ruined Castle, just off the track that leads around the base of hill. The campsite is down a short but steep bank near the site of an old mine. The are a few campsites scattered along the flat area, mostly surrounded by some tall stringy barks. There are a few fire scars and some filtered valley views. A pleasant spot to stay. There was once a water spring nearby, but this is no longer reliable, you will need to carry in your own water.
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This campsite is almost due east of Ruined Castle, just off the track that leads around the base of hill. The campsite is down a short but steep bank near the site of an old mine. The are a few campsites scattered along the flat area, mostly surrounded by some tall stringy barks. There are a few fire scars and some filtered valley views. A pleasant spot to stay. There was once a water spring nearby, but this is no longer reliable, you will need to carry in your own water.

After another 340 m come to the end.
A sign.
At the end of this alternate route, rejoin the main route.
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Terrain
Know the Hills, grading & facilities

Golden Staircase to Mt Solitary via Ruined Castle


Grading
Class 5/6
Very challenging
Length 11.9 km
Time 5 h 30 min to 7 h 30 min
Quality of track Rough unclear track (5/6)
Gradient Very steep and difficult rock scrambles (5/6)
Signage No directional signs (5/6)
Infrastructure No facilities provided (5/6)
Experience Required High level of bushwalking experience recommended (5/6)
Weather Foretasted & unexpected storms and severe weather may impact on navigation and safety (4/6)

Some facilities on route
Campsite: There are 7 on route, on average they are 1.6 km apart with the largest gap of 6.5 km.

Shelter: There is one 3.2 km (plus an extra 550 m along side route) from the start.

Toilet: There is one 3.4 km from the start.


Order of key facilities on route
ItemFrom StartName & link to notes
Camp site
2.4 km[camp site]
Campsite
3.1 kmMiners Campsite
Campsite
3.2 kmNorthern Ruined Castle campsite
Shelter
3.2 km[shelter]
Campsite
3.2 kmRuined Castle mine campsite
Toilet
3.4 km[toilet]
Camp site
3.5 km[camp site]
Camp site
5.1 km[camp site]
Camp site
5.3 km[camp site]
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