National Pass - Blue Mountains - Australia

The Grand Stairway

As the trail bends back into the rockface, we get our first view of the hand-carved stone steps that will take us straight down the sandstone escarpment.

Short Steps on Grand StairwayI'm constantly amused by the steps that were originally carved too steep for those of us challenged by short legs. Later attempts to carve two steps into one are greatly appreciated.

Steep the steps may be, but without them this direct access to the falls would not exist. They follow a zig-zag path like a stairwell with ample railings and steel ropes secured to the cliff face.

Going up or down, I always welcome the flat portions as places to rest and marvel at how the views to Mount Solitary change as we quickly drop into, or climb out of, the rainforest cloaking the mid-level of the falls.

We finish our giant staircase descent via several hairpin bends and switchbacks to enter a thick grove of cool rainforest.

This part of the track reminds me of a scene from one of Tolkien's novels as we descend into the world of mystery and magical life forms.

We step on a dreamlike path of old sandstone stepping stones through a suddenly-darkened world with the ever-increasing thunder of Wentworth Falls adding to the mystery.

Building the National Pass

The National Pass hiking track was built with picks, shovels, crowbars and dynamite between 1906 and 1907. It involved cutting a zig-zag staircase into a cliff face and became a very popular walking trail.   Learn more

Restoring the Trail

After 95 years service, the track had to be closed in 2002. Bushfires, rain storms and landslides played havoc with fencing and wooden bridges. The $1.5 million restoration project won a National Trust award.   Learn more

Bushwalking Tips

Walking this historic trail will be more enjoyable if you prepare well. Bring a camera and binoculars if you can. Make sure you have adequate clothing should the weather change. Carry water and snacks. Don't stray off the trail.