Time:5 hrs
Distance:14km
Fitness:EM
Skill:EM
Ascent:610m
Maps: LPI Jamison 8930-2N 1:25000
LPI Katoomba 8930-1S 1:25000
Sketch maps: Sketch map 1 PDF
Notes:Print-friendly notes (opens in new window)
Please note that while the maps on this web site are useful and generally contain more, and more accurate, information on trails, the relevant topographic maps should be carried on most walks. These are available from the Lands Information Centre, map shops, and most outdoor stores.

Introduction

The Ruined Castle with Mt Solitary in the background

Mt Solitary is an isolated sandstone plateau, easily visible from Echo Point, that stands alone in the Jamison Valley below Katoomba. From its flat top there are excellent views of Narrow Neck and the Jamison Valley, as well as south to Lake Burragorang. The day walk to its summit is a reasonable challenge, with a 320m climb from the low point at Cedar Gap, and some rock scrambling and mild exposure up the knife-edge ridge to the first peak.

The walk is best done in the cooler months as the steep climb up and down the ridge is in the sun, and there are limited options for water.

Access

The Mt Solitary walk as described below starts at the Golden Stairs car park on Narrow Neck. Head along Cliff Dr from Scenic World in Katoomba. After passing several lookouts, turn left into Glenraphael Dr, which immediately turns into a dirt road. This is normally 2WD accessible. Follow the road out along Narrow Neck, and after about 2km park at the parking area at the top of the Golden Stairs.

It is also possible to start from the Scenic Railway, either by catching the railway down, or descending the Furber Steps, and then walking along the Federal Pass track past the Landslide to the foot of the Golden Stairs. This adds an approximately 3km of walking each way.

Alternatively, it is a 4km walk from Katoomba Station to the Golden Stairs. There are also buses from Katoomba station to the Scenic Railway.

Track notes

From 26 Aug 2001, last checked 25 Oct 2015

From the Golden Stairs car park, the Golden Stairs descend steeply and quickly to the Federal Pass walking track below. Turn right at the track junction and head along the track (signposted) towards the Ruined Castle. The track to the Ruined Castle is very flat, as it follows the line of an old shale railway that used to haul shale from mines out near the Ruined Castle. You can also see coal on the ground at various points from other old mining operations in the area. The track passes into deep rainforest in the shadow of the cliffs, with giant tree ferns and coachwood abounding. After some distance the forest opens out with large eucalypts.

About 2.5km along the trail you reach a toilet on the left of the track, and a track junction, with a sign to the right to the rock formation known as the Ruined Castle. Head up this track. It climbs quickly up to a saddle, and then left to the top of the ridge, where it continues relatively gently to a large collection of rocky boulders. This is the Ruined Castle, and a good spot to climb up to for morning tea break.

Continue along the track down the other side of the Ruined Castle ridge to where it rejoins the main track a little way before the saddle at Cedar Gap.

From there the path heads up, over a couple of knolls, to where the ridge steepens, up the Korrowall Knife Edge. There are two main sets of broken clifflines, which involve some scrambling and mild exposure in places. Most of the scrambles are easy - a couple of them may be tricky for some people. A flat section of a couple of hundred metres separates the two steeper sections. Keep to the middle of the ridge as much as possible to avoid false tracks that drop off the sides. There is one alternate path that leaves the main track at the end of the flat section, traversing on the right of the ridge before climbing a small gully and zigzagging up to the first summit. Either way, it is about 1.5km of climbing from Cedar Gap to the first peak, topped by a grove of casuarinas.

Another kilometre of walking and a short, steep descent brings you to Chinamans Gully, a popular camping spot. A short (50m) track to the south from here leads to a lookout, with views of Lake Burragorang. This is a great spot for lunch, with outstanding views.

After a break for lunch return back the way you came. The Ruined Castle can be bypassed on the return trip by continuing along the main track. Rain water can usually be obtained from the tanks at the NPWS camp site on the east side of the track between the two turnoffs to the Ruined Castle. There is also a toilet and two shelter tables here.

Climbing up the Koorawall Knife Edge

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Personal reports

25/10/2015 - Mt Solitary Cleanup: Golden Stairs - Cedar Gap - Mt Solitary - Chinamans Gully - return: We walked to Chinamans Gully picking up rubbish along the track and at all of the campsites along the way. Unfortunately there was a lot of toilet paper, both fresh and old, as well as unburied excrement on top of Mt Solitary and at Chinamans Gully. An abandoned campfire on Mt Solitary was still smouldering, with many recently burnt tins left sitting inside. It's hard to know what goes through some people's heads. (photos)

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