Federal Pass Walking Track in the Blue Mountains

Last updated: April 17, 2024

The Federal Pass walking track is one of the most iconic and challenging walks in the Blue Mountains, exploring old bushland trails in the Katoomba and Leura areas.

This classic hike follows the base of the cliffs, from Leura to the Golden Stairs and Ruined Castle, passing through beautiful bushland scenery.

There are various entry and exit points to the walk, which means you don’t have to do the whole Federal Pass in one go. Each of these points involves a challenging descent into, or climb out of, the valley.

Federal Pass
Distance: 13 km (one-way)
Duration: 5-8 hours
Grade: Hard
Dogs: Not allowed

Sections of the Federal Pass

With 13 km one way, the Federal Pass walking track is very long. Most people opt not to do the whole route in one go and instead conquer this hike in smaller sections.

In this article, we’ve divided the Federal Pass into four sections, with clear start and end points. Each section below comes with a map that will give you a rough idea of where this section is located.

Overall, the Federal Pass is well sign-posted. The track itself can be challenging at times, but it’s pretty easy to follow from start to finish.

Federal Pass signpost
Federal Pass

Federal Pass sections:

  1. Leura Cascades to Giant Stairway
  2. Giant Stairway to Furber Steps
  3. Furber Steps to Golden Stairs
  4. Golden Stairs to Ruined Castle

Entry and exit points:

  1. Leura Cascades (via Fern Bower)
  2. Giant Stairway
  3. Furber Steps
  4. Golden Stairs
Important:
The Federal Pass is a long hike where sections may be closed at short notice due to landslides or storm damage. Before going to the Blue Mountains to do the Federal Pass, it’s important to check the NSW National Parks website for the latest updates on closures.

1. Leura Cascades to Giant Stairway

Federal Pass section 1

From Leura Cascades, you can access the start of the Federal Pass walking track via the Bridal Veil Falls Circuit and Fern Bower Track.

The track from Leura Cascades and Fern Bower to the Giant Stairway goes through Leura Forest, which is so peaceful and quiet that it makes you feel like you’re far away from civilization.

Towards the end of this first section, you can either continue the Federal Pass or exit via the Giant Stairway. Just know that this climb up the stairs is very challenging!

2. Giant Stairway to Furber Steps

Federal Pass section 2

This second section follows the bush trail from the Giant Stairway to the Furber Steps and the Scenic World valley station in the Katoomba area, passing the base of Katoomba Falls.

The Furber Steps allow you to exit the Federal Pass and hike back up to the Katoomba Falls Walk and Scenic World on Cliff Drive.

The other option is to catch a ride on the Scenic Railway from the valley station back up to Scenic World. The valley station is not too far away from the bottom end of the Furber Steps.

3. Furber Steps to Golden Stairs

Federal Pass section 3

The third section brings you to the base of the Golden Stairs at the Narrow Neck Plateau on the western side of the Katoomba area.

One of the landmarks in this section is the Landslide, a vertical cliff where, in 1931, a series of significant rockslides occurred. There are some vantage points along the walking track with good views of this cliff from below.

From the Landslide, it’s a pleasant walk through a dense forest, following the base of the cliffs, to the Golden Stairs.

4. Golden Stairs to Ruined Castle

Federal Pass section 4

According to NSW National Parks (and Google Maps), this final section is officially part of the Federal Pass, but it can be considered optional.

It’s hard to imagine now, but the trail to Ruined Castle was once part of an old coal mining route through the Jamison Valley in the 19th century.

After about an hour of hiking on this trail from the Golden Stairs, turn right at the intersection going up the hill to the Ruined Castle, a unique rock formation located on top of a ridge between Castle Head and Mount Solitary.

Once you’ve finished exploring Ruined Castle, you have the option to continue your hiking adventure to Mount Solitary, or you can make your way back to the Golden Stairs!

Keen to do more great hikes? Check out our list of the best walking tracks in the Blue Mountains for some great ideas and options!
 

Federal Pass Walking Track in the Blue Mountains

 

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2 Comments
  1. Great article.

    Watch out for snakes (I’ve seen Red Bellied Blacks, and Eastern Browns personally) along Federal Pass between the Giant Stairway to Furber Steps section of this track (stairs to stairs is a grueling trek in itself).

    Just keep your eyes open and ears alert though as you hear them moving through the bush, unlike a bush turkey/wallaby/bird the noise is constant. In all instances they’ll normally go about their business if you don’t provoke or intimidate them, and remember proper bushwalker etiquette and let others know when you pass them on track.

    Reply
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