Last updated: June 10, 2023
The Giant Stairway to Furber Steps Loop in the Katoomba area of the Blue Mountains is a fantastic hike that includes two iconic staircases.
This moderately challenging walking track is one of the best in the Blue Mountains, with panoramic valley views, unique rock formations, beautiful forests, and much more.
Keep reading to find out more about the highlights of this walk, where best to start, and in which direction you should be hiking.
|Giant Stairway to Furber Steps Loop|
|Distance:||6 km (loop)|
|Time:||3 hours (depending on stops)|
How to Get There
Since this is a loop walking trail, there are multiple locations where you can start, i.e. Scenic World, Katoomba Cascades, and Echo Point. In this article, we are starting from Echo Point.
You also have to choose between going clockwise or anti-clockwise. Your choice will depend on where you want to climb out of the valley; at Furber Steps or Giant Stairway.
We recommend going clockwise and descending via the Giant Stairway. The Giant Stairway is more challenging than the Furber Steps and is typically much busier, depending on the time of day. As such, descending via the Giant Stairway and ascending via the Furber Steps is easier.
Echo Point can get very busy with daytrippers and tourists, so it’s best to arrive early to secure a parking spot. If you’re using public transport, buses travel regularly between Katoomba Station and Echo Point.
Below is a map of the walk with the two key milestones:
- Giant Stairway
- Furber Steps
Giant Stairway to Furber Steps Track Notes
As mentioned, we are hiking in a clockwise direction, starting at Echo Point. That means we’ll descend via the Giant Stairway at the Three Sisters and ascend via the Furber Steps at Scenic World.
This is a moderately challenging bushwalk with steps and uneven surfaces, so it’s essential to wear good shoes and bring a bottle of water and perhaps a few snacks.
1. Echo Point
If this is your first time visiting the Echo Point Lookout, it’s worth exploring this beautiful area right next to the Three Sisters.
There are multiple viewing platforms at different levels, each offering panoramic views of Jamison Valley and the Three Sisters from different angles.
To start the walking trail, follow the Three Sisters Walk to the Giant Stairway. You can find the start of that walk just behind the information centre.
2. Giant Stairway
The family-friendly walk to the Three Sisters takes in a few great lookouts before it arrives at a large archway, the entrance to the Giant Stairway.
First opened in 1932, the 540m long Giant Stairway descends more than 300m into Jamison Valley via an impressive piece of engineering.
The structure consists of more than 900 steps in the form of several steel staircases and steps cut from the cliff face.
The Giant Stairway was built to establish a connection between the cliff top at Echo Point and the Federal Pass walking trail in the valley below.
3. Federal Pass
At the bottom of the Giant Stairway is a junction with the Dardanelles Pass.
Turn left at this junction to go to Leura Forest and Leura Cascades, or turn right to hike to the Furber Steps and Scenic World via the Federal Pass.
To continue the loop, turn right at this junction to do a long section of the Federal Pass that swirls around the bottom of the Three Sisters and then onto the Furber Steps.
This 2 km section is a true bushwalking adventure through a scenic forest environment, right under the cliffs surrounding the Jamison Valley.
Towards the end of this section, the walking track crosses the Kedumba River at the base of Katoomba Falls via a small footbridge named Cooks Crossing.
4. Furber Steps
A short while after crossing the river, the trail arrives at a junction where the mighty Furber Steps start.
At this junction, the Federal Pass continues westbound past the Scenic World Valley Stations all the way to Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary.
However, to start the ascent out of the valley, turn right at this junction to begin the challenging climb via the Furber Steps.
While climbing the Furber Steps is indeed quite challenging, there are multiple vantage points over the Three Sisters and Katoomba Falls, where you can take a break and enjoy the views.
The impressive Queen Vitoria Lookout is one of those vantage points.
5. Katoomba Falls
Once you’ve conquered the Furber Steps, you can do a detour to visit Katoomba Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in the Blue Mountains.
This detour is part of the Katoomba Falls Round Walk that starts from Scenic World. Follow the signs to find that short detour to the waterfall.
From Katoomba Falls, stay on the Katoomba Falls Round Walk to climb back up to higher ground via Witches Leap, a small waterfall over a rock face.
6. Katoomba Cascades
Once you’ve reached higher ground, the trail continues eastbound along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk with several lookout points to explore.
The Duke & Duchess of York Lookout offers incredible views of the Jamison Valley, and with a bit of patience, you can see the Scenic Skyway flying past.
From this vantage point, follow the walking trail along the Kedumba River heading toward the Katoomba Cascades.
The Katoomba Cascades is a picturesque water spectacle on the Kedumba River, with a large picnic area just north of the cascades. It’s a popular spot in the Blue Mountains, with various lookout points nearby to explore.
From the cascades, walk up the stairs to Cliff Drive, and find the connecting walking trail signposted as Prince Henry Cliff Walk.
7. Prince Henry Cliff Walk
The last section between the cascades and Echo Point is perhaps the best part of the entire loop. It forms part of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk that continues all the way to Leura.
There are several fantastic lookout points along this clifftop walking trail, such as Cliff View Lookout, Allambie Lookout, and Lady Darley’s Lookout.
The Cliff View Lookout is the most impressive lookout point along this stretch, as it offers not only great Jamison Valley views, but you can also see the Scenic Skyway flying over.
From this lookout, it’s another 1 km of hiking along the clifftop back to Echo Point, where you can go and get some lunch, head into Katoomba town, or travel to your next Blue Mountains adventure.