The Mount Banks Summit Walk

Last updated: July 29, 2021

Mount Banks, with its distinctive rounded peak, is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the greater Blue Mountains region.

Mostly overlooked by tourists, the hike to the summit of Mt Banks offers beautiful views of the surrounding area, a part of the Blue Mountains that is still a bit undiscovered.

In this guide, we’re going to discuss the two trails that go to the summit of this mountain peak, and how best to find these trails.

Mt Banks Summit Walk
Distance: 2.5 km (return) / 4.6 km (circuit)
Time: 1-3 hours
Grade: Moderate (short but steep)
Elevation: 1,049 m
Dogs: Not allowed

How to Get to Mount Banks

The Mount Banks summit walk starts at the Mount Banks picnic area, which has a small car park and toilet facilities (see map location).

From Bells Line of Road, turn into Mount Banks Road at the big signpost. Please note that Mount Banks Rd is a 1km unsealed dirt road, but can certainly be conquered by a conventional 2WD vehicle. Just be cautious especially after a period of rain.

Starting point of the Mount Banks summit walk
Starting point of the Mount Banks summit walk

Mount Banks Rd is located 10km west of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah, and 28km east of Lithgow.

Once you’ve parked your car, look out for the sign that marks the starting point of the hike up to Mount Banks.

Mount Banks Summit Walk

Hiking to the summit of Mount Banks can be done in two ways:

  1. Via the ridge
  2. Via the road

The first track roughly follows the cliff edge all the way to the summit, while the second walking track follows the extension of Mount Banks Road.

This map shows both walking trails:

Map and route of the Mount Banks summit walk

The first option is the shortest and most scenic walking track but it is also very steep. The views of the valley and the various nearby mountain peaks are absolutely breathtaking.

The second option is a bit longer and is not as steep, but it doesn’t offer any good views at all. It’s mainly just the dirt road, without the valley views.

Mount Banks Road
Mount Banks Road

Therefore, the first option is definitely the best option. But if you’d like to do a longer walk, you can also combine the two trails and turn it into a circuit walk.

The intersection of the two walking tracks is clearly signposted just before the top of the mountain.

Grose Valley views from Mount Banks
Grose Valley views from Mount Banks

Please note that the signpost at the car park is a bit confusing.

If you’re choosing the shorter walking track to the summit, you will need to look for the path that starts behind the big rock.

About Mt Banks

With an elevation of 1,049 metres, Mount Banks is an iconic mountain peak located within the Explorers Range of the Blue Mountains region, along the northern escarpment of the Grose Valley.

Millions of years ago, large parts of what is now the Blue Mountains region was covered with volcanic lava flows resulting in layers of basalt.

While erosion has removed most of these basalt layers, in some places the basalt has actually remained.

Mount Banks in the Blue Mountains
Mount Banks in the Blue Mountains

Mount Banks is one of those peaks where the basalt is still present, creating a fertile soil that supports a rich vegetation that is different from other parts of the Blue Mountains.

This is why the summit of Mt Banks is populated with lots of trees.

Sir Joseph Banks

The mountain was named after Sir Joseph Banks by George Caley, an English botanist and explorer and the first European settler to reach the Mt Banks summit in 1804.

Joseph Banks was an English naturalist and botanist who employed George Caley as a botanical collector in New South Wales at the end of the 18th century.

The Summit

Standing on top of Mount Banks may be a bit of a disillusion. There are no 360 degree views as one would typically expect to enjoy on top of a mountain, such as at the Mount Kosciuszko summit.

The top of Mt Banks is very different. It is actually covered with a tall, thriving forest of monkey gums, with a triangulation station erected in the centre.

Summit of Mount Banks
Summit of Mount Banks

So hiking to the summit of Mt Banks is about the achievement, not so much about the amazing views from the top.

Having said that, the views along the way to the summit are absolutely beautiful, and show a different side of the Blue Mountains where not many tourists go.

Beautiful views from Mount Banks
Beautiful views from Mount Banks

Wildlife also thrives at Mount Banks, with wombats, mountain goats and lots of different types of birds claiming this area as their home.

Once you’ve made it to the summit, you can either retrace your steps back to the car park via the same trail, or you can make it a circuit walking track by returning via the second trail.

Mount Banks summit walk intersection
Mount Banks summit walk intersection

Simply look out for the intersection as per the above image, and follow the other trail back to the car park at the picnic area.

The hike to the summit of Mt Banks is one of the many things to do in this part of the Blue Mountains. Check out our guide to the Mount Wilson area for a complete list of hikes and sights nearby.

 

Mount Banks summit walking track

 
 
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4 Comments
  1. Thanks for this article, it was very handy for my visit today. Unfortunately the short steep trail has been closed due to bush fire damage. Yeah the summit of Mt Banks as such is not so amazing, but the walk is very challenging closer to the peak.

    Reply
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