Ruined Castle Walk Including the Golden Stairs

Last updated: July 26, 2022

Starting at the challenging Golden Stairs, the Ruined Castle Walk is a popular bushwalking track near Katoomba that leads to a unique landmark in the Blue Mountains.

It’s a beautiful hike through a lush rainforest setting, while enjoying scenic views of Jamison Valley, the Three Sisters, Castle Head, and Mount Solitary when on top of the Ruined Castle.

Read on, and find out more about this unique walking track, how best to get there, and what the highlights are.

Ruined Castle Walk
Distance: 7.5km (return)
Time: 4-5 hours
Grade: Hard (very steep sections)
Dogs: Not allowed
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Update 2022:
Please note that Glenraphael Drive is currently closed due to a landslide which means the walking track to Ruined Castle via Golden Stairs is not accessible. Check the NSW National Parks website for the latest updates.

How to Get There

The Ruined Castle walk starts at the small Golden Stairs car park on Glenraphael Drive (see map location).

To get to that car park, turn into Glenraphael Drive from Cliff Drive (close to Scenic World) and follow this road for about ten minutes until you get to the Golden Stairs signpost.

This is the starting point of the Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary walk. It also connects with the classic Federal Pass walking track, which goes in the other direction to Katoomba and Leura.

Start of the Golden Stairs and Ruined Castle Walk
Start of the Golden Stairs and Ruined Castle Walk

Please note that Glenraphael Drive is an unsealed road. While this road is manageable by 2WD vehicles, we recommend going there with a 4WD car with higher ground clearance to avoid unwanted damage.


Here is a map with the walk starting from the Golden Stairs and going all the way to the Ruined Castle:

Map and route of the Ruined Castle Walk

Ruined Castle Track Notes

Once you’ve parked your car, it’s time to start the walk!

Golden Stairs

The Golden Stairs starts as soon as you head into the bush at the signpost. Going down the stairs may not feel as challenging, but you will notice how steep it is.

Going back up on the return trip will feel like an intense workout, so make sure you keep a good amount of water for that last stretch of the walk.

Views from Botting's Lookout
Views from Botting’s Lookout

Halfway the Golden Stairs is the Botting’s Lookout, which offers panoramic views of Jamison Valley, the Katoomba Landslide, and the Three Sisters.

This lookout was named after Walter Botting, a Blue Mountains City Council Ranger and pioneer track maker in the Katoomba area.

Ruined Castle walking path through the valley
Through the rainforest in the valley

The track quickly descends into the valley, where you will enter a new world of thriving, lush rainforests. It’s an absolute delight hiking through this refreshing scenery, with many bird sounds as a bonus.

It’s hard to imagine that this section of the track was once part of an old coal mining route going through the Jamison Valley in the 19th century.

Castle Head

After about an hour of hiking through the rainforest in the valley, turn right at the intersection, going up the hill towards the Ruined Castle.

As you get higher up, the majestic sight of Castle Head will start to appear right behind you.

Intersection Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary
Intersection Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary

Castle Head is a headland on the Narrow Neck Peninsula just south of Katoomba. It was named Castle Head because it stands right in front and above the Ruined Castle.

There is in fact a walking track to Castle Head, starting from Narrow Neck, which offers fantastic views of Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary from above. That’s a great walk and worth the effort.

Ruined Castle

As you get closer to Ruined Castle, you will see several boulders that look like they don’t belong there at all.

And that’s precisely what makes the Ruined Castle so fascinating. It’s an unusual rock formation in the middle of nowhere, located on top of a ridge between Castle Head and Mount Solitary. Go figure!

Ruined Castle from close by
Ruined Castle from close by

Sitting on top of Ruined Castle, you can get a good feel of the surrounding scenery, with Jamison Valley in the east, Castle Head to the north, and Mount Solitary on the opposite side. It’s a beautiful and somewhat surreal landscape.

The track continues around the Ruined Castle via two steep sections back into the valley. At the next intersection, turn left, heading back towards the Golden Stairs and Katoomba.

Please note that you don’t need to go around Ruined Castle and do the loop. You can also retrace your steps to return the way you came once you’ve finished exploring the Ruined Castle.

Mount Solitary

If you have time, energy, and water, you could also decide to turn right at that intersection, going to Mount Solitary.

This is a challenging walk though, suitable for experienced bushwalkers, that goes all the way to the top of the mountain.

Valley views with Ruined Castle in the middle
From left to right: Mount Solitary, Ruined Castle, Castle Head

While the views from the mountain are sensational, this walking track passes through very remote areas with sections that are quite hard to navigate.

Many bushwalkers who do the trek to Mount Solitary turn this into a two-day hiking adventure, with an overnight stay on top of the mountains.

If you have some time left on the day, go ahead and visit the Cahill’s Lookout nearby. This lookout offers excellent views of the Megalong Valley and the Narrow Neck Peninsula, and the Ruined Castle can also be seen.

Ruined Castle walk including the Golden Stairs


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  1. How hard is the path to follow? Will I need my map and compass, or can I follow an easy to find route. Some sections along the Federal pass have been broken up due to landslides I noticed the other day.

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