Mt Solitary & Ruined Castle Track, Blue Mountains NP NSW

This is one of Sydney’s best walks, taking in views of much of the Jamison Valley and surrounding cliffs, from vantage points on the rock formation known as the Ruined Castle, and from the summit of the isolated Mt Solitary.

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP

When Sophia and I first started regular bushwalking we did the first half of this walk as far as the Ruined Castle. This is already a classic Sydney walk, but continuing on to the summit plateau of the stately looking Mt Solitary provides more great views, and the added satisfaction of a big day’s walking in fairly isolated country. Overnight walkers can continue further to traverse the mountain.

Starting at the Golden Stairs just outside of Katoomba, you descend through rainforest and then level out, eventually coming to the turnoff to the Ruined Castle; from the top you get 360 degree views of the area. This can be a turnaround point to make this a moderate walk, however it’s well worth plodding on up onto the summit plateau of Mt Solitary, (the final ascent is very steep), and continue 20 minutes to the bowl like depression called Chinaman’s Gully for more fabulous views (off to the right from a rock ledge).  The return walk is a proper workout and will probably take 6+ hours.

Track Notes

Wild Walks has track notes, as does the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website. Notes as far as the Ruined Castle are in the guide book A Day in the Bush.

The Scenery

Lots of nice wildflowers on this walk when we did it in mid December.

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
You can see the Three Sisters centre right, sitting in an early(ish) morning haze.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Looking towards Mt Solitary from near the start.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
The first part of the walk is in lush rainforest.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Sophia and the Dervenis girls (which includes another Sophia).
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Sophia and the Dervenis Family on the Ruined Castle, with Mt Solitary in the background.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Looking back towards the start.

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Sophia and the Dervenis Family on the Ruined Castle, with Mt Solitary in the background.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
The way up to my spot on the Ruined Castle where I took some pictures of the others. It’s first left as you get to the rock.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
From down below.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Me on the Ruined Castle.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Mt Solitary from the Ruined Castle.

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Looking from the top of Mt Solitary towards the start, with Katoomba and the Three Sisters to the right.

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Our lunch spot and turnaround point, at Chinaman’s Gully on Mt Solitary.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
The walls of Mt Solitary from a lookout just a few metres away from Chinamans Gully, a bowl like depression accessed on the track that passes over the summit plateau.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Views out towards the reservoir Lake Burragorang, from a viewopoint accessed fro m Chinaman’s Gully on Mt Solitary.

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
A grass tree seemingly growing out of rock.

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP

Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Some big lizard action. I chased this goanna for a while until it relented and stopped to pose for photographs.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Posing for a photo.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Now *that’s* a tongue!
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Sophia dwarfed by an extremely tall tree fern.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Very stringy bark.
Mt Solitary Track, Blue Mountains NP
Not sure what this was but it wasn’t long for this world as ants had got to it.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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