National Pass Blue Mountains clifftop bushwalk | Wentworth Falls, Australia

One of the most stunning bushwalks in Australia has to be the National Pass – a sheer cliffside trail leading down to a beautiful waterfall – what’s not to love? Here’s all you need to know to hike it, including how to get there, how hard it is, and more, including video!

The National Pass bushwalk at Wentworth Falls

The National Pass bushwalk

Without a doubt, the National Pass trail has to be one of the most incredible bushwalks in Australia.

Traversing and descending stunning, jagged cliffs in the beautiful Blue Mountains, this challenging bushwalk eventually leads down into lush rainforest to the base of a 100 metre cascading waterfall.

Crossing the top of the Wentworth Falls

Crossing the top of the Wentworth Falls

During this bushwalk you’ll cross the top of the magnificent Wentworth Falls and walk along a trail steeped in history. First opened in 1908, the National Pass was the winner of a Blue Mountains tourism attraction competition. The upper section was built directly into the side of a sheer cliff, and towers 100 metres above the valley floor. The National Pass trail was restored in 2008.

The National Pass historic trail sign

The National Pass historic trail sign – the trail was restored in 2008

There are interesting historical and flora and fauna information signs along the way. There are incredible views across the Jamison Valley, both along the way via a series of lookouts, and straight from the trail itself.

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Where is the start of the National Pass trail?

The National Pass trail is located in the Blue Mountains National Park at Wentworth Falls, a small town located in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

A lookout on the Wentworth Falls Track

A lookout on the Wentworth Falls Track

Directions to the National Pass hike

By car

Tip: Put “Wentworth Falls” into your phone or car’s navigation system – “Wentworth Falls Picnic Area” is not recognised by Apple Maps.

To get to the start of the National Pass trail by car, from Sydney drive up the M4 Motorway towards Penrith. Passing Penrith, continue up into the Blue Mountains onto the Great Western Highway. Continue on to the town of Wentworth Falls, which is approximately 45 minutes drive from Penrith.

At the town of Wentworth Falls turn left into Falls Road and follow it to the end. At the end turn to the right, following the signs to the Wentworth Falls Picnic Area carpark and park your car. You’ll need to walk from here.

This is also a nice place to stop for a picnic, and there is a public toilet block here too. Below is a detailed map of Wentworth Falls to the carpark (marked as B) from the NSW National Parks website.

Wentworth Falls National Pass carpark town map - source: NSW National Parks website

Wentworth Falls National Pass carpark (B) town map. Source: NSW National Parks website navigation tool

From the Wentworth Falls Picnic Area Carpark walk past the Jamison Lookout and 300 metres along Sir H Burrell Drive to the Wentworth Falls Lookout. There is a hard paved footpath alongside of the road, making both the upper Lookouts wheelchair accessible.

Directly next to the Wentworth Falls Lookout is the start of the Wentworth Falls Track bushwalking trails. There is an excellent signage system to direct you all the way to the start of the National Pass trail via the Wentworth Track.

There are signs to keep you on the right track all the way

There are signs to keep you on the right track all the way

By train

Currently closed From Sydney, catch a train on the Main Western Sydney rail line to Wentworth Falls station and proceed to the Charles Darwin Walk across the Great Western Highway to bush walk and meet with the National Pass trail. (2.5km).

 

How hard is it to walk the National Pass bushwalk?

Steep flights of stairs will get the heart pumping!

Steep flights of stairs will get the heart pumping!

It will take you around 30 minutes of good underfoot bushwalking down a dirt, descending path – the Wentworth Falls Track – to make your way to the head of the Wentworth Falls waterfall crossing leading to the entry and upper cliff section of the National Pass trail. Some parts of the trail can be wet and slippery after rain and around the waterfall.

You can see this beautiful section of trail before the steep descent

You can see this beautiful section of trail before the steep descent

The spectacular built-in upper cliff section of the National Pass trail is solid rock underfoot, wide and easy to walk along. It leads to the hardest part of the National Pass walk – the descent into the valley, and the base of the Wentworth Falls. If you are worried about the steep staircases, or have very young children, it may be best to turn around before you get to this point. After all, you’ve already completed a beautiful bushwalk, and viewed the waterfall from above and alongside!

Steep stone staircases

The National Pass cliff side staircases

The National Pass cliff side staircases

Three very long, steep stone stairs lead down the cliffside. It takes firm, steady hands and a slow descent to make your way down safely. Children would need to be closely supervised. Cables are attached to the cliff side of the stairs, and sturdy metal handrails are on the outer edge of the stairs to give you something to hold onto. Taken slowly and surely with rest stops in between each flight, for the reasonably fit individual, this descent – and ascent – is absolutely manageable.

What is at the bottom of the National Pass cliff descent?

Beautiful rainforest covers the valley floor at the foot of the cliff descent

Beautiful rainforest covers the valley floor at the foot of the cliff descent

When you reach the bottom of the stairs you are met with lush rainforest and the simply stunning Wentworth Falls raining down into pools and rivulets. Huge plumes of mist float through the air, and towering cliffs provide a spectacular backdrop.

The base of Wentworth Falls is lush and green, with beautiful cascades

The base of Wentworth Falls is lush and green, with beautiful cascades

This beautiful oasis is a fitting reward for your hard work to get down to the bottom of such high cliffs! Sit and take it in, enjoy the beautiful surroundings. When you’re ready, it’s time to retrace your steps back to the car!

The lower half of the National Pass Blue Mountains trail is currently closed

The National Pass trail closures are marked on this map

The National Pass trail closures are marked on this map

The complete National Pass Trail loop can’t be walked at the moment due to a long section of the trail along the valley floor (heading to the Valley Of The Waters) being closed due to rockfalls and landslides (current at Winter 2022). It’s anticipated that this is a temporary closure. This does mean that your National Park bushwalk needs to be a turnaround walk, retracing your steps back up the cliffs the way you came – at least until the trail is reopened.

The perfect Blue Mountains Instagram location

The perfect instagram shot awaits at the National Pass trail!

The perfect instagram shot awaits at the National Pass trail!

The sheer cliff section of National Pass before starting to descend to the base of the valley also happens to be the perfect spot for a unique photo or Instagram shot. Rounding a blind corner and seemingly suspended over thin air, this is a photo that never fails to amaze! Ask fellow bushwalkers to take a photo of you from the top of the staircase leading towards the cliff corner for a the perfect photo. You don’t even have to do the most difficult part of the trail if you don’t want to, because it is AFTER the dramatic cliffside location!

Follow the signs to get to the National Pass trail

Follow the signs to get to the National Pass trail

How long does it take to do the National Pass bushwalk?

It took myself and my teenage girls three hours return to walk all the way to the bottom and return the same way. We walked at a leisurely pace, stopping for rests and to enjoy the various lookouts and vistas, and took a little time at the base of the waterfall too. It was a truly hike and made some more lovely family memories together for us to treasure.

Time for a family picture at the base of the waterfall

Time for a family picture at the base of the waterfall!

National Pass handy information

What to wear: Don’t forget a hat, sunscreen and water.
In winter: Wear warm clothes and take extra layers – it gets very cold and even snows in the Blue Mountains on occasion.
Is it safe for families?:  Closely supervise children capable of descending long flights of stairs – I wouldn’t recommend taking small children, as you will be supporting yourself on the staircases and so it would be difficult to carry or support them safely too.
Stay on the trail: This is a cliffside bushwalk. Don’t attempt to climb any barriers or stray from the clearly marked trail to preserve flora and fauna and stay safe.
Find out more:  Find out more about the National Pass, including trail updates and closures at the NSW National Parks official website here.

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Wentworth Falls at the bottom of the National Pass trail

Wentworth Falls at the bottom of the National Pass trail

 

2 Responses so far.

  1. Pedro says:

    Hmmm, using Apple maps is a rookie mistake…
    “Tip: Put “Wentworth Falls” into your phone or car’s navigation system – “Wentworth Falls Picnic Area” is not recognised by Apple Maps.”

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About LetsGoMum

Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at barbara@letsgomum.com.au!