There’s Wentworth Falls down to the top of the falls from the not-very-large carpark and back up the steps, and then there’s the Full Monty, either halfway down (National Pass) or right to the very bottom, where there is very little sun at all, Wentworth Pass.
Because we’re either foolhardy or adventurous – I’ll leave you to decide which is the more appropriate term – we decided to go all the way down to the very bottom. It’s one of those walks that, for want of a better term, separates the men from the boys. You see plenty of signage along the way warning you that the grade of the walk is graded Hard and for experienced walkers only.
Wentworth Pass (which WildWalks.com says is just over 5km in length and has a vertical rise of 692m) is also infamous for the number of people who set off without the right equipment or any basic idea of where they’re going or what they’re getting themselves in for, and end up having to be rescued. One unfortunate lady died there last year, and, even more ominously as far as we were all concerned, another hiker was actually rescued out of there the day before we set off.
No such problems for us. We set off just after 11:00am after an amazing breakfast at the Blue Mist Cafe in Wentworth Falls Village on an absolutely stunning day. Right from the very beginning, the views were extraordinary. On a day where it’s nothing sunshine, blue skies, cool and not at all windy, there are few better places in the world than the Blue Mountains.
The first part of the track is full of steps, but easily navigable. It gets a little har4der when you cross the top of Wentworth Falls and continue down. The trail becomes very steep and very narrow as it hugs the cliff face. There isn’t a lot of room for maneuvering, and with walkers coming both ways, you sometimes run into a bit of a bottleneck.
The further you go, the less people there are. At the bottom of the first section of falls, you can follow National Pass across and come back up at the Wentworth Falls Conservation Hut or do what we did, and go down one further level, right to the very bottom. There isn’t a natural path all the way, so the National Parks people have put in a series of ladders called Slack’s Steps, which allow walkers to descend where we would not otherwise have been able to.
The very bottom of Wentworth Falls was completely shaded. You could see up towards the clifftop and out through the trees into the sun-drenched valley, but I’m going to guess that there isn’t much sunlight ever in there. It’s too deep in, under the cliffs, and amongst so many trees. Even so, it’s a very spectacular spot.
Knowing what was to come, we took a few minutes to have a breather, and basically, from that point on, didn’t stop climbing for a good hour. And this was one hard hour. For the first leg, before joining up with the National Pass track, there’s very little in the way of proper carved steps. You have to work very hard. Erosion hasn’t helped, making the height between each step higher and tougher than it should be. You’re taking some big steps at times there.
From the National Pass junction most part, the steps are more defined, either carved from the rock or actual staircases put in, which make it a little easier. Those stairs look pretty new. I can only conclude that the National Parks are doing a lot of work to try and reduce the chances of erosion wrecking the trails. Despite the better steps, it’s still a hard slog, and if you’ve done the entire Wentworth Pass loop like we did, you’re still feeling the burn in your legs.
If you’re looking for a strenuous walk in the Blue Mountains, Wentworth Pass should be at or near the top of your list. The views are great, the walk is hard and really tests you out, and if you happen to be doing it on a day like we had, you won’t find many better Blue Mountains experiences. Be warned, however, that if you’re not good with steps and happy to climb hundreds of them, steer clear. This walk is basically straight down and straight up. Not for the faint of heart. But amazing if you can hack it! 🙂