On the eastern coast of Australia in New South Wales, one can find the Blue Mountains. This mountain range is easily accessible via the Blue Mountains National Park and, at the base of this park sits the town of Katoomba. The town itself is only about an hour and a half drive from Sydney and is also home to one of the best views of the Blue Mountains in the region.

The Giant Stairway has long been hailed as the perfect tourist attraction for those wishing to get a better look at this stunning mountain range... and a good workout while they do it. With hundreds of stairs to traverse, the view at the top is positively stunning.


But does the Giant Stairway really offer the best mountain views outside of Sydney?

The Giant Stairway And Its History In The Blue Mountains

Along the way to this lookout point, there are multiple attractions one can find in Blue Mountains National Park. From waterfalls to mountain summit hikes and various lookout points, this park showcases some of the best scenery less than two hours from Sydney. However, the Giant Stairway is one of the more straightforward approaches to its stunning views and is also one of the most popular lookouts within the park region.

The view itself is of the Jamison Valley, which is vast, green, and full of lush vegetation that hides secret waterfalls and forested hiking trails. The view from above truly is incredible and can be found after guests walk a total of more than 800 steps to the very top. Hence, the name 'Giant Stairway.'

  • Number of Steps: 998
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
  • Connects: Echo Point to Honeymoon Bridge, which is connected to the first of the Three Sisters rock formation.

The person responsible for the conception of the Giant Stairway was Chief Ranger, Jim McKay. After being appointed in 1901, he made many improvements to the parks including upgrading the National Pass before thinking of the Giant Stairway in 1914. Two years later, work on the project was approved despite many people thinking it would not be successful and was a lofty goal to achieve. With an initial setback due to lack of funds and the challenge that chiseling rocks presented, the project was finally completed in 1932. A local photographer by the name of Harry Phillips was a huge aid to this re-opening of the stairway's construction, as he lobbied for the project to see a completion date. Both the Giant Stairway and Echo Point were opened on the same day, thus becoming two major tourist attractions in the Blue Mountains.

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The Views And Hike Up Katoomba's Giant Stairway

Those visiting the Giant Stairway should prepare their calves for a unique, but work-heavy, journey. At the northernmost end of Katoomba, visitors will find the Echo Point Information Center. This is where information can be gathered about each of the hikes, the surrounding landscape, and what to be prepared for. It's also a great place to learn about the ecosystem and environmental diversity throughout New South Wales, especially for those who might be visiting for the first time. The center also has beverages, an ice cream freezer, and plenty of souvenirs to browse before or after a hike.

  • Tip: This parking lot also has public restrooms, and it's a good idea to use them before starting out on the hike.

Before starting on the hike to the Giant Stairway, visitors should follow the Prince Henry Cliff Walk to check out the breathtaking views of the surrounding Blue Mountains and, just below, the Three Sisters rock formation. This formation is unique due to its interesting hoodoos that stand in the shape of, well, the image of three sisters. This will lead to Echo Park, which is the perfect place to take in a picnic and just enjoy the views.

From there, guests can head back to the direction of the information center in order to take the Three Sisters Walking Track. This will bring them to a fork - one trail leads to Spooner's Lookout, another overlook near Three Sisters, while following the trail straight ahead will bring them to Three Sisters Walk. This trail is an easy Grade 1, which takes visitors through a location believed to be sacred and of high spiritual significance by the Aboriginal people. Along the way, visitors walking through the Three Sisters Aboriginal Place will be treated to spectacular views of the Three Sisters, as well as views of the surrounding eucalyptus forest, sandstone turrets, and, of course, the hazy Blue Mountains.

  • Tip: The hike itself takes roughly 25 to 45 minutes to complete.

At the end of the trail, before it makes a sharp left, visitors will find the Giant Stairway. The views from the top are utterly breathtaking, and many would argue that if there's any hike in the Blue Mountains a visitor should consider, it's this one. Despite its nearly 1,000 steps, reaching the top is more rewarding than it is tiresome. Hikers should be wary of steep steps but the walk, overall, is manageable for most, especially if one takes their time to do so. Once at the top, hikers will have a panoramic view of the mountains for as far as the eye can see.

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