Trail Partially open

Lapstone Viaduct and Zig-Zag

NSW Sydney and Blue Mountains

4 based on 1 reviews
Location: 60 km west of Sydney
Length: 1.5 km
Surface: Fine gravel, Sealed
Start / End: Glenbrook to Lapstone
Public Transport: Bus, Train
Suitable for:
  • Cycling – Mountain BikesCycling – Mountain Bikes
  • PramsPrams
  • Scooters and Inline SkatesScooters and Inline Skates
  • WalkingWalking

Map Legend:

  • Rail Trail
  • On Road
  • Possible Rail Trail
  • Other Trail
  • former Railway
  • The impressive sandstone viaduct over Knapsack Gully. When construction began in 1863 the viaduct was the largest in Australia, being 118 m long and 36 m high, with five spans of 16 m and two of 6 m. 
  • Remnants of zig-zag formation and Lucasville Station.
  • The Lapstone Zig-Zag was the first full zig-zag constructed on any main-line railway anywhere in the world.
  • The zig-zag structure was later repeated on the western side of the Blue Mountains at the arguably more famous zig-zag railway between Clarence and Lithgow.
  • The entrances to the 1890 tunnel can be reached by walking tracks, but the tunnel itself is not open at this stage.

Attractions

  • Blue Mountains World Heritage Area to the west
  • Sydney Harbour and CBD around 60 km east
  • The Sandstone Viaduct

Trail Guide

The Lapstone Viaduct and Zig-Zag are in the Lower Blue Mountains suburb of Glenbrook. 

Knapsack Viaduct is signposted from the M4 Motorway/Great Western Highway at the Emu Plains exit. From the car park near the junction of the old highway and historic Mitchells Pass, a footpath follows the former railway and highway route to the viaduct. From here a path descends below the stone arches and then climbs to Elizabeth lookout, upper Zig Zag ‘roads’ and Lucasville station. 

Alternatively, approach from the top, from the east end of Knapsack Street. 

The eastern entrance of the Old Glenbrook Tunnel, built in 1910, can be reached via a tunnel beneath the M4 to Governors Drive and then a track (overgrown at times) from near a water tank. There is a campaign to reopen the tunnel for cyclists and pedestrians.

Background Information

Traditional owners

We acknowledge the Dharug people, the traditional custodians of the land and waterways on which the rail trail is built.

Development and future of the rail trail 

Much of the abandoned rail route can be reached via the rail trail. 

Rail line history 

This section of railway including the Knapsack Viaduct and the Lapstone Zig-Zag was completed in 1865 and opened for traffic in 1867. The Lapstone Zig-Zag and Lucasville station were officially closed in December 1892 after the first Glenbrook Tunnel Deviation was completed. 

Around 1910 the lower section of the track, including the historic Knapsack Gully Viaduct, was converted into the Great Western Highway, the main road up Lapstone Hill until the M4 motorway replaced it in 1993.  The M4 motorway still utilizes part of the lower section of the zig-zag, which now un-available as part of this small rail trail.   The first tunnel was also bypassed by a double track tunnel with a gentler grade at this time.

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One review of “Lapstone Viaduct and Zig-Zag”

I walked this trail this morning (28/3/16) and it is a very popular with locals – riders, walkers and their dogs. It’s an easy walk up to the viaduct and then stairs up to the rail zig zag section. I found it really interesting, because it gave great views over the west Sydney region, good insight into the geology of the edge of the Blue Mountains, and great bush. I really recommend this trail, though the zig zag section is more for walking than riding, because of the difficulty in getting to it from the carparks.

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