The Starlights Circuit walk starts in Hill Top, leading into the Nattai. This walk can become very confusing in some places as the track is becoming in certain areas which makes the path misleading. This walk can be done overnight so pack all the items you would need for a typical hike (Remembering to pack lots of water as the return is vigorous). The information board in the carpark displays a map of the trail which can help provide you with further guidance on this walk. The first section of the walk is rather easy as you pass the locked gate and follow the fire trail until you reach the top of a steep hill that forks. There will be a sign pointing to the left that will direct you on the starlights trail path. Here the trail can become confusing from this point and some of the trails are unmarked from this point on. In a few hundred metres from this point you will notice another fork in the road. On the right hand side you will see a path, this will be the way you come out on your return. You will need to continue on the path the left until you reach another unmarked junction. At this Junction you need to take a sharp right which will lead you uphill. Once you’ve reached the peak of this track you will have a beautiful view of Rocky Waterholes Creek.
From here there should be a cleared path for you to follow towards Ahearn lookout. On the way to this lookout you will see many different rock formations and to the right you will see a rock lookout once again for another viewing platform of the views. This lookout will provide you with views over the Nattai River Gorge and on a clear day you will be able to see to Katoomba. It is possible to walk from Hill Top to Katoomba, although you would take roughly a week to complete this walk that is popular for guides, scouts and serious hikers. From here you will start to head down hill on a path that is rather rough but clears along the way. You need to keep an eye out for a turn that will be to your right once you reach the junction as it can be very easy to miss.
From here you should following the blue tags that you see on the trees as this will direct you where to go next. It will take you towards a river but be sure to keep following the blue markers. It will lead you across the river, once you’ve crossed it you need to follow the path to the ascending cliffs. You will be hugging the cliffs for sometime however there should be markers placed frequently along the way. You will eventually soon start to see the gully begin to open up and some large rocks separated from the cliff line, here you will notice the path begins to descend steeply. Here the path will swing left and will eventually become more well graded with blue markers to guide the way.
Once you reach Nattai River Flats your path will swing to the right, joining up with another path that leads from Mittagong to Katoomba called Ensign Barrallier Track. Your path will remain on the right hand side of the river but mostly out of sight from the Nattai. After 1.25kms of riverside walking you will eventually reach a Billabong which you should keep to the right of, then continuing on for another 2.5kms along the river where you will reach a large pool. Once again you need to stick to the right and follow the footpad which will lead you to Emmets Flat which is a lovely place to camp if you planned to stay overnight. Remember if you stay overnight to pack all of your gear as there are no facilities in the area, so pack all essential items, especially water.
From Emmets flat you can go in search of Russels Needle which can be very difficult to find. The return home is steep and loose gravel may cause you to fall. You will follow a steep ascent up the mountain that starts to head towards Ahearn lookout. To get on this path you may notice some yellow markers on the trees or you’ll see a sign that says Starlights trail to the Eastern edge of the clearing. From here the track will be roughly 25meters from the sign located on your left which can be easily missed. On the way back up heading towards home the track encounters many more challenges which include fallen down tress, large rocks and boulders on the path, as well as it being overgrown in some places.
Be sure to have a look at the large hollow rock that will be located on your left on the way back up. This might be a nice place to sit and have something to eat and a nice place to have a rest after the steep climb you endured. The yellow markers on this trail are infrequent so don’t stress if you go a while without seeing any. The path will bring you out to a clearing where there will be a yellow marker which has the trail name on it. If you turn to the left and then not long after right, you will see the trail sign you passed on your way in. From here, you will be headed back on the straight to the carpark in around 10 minutes from here.