Whether you’ve visited Tasmania or not, the photo of Cradle Mountain above is probably a familiar sight. If you’ve visited Cradle Mountain, you can likely still feel the presence of its craggy dolerite columns rising above the lakes and valleys below. The famous Cradle Mountain walks are the drawcard for most visitors to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. Most seasoned hikers know of the famous Overland Track, but fewer people are aware of the sheer number of absolutely gorgeous short hiking trails in the park.

Whether it’s the day hike to Cradle Mountain’s summit or the short but spectacular Enchanted Walk in Cradle Valley (perfect to do with the little ones), there are walks here for every visitor.

The moss-covered rainforests that surround Cradle Mountain alone are a sight to behold, but the more you explore the park, the more you realise how truly wild this place is.

Whether it’s the pristine lakes and deep river gorges, or the wombats, platypus and echidna, any visit to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park will offer something that’ll take your breath away. So get out there and get walking at Cradle Mountain.

Even if there’s no time on your Tasmanian adventure for a multi-day hike like the Overland Track, you absolutely have to visit Cradle Mountain and spend at least a day outdoors just taking it all in.

This post includes contributions from other travel bloggers from around the web (see the bottom of each hike description for their details). A huge thanks goes out to all of them for sharing their Wilsons Prom walking experiences.

Knyvet Falls Track

Knyvet Falls Track - Cradle Mountain Walks - Tasmania

The walk to Knyvet Falls is a very enjoyable way to experience the Cradle Mountain National Park and can easily be done on a day trip from Launceston. The walk takes around half an hour and starts near the bus stop across the road from the Cradle Mountain Lodge. It’s the first leg of the Dove Canyon track and begins with a staircase that takes you down into a lush green valley beside the Pencil Pine River. With rain and melting snow, the river is full and fast flowing. You can hear the roar of the water as you descend into the valley and, at the bottom of the stairs, the trail forks to a lookout point over the Pencil Pine Falls.

As you continue, the path follows the river bank along a raised boardwalk through a protected forest. It’s a magical place where the trees are covered in moss and lichen and there are small streams and rivulets of water running down the hill into the river. Before long you’ll come to Knyvet Falls where the water drops around 10 metres. The sheer volume of water flowing down the river and over the waterfall is impressive and rainbows sometimes appear in the spray.

The path to Knyvet Falls is easy and suitable for walkers of all skill levels. But if you decide to continue along the Dove Canyon Circuit Track, the trail becomes increasingly difficult and can be hard to follow. It’s easiest to return from Knyvet Falls the way you came unless you are an experienced and well-equipped hiker.

This walk was submitted by Linda from Muy Linda Travels. Follow her adventures via her blog or on Facebook or Pinterest.

Need to know

Length: 1.1 km
Time: 30 min
Grade: Easy / Grade 2 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style Return.
Access: The walk begins across the road from the Cradle Mountain Lodge.

The Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk - Cradle Valley - Tasmania

Located next to the Cradle Mountain Lodge, the Enchanted Walk is an easy 20-minute mostly boardwalk hike that is perfect for those visiting Tasmania with kids or those who want to explore without needing to take the bus into Cradle Mountain Lake St. Clair National Park.

Wildlife viewing is popular along the Enchanted Walk with wombats, wallabies, and pademelons being the most easily spotted animals. Hikers may even see a platypus in Pencil Pine Creek.

In addition to the animals, hikers will see lichen, moss, and fungi along the path on the Enchanted Walk.

Three kid-sized tunnels with information and pictures line the path, and hikers will most likely be able to see a real double wombat tunnel along the path as well.

While the beginning of the Enchanted Walk is wheelchair accessible, the walk does have some steep areas. The entire path is paved.

Enchanted Walk is almost a full circuit, though it is possible to not complete the entire circle as it ends a few minutes walk away from where it begins. Visitors can park at Cradle Mountain Interpretation Centre or walk over from Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge to complete the Enchanted Walk.

Even though the Enchanted Walk is one of the shortest Cradle Mountain Walks, it is a beautiful trail with plenty to see along the way.

This walk was submitted by Lanie from Make More Adventures. Follow her adventures via her blog or Instagram.

Need to know

Length: 1.1 km
Time: 20 min
Grade: Easy / Grade 2 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: The trail begins near the Cradle Mountain Lodge, across the road from the bridge to Pencil Pine Creek.

Cradle Valley Boardwalk

Cradle Valley Boardwalk
Meandering across buttongrass plains and alpine bogs between the Interpretation Centre and Ronny Creek, Cradle Valley Boardwalk is a gorgeous and easy walk. You can take this walk in either direction or, if you are short on time, you can opt for half the trail and either start or finish at Snake Hill. All three trailheads are connected by the park’s shuttle service that can take you back to the Visitor Centre or to the other trailheads in the park.

Deciding where to start the walk is easy: the direction towards Ronny Creek is more scenic with Cradle Mountain rising from the valley ahead of you. And walking towards the Interpretation Centre is slightly easier as the trail runs mostly downhill. Although, the entire walk is mostly flat apart from a couple of sections with stairs.

If you decide to start your Cradle Valley Boardwalk adventure at the Interpretation Centre, check out the short Rainforest Walk before heading towards Ronnie Creek. It only takes about 10 minutes, and you get good views of Pencil Pines Falls from the trail. The main Cradle Valley trail also starts in the mossy rainforest before opening out onto a vast buttongrass plain. This area is good for spotting the local wildlife: echidnas, wombats, Bennett’s wallabies, and black currawongs are common here.

As you make your way across the valley, the buttongrass gives way to alpine fern – the typical alpine habitat type of Cradle Mountain. Dove River is never too far from the boardwalk and as you near Ronny Creek end of the trail, you’ll cross the river a few times over wooden bridges. At Ronny Creek you have a few options: start another trail, catch the shuttle bus to Dove Lake, or head back to the Visitor Centre. There are plenty of things to do in Cradle Mountain to fill your day.

This walk was submitted by Margarita Steinhardt from The Wildlife Diaries .

Need to know

Length: 5.5 km
Time: 2 hrs
Grade: Easy / Grade 2 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: One-way
Access: Depending on where you wish to start the walk, catch the shuttle bus from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre either to the Interpretation Centre, Snake Hill, or Ronny Creek.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake - Cradle Mountain
The Crater Lake hike actually takes in a series of Alpine lakes, starting from Dove Lake with views of Lake Hanson, then heading up to the Crater Lake via Lake Lilla and Wombat Pool. It’s a great introduction to the once glacial landscape of what is now Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. We recommend taking in the entire 5.7 kilometre loop track to experience all of the incredible views. Be warned, though, some parts of the track are steep.

Need to know

Length:5.7 km
Time: 2 hrs
Grade: Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: The trail starts from Dove Lake. Catch the shuttle bus from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre to the Dove Lake car park.

Dove Lake Circuit

Dove Lake Circuit - Cradle Mountain Walks - Tasmania

Cradle Mountain is breathtakingly beautiful and one of the best walks is the Dove Lake Circuit Walk. It is also by far the most popular Cradle Mountain walk – during peak season this lake can receive up to 9,000 visits per day. Despite its popularity, Dove Lake Walk is still our top choice of the best Cradle Mountain walks for sure.

The walk is about 2 – 3 hours in duration, however, it is still a great walk to do with the family as the walk itself is for the most part fairly easy and flat.

The walk will take you through varied vegetation from subalpine plants to moss-covered temperate rainforests. Be prepared for unpredictable weather that changes often and quickly by packing raincoats and sweaters. Also make sure to wear clothing that is suitable to get wet (so if it does, it can dry quickly and easily when the weather dries up!).

The one great thing about the weather conditions on this mountain is that the misty-covered peaks of Cradle Mountain create their own mystique and dramatic elegance. It was just stunning.

There are some pretty incredible viewpoints along the walk and a large section of the walk has been board-walked and covered with a metal mesh for anti-slip purposes.

This walk is a nature lovers paradise. You will keep stopping to observe the many miracles of the natural world along this walk. From the moss-covered trees and railings to the waterfalls cascading from the distant heights to the ‘beach’ areas surrounding the lake. The scenery here will truly astonish you.

There are also plenty of spots to enjoy a picnic. The incredibly popular Boat Shed on the north-western shore is another great spot to take a break and enjoy the views from one of the most photographed areas at Cradle Mountain.

This walk was submitted by Jolene from Wanderlust Storytellers. Follow her adventures via her blog or Instagram.

Need to know

Length: 6 km
Time: 2 – 3 hrs
Grade: Easy / Grade 2 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: The trail starts from the Dove Lake car park.
Path Taken: At the Dove Lake car park, you will find toilets, together with a walker log book where you should record your trip intentions. We started the walk from the left pathway and made our way clockwise around Dove Lake.

Hansons Peak

Hansons Peak - Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair
Image courtesy of Toni Fish, on flickr
Take in a different perspective on Dove Lake from the spectacular Hansons Peak. One of the highest peaks surrounding the lake, it makes for a tough climb. There are even parts where you’ll need the help of a chain to scramble your way up. On the upside, you’ll find this trail far less crowded than some of the other Cradle Mountain walks. You’ll visit Little Horn and also be treated to spectacular views of Lake Hanson and Twisted Lakes during your ascent. The descent on Face Track visits Lake Wilks before joining the Dove Lake Circuit track for your return to the Dove Lake car park.

Need to know

Length: 10 km
Time: 4 hrs
Grade: Moderate – Difficult / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: The trailhead is at Dove Lake car park. Catch the shuttle bus from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre to Dove Lake car park.
Path Taken: Dove Lake car park – Little Horn – Hansons Peak – Ranger Hut – Face Track – Dove Lake Circuit Track – Dove Lake car park.

Cradle Mountain Summit

Cradle Mountain Summit Walk
The Cradle Mountain summit trail is an incredibly challenging and physically demanding hike which rewards you with spectacular views over the national park once you reach the top. The trail will take you through a variety of beautiful landscapes starting out with an easy lakeside stroll and working your way up to a steep ascent as you get closer to the summit.

The hike begins at Dove Lake and brings you past Lake Lilla, Wombat Pool and then Crater Lake before arriving at Marion’s Lookout which is worthy of a stop for some photos. From Marion’s Lookout, you’ll make your way past the Kitchen Hut and then begin the steep climb to the summit.

On the way down, you’ll have the option to return the way you came or take the Face Track which leads you to the Lake Wilks Track and drops you off at the Dove Lake Circuit. From there, it’s an easy walk back to the Dove Lake car park.

It goes without saying that experienced hikers only must attempt the Cradle Mountain summit hike. The trail is very rough, steep and unmarked in some areas. It becomes increasingly difficult toward the end as you find yourself scrambling on all fours over large boulders and avoiding sheer cliff drops. Fitness levels should play a big part in deciding whether or not this hike is appropriate for you.

Weather conditions should also be taken into consideration when planning your hike. Cradle Mountain is located at 1545m above sea level which means that the weather can change very quickly. It may be sunny and warm when you set off in the morning and then turn to wind and rain before reaching the summit. Don’t forget to come prepared with warm clothing and waterproof gear.

If you are lucky enough to do the Cradle Mountain summit hike on a clear day, the view from the top is truly unbeatable and makes this epic adventure worthwhile. This is where you can stop for lunch and take in the panoramic view looking out over the peaks, valleys and lakes that surround you.

I completed the Cradle Mountain summit hike on my 10-day Tasmania road trip and to be completely honest, it was a stand out highlight of the entire trip! If you are up for the challenge, you certainly won’t regret ticking off this iconic hike from your bucket list.

This walk was submitted by Ann from The Road Is Life.

Need to know

Length: 13 km
Time: 8 hrs
Grade: Moderate – Difficult / Grade 5 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Return
Access: The trailhead is at Dove Lake car park. Catch the shuttle bus from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre to Dove Lake car park.

Barn Bluff

Barn Bluff – Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park – Tasmania
Image courtesy of Sam Christie
Barn Bluff is an epic 22.2-kilometre hike that’s most suited to those with a fair bit of hiking experience under their belts. If you’re up for a real challenge it can be done in one 9 – 10 hour day, but you can also camp at Scott Kilvert Hut at Lake Rodway and do it as an overnighter.

This spectacular hike takes in some of the trails (and views) of the famous Overland Track but excludes the massive time commitment.  Sam Christie wrote for The Bushwalking Blog about his Barn Bluff adventures in a bit more detail back in 2017. Check it out if you need more motivation.

Need to know

Length: 22.2 km
Time: 9 – 10 hrs / 2 days
Grade: Difficult / Grade 5 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Path Taken: Dove Lake Car Park – Lake Rodway Track – Overland Track – Barn Bluff Track – Overland Track – Dove Lake Car Park.
Access:
Cradle Mountain is located approximately two hours west of Launceston. You will need to drive to the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, park there and catch the shuttle bus to the trailhead at Dove Lake. If completing the hike in two days, you can leave your car at the Visitor Centre overnight.
Map: You’ll need TASMAP’s Cradle 1:25000 topographic map.

The Overland Track

The Overland Track - Cradle Mountain Walks - Tasmania

The Overland Track is one of the most famous bushwalks in Tasmania attracting walkers from other states and around the world. The route passes some of the highest mountains in the state through the heart of Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness Area. Most hikers spend 6 days tackling the 65 km track then finish with a boat ride across Lake St. Clair. But you can add an extra day and 17.5 km to your walk if you skip the boat ride. It’s a challenging walk through high mountains, so it’s best for experienced multi-day bushwalkers.

To keep visitor numbers manageable, you need to book in advance through Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania. Bookings open each year on July 1 for the summer season and fill up fast, especially for dates around the Christmas holidays. Since the walk starts and finishes in different places, you’ll also need to arrange your own transport to the Overland Track via a car shuffle or van service.

Most walkers follow a similar six-day Overland Track itinerary, and that’s what I did. This itinerary stops at rustic huts every night and each hut has a campground outside. The first day on the Overland Track is the hardest. The 10.7 km walk starts with a climb up to spectacular Marion’s Lookout. Stop for a break at Kitchen Hut, a day-use shelter. From here you can make an optional side trip to summit Cradle Mountain. Next, the track curls around the mountain and drops steeply into Waterfall Valley.

Day two is an easy 7.8 km walk over nearly flat and open terrain to Windermere Hut. We took a short side trip to have lunch at Lake Will.

The longest day on the Overland Track is the third day, which travels 16.8 km to New Pelion Hut. Thankfully, the hike isn’t too difficult as you travel across open plains and through patches of forest.

The fourth day is a moderate 8.6 km walk up and over Pelion Gap to Kia Ora Hut. Many hikers climb Mount Ossa, Tasmania’s highest mountain (1617 m), as a side trip from Pelion Gap.

The fifth day is a moderate 9.6 km walk to the Bert Nichols Hut at Windy Ridge. It passes the historic Du Cane Hut, which is over 100 years old. You can also take worthwhile side trips to D’Alton, Fergusson, and Harnett Falls.

For most walkers, the sixth day is their last, covering 9 easy kilometres to the Narcissus River where they get a water taxi across Lake St. Clair.

The optional seventh day follows the shoreline of Lake St. Clair for 17.5 km, passing Echo Point Hut. The Overland Track finishes at the Lake St. Clair visitors centre where you can grab a well-deserved beer and burger.  

This walk was submitted by Taryn Eyton from HappiestOutdoors.ca.

Need to know

Length: 65 – 82.5 km
Time: 6 – 7 days
Grade: Moderate – Difficult / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: One-way
Access: From the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, take the shuttle bus to Ronny Creek.
Path Taken: Ronny Creek – Waterfall Valley – Windermere Hut – New Pelion Hut – Kia Ora Hut – Windy Ridge – Narcissus River – Lake St. Clair
Map: You’ll need a good 1:20,000 topographic map like TASMAP’s Cradle map. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a guidebook like Hiking the Overland Track by Warwick Sprawson, which we reviewed in full back in 2020.

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Cradle Mountain Walking Maps

If you’re just getting started on planning your Cradle Mountain adventure, this map from cradlemountain.net will give you a good idea of the lay of the land. Once you arrive at the park, more detailed maps are available from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. Of course, if you’re planning on doing one of the more wild, multi-day adventures in the park (like the Overland Track) you’ll want to obtain a good paper 1:20,000 topographic map to help with planning your trip (TASMAP make one of these).

Getting to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park

Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre is about an hour and 15 minutes drive from Devonport and two hours and 15 minutes from Launceston. If you want to get there independently without a guided tour, group chartered buses are available (one-way) from both Launceston to Cradle Mountain and Cradle Mountain to Launceston.

Private vehicles aren’t permitted within the National Park during daylight hours, so you’ll need to get around the park using the Cradle Mountain Shuttle Bus. This departs at regular intervals during daylight hours, from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre.

Keep in mind that you’ll need a Tasmanian National Parks Pass to enter Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. These can be purchased online, or they’re also available at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, and will also give you access to the shuttle bus service.

Walking Cradle Mountain

Can you do Cradle Mountain in a day?

Of course you can. If you’re staying in Devonport, it makes an ideal day trip, but you could even do it from Launceston in a day at a stretch. There are many short hikes above that are all reasonably close together, so you could fit in two or more of those in a day. Alternatively, you could visit for one or more of the non-walking adventures below. Even if you don’t have your own transport, there are a bunch of guided day tour options available.

Other things to do at Cradle Mountain

Walking isn’t your thing? Don’t worry, there are Cradle Mountain activities for everyone. Few people know that it’s a popular spot for horse riding or rafting and kayaking, but below are two other options you really shouldn’t miss.

Devils @ Cradle

Get an up close look at Tasmanian devils, Spotted-tail quolls, Eastern quolls and even wombats at the [email protected] breeding and conservation sanctuary. A perfect stop on your way to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, it sits right on the edge of the Cradle Mountain World Heritage Area. You can buy a ticket on arrival or book ahead if you’re looking for a bit more of an experience, like a ranger you or feeding tour.

Cradle Mountain Canyoning

Okay, so it’s obviously not an experience for those who can’t handle the cold, but canyoning at Cradle Mountain is arguably the most adventurous thing to do at Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. You’re probably not experienced with canyoning, so take a guided tour of either Dove Canyon or Lost World Canyon. Go with the former if you have a full day to spare or the latter if you’d rather only spend half a day in the elements. Either way, you’ll abseil, cliff jump and waterslide your way through some spectacular terrain, and you’ll see parts of the Cradle Mountain wilderness that not many other people get to see.

Cradle Mountain Accommodation

There are a number of accommodation mountains within stone’s throw of the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, the most well-known being Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. See below for a brief intro of some of the options that seem to get the best wrap from online reviewers.

Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge

Cradle Mountain Lodge is the closest accommodation to the park gate and Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. The rooms are stunning and each one includes a fireplace. Their in-house restaurant offers spectacular food, and they even have an on-site spa for all the pampering you’ll need after a day out walking.

Cradle Mountain Hotel

The only remaining traditional hotel in the area, Cradle Mountain Hotel has been renovated relatively recently and has killer views from every room. Check out their luxurious split level King Rooms if you’re after something really fancy.

Cradle Mountain Highlanders

Secluded bush cabins of varying sizes (and some with spa) are the order of the day at Cradle Mountain Highlanders. All cabins are hidden amongst the trees and each comes with a kitchenette and fireplace. The perfect romantic Cradle Mountain getaway.

Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village

Another option directly adjacent to the Visitor Centre, Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village offers something for everyone with their mix of spa cottages, chalets, and open plan studios. Some of the options have balconies with the most beautiful views across the Cradle Mountain wilderness.

Cradle Mountain Camping

There are no bush camping spots available for car camping at Cradle Mountain. Your only option for a Cradle Mountain campground is the well reviewed Cradle Mountain Discovery Park, which is located directly across the road from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. The Discovery Park has a bunch of accommodation options – cabins, cottages, a backpacker lodge, as well as powered and unpowered campsites. Bookings are essential (especially in peak times) and can be made online via Booking.com.
Cradle Mountain Walks - Wombats on the trail

Cradle Mountain Weather

A visit to Cradle Mountain at any time of year requires being prepared for every possibility. Even in the height of summer, when the beaches on the eastern coastline are swimmable, you’ll likely need a jacket and a beanie at Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. This makes planning for something like the 5 – 6 day Overland Track quite the challenge, but if you’re only visiting to do shorter walks then just make sure you’ve got your layers.

Fortunately, whatever kind of adventure you choose to have, the Bureau of Meteorology has a dedicated Cradle Mountain Detailed Forecast. Make sure you study it closely when you’re planning your trip.

If you’re wondering about the Cradle Mountain snow, a visit between late autumn and early Spring gives you a fair chance of seeing snow. At the Cradle Mountain Hotel, which is 860 metres above sea level, they say they’ll see weekly snow most years during this time. At the summit of Cradle Mountain – about 1,545 metres above seal level – the snowfall is much more common. If you’re hiking the Overland Track you definitely need to be well prepared for it. Many underprepared people have had their Overland Track hikes end badly when it’s taken them by surprise.

Wondering if it’s snowing right now? Check out the Cradle Mountain webcam on the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service website for an idea.

Have you been to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.

 

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