Exploring Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair happens to be one of the most visited national parks in Tasmania and there is no surprise as to why this Wilderness World Heritage Area is so popular. There is walks for everyone whether you want to hike to the peak of cradle mountain or enjoy a rainforest walk, this national park has it all. You have to be very lucky to get to cradle mountain and have two very sunny days in a row especially the time we visited, we visited in May. The best time to Visit Cradle Mountain is between November and April, which offer some of the best opportunities for hiking at Cradle Mountain. Check out more about the seasons Here.
The National Park
The shuttle operates “frequently” between 9:00am and 5:00pm in winter (from 1 April to 30 September) and 8:00am to 6:00pm over summer (1 October to 31 March). If you miss the last bus, you’d have to walk the 8 km out. To get into the national park you must hold a valid park pass, the cheapest option is to get a Holiday pass which is valid up to 2 months. It includes all the national parks in Tasmania and the shuttle bus into Cradle Mountain, It costs $80. For more information about your parks pass click Here. You are also able to drive into the park before 8am and after 5pm (from 1 April to 30 September) and before 7am and after 6pm (1 October to 31 March).
The Cradle mountain Summit
Via Hanson’s Peak and Marion’s lookout
Along this hike we went past Wombat Pool, Marion’s Lookout, Kitchen Hut, Cradle Summit-Face track, Hanson’s peak and down past Glacier rock on Dove Lake. This is a hike many people come to walk at Cradle mountain national park. Its a full day walk 16.6km 6-8 hour return. If you’re feeling adventurous this is the hike for you. But be prepared to turn around as the weather can be quit changeable. We were very lucky to get spectacular weather for one day and it stayed blue skies and sunny for the day. Along the Hike you will begin passing Wombat pool before the steep climb to Marion’s lookout begins. As you near the top of the lookout there is chains to assist you the the top of Marion’s lookout. You will then continue along the gravel path which passes over many board walks along the way to Kitchen Hut. From here to the summit of Cradle Mountain its about 2km one way, and as you near the summit it is quite the scramble over big boulders to the top.
Cradle Mountain Summit
It is a very steep scramble up to the top of cradle mountain summit and it is not the climb for people who have a fear of heights. When we climbed the summit we had to be extra careful as there was ice on some of the rocks. Once we had climbed to the summit of cradle mountain when returning you have a choose to return along the face track or return the same way. When walking along the face track you will come to a cross road where from here you can continue to Hanson’s peak and the twisted lakes or down the mountain which joins to the dove lake circuit and back to the dove lake carpark. If returning via the Hanson’s peak allow an extra two hours to get back to the dove lake carpark or an extra 3 hours adding on the twisted lake circuit.
Dove Lake Circuit
6km 2-3 hour return walk around the lake. You will go past the glacier rock, Honeymoon islands and the iconic boat shed. The walk is on boardwalks and gravel paths, it has one moderate hill and you will reach an altitude of 1000 meters. This is the most popular walk at Cradle mountain and is suitable suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
This walks starts at the dove lake carpark.
Cradle Valley Board walk plus the Rainforest walk
6km 2-3 hours one way walk (grade easy).The entire boardwalk begins at the rangers station and ends at dove lake via lake Lilla, its an 8.5km/2-3 hour one way. There is a midway point at snake hill, This is where we decided to walk from to Ronny creek. It was a 45 minute return walk and about 2km. It is a very nice walk through the fields and is a fairly easy walk it can be done in both directions but heading towards dove lake you will be going down hill. In addition you can do the short Rainforest walk which connects to the beginning of the board walk its a short 20 minute addition to the the walk which will give you views of Pencil pine falls.
The walk starts at the Rangers station to Ronny creek with the half way point being snake hill.
King Billy Circuit
2km 40 minute return walk in the rainforest along board walks where you can discover some of these King Billy pines where some are up to 1500 years of age. This walk is fairly easy but does have a fair few steps along the walk.
The walk Starts – To the right of the Lodge.
20 minute circuit starting at the cradle mountain lodge. There is also a longer walk which is the King Billy circuit which is a 2km 40 minute return circuit. The walk starts at the front of the lodge.
Kynvet Falls and Pencil Pine Falls
1.3km/45 minute return circuit. This walk follows a board walk through the rainforest to Kynvet falls and Pencil pine falls. An optional longer walk would be to walk the dove canyon which is a 6.3km/2-3hour return walk.
The walks starts opposite the lodge.
From Ronny creek this is the beginning of the overland track which is 65km long and will take 6-8 days. The first leg of the overland track is 10.7km with two optional options to either hike to the summit of cradle mountain or barn bluff.
Bridal Veil Falls and Champagne Falls
6km 2 hour return walk. At the beginning of the walk it follows a 4WD track up hill. The track will then reach a signpost giving you an option to do the circuit seeing Champagne falls or to Bridal veil falls, you can do the circuit in either direction. From Bridal veil to Champagne falls the path follows through the rainforest it is well worth the hike here as its very beautiful scenery.
This walk starts at the lemon thyme lodge just out of Moina about 20km from Cradle mountain.
Where to Stay
We stayed at Lake Gardiner it was about a 25 minute drive to cradle mountain, the campground has no facilities and no drinking water, but is an amazing free camp by the river. There also is a caravan Park at Cradle Mountain starting from $45 per night for unpowered and $58 for a powered site and cabins from $182 for more information click Here.
Click here to watch the vlog on this destination.