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Hiking Cradle Mountain is a bucket list experience that everyone must have while visiting Tasmania. It is by far the most popular attraction in the state and home to some of the most spectacular wilderness in all of Australia.

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park has a huge selection of fantastic hiking trails ranging from short and easy to long and more difficult. Whether you’re seeking a challenging multi-day trek or a simple day hike, there is a Cradle Mountain hike for everyone!

After hiking Cradle Mountain on our 10-day Tasmania Itinerary, we created this comprehensive guide to help you maximise your time in this incredible national park. You’ll find everything you need to know to when planning your trip such as what to pack, where to stay, the best Cradle Mountain tours and more.

Read on to discover all of the best Cradle Mountain walking tracks and choose the best one to suit your abilities and preferences. If you’re seeking some additional Cradle Mountain activities, we have also included a section featuring more things to do around Cradle Mountain that don’t involve hiking!

Hiking Cradle Mountain - the ultimate guide

Cradle Mountain from Dove Lake

Hiking Cradle Mountain – The Ultimate Guide

Getting to Cradle Mountain

Launceston to Cradle Mountain – The driving time from Launceston is 2 hours. This makes it easy to do a Cradle Mountain day trip, whether you drive there yourself or join a tour.

Hobart to Cradle Mountain – The driving time from Hobart is just over 4 hours. Doing a day trip from Hobart is possible but not recommended. If you’re still keen to fit it in, take a look at the recommended tour option below.

If time allows for it, I would suggest stretching out the trip and following our 4 day Hobart to Cradle Mountain road trip itinerary.

Tasmania National Parks Pass

To enter Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, you will need to get a National Parks Pass. You can either purchase one on arrival at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, or online before you go from the official Tasmania Parks and Wildlife website.

There are different passes available depending on the length of time you require. We went with the holiday pass which covers one vehicle for 2 months in Tasmania.

Getting Around Cradle Mountain

Once you arrive at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, you’ll find a large car park where you can leave your vehicle for the day. From there, the best way to get around is by shuttle bus as the number of cars allowed into the national park is limited.

You’ll receive a free shuttle bus voucher when you show your National Parks Pass at the Visitor Centre. You can then catch the shuttle bus which departs from the Visitor Centre every 10 – 15 minutes and stops at a number of popular locations within the park.

The shuttle bus runs daily between 8:30am – 4:30pm with the last return bus departing Dove Lake at 5:30pm (don’t miss this bus!). The bus hours may vary throughout the year, check at Visitor Centre for updated hours of operation.

Hiking Cradle Mountain

The beautiful Dove Lake from above

Cradle Mountain Tours

Day Trip to Cradle Mountain from Launceston – Get picked up from your hotel in Launceston and see the best of the national park in a full day trip. Take a scenic walk around the Dove Lake Circuit and enjoy a lunch stop at the Waldheim Chalet. Stop for a cheese tasting at the Ashgrove Cheese Farm on the way back to Launceston.

This popular tour is the perfect option for those short on time but still want to experience the natural wonders of Cradle Mountain. National Park entry fees are included with the ticket. See prices and availability here.

Day Trip to Cradle Mountain from Hobart – As I mentioned before, this makes for a very long day of driving but still possible. This 15 hour tour from Hobart includes 5 hours of time in the national park, a guided walk around Dove Lake Circuit, national park entry fee and more.

See prices and availability here.

Hiking Cradle Mountain Packing List

This is an idea of what you should pack for a Cradle Mountain day hike. If you plan to do the overland track you should pack accordingly.

Best Time of Year to Hike Cradle Mountain

The hikes in Cradle Mountain are all about the epic views and scenery. For the best chance of having clear weather, you should plan your Cradle Mountain hike during the months of December – April. This is summer in Australia which means warmer, sunnier days for the most part.

Keep in mind that the weather can vary in an alpine region, no matter what time of year you visit. The summit of Cradle Mountain is located at 1545m above sea level. At any given time during the day, the weather can quickly change and the summit can become covered in clouds.

Based on our experience, we can recommend visiting during March as it is the driest month of the year. We were lucky to have a perfectly clear and sunny day when we summited Cradle Mountain in March.

black bluff lookout tasmania

Make sure to stop at the Black Bluff lookout on your drive to Cradle Mountain

Where to Stay in Cradle Mountain

Camping

Discovery Parks Cradle Mountain – A holiday park with all the amenities at the base of Cradle Mountain next to the Visitor Centre.

Cradle Mountain Fishery and Camping – A lovely and basic campground located in a scenic spot alongside a lake. It’s a 15 minute drive from the Visitor Centre.

Hotel/Guesthouse

Cradle Mountain Highlanders – Cosy cabins surrounded by nature featuring a fireplace, spa bath and mountain views. Does it get any better than this?

Cradle Mountain Hotel – Located in a beautiful spot in the northern end of the National Park, this highly-rated hotel features comfortable rooms, a restaurant and a lounge bar with a view.

Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge – Another great option for those seeking ‘rustic cabins in the woods but make it luxury’ type of vibes. This lodge features a highly-rated day spa, restaurant, bistro/bar, and perfect location for accessing walking trails.

Cradle Mountain Walks Map

When you arrive at the Visitor Centre and collect your shuttle bus tickets, you will be given a map of the entire national park which features all of the walking trails. See the below map for reference.

Cradle Mountain Walks Map

Cradle Mountain Walks Map

More Activities in Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain is known around the world for its amazing choice of hiking trails and stunning scenery. Believe it or not, there are some other things to do here that don’t involve getting into your hiking boots.

Devils @ Cradle – No trip to Tasmania is complete without seeing a Tasmanian devil. Located near the national park, this Tasmanian devil sanctuary offers several tours throughout the day where you can get up close to the devils and watch them feeding.

In addition to devils, you’ll get to see the Spotted-tail quoll, and Eastern quoll which are also endangered species. Find more info about tour times and bookings here.

Waldheim Alpine Spa – Craving some relaxation after a long day of hiking? This gorgeous spa offers a peaceful place to unwind whether you’re recovering from a hike or just enjoying your holiday.

Take in the beautiful wilderness views as you relax in their hot tub, steam room or plunge pool. You can also choose from a selection of spa treatments and packages. This is also a great way to spend a cold/rainy day in Cradle Mountain.

The Waldheim Alpine Spa is located at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge.

Cradle Mountain Canyoning Tours – For those seeking some excitement during your stay in Cradle Mountain, taking a canyoning tour might be your thing. Spend the day sliding down waterfalls and abseiling off cliffs for the ultimate adventure.

The good news is that you don’t need any experience, your guide will be there to walk you through every challenge. Tours depart from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and operate daily between Nov 1 – April 30.

When you book online, you can choose from half day or full day canyoning tours.

Spot Wombats – Get off the shuttle bus at Ronny Creek, the best place to see wombats in the wild in Cradle Mountain. You’ll have a pretty high chance of spotting wombats grazing in the grassy fields here. The best time of day for sightings is morning and late afternoon.

Take a wander along the boardwalk, you’ll notice that some of these wombats are not shy and come right up close. This is an awesome place for being able to take photos and watch these adorable little animals in their natural habitat!

Cradle Mountain Wombats

Cute wombat in Ronny Creek, Cradle Mountain

Hiking Cradle Mountain – The Best Cradle Mountain Walking Tracks

Short/Easy Cradle Mountain Walking Trails

Knyvet Falls Track

  • Distance: 1.1km
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Start: Cradle Mountain Lodge

Beginning across the road from Cradle Mountain Lodge, this easy walking trail only takes 30 minutes to complete. From the Visitor Centre, you’ll want to get off the bus at the Ranger Station which is the first stop on the bus route.

The trail is quite scenic following a boardwalk through the lush rainforest, passing by a river and two waterfalls. A short detour near the start of this walking track will bring you to the beautiful Pencil Pine Falls lookout.

Continue your walk along the pretty forested path that winds along a flowing river until you arrive at the majestic Knyvet Falls. This walk may be short but it certainly delivers in beautiful scenery.

It is ideal for families or those who wish to combine it with a number of other short walks on a day trip to Cradle Mountain.

Knyvet Falls, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

The beautiful Knyvet Falls, Cradle Mountain

King Billy Track

  • Distance: 1.9km
  • Time: 45 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Start: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge

This is another easy but great walk to include on your Cradle Mountain itinerary. To get there, take the shuttle bus to the Rangers Station. The trail starts off at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge.

Admire the towering King Billy pine trees as you enjoy a leisurely stroll through the rainforest. These incredible 40m trees can live for more than 1000 years and this is the only place in the world where you will find them!

The entire walk follows a boardwalk through the forest which makes it a relaxing way to take in the scenery with minimal effort required. The King Billy Walk is a peaceful and stunning trail with less crowds than some of the other more popular walks in the area.

Cradle Mountain Valley Boardwalk

  • Distance: 5.5km
  • Time: 2-3hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Start: Interpretation Centre

An easy 2-3 hour walk that follows Dove River for 5.5km starting from the Interpretation Centre and finishing at Dove Lake via Ronny Creek. This scenic walk is perfect for all ages following a boardwalk with flat terrain for the duration of the track.

For those who wish to complete the walk in a shorter time, you can also take the shuttle bus for sections of this route. Take in the stunning scenery as you pass through fields, forests, and waterfalls with views of Cradle Mountain in the background.

The boardwalk is another great introduction to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park and ideal for those seeking a less demanding walk. Keep your eyes peeled for wombats!

Cradle Mountain Hiking Guide

Enchanted Walk

  • Distance: 1.1km
  • Time: 20 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Start: Interpretation Centre

The perfect intro to Cradle Mountain and an easy 1.1km circuit path that loops through a pretty section of rainforest and passes by a cascading creek.

This 20-minute walk starts from the Cradle Mountain Interpretation Centre and is suitable for all ages. It may be one of the shorter walks in the national park but as its name suggests, the scenery is pretty magical!

You’ll find a number of interpretive tunnels along the track which make it fun for the kids to climb through. Keep your eyes peeled for pademelons and wombats which can sometimes can be spotted near the path.

To reach this walk, get off the shuttle bus at the Interpretation Centre which is the first stop after departing the Visitor Centre.

Dove Lake Circuit

Distance: 6kmTime: 2-3 hrsDifficulty: Easy – ModerateStart: Dove Lake Car Park

This is the most popular hike in Cradle Mountain and ideal to complete in a day trip. It’s suitable for all ages and abilities. The scenery is the best part with breath-taking views of Cradle Mountain to be seen as you make your way around the lake.

The trail begins where the shuttle bus drops you off, right at Dove Lake. Following the lake pretty closely from start to finish, the trail passes through a variety of stunning landscapes and scenic lookout spots.

With many great photo opportunities along the way, you’ll find yourself pulling out your camera at every turn! My favourite spot was at the iconic Dove Lake Boat Shed (pictured below).

The Dove Lake Circuit is 6.4km and considered an easy-moderate walk with plenty of boardwalks, stairs and a well-maintained trail to follow. It can easily be completed within 3 hours.

Hiking Cradle Mountain - The Ultimate Guide

Hiking The Dove Lake Circuit

Longer/More Difficult Cradle Mountain Hikes

Hansons Peak

  • Distance: 3km
  • Time: 1-2hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult
  • Start: Dove Lake Car Park

A short but steep trail that rewards you with spectacular views of Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake once you reach the top. Hansons Peak is located directly across from Marion’s Lookout on the opposite side of Dove Lake. It is however shorter than the Marion’s Lookout hike and the views are just as epic.

Hansons Peak provides a great alternative to the busier and more popular Cradle Mountain hikes. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path and away from the crowds, then this is the perfect option for you.

Instead of hiking to the summit and then immediately returning to the car park, you have the choice of extending the hike and including several other trails. After climbing to the top, continue on the Face Track until you reach Lake Wilks Track which leads you back down to the Dove Lake Circuit before ending at the Boat Shed.

Barn Bluff

  • Distance: 23km
  • Time: 10 hrs
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Start: Dove Lake Car Park

Located in the northern corner of the national park, this massive peak is hard to miss. The best view of Barn Bluff can be seen from the summit of Cradle Mountain. Conquering this remote peak makes for a very long day of hiking and involves some steep boulder scrambling to reach the top.

Perhaps you have hiked Cradle Mountain before and you’re seeking a new challenge with some different scenery or maybe you just want to get off the beaten path. Either way, the Barn Bluff hike is a less busy alternative to the Cradle Mountain summit hike.

If you’re keen to do this hike, you should aim to start very early in the morning as it will take most of the day to complete. Barn Bluff should only be attempted when the weather allows for it. Fitness levels should also be considered before attempting it.

The Barn Bluff track can be reached by following a trail that extends from the Overland Track. You will continue on the Overland Track about 6km passed the turn off for Cradle Mountain Summit before you come across the well-marked Barn Bluff track.

This is a great way to get a taste of the Overland Track for those who don’t have the time to commit to it. If you’d prefer to stretch the Barn Bluff hike over 2 days, this is possible by camping at the Waterfall Valley Hut campground.

Cradle Mountain Summit Hike

Barn Bluff as seen from the Cradle Mountain Summit

Crater Lake/Marion’s Lookout

  • Distance: 6km
  • Time: 3hrs (depending on the chosen route)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Start: Dove Lake Car Park

If you’re planning to do the Dove Lake Circuit but seeking an extra challenge with an epic view at the end, consider adding the Marion’s Lookout to your hike. It can be directly accessed by following the Marion’s Lookout Link Track which is a very steep trail extending from the Dove Lake Circuit.

Alternatively, you can follow a less challenging but longer trail (3 hours return) which begins at the Dove Lake car park and passes by Lake Lilla, Wombat Pool and Crater Lake. If you choose to hike Cradle Mountain Summit, you will also pass Marion’s Lookout on the way up.

Once you reach Marion’s Lookout, nothing beats the incredible view over Dove Lake and the Cradle Mountain peaks towering above it. This is the perfect place to stop for lunch and take it all in.

In my opinion, Marion’s Lookout is one of the best views in all of Cradle Mountain so however you choose to get there, it is definitely worth the effort!

Marion's Lookout, Cradle Mountain

Marion’s Lookout, Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain Summit Hike

  • Distance: 13km
  • Time: 8hrs
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Start: Dove Lake Car Park

For the seasoned hiker and those who are up for a challenge, the Cradle Mountain Summit hike is the one you should choose. This difficult hike involves climbing steep terrain, scrambling over boulders and avoiding sheer cliff drops for 13km. Needless to say, fitness levels and weather conditions should be taken into consideration before embarking on this epic adventure.

If you’re lucky to have a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with the most spectacular panoramic view over the national park from the summit. We chose to do the summit hike on our road trip through Tasmania and while it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, it turned out to be one of the main highlights of our trip!

Cradle Mountain Summit Hike

The challenging but awesome trail to the summit of Cradle Mountain!

Starting at Dove Lake, you will make your way past Lake Lilla, Wombat Pool, Crater Lake and then reach Marion’s Lookout before beginning the ascent to the summit. On your way back, you can either return via the same way or follow the Face Track and then the Lake Wilks Track which brings you down to the Dove Lake Circuit.

Keep in mind that this hike is classified as Grade 5 difficulty and takes around 8 hours to complete. You will definitely need to wear proper hiking boots for the summit hike.

Be sure to pack some warm layers/waterproof jackets as the weather can change rapidly. Cradle Mountain is an alpine region and weather patterns can be unpredictable, no matter the season.

This is not a suitable hike for young children and shouldn’t be attempted during wet or snowy conditions. As it will take most of the day to finish this hike, you should aim to start as early in the morning as possible.

cradle mountain summit hike

Epic views on the way to the summit

The Overland Track

  • Distance: 65km
  • Time: 6 days
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Start: Ronny Creek Car Park

Perhaps the most well-known hike in Cradle Mountain, the Overland Track is a bucket list hiking experience for the avid hiker. This famous 6 day hike passes through the best of Cradle Mountain – St Clair National Park and is known for its spectacular scenery. Attracting visitors from all over the world, the Overland Track offers one of the best multi-day hikes in all of Australia!

Enjoy the chance to reconnect with nature while surrounded by the remote Tasmanian wilderness. The journey will take you through rainforests, valleys, alpine meadows and mountain summits all in the span of 6 unforgettable days. This epic hike begins at the Ronny Creek car park which can be accessed via the shuttle bus from the Visitor Centre.

It’s essential to be well-prepared for this hike, you must carry enough food and supplies to last you the full 6-day journey. The number of permits issued for the Overland Track is limited so booking ahead is essential due to very high demand. See the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife website to find more info and register for your Overland Track Pass.

hiking in cradle moutain national park

Hiking the Face Track

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