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Walks for kids, walks for the intrepid on Cradle Mountain
Walks for kids, walks for the intrepid on Cradle Mountain

10 walks on Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Area since 1982, the National Park encompasses a range of walks around Cradle Mountain, from short kids friendly walks to multiple day treks on the Overland Track walkers are immersed in an alpine wilderness, cool temperate rainforest and vistas from cascading waterfalls to high mountain tops. Visitors are dwarfed by the enormity of the natural landscape.

SHORT WALKS

Enchanted Walk

Sunlight, dappled beams dancing fairy lights over moss draped foliage is the stuff of imaginative worlds. Trunks clothed with lichen, liverworts and twisted roots of myrtle beech simply add to one of the world’s great short walks. A twenty minute walk captures the variety of the terrain with glimpses of tussock opening up into moorland. The walk starts at the bridge at the park entrance and returns to the Cradle Mountain Lodge. This is a truly special walk for kids. If you are a winter visitor this is a perfect winter walk when there’s a dusting of snow. You are passing Pencil Pine Creek. Look for the namesake Tasmanian beauties during your forest walk.

  • Length: 1.1 km
  • Duration: 30 minutes

Visitor Centre Rainforest Walk

Departing from the Visitor Centre is a short boardwalk to Pencil Pine Waterfalls. This is another easy grade walk for all age groups. This walk is wheelchair accessible. The easy track, suitable for wheelchairs, then circles back to the carpark.

  • Duration: 10 mins

Weindorfers Forest Walk

The Weindorfers Forest Walk departs from Waldheim chalet and is an easy grade through a forest of King Billy pines, celery-top pines and myrtles. The walk takes about 20 minutes at a gentle pace. Relax and absorb the displays in the chalets narrating the story of Weindorfer’s life and times. For kids it is informative, with the chalet and the changes in landscape providing variety to keep children engaged. At the end of the walk is the beginning of the Overland Trail, a great place to see the experienced trampers fresh and raring to go. The size of some backpacks is daunting.

  • Length: 300 metres
  • Duration: 20 minutes

Cradle Valley Boardwalk

Cradle Valley Boardwalk starts at the interpretation centre and ends at Ronny Creek, although you can keep going to Dove Lake via Lake Lilla. For the energetic add on a short loop around the 10-minute Pencil Pine Falls and at the beginning of Rainforest Walk. The scenery has dramatic shifts in landscape from lush, thick rainforest with openings onto buttongrass then moves to alpine scrub. Another glorious walk for views of Cradle Mountain making sure to turn around to check the views from front and back.

  • Length: 6km
  • Duration: 2 – 3 hours

Cradle Valley Waterfall Walk

The starts at the Cradle Mountain Lodge Shop with open alpine tussock and then descends into the rainforest. There are marked viewing platforms with the majority of the walk on boardwalks. There is a platform overlooking Knyvet Falls. In spring the area is filled with wildflowers. You will return to the car park on an uphill track.

  • Length: 1.5km
  • Duration: 1 hour

Dove Lake Loop Track

This walk Is a perfect introductory track for a moderately paced half day walk for families. The majority of the walk is boardwalk encouraging kids to look over the side of the boardwalk for action. Towards the southern end of Dove Lake is Ballroom forest. The forest is a cool temperate rainforest (remember your clothing layers). Ancient myrtle-beech trees coated in moss rise majestically from a moss strewn forest floor. It’s green magic in all its glory.

TIP: About 600 metres into the walk is the iconic Boat Shed, built in 1940 by the first ranger at Cradle Mountain, Lionell Connell and another selfie moment.
TIP: The shuttle stop at Snake Hill cuts approximately 3.4km off the total walk.

  • Length: 6.5km
  • Duration: 2 – 3 hours.

Glacier Rock photo moment

At the edge of Dove Lake is an enormous rock showcasing the glacial action.  Invite kids in the group to find deep grooves in the rock caused by glacier friction as it moves.

FACT: The tea coloured water is the result of tannins leached from buttongrass and tea tree vegetation.

Marion’s Lookout

Enjoy an exhilarating climb which involves stairs and a rock climbing section with chains. There are brilliant views with hidden lakes and lush forests to be discovered during the climb. Dominating the skyline on the western side of Dove Lake, Marion’s Lookout is perched on the edge of a glacier-carved plateau. Fabulous views, fabulously windy and can be shrouded in low fog and clouds making ascent and descent a slow exercise in caution where feet are placed.

  • Length: 2km
  • Duration: 1 hour

Summit walk

Cradle Mountain,1545m above sea level consists of Jurassic dolerite columns, climbers to the summit are rewarded with a selfie moment on a Jurassic rock similar to other mountains in the area. Cradle Mountain was named after its resemblance to a gold mining cradle.

  • Duration: 6 hours (return)

OVERLAND TRACK

Multiple day trek Overland Track. Take the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Australia’s deepest lake, Lake St. Clair is one of Australia’s great wilderness walks. From spectacular mountains, through moss filled gullies and past deep glacial lakes visitors have a choice of park huts to rest in overnight.

Lake St Clair

If you’ve completed your Overland Track walk at Lake St Clair and feel up to exploring the area further, or you are just visiting independently, there are plenty of walking options at Lake St Clair with the shortest walk 2.4km.  Or perhaps it is time to try out the nearest spa and indulge.

LAKE ST CLAIR NATIONAL PARK GUIDE

TIP: Stop at the Visitor Centre and purchase a parks pass (this can be bought online) to allow access into the Park beyond the boom gate. Nearby is the interpretation centre with a 3D plan of the park. This is outside of the park entrance boom gate. Families can decide what to see and where to go at this point.

WEATHER

Expect rain, blustery wet conditions, fog with an average of one day in ten being sunny. The most stable month is February and March with snow falling throughout the year.  Expect four seasons in one day.

BEST TIME TO GO

February and March with less likelihood of rain. Sunshine is a treat rather than expectation in the forests of Tasmania. And do not let that put you off. Cradle Mountain is not a Queensland beach rather its a timeless world where nature’s bounty thrives on regular rainfall. Simply layer up with a waterproof clothing layer as part of your backpack supplies.

Cradle Mountain & Lake St Clair National Park

SAFETY

Your accommodation provider will have a daily logbook for visitors to record proposed whereabouts. Always sign in and sign out.
Carry a hat, sunscreen, and weather-proof jacket in all seasons as the weather can be extremely changeable. If attempting a longer day walk or starting a walk late in the day, a head torch is a must. Take plenty of water with you as the lake water is not safe to drink. Water from the tanks at the huts should be sterilized first. Take more food than you think you’ll need in case you get caught out longer than you expected. Sturdy footwear is recommended. Boots are strongly recommended for multiple day treks. It is likely footwear will get wet.
Do not attempt the Overland Track without a pass. Rangers will escort you from the park if you have no pass.

TIP: Day trip from Launceston is not recommended.

Most visitors are on a quick in and out day trip from Launceston. Launceston is a 2 hour drive (one way). Day trippers from Launceston spend 4 hours journeying from their accommodation to the park making it a long day with really little opportunity to relax into the spirit of a wilderness area.

For budget accommodation check out article Ten places to camp in Tasmania.

GETTING THERE

There are two entrances to the park:
Northern entrance, at the town of Sheffield, approximately 1 ½ hour drive from Launceston. Southern entrance is at Derwent Bridge, in Lake St Clair National Park, a 2 ½ hour drive from Hobart. There is no direct road link through Cradle Mountain. Bookings for the Lake St Clair passenger ferry can be made at Lake St Clair Lodge, and fishing licences are available from Derwent Bridge Chalets. Find out other essential information for visiting Tasmania’s parks and reserves on our Know before you go section.

ENTRANCE FEES AND PERMITS

The Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and all accommodation (except Waldheim) are a few kilometres outside the park. If you pay for a vehicle pass you can drive to Ronny Creek and Dove Lake inside the park. With a vehicle pass you cannot use the shuttle bus service. Alternatively, you can get a single person pass which entitles you to use the shuttle bus service. If you bought your own vehicle you can drive between the Visitor Centre and your accommodation (excluding Waldheim) and when you are actually going into the national park, park your vehicle at the Visitor Centre and take the shuttle bus.

  • Daily (up to 24 hours) – If bringing your own vehicle into the park you should have to pay only $24 for the carload (up to 8 people). If you come on a bus you will have to pay $16.50 per person. You can only use the shuttle bus service if you have an individual pass.
  • Holiday (up to 8 weeks) – If you are staying in the park for a couple of days it will be cheaper to buy a holiday pass. Per vehicle with up to 8 people $60. Per person $30. A holiday pass is valid for every national park in Tasmania so it is well worth paying a little extra.
  • Annual and Two Year passes are also available.
  • If bringing your own vehicle into the park you should have to pay only the $24 for the carload (up to 8 people). If you come on a bus you will have to pay $16.50 per person. You can only use the shuttle bus service if you have an individual pass.
  • Holiday (up to 8 weeks) – If you are staying in the park for a couple of days it will be cheaper to buy a holiday pass. Per vehicle with up to 8 people $60. Per person $30. A holiday pass is valid for every national park in Tasmania so it is well worth paying a little extra.
  • The Cradle Mountain shuttle (free) is the only way to travel through the park during opening hours, 8.00am to 9.00pm (summer October – March) and 8.30am – 4.30pm (winter).  Shuttle peak time is every 15 minutes from the Visitor Centre. Main stops include Interpretation Centre, Snake Hill, Ronny’s Creek and Dove Lake. Check here for more info.Source Wikitravel
  • TRAILS AND BOARDWALKS

Signs instruct visitors to not leave the designated trail. Protecting fragile vegetation as trampling over the tussock to snap a photo of a wombat is not worth the angst of damaging said wombat’s dining options as well as avoiding very nasty up to the thigh-high bogs that lie alongside the boardwalks.

  • LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS

No rubbish bins means you carry out all rubbish. Plan ahead to carry out your rubbish.

WHERE TO STAY

Cradle Mountain is remote with accommodation priced accordingly. There are choices from budget friendly holiday parks to luxury options complete with spas overlooking the wilderness beyond.

Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village. Across the road from the Visitor Centre are self-catering cabins. Fully self-contained and surrounded by Tasmanian eucalyptus.
Discovery Parks An excellent budget option for families with powered and unpowered campsites, dormitories and standard ensuites for larger groups.

Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge Pampering when the weather sets in means Peppers is your accommodation option. Positioned at the park entrance with large windows overlooking a lake and wilderness you are indulged with a fireplace in each room. Perhaps a spa will warm the toes after a day tramping the park.

Cradle Mountain Highlanders. Set among trees rustic mountain cabins are well appointed with full catering facilities including a fireplace for those chilly nights.

Cradle Mountain Hotel. A modern hotel, located a short distance form the park has the The remaining hotel in the area is set a short way further from the park with modern rooms overlooking the landscapes.

Lake St Clair camping describes camping options, “

In the heart of Tasmania’s beautiful Wilderness World Heritage Area, Lake St Clair offers a number of accommodation options, all of which provide a great base for visitors exploring the area.

There are powered and unpowered camping spots available at the lakeside. These are sheltered sites, nestled in the trees, and are suitable for tents, caravans and small motorhomes.

​The campsite amenities include a basic kitchen, toilets, hot showers and laundry facilities. There is a small charge for usage: for up to date fees please check out ​Lake St Clair Tourist Park website.

Basic bunkhouse style accommodation is also available. This is in keeping with the style of the Overland Track’s timber huts, and offers basic heating, electric power and lighting. Shared berths, or more private twin and double room options can be booked.

​There is a café and restaurant onsite.”

The journey is worth it.

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