Cradle Mountain is found at the northern end of the Cradle Mt – Lake St Clair National Park. The national park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It has an abundance of natural beauty as well as very cute wildlife.
It is about a 4 hour drive from the capital of Hobart or about a 2 hour drive from Launceston.
Cradle Mountain is also the start of the world famous Overland Track, a 65 km, 6 day hike through some of Tasmania’s most spectacular wilderness region.
Our Cradle Mountain Hike
We started our hike at Ronny Creek car park. There is a registration booth with a “sign in” book. When you arrive, write your names, car registration, time and where you are going into the book (just in case the worst happens) and when you return you “sign out”.
From the Ronny Creek car park, we set out on the Overland Track. We then took a right turn onto the Horse Track and climbed to Crater Peak before heading to Kitchen Hut. We returned on the Overland Track via Marions Lookout and the Crater Lake boat shed before arriving back at the Ronny Creek car park.
We took our time on the hike, stopping to take photos and take in the amazing scenery. From leaving the car park to our return was about 6 hours.
Ronny Creek Car Park to the Horse Track
There are two ways to get to the Ronny Creek car park where we started our hike. Firstly you can drive and park there yourself or park at the Visitor Centre and catch a bus to the car park. We arrived at the car park at about 8am and had no problem getting a car park.
Once you sign the registration book, head off on the start of the Overland Track. The track initially is a wooden path over a marsh area. This is a great place to spot wombats – we saw two.
You continue along the wooden path until you come to blue signs, two directing you to follow the left path to continue on the Overland Track and to Marions Lookout and one directing you along the right path to the Horse Track. The the right path to the Horse Track.
Horse Track to Kitchen Hut
Once you have climbed the stairs the real reason you take the Horse Track becomes apparent – the amazing views. The landscape opens up and you have views up to the peak and down onto Crater Lake.
The other benefit is that few people take this track. We did this hike in peak season and did not see another hiker on the Horse Track.
Kitchen Hut & the Summit
Hikers are not allowed to stay in Kitchen Hut overnight, unless in an emergency. The hut is two-stories high, allowing an upper access point, when the snow is deep.
Return to Ronny Creek Car Park via Marions Lookout & Crater Lake
We stopped at Marions Lookout for lunch and to enjoy the views. The clouds were again low but the view was still spectacular.
As you leave Marions Lookout you have a short but steep climb down. The steep section has a chain to assist you and is not difficult if you take your time to make sure you keep your footing. People who are starting the Overland Track climb this section with full backpacks.
Once you have left the steep section of the hike after leaving Marions Lookout, the track follows a beautiful path along Crater Lake to the boat shed.
After leaving the boat shed, the scenery changes again as you head down timber steps to Crater Falls.
From Crater Falls you then find the blue sign where you originally took a right turn to hike up the Horse Track. From here it is an easy walk back to the car park and a chance to see wombats.
When back at the car park, remember to sign out of the visitor book.
Recommended Gear for this Hike
While this is only a day hike, it is reasonably difficult and the weather can be unpredictable. It is therefore important to be prepared when doing this hike. The following gear is recommended for this hike:
- Good hiking boots / shoes. We saw people doing the hike up to Marions Lookout in sandals and one lady in a pair of ballerina style slip on shoes.
- Hiking poles. They are helpful on the steeper sections of the track.
- Wet weather gear. The weather can be unpredictable so it is important to have this gear. We have reusable ponchos that cover us, our backpacks and go down to just above our knees so we stay relatively dry if it is raining.
- Layers. As the weather is unpredictable, it is important to dress in layers so you can adjust your clothing to how hot or cold it is.
- First aid kit. You never know when you might injure yourself.
- Food and water.
- Camera and spare batteries. Definitely don’t forget this. The scenery is amazing. Spare batteries are also important as batteries go flat faster in colder climates.