Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

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. Our return trip was 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.

Guide to Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

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.

Take the wood path over the marsh area
Guide to Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
One of the cute wombats we saw on the hike
Guide to Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
The Overland Track sign greets you as you start the hike

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.  Take the right path to the Horse Track.

Take the Horse Track to the right

Horse Track to Kitchen Hut

When you turn right at the Horse Track sign you start the journey up steps and more steps (you are climbing about 300 metres from the Ronny Creek car park to Crater Peak). On the day we did the hike, it rained on and off all day and there was a small stream of water flowing down the rock steps
Steps, steps and more steps

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

As you climb to the end of the Horse Track, you are welcomed by the amazing view of Kitchen Hut at the base of the steep climb to the summit of Cradle Mountain.  
As we reached Kitchen Hut it began to rain again and clouds came about half way down the Cradle Mountain summit. We made the decision not to climb to the Cradle Mountain summit at that point.

Hit the play button and use your mouse for a 360 degree view of Cradle Mountain

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.

Guide to Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Return to Ronny Creek Car Park via Marions Lookout & Crater Lake

As you leave Kitchen Hut and head back to Ronny Creek Car Park via the Overland Track, you will find yourself walking along a wooden path as you head to Marions Lookout.
We stopped at Marions Lookout for lunch and to enjoy the views. The clouds were again low but the view was still spectacular.
Guide to Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
2 hours back to the car park
Our view from Marions Lookout as we had lunch

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.

Guide to Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
The path down to Crater Lake and the boat shed
Cradle Mountain
The path flattens after Marions Lookout
Guide to Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
The boat shed on Crater Lake

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.

Steps down to Crater Falls
Guide to Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Crater Falls

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.
  • Sunscreen.
  • 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.

If you are planning a trip to Tasmania, you may also find 5 Must Visit Locations on Tasmania’s East Coast useful.


Hiking Cradle Mountain, Tasmania



32 Responses

  1. Looks like a beautiful hike, seems there is great hiking in Tasmania – I need to go! I want to see a wombat 🙂
    Love the design of the kitchen hut for when the snow is deep – smart!

    1. Tasmania is definitely beautiful Susan and the wombats are sooo cute! We did lots of wombat spotting. We were there in late December (summer) and it snowed a bit the week before we arrived so the hut is definitely a great design for the winter snow.

    1. Thanks Chloe. Tasmania and NZ are definitely similar with their amazing scenery. We’ve hiked a bit around Queenstown and both are beautiful.

  2. I absolutely adore Tasmania! I’ve been wanting to do some hiking in the Cradle Mountain for ages, but so far only had a chance to do a little hike around Dove lake, during a conference at Cradle Mt. I wanted to come back ever since and your beautiful post has inspired me even more. It is such a unique environment, I could easily spend weeks there.

    1. We adore Tassie too Margarita. By the time we finished the Cradle Mountain hike we didn’t get to do the full Dove Lake hike. But if you do get back to Cradle Mountain definitely consider taking the Horse Track if you do this hike.

  3. Ah man, but I want a place like Kitchen Hut as a writing studio in my back yard. So gorgeous. And I need to see a womabt in real life, cuteness. Sounds like a great hike.

    1. Kitchen Hut would be the perfect place for a studio especially in winter! Oh and wombats are so cute. We got to see a number of them in Tasmania.

    1. Thanks Michelle. Tasmania is definitely beautiful and if you are heading there taking a day for the hike is definitely worth the time.

  4. We spent a year in Australia (left in March) and still didn’t have time for Tassie – posts like this make me want to return and visit it so much! What a beautiful hike, the landscape there looks incredible!

    1. We live in Brisbane and it was our first trip to Tassie. So worth it. It is such a beautiful place. If you come back, definitely worth the visit.

  5. Your photos of Cradle Mountain are gorgeous. I did some of the hikes, but I found it so cold! This was when I was pure Queenslander with no proper winter clothes.

    1. We did the hike in late December and there had been a bit of snow the week before. As a Queenslander I totally agree about the cold!

  6. Oh this looks gorgeous! I´ve only been to Australia once, ages ago, and I would really love to come back to explore the south and include a trip to Tasmania as well. Thanks for sharing this awesome hike 🙂

  7. Cradle Mountain is one of my favourite hikes EVER to date! I will never forget that view! Looks like you went on a really atmospheric day which makes it seems all the more dramatic. So interesting to see how moody it can be. When I went it was mid 20’s and so warm. Now to prepare for the whole Overland Track haha…

    1. Haha, we would love to do the Overland Track too. But one day means you get amazing views.

  8. Tasmania is definitely on my bucket list and I hope to get in some hiking while I’m there. This looks like a great hike! Saving it for reference later ☺️

    1. It is definitely a beautiful hike Katy and a great alternative if you don’t have the time to do the full Overland Track.

  9. This walk looks simply out of this world, such stunning views, will have to add this to my bucket list!

    1. It is definitely beautiful Odette and a lot of people miss some of the best views as they don’t take the Horse Track.

  10. I will be heading to Tasmania soon. Hopefully I will be doing some hikes. Yours has inspired me! And thanks for the heads up with the gear to take.

    1. Hope you get a chance to do this hike Sharyn. It is amazing and if you do definitely take the Horse Track.

  11. That hike looks amazing, and that wombat was ADORABLE! Would love to see one myself one day. And go on that epic hike!

    1. The wombats are so cute Kelsey and they seem oblivious to everyone, so it’s easy to grab photos of them.

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