Cradle Mountain - Hiking
The popular Cradle Mountain can be hiked year-round. However, in the winter you have to deal with snow and despite more pleasant temperatures in the summer, the weather is unpredictable.
Snow in winter usually from July to September with an average day temperature of 6°C / 43°F. It can get even colder and freezing during the night (below 0°C). Once we had snow in November and zero degrees while hiking. More stable weather from December to April with warmer temperatures. The warmest months are January and February, while the coldest months are July and August. But still, the weather is unpredictable. Be prepared for 4 seasons in one day even in summer. Wildflowers are abundant during spring and early summer. In autumn from late April to May autumn colours are ranging from gold to deep red.
It's one of the most popular National Parks in Tassie. In winter it's low season without any crowds. During summer it's busy with day visitors especially at Dove Lake. There is one car park at Dove Lake and one at Ronny Creek. Arriving early is recommended, otherwise shuttle buses have to be taken from the Visitor Center or the Interpretation Center. With the National Park Pass you can use the shuttle bus for free. The last one leaves Dove Lake in the afternoon. Rangers close the gate before it gets too crowded. Longer and more strenuous hikes are less busy. Enjoy a more peaceful hike and start in the early morning. It gets less busy again in the late afternoon. Peak season lasts from October/November until April.
Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair declared a National Park in 1971 and are part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area since 1982. In 1922 it was Scenic Reserve only, and it is estimated that millions of native King Billy pines were felled until the 70s.
We spent several days at Cradle Mountain National Park in February and a year later in November, and none was really sunny. We experienced different seasons in one day except snow in February. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see Cradle Mountain once in five days and different seasons. Anyway this National Park is a very special place to get away from it all and even just misty and rainy it has a majestic beauty. If you haven’t been to Cradle, you haven’t been to Tassie.
Situated at an altitude of 940 m and nestled amongst the mountain peaks. A variety of trails all at appropriate ranges of difficulty start from here. These trails are well marked.
The easy Dove Lake Circuit takes 2 hours and about 6 km
- Crater Lake Circuit takes 2 hours and about 6 km. It's a good option for windy and rainy days.
Cradle Mountain Summit takes 7-8 hours and is about 13 km via Lake Lilla and Marions Lookout. There are different choices for a return to Dove Lake car park.
Around 8.000 people walk the Overland Track each year. Due to the weather, the most famous season is from 1. October to 31. May. Hikers are required to walk from north to south. Booking in advance is essential for the peak season. The fee for adults is 200 $ plus National Park Pass fee. From 1. June to 30. September advanced booking isn’t necessary. You can hike in either direction and you have to pay the National Park fee only. Anyway, hiking in winter is only recommended for experienced hikers. Expect heavy snow. Snowshoes are required. More information about the Overland track
Some Cradle walks start here; the short Enchanted trail to an old-growth rainforest, King Billy Walk, Pencil Pine Falls Rainforest Walk and the more challenging Dove Canyon Track. This trail takes about 2 hours along the Pencil Pine Falls, and Knyvet Falls with steep and rough climbing uphill back to the Cradle Valley Boardwalk. The hike is less popular with few hikers only.
Helpful for Tasmania are the 60 short walks: number 29-32 are Cradle Mountain tracks.
Bring clothes that you can layer on and a rainproof jacket as well.
Where to Stay
There are different accommodation types around Cradle:
- Cabins and cottages close to Cradle
- Nice and clean low budget cabins from Discovery Parks – We stayed here twice. Wifi for free at the reception.
Camping is possible around Cradle Mountain. Powered and unpowered campsites are available at Discovery Parks for example. Nevertheless, bear in mind that rain and snow are common and nights are often chilly. Of course, with the perfect equipment, it's much cheaper than a cabin or lodge.
Book your accommodation, self-catering cottage well in advance; otherwise, expect a much higher rate on the day of arrival.