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.
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.
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.
Above: The Overland Track sign greets you as you start the hike.
Below: One of the cute wombats we found.
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.
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.
Above: Stairs, stairs and more stairs
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.
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.
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.
Above: 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.
Above: 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.
Above: Crater Falls
Above: 2 hours back to the car park
Above: The path along Crater Lake to the boat shed
Above: Steps down to Crater Falls
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:
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