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Cradle Mountain Lakes Circuit is a 20.5km, grade 4 Circuit hike located in Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park Tasmania. The hike should take approximately 9hrs to complete.
This Cradle Mountain Lakes Circuit hike takes in most of the highlights of the area around Cradle Mountain and showcases the diversity the area offers. It is a long day, much longer than the distance would indicate. There are sections where the going is fast and straightforward, but there are many sections where the going is very steep and slow. But it is a superb hike with excellent scenic value that is well worth doing if you have the fitness, plus the Lake Rodway section is off the beaten track where you can get away from the crowds that are at many of the other parts of the hike.
Start at Ronny Creek, then follow the Overland Track past Crater Lake and head up the steep ascent to Marions Lookout. The views here are stupendous on a good day. Then continue along this to Kitchen Hut. This is a good spot to have a bite to eat, and provides shelter from the elements. It is also a good time to decide if to continue, as weather does change rapidly.
It may be tempting to do the Cradle Mountain Summit here, but it is not recommended you do that and this whole circuit as you need to allow roughly 2.5 to 3 hours for getting to and back from the summit. Thus potentially making it a 12 hour day (or even longer). Whilst possible, you will need very, very high levels of fitness to do (and a late sunset).
From here take the Overland for a few km until you reach the junction. This section has great views towards Barn Bluff and is quite well developed and quick to progress. At the junction take the left along the Lake Rodway Track, you will have fantastic views here on a good day as well. Shortly the trail will drop very steeply. It is very slow going here and you will need to take great care as the trail can be very muddy and there are many tree routes to navigate over. But the character of the area is very, very different (and very beautiful) from other areas of Cradle Mountain. Plus there are very few people that take this route.
When you reach Scott Kilvert Memorial hut you can take a short detour to visit Lake Rodway (a few foot trails are on the other side of the hut when you arrive). This is a good lunch or snack spot. Upon returning to the hut, continue along the trail. Do take care to keep an eye out for trail markings as it can be difficult to discern where the trail is at times. This area affords some really interesting views of the lesser seen other side of Cradle Mountain. After Flynns Tarn the trail starts to ascend and you will arrive at the junction with Face Track. Turn left and continue along Face Track.
The going here can be slow and there is considerable amount of scrambling up and down, so do take care. But also take time to admire the incredible views towards Dove Lake. When you hit the junction, descend down to Dove Lake via Lake Wilks. The descent should be taken very slowly as it is very, very steep and requires scrambling down rocks. The trail is very steep and slow going pretty well all the way down to Dove Lake. But there are many fantastic views on the way down.
Once arriving down at Dove Lake circuit the going is much easier and probably a bit of a relief after the hard going for the last few hours. Go left and continue along, don’t take the turnoff to Marions Lookout, soon you will pass the famous boat shed. After that take the signposted junction to the left to Lake Lille. After a short while you will come to the next junction (just after the outlet from the lake). Take the right along the Cradle Valley Boardwalk then continue to the next junction which will rejoin you with the Overland. Keep an eye out for Wombats in this area, they do come out to graze in the late afternoon/early evening. Follow this and return to the carpark.
By this time you’ll likely be quite tired, but it will have been a fantastic day.
Cradle Mountain lies at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. It is 1 1/2 hours from Devonport via the B19 and B14 south to Sheffield, then C136 and C132 to the park entrance.
From Launceston, it is a 2 1/2 hour drive on the Bass Highway (A1), then the signposted route via B13 and C156 through Sheffield.
From the west, drive 2 hours along the A10 and C132 from Queenstown or 1 1/2 hours from Burnie via B18 through Ridgley, then the A10 and C132 to reach the park.
There is no direct road link through the Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park to join the two ends of the park. Visitors may most easily reach Lake St Clair via the Cradle Link Road (C132) and the Muchison and Lyell Highways (A10).
- The circuit can be taken either way.
- Ensure you know the weather forecast for the day and be prepared for any conditions as the weather is very unpredictable at all times of the year.
- It is a long and quite challenging hike, so only attempt if you have a high degree of fitness and experience.
- Hiking poles will be very useful for this.
Max elevation: 1269 m
Min elevation: 867 m
Total climbing: 1061 m
Total descent: -1061 m
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