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Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park...
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The Pencil Pine King Billy Tracks circuit is one of the lesser known hikes in the Cradle Mountain area and should only be undertaken if you have excellent navigational skills. The trail looks to be not maintained and can be very difficult to ascertain where the trail actually is in many parts. When the author did the trail there were frequent trail markings that could be used, but at various places these had disappeared. Plus these should not be relied upon. But if you have the map reading and navigational skills it is a worthwhile hike to do and you will escape the crowds in other areas of Cradle Mountain.
Park at the Interpretation Centre then take the footpath to take the Enchanted Walk. Continue along the Enchanted Walk until you cross the bridge. Here is where the Pencil Pine trail starts. To access required jumping over a fallen tree that hid the entrance.
The trail continues along near to the Pencil Pine Creek. But is very, very difficult to distinguish here. At the time of writing the trail was marked with pink ribbons. The trail soon heads along the canyon and requires some rock scrambling in places. After the canyon the trail soon follows more open, alpine grasslands. In the open areas the markings are poles placed periodically. The trail then ducks in and out of bush before arriving at the junction to Speeler/King Billy.
Take the left to take King Billy. Follow this to reach the Cradle Mountain lodge. Once here you can either head along the road back to the carpark, or take the Enchanted Walk back. The Enchanted Walk is a much more enjoyable route. Once this is done, cross the road to return to the carpark (or bus stop) at the Interpretation Centre.
About the region
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is located in the Central Highlands area of Tasmania (Australia), 165 kilometres northwest of Hobart. The park contains many walking trails, and is where hikes along the well-known Overland Track usually begin. Major features are Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff in the northern end, Mount Pelion East, Mount Pelion West, Mount Oakleigh and Mount Ossa in the middle and Lake St Clair in the southern end of the park. The park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
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.
From the Village either take the Shuttle Bus or drive all the way to the Interpretation Centre.
- The circuit can be taken either way. But the way as described will take you up a the sections requiring rock scrambling, rather than down.
- Only undertake this if you have a map and very good navigational skills as the trail is poorly maintained and indistinguishable in many parts.
- 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.
- Hiking poles will be very useful for this.
Max elevation: 936 m
Min elevation: 802 m
Total climbing: 299 m
Total descent: -300 m