This beautiful Starling Gap to High Lead Carpark hike follows various paths that used to be tramways used by the timber industry. Various historical remnants can be seen along the route e.g. old machinery, small sections of tram lines etc. The area is very lush and a delight to hike through.
Whilst most of the hike is very gentle,t here is the very steep and long High Lead. This drops 400 metres over 1,600 metres. It is a section that must be taken with great care, and is actually quite grueling to do. When arriving at Starling Gap look for the signposted entry. There is another track near the toilet block, but do not take that. Once underway the track meanders through the forest. You will get glimpses of the Ada River through the forest.
After roughly 7.6km you will reach the crossroads.From here you can continue straight down to the High Lead. But it is worth taking the short (2.1km each way) side trip to Federal Mill. A great lunch spot. Just before you hit Federal Mill you will need to cross the Ada River. There is a series of fallen logs across. But the easier way is to use the stepping stones across.
Once you’ve visited Federal Mill, backtrack to the Cross Roads. Then head South to the High Lead. Take your time down this very steep section. There will be a couple of points crossing the road. At the bottom of High Lead, follow the trail to High Lead Carpark. There will be the occasional log (or similar) crossings to do.
Note: You will need to arrange a car shuffle to get back from High Lead to Starling Gap after you have done the hike.
There are various ways to reach Starling Gap. One way is to go to Powelltown, then after approx 10km you will see the turnoff up Big Creek Road. You’l nee to continue to High Lead Carpark to leave one vehicle there.
Once back at Big Creek Road, follow the signs (some may be missing) to reach Starling Gap. This is roughly 11km from the junction.
Hiking poles will be useful to assist with High Lead.
Plus leeches are common here, so bring your favorite leech remedy/repellent.
Max elevation: 796 m
Min elevation: 321 m
Total climbing: 594 m
Total descent: -1049 m