The 8 best Cradle Mountain Walks: Short Hikes to Challenging Day Hikes

January 18, 2024 | By

Hiking Cradle Mountain is a rite of passage for anyone visiting Tasmania.

Whether it’s a short afternoon stroll you’re after or a strenuous multi-day hike, there are scores of Cradle Mountain walking tracks to choose from.

After spending a few days exploring the trails, here are my picks for the best Cradle Mountain hikes to add to your Tassie itinerary!

Best Cradle Mountain Walks
How gorgeous is this walk? Can you spot Cradle Mountain in the distance?

Overview of the best walks in Cradle Mountain

TypeCradle Mountain Walk
Best short walkKing Billy Track
Best Cradle Mountain day walkCradle Mountain Summit
Best walk for familiesDove Lake Circuit
Best walk for viewsHansons Peak

Best Cradle Mountain Short Walks

1. The King Billy Track

Best short walks Cradle Mountain
The King Billy Track is one of the best short walks in Cradle Mountain
  • Distance: 1.9 km
  • Time needed: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting point: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge | Here
  • Best for: an epic forest setting

Starting from Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, the King Billy Track is arguably one of the best short walks in Cradle Mountain.

The 1.9 km boardwalk track goes deep into a forest lined with beautiful wildflowers, towering canopies and majestic King Billy trees, which are said to be nearly 1 500 years old.

Keep an eye out for wallabies and other wildlife as they’re often seen peeking behind the trees!

Unlike the other short walks at Cradle Mountain, this trail is relatively uncrowded and follows a circuit route that’s easy for people of all ages and fitness levels.

2. Dove Lake Boatshed Walk

Dove Lake Boatshed Walk Cradle Mountain
While the iconic boatshed is only a 15-minute walk from the car park, it’s best to pair this with one of the other walks in Cradle Mountain
  • Distance: 1 km
  • Time needed: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Dove Lake Car Park
  • Best for: people with limited time

Famous for its rustic boatshed nestled alongside the water’s edge, Dove Lake is the most sought-after attraction in Cradle Mountain. As a result, scores of tourist’s flock to Dove Lake to set their sights on the famous boatshed with the Cradle Mountain summit as the backdrop.

While there are several longer walks that converge at Dove Lake Boatshed (which I’ll get to later), you may prefer a shorter trail to get here. If that’s the case, you can head straight to the boatshed from Dove Lake Car Park.

It’s a flat 500m walk alongside the lake to the boatshed and you’ll retrace your steps for the route back.

3. The Enchanted Walk

Cradle Mountain Walking Tracks
The Enchanted Walk meanders through grassy plains
  • Distance: 1.1 km
  • Time needed: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge | Here
  • Best for: children

The Enchanted Walk is a favourite amongst families thanks to its kid-friendly trail that runs alongside Pencil Pine Creek at Cradle Mountain Lodge.

The 20-minute walk meanders through a temperate rainforest before reaching button grass moorlands home to resident wombats and wallabies.

The walk is quick and easy, making it an ideal activity to pair with the rest of your Cradle Mountain itinerary.

But it’s a popular trail, so its charm can be overshadowed by the crowds. I’d recommend visiting earlier in the day or opt for another one of the walks nearby.

Best Cradle Mountain Day Walks

1. Dove Lake Circuit

Dove Lake Circuit Trail
The Dove Lake Circuit Trail loops around the tranquil lake
  • Distance: 6 km
  • Time needed: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starting Point: Dove Lake Car Park | Here
  • Best for: families

The Dove Lake Circuit is one of the most popular Cradle Mountain trails.

It’s a 6 km loop leisurely walk with a gentle gradient suitable for all travellers, young and old.

The trail offers beautiful scenery with vibrant wildflowers, striking viewpoints and bushy shrubs.

The Dove Lake Circuit covers a variety of terrain, and the path is complete with a combination of gravel surfaces and boardwalk.

Starting in a clockwise direction, you’ll have majestic views of Cradle Mountain, which looms ahead. There are several side tracks that lead to stunning viewpoints that look out to the mountains and the lake.

But there’s more!

The second half of the walk takes you through a tranquil forest with moss-covered trees and ends at the Dove Lake Boatshed.

This circuit track is a great option if you’re looking for a Cradle Mountain walk suitable for the whole family as there are no climbing sections and the route is pretty flat.

2. Hansons Peak

The Best Cradle Mountain hiking Trails
The Hansons Peak trail circles Dove Lake and is one of the best walks in Cradle Mountain
  • Distance: 7 km
  • Time needed: 3.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Starting Point: Dove Lake Car Park | Here
  • Best for: a fun, uncrowded walk

Hansons Peak offers some of the best views of Dove Lake.

The rugged trail, paired with epic scenery, makes this the best day walk in Cradle Mountain. And it’s uncrowded!

Starting from Dove Lake Car Park, you’ll circle the iconic lake in a clockwise direction. As you ascend towards Hansons Peak, the trail becomes gradually steeper with a short chain section.

After reaching the top and taking in the spectacular views of Twisted Lake, Cradle Mountain Summit and Dove Lake, you’ll continue toward Lake Wilks before joining the Dove Lake Circuit trail and ending at the boatshed.

Pro Tip: I preferred the Hansons Peak trail over Marions Lookout. But, if you’d like to do both, there’s the option to combine the two trails. After reaching Hansons Peak, you’ll continue on the Face Track to Kitchen Hut (instead of walking toward Lake Wilks to join the Dove Lake Circuit). At Kitchen Hut, take a right to Marions Lookout. This will add an hour or so to your hike

3. Marions Lookout

Marions Lookout Walk in Cradle Mountain
The view from Marions Lookout
  • Distance: 5km
  • Time needed: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Starting Point: Dove Lake Car Park | Here
  • Best for: good views if time is limited

Marions Lookout is a crowd favourite and one of the most popular viewpoints in Cradle Mountain.

The trail starts off with picturesque views of Lake Lilla and Wombat Pools and ends at the Dove Lake Boatshed.

Starting from the car park, you’ll head in an anticlockwise direction toward Lake Lilla. The trail then splits and you’ll follow the Wombat Pools Track.

The first section offers stunning landscape views, so keep an eye out for wombats, as they are often sighted here.

As you gradually scale the mountain, you’ll soon connect with the Overland Track. Keep going until you reach Marions Lookout.

There are 2 options to get back down. You can either return the same way you came up, or you can take the Marions Lookout Link Track. This short-cut route to Dove Lake Boatshed takes about 30 minutes but the trail is extremely steep and tough on the knees. Kids and older travellers may want to avoid this route!

Pro tip: For a shorter walk to Marions Lookout, you could get there via this link track (instead of the Wombat Pools route), but I don’t suggest it. It’s incredibly steep, with not much scenery, so I can’t imagine it being a pleasant walk.

4. Cradle Mountain Summit Hike

Cradle Mountain day walks
Taking a well-deserved rest at the summit of Cradle Mountain. It’s a tough hike!
  • Distance: 11 km
  • Time needed: 8 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Starting Point: Dove Lake Car Park | Here
  • Best for: Bucketlist travellers

The Cradle Mountain Summit is an epic full-day hike that covers all the best hikes in Cradle Mountain including Hansons Peak, Marions Lookout and the Dove Lake Boatshed.

But the highlight is the summit itself!

There are various Cradle Mountain hikes that lead to the summit, but I recommend you follow this route:

Hansons Peak – Cradle Mountain Summit – Marions Lookout.

It’s a tough and gruelling hike, but so worth it if you’re up for the challenge.

The hardest section has to be between Kitchen Hut and the summit. This return trip alone takes 3 hours and will see you scaling massive, uneven rocks.

After pulling yourself up boulders, and squeezing between small gaps, you’ll reach the top which offers unspoiled panoramic views of charming lakes, rolling hills and jagged peaks in the distance.

But the way back down is equally as challenging and you’ll need to squat and slide down the same huge boulders you had climbed up earlier!

Only attempt the Cradle Mountain summit if you’re relatively fit and you’re ok with heights as some of the sections can be quite scary.

Multi-day Cradle Mountain Walks

1. The Overland Track

Walks in Cradle Mountain with wombats
You’re guaranteed to see lots of wombats during the 6 day Overland Track
  • Distance: 65 km
  • Time needed: 6 days
  • Difficulty: Hard (weather conditions can change at any moment)
  • Starting Point: Ronny Creek Car Park
  • Best for: hiking enthusiasts

The Overland Track is Australia’s most sought-after multi-day hike that traverses through the heart of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

The 65km, six-day hike requires a good level of fitness and preparation but hikers are rewarded with spectacular scenery with few other people. There’s a cap on the number of permits issued per day so it’s best to get in early to avoid disappointment.

Starting at Ronnys Creek near Dove Lake, the Overland Track ends on the south side of the national park, at Lake St Clair. The track is well maintained and there’s the option of camping or staying in huts along the trail.

Extra Trails to Add to Your Cradle Mountain Walks

Most of the Cradle Mountain trails that I’ve listed above start at Dove Lake Car Park.

If you want a longer route, there is the option to start at Ronny Creek Car Park instead.

This adds an extra hour or so to your walk but the setting is a stark contrast to the other walking trails nearby.

Ronny Creek to Dove Lake Car Park

Best Cradle Mountain Hiking Trails
You can’t visit Cradle Mountain and not explore the walking trails around Dove Lake

While it’s not a common trail for day visitors, Ronny Creek Car Park marks the start of the Overland Track via the Overland Track trail.

The boardwalk from Ronny Creek traverses over vibrant green button grass plains and tranquil rivers. If you’re looking for wombats, this is where you’re most likely to see them!

The Lake Lilla Track (part of the Marions Lookout walk) connects to this Overland Track route so you could continue ahead until you reach Marions lookout.

Another option is to start at Ronny Creek Car Park and walk to the Dove Lake Car Park via the Overland Track route before taking the Lake Lilla Track. From there, you can do the Dove Lake Circuit or Hansons Peak hike.

How to Plan your Cradle Mountain Itinerary

Hiking Cradle Mountain
This is where the Cradle Mountain summit walk gets hectic!

To experience the best that Cradle Mountain has to offer, allow for a 2-night stay.

This is enough time to do a days hikes in Cradle Mountain.

If you’re driving from Hobart to Cradle mountain, I recommend taking the scenic A5 route. After arriving, head to Cradle Mountain Lodge to do the King Billy Track and Enchanted Walk. The following day, start early and take on the Cradle Mountain Summit.

Best Time to Visit

The weather at Cradle Mountain is extremely unpredictable so you need to prepare for all conditions during your trip.

I hiked over the Easter weekend in April and got really lucky with the weather as it was a clear, sunny day. The week after, however, was a different story. Temperatures were nearing zero degrees and snow was forecasted in Tasmania!

From May to September it can be freezing cold and snow is common during this time. March is the driest month so if you plan your trip for then, you’ll have the highest chance of clear skies.

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park Info

Cradle Mountain Lake St Claire National Park
Twisted Lakes near Hansons Peak

Entrance Fees

To enter the Cradle Mountain National Park, you’ll need to purchase a National Parks pass from the Visitors Centre. This also gives you access to the free shuttle operated by the national park.

The entrance fee to Cradle Mountain is $25 per person for a 24-hour pass.

There is also the option to purchase a 2-month pass which is $80 per vehicle. If you plan on spending more time in Cradle Mountain or visiting other national parks within Tasmania, it’s better to go for the 2-month pass.

Find out more here.

Free Shuttle Service

Departing from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre to Dove Lake, the shuttle also stops at the Rangers Station (close to Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge) and Ronny’s Creek (start of the Overland Track).

The 15-minute bus ride is often busy in the mornings but there are several shuttles, so they do accommodate everyone.

The times for the shuttle vary but generally, they operate from 08:00 am – 6:00 pm in summer (1 October to 31 March) and 09:00 am – 5:00 pm in winter (1 April – 31 September).

If you miss the last bus, you will need to walk 15km back to the Visitor Centre.

Driving into the park

There is the option to drive your car into the national park but you can only do so outside of the shuttle operating hours. Bear in mind that when you return, you’ll need to follow one of the shuttle buses back to the Visitors Centre.

There are only a handful of parking spaces available at Dove Lake. If these are all taken, you’ll need to stop at Ronny Creek Car Park and walk 2 km to Dove Lake.

It’s a lot easier to take the free shuttle bus instead.

Where to Stay

Where to stay in Cradle Mountain National Park
Wombat Cabin is amazing

Wombat Cabin (previously Cradle Mountain Love Shack) is one of the most incredible places I have ever stayed at! Nestled in the forests, it’s the perfect spot to come home to after a long day of hiking.

The private cottage, with its indoor fireplace and rustic decor, is cozy and charming. Wallabies and possums greeted us every evening and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a wombat or two.

While Wombat Cabin is not found in the national park itself, it’s a short 15-minute drive to the entrance. If you’re looking for a romantic place to stay, away from the crowds, I can’t recommend this place highly enough. And for the price, it’s an absolute steal!

But there’s a high chance it’s already booked out for your dates. You can check availability here.

Other Place to Stay Near Cradle Mountain

Luxury accommodation

If you want to be close to all the action, Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge offers superb luxury cabins just a stone’s throw away from the Cradle Mountain summit. The famous Enchanted Walk and King Billy Walk start from the property and there’s also a vibey onsite bar and restaurant. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth popping in for a beer after your walk.

But there’s more – a spa! Treat yourself to a massage or relax in the sauna or steam rooms. Overall, Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge is a top choice for those who are willing to pay a bit more for luxurious accommodation close to Cradle Mountain.

You can find the latest prices and read reviews here.


Mid-range accommodation

If you’re looking for a rustic and romantic place to stay that won’t break the bank, Cradle Mountain Highlanders is just for you. Located alongside the Visitors Centre, the cute cabins are surrounded by nature and each one comes fitted with a cosy indoor fireplace.

Cradle Mountain Highlanders is a close runner up to Wombat Cabin (in my opinion), and if we couldn’t get a booking at the Wombat Cabin, we would have gone straight to Cradle Mountain Highlanders.

You can check the reviews and prices here.


What is the best walk at Cradle Mountain?

The best Cradle Mountain walk is to Hansons Peak and the Dove Lake Boatshed. This trail takes 4 hours and includes the best viewpoints.

How long are the walks at Cradle Mountain?

The walks range from 20 minutes to 8 hours, depending on which trail you choose. Some are better for families and there are others that are more challenging.

What is the easiest walk at Cradle Mountain?

The Enchanted Walk is the easiest Cradle Mountain walking trail. It only takes 20 minutes and is a flat trail perfect for small children.

Where do I start the Cradle Mountain walks?

The most iconic walks start from the Dove Lake Car Park in Cradle Mountain National Park.

Final Thoughts on the best Cradle Mountain Hiking Trails

Swimming in Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain
Ending the hike with a swim in Dove Lake

So, there you have it! The best Cradle Mountain hikes to add to your Tasmania itinerary.

If you’re feeling strong and fit, go for the Cradle Mountain Summit hike. Hansons Peak is also right up there as one of the best walks in Cradle Mountain.

But don’t write off the shorter walks around Cradle Mountain Lodge. They’re quick and easy and can be paired with one of the longer walks in the area.

Have you done any of these hikes? Or are you planning your trip and looking for the best walks in Cradle Mountain? If you have any questions or recommendations, drop me a message in the comments section below!

Visiting Tasmania? Check out these other awesome hikes near Cradle Mountain!

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Carryn Beard Author Bio

About Me

Hi, I'm Carryn. Travel junkie. Nature enthusiast. Adventurer. I'm a South African expat living in Gold Coast, Australia. Join me as I explore the land down under and share stories of the best that Australia has to offer. Find out more about me here.

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