Hiking Hansons Peak in Cradle Mountain: A Detailed Guide on What to Expect

January 16, 2024 | By

The hike to Hansons Peak is one of the most underrated walking trails in Cradle Mountain.

Not only does it offer the best views from one of the highest peaks around Dove Lake, but the track is also uncrowded, allowing you to take in the magnificent scenery with few other travellers.

I recently hiked to Hansons Peak and have shared everything you need to know if you’re planning on doing the same.

Hiking Hansons Peak in Cradle Mountain
The start of the Hansons Peak hike

Hansons Peak trail information

  • Distance: 7 km
  • Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Route style: Circuit trail
  • Difficulty: 3 / 5 (One short, steep section)
  • Highlights: Hansons Peak, Twisted Lakes and Dove Lake Boatshed

Why Hansons Peak

Deciding which walk to do in Cradle Mountain is no easy task. You’re spoiled for choice with a variety of trails for all ages and fitness levels.

If you’re looking for an easy hiking trail, maybe skip Hansons Peak.

No, it’s not difficult. But there are easier walks in the area, such as the Dove Lake Circuit or Marions Lookout. But, these walks attract so many tour groups and tourists who flock to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park every day.

If you’d prefer the views without the crowds, and you’re up for a bit of a challenge, then Hansons Peak is just for you.

While it’s not as difficult as the hike to the summit of Cradle Mountain, climbing Hansons Peak does require a moderate level of fitness.

Hansons Peak map

Hansons Peak Map
The circuit trail starts at Dove Lake Car Park and ends at the boatshed

Trail overview

Starting at Dove Lake, you’ll walk in a clockwise direction around the iconic lake.

As you head up toward Hansons Peak, the trail gets gradually steeper – but every step is worth it for the views that lie ahead.

After reaching the peak, you’ll continue to follow the trail before passing Lake Wilks and rejoining the Dove Lake Circuit route. From here, you’ll return via the Ballroom Forest and end at the famous Dove Lake Boatshed.

Here are step-by-step directions.

Dove Lake in Cradle Mountain
The Hansons Peak trail takes you past some of the best viewpoints of Dove Lake

Start at Dove Lake Car Park

The starting point for the Hansons Peak walk is the car park closest to Dove Lake.

To get here, you can hop on the free shuttle bus that departs from the Cradle Mountain Visitors Centre every 15 minutes.

After arriving at Dove Lake Car Park, you’ll need to sign in to the logbook. (Don’t forget to sign out on your way back)

Head toward Dove Lake

To start, you’ll follow the trail to Dove Lake – it’s where everyone goes, so you won’t miss it! The trail is also well-marked and easy to follow.

Shortly after, you’ll reach a juncture along the boardwalk. Turn left to follow the Dove Lake Circuit (opposite way to the boatshed). You’ll pass breathtaking viewpoints, including Glacier Rock.

From there, the track splits again.

You can either continue with the Dove Lake Circuit Track or veer left on the Lake Rodway Track to Hansons Peak. Take the left path – unless you have a sudden change of heart.

Lake Rodway Track to Hansons Peak
Take the left path to Hansons Peak

Steady Climb to Hansons Peak

For the next hour or so, you’ll follow the rugged path as it scales gradually toward Hansons Peak.

There are several picturesque viewpoints, giving you a good excuse to catch your breath and snap some photos.

As you get closer to the peak, the trail becomes steeper, and you’ll need to scramble up a few sections with the help of a chain. Both hands are required to get up this section, but it’s not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

Once you’ve passed the chain section, it’s just views, views, and more views.

Keep an eye out for Twisted Lakes on your left. The scenery is just incredible, with so much to see in every direction you look.

The sights here were some of the best throughout the walk. So, take them in!

Chain sections
This is the chain section that most people are afraid of, but it’s short and easier than I thought it would be

Enjoy the views from Hansons Peak

2 hours after starting your hike, you’ll reach Hansons Peak.

With panoramic views of Dove Lake, you’ll have Cradle Mountain Summit to your left, Marions Lookout ahead of you and the Dove Lake Boatshed to your right.

Hansons Peak views
Made it to the top of Hansons Peak and looking onto Marions Lookout in the distance

Hansons Peak to Face Track

There are a few alternate route options for returning from Hansons Peak.

If you’re feeling up to the challenge, you could take on the Cradle Mountain Summit. But it’s an additional 5 hours of hiking – and it’s pretty tough!

If you’re ready to head back down to Dove Lake, here is my preferred route that offers magnificent scenery.

After leaving Hansons Peak, continue with the Lake Rodway track, in the opposite direction you came from.

Soon after, you’ll reach Rangers Hut, the junction at which the Face Track meets with the Lake Rodway track.

Follow the Face Track toward Kitchen Hut (but you won’t go the entire way to Kitchen Hut).

This section is rugged and untouched, with loose rocks and a bit of uphill climbing. You’re still on the uncrowded route, so you’ll have a relatively quiet trail with lots of photo opportunities.

Hansons Peak to Face Track
Leaving Hansons Peak, you’ll go toward the Cradle Mountain summit before descending down to Dove Lake

Downhill to Lake Wilks

Next, you need to get onto the Lake Wilks track, which connects the Face Track to Dove Lake Circuit.

It’s all downhill from here and pretty steep at that, so take care and go slowly.

Dove Lake Circuit and Ballroom Forest

After connecting with the Dove Lake Circuit track, take the left path in a clockwise direction.

You might notice an increase in foot traffic from here as the Dove Lake Circuit is one of the most popular Cradle Mountain walks. But the scenery makes up for it!

You’ll follow the path as it hugs the lake, and shortly after, you’ll enter a stunning temperate rainforest.

The trail is almost completely flat, and there are even benches if you need a break.

Hiking Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park
Views, views and more views

Dove Lake Boathouse

The final stretch leads toward the most photographed boatshed in all of Tasmania.

Nestled alongside the water’s edge with Cradle Mountain summit as the backdrop, there’s no denying just how beautiful the Dove Lake Boatshed is.

Take off your shoes and step into the freezing cold water – your feet will love you for this!

From here, it’s a short 10-minute walk back to the Dove Lake car park, where you’ll meet the shuttle bus. Remember to sign out at the register before leaving.

Dove Lake Boatshed
You’ll end here – at one of the most iconic locations in Tasmania

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park Info

Entrance Fees

To enter the Cradle Mountain National Park, you’ll need to purchase a National Park 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 Bus

Departing from the 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 15 km back to the Visitor Centre.

Driving into the Park

There is the option to drive your car into the national park, but only 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 a limited number 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.

In my opinion, it’s a lot easier to take the free shuttle bus instead.

Hiking trails in Tasmania
Hansons Peak is one of the many stunning hikes in Cradle Mountain National Park

How to Get to Cradle Mountain

The Cradle Mountain summit is found northwest of Tasmania, in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Launceston is only 2 hours away, while Hobart is a 4-hour scenic drive.

Where to Stay

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.

Cradle Mountain Love Shack Tasmania
Wombat Cabin, Tasmania

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 Hansons Peak. 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 hike.

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.

Hansons Peak FAQ’s

Is Hanson’s Peak better than Marion’s Lookout?

Yes! The Hanson’s Peak walk is better than Marions Lookout as it’s less crowded and offers a more exciting trail. You’ll have beautiful views of Dove Lake, and the highest point looks over Marion’s Lookout and the Boat Shed.

How do I get to Hanson’s Peak?

The trailhead to Hansons Peak starts at the Dove Lake Car Park in Cradle Mountain National Park. To get here, you will need to catch the 15-minute shuttle bus from the Cradle Mountain Visitors Centre to Dove Lake Car Park.

How difficult is Hansons Peak?

Hansons Peak is more difficult than Marions Lookout as it is a longer and steeper trail. But it’s not overly challenging.

Hansons Peak Overview

The Hansons Peak hike is a fun yet challenging half-day hike in Cradle Mountain. It offers spectacular views without the crowds, so I highly recommend it to all travellers with a reasonable level of fitness.

Have you heard of Hansons Peak? Or are you looking for the best walks in Cradle Mountain? If you have any questions, drop me a message 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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