Hiking The Carr Villa Track | Ben Lomond National Park

Ben Lomond National Park is northeast Tasmania’s very own adventure playground, filled with rock climbing, skiing, and snowboarding, and many peak-bagging opportunities. It’s far too easy to lose yourself in its vast plateau for days on end, wandering amongst the dolerite towers and bright wildflowers.

One of our favourite hiking opportunities in Ben Lomond is the Carr-Villa track to Legges Tor, the second highest peak in Tasmania. This trail showcases many of the incredible vistas the mountain range has to offer in under a day.

But if you have more than a day to spare, remote camping beneath the towering Legges Tor is a must to experience all that this vast national park can offer. Just be sure to pack an extra set of warm clothes, the weather plays by its own rules in the Tasmanian alpine.

Overview

Distance
8 km Return

Grade
Grade 3 – Some Experience Recommended

Time
2.5 – 4 hours

Elevation Gain
351 m

Highest Elevation
1,572 m

Entrance Fees
National Parks Pass

Facilities
Toilets at Ben Lomond Campground and Ski Village


Ben Lomond National Park is an expansive mountain range located in the centre of northeast Tasmania. While it’s most popular for being the only lift-assisted ski destination in Tasmania, it lured us in by offering a boundless plateau full of exploration opportunities. 

The precipitous dolerite slopes leading to the plateau are visible from many of the roads snaking throughout northeast Tasmania, and the ability to drive all the way to the plateau makes for an easy trek around the summit. And because of the steady elevation, this is perhaps one of the easiest hikes in northeast Tasmania.

The hike begins at the Car Villa car park just after the chain bay and bus pick-up location. There are no toilets there, only a run-down building and plenty of space to park your car. The closest toilets are at the Ben Lomand campsite, approximately 3 km back towards Upper Blessington where the dirt track started. 

Tent set up off the Carr Villa Track at sunset in Ben Lomond Tasmania

Hiking To Legges Tor Via Carr-Villa Track

The snow began to fall as we shouldered our packs, pulled our gloves on, and readjusted our beanies to cover frozen ears. We were reminded that spring doesn’t have much meaning in the alpine as we stepped onto the frosted path, snowflakes settling on the green shrubs and us.

Beginning at an elevation of 1,230 m, the eucalypt forest is left behind as the groomed trail winds past a small pond on its way to an immense dolerite boulder garden. A thin layer of ice had formed over the pond, creating a beautiful foreground to the distant fields below. 

The gently ascending path shifts from dirt to dolerite, traversing along the escarpment beneath the plateau. The creased cliffs of Misery Bluff and Markham Heights paint an alluring landscape in front, shrouded in a thick layer of cloud that allows only the outline to be seen. Little wallabies watch from behind the scoparia shrubs, curious of who is infiltrating their domain, as we stop to snap some photos. 

Hiking in the snow at Ben Lomond Tasmania on the Carr Villa Track
Wallaby sitting in the snow on the Carr Villa Track in Ben Lomond National Park
Hiking up the steep dolerite boulder garden on the Carr Villa Track

Smaller rocks and stones have been placed between the boulders to form a path as it begins to climb between Old Bills Monument and Misery Bluff, providing a simple and pleasant ascent to the plateau. 

The plateau, filled with cushion plants, tussock grass, and alpine shrubs in varying shades of red, yellow, and purple, seemingly extends forever. The many peaks and deep ravines layer the horizon, all screaming to be explored. 

Leaving the dolerite boulders behind, the trail becomes a rivulet of melting ice and mud. Luckily, enough rocks offer a safe (ish) passage through without the risk of wet feet. Tall wooden markers that are visible for miles line the trail, allowing for ease of navigation even when the snow cover is thick.   

Hiking the muddy plateau on the Carr Villa Track
Frozen Trail in Ben Lomond National Park
Frozen hiking trail in Ben Lomond National Park Tasmania

Another boulder garden begins as the trail veers left and creeps higher. This is a much welcomed change from precariously balancing on tiny rocks slick with slush, even if it only lasts for a short time. 

As the climb continues through the colourful alpine vegetation, the top of the Ben Lomond chairlifts become visible in the distance to the right of Legges Tor. Before long, the trail passes a village of huts (mostly abandoned) that were possibly used for ski huts – information is scarce on this subject. 

From the huts, the trail splits to pass around Legges Tor or to summit the peak. Following the markers to the right (south), the path returns to boulders as the final 50 m of elevation is completed to reach Legges Tor.

Sitting atop the highest peak in northeast Tasmania, we now had uninterrupted views of the distant farmlands and the extended range of Ben Lomond. Many other peaks in the national park stretched above the plateau, just calling to be climbed. 

Huts at the peak of Legges Tor in the Ben Lomond National Park Tasmania

Remote Camping In Ben Lomond National Park

While the hike to Legges Tor via the Carr-Villa track is easily doable in a day, the alpine provides a wonderful camping experience for those willing to test their skills. The plateau is the perfect destination for your first overnight camping experience in true remote style. 

There are no specific campsites in the alpine, with no facilities such as toilets or bins. It is a completely remote experience where knowledge of the plants is important to avoid trampling the fragile species. 

We chose to camp on a rock slab away from the trail which is the best option if you’re unsure of the plants that need protecting. From our ‘campsite’ we had uninterrupted views of the most incredible sunset and sunrise, waking to a brisk -5 degrees celsius with the true sense of isolation and solace.

Due to the close proximity to your car and to the toilets located at the ski village of Ben Lomond, this is an ideal place to practice remote camping. But it is important to understand the 7 leave no trace principles and act accordingly. It will only take a few people abandoning the principles for the option of free camping to be taken away. So please, only choose to camp if you’re able to remove all waste properly and bring no harm to the alpine.

There are some specific rules that Parks Tasmania has set in place for remote camping in Ben Lomond:

  • Remote camping must be located at least 500 metres away from any road
  • Fuel stoves are to be used for cooking
Remote camping in Ben Lomond National Park while hiking the Carr Villa Track

Quick Tips and Suggested Gear

While the hike to Legges Tor is short, there can still be a huge shift in weather conditions. Snow is not uncommon throughout the year, as is strong heat from the rock’s glare. Make sure you check the weather and note if there have been frosty mornings or loads of rain. I won’t go as far as suggesting not to hike when it’s raining, but make sure you’re experienced with climbing over slippery and exposed boulders. 

Below is a list of the gear that we took with us, and that we recommend for hiking the Carr-Villa track to Legges Tor.

Essential Hiking Packing List

  • Topographic Map and Compass – It’s best to avoid relying solely on your phone, which can run out of battery. 
  • Digital Map – In addition to a paper map, you can use AllTrails to download the route and follow along with the inbuilt GPS.
  • First Aid Kit – You can visit this post if you’re unsure what should go into a first aid kit for hiking.
  • Emergency Beacon – Our emergency beacon lives in our hiking packs permanently.
  • Reusable Water Bottles Avoid taking plastic water bottles that can break easily and add to the overwhelming amount of plastic pollution. We also suggest bringing a water filtration system to treat river water.
  • Head Torch Don’t forget the spare batteries! Look for a headtorch with a minimum of 100 lumens. 
  • Sturdy Hiking Shoes We recommend hiking boots over trail runners for longer hikes, where the trail is unstable and can become very muddy. 
  • Long pants or gaiters Tasmania has a thriving population of leeches.
  • Down Jacket and Thermals Staying warm while hiking is extremely important and these items play a key role, the mountains are unpredictable, best be prepared.
  • Rain Jacket and Rain Pants Rain pants are optional but can provide an extra layer of warmth in miserable conditions. 
  • Sun Protection – The UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes.
  • Sleeping Gear – Make sure to pack a tent, a warm sleeping bag and an inflatable mat for overnight hikes. The mountains can get very cold at night, even in summer.
  • Cooking Stove Nothing beats a warm, satisfying meal after a big day of hiking.
  • Emergency Snacks – You can never have too much food and who doesn’t love snacks!
  • Camera Gear – We never travel anywhere without our camera, tripod or drone!
Using great photography skills to capture the moody landscape of Ben Lomond Tasmania

The Best Time To Hike Carr-Villa to Legges Tor

The Carr-Villa track is accessible all year round, however, in the winter months, the majority will be under snow. This can cause the trail to become much more difficult and I suggest only taking this adventure on if you’ve got the right equipment for hiking in cold weather.

From September to May are the best months to explore the Ben Lomond hiking trails, especially in the spring months where the wildflowers are in bloom. If you’re hiking in summer, be prepared to be exposed to the sun for the entire hike as there are no shaded areas. 

Getting To The Carr-Villa Trailhead

The Carr-Villa trailhead is located at the Carr-Villa Hut off Ben Lomond Rd. It is approximately one hour east of Launceston, and 3 hours north of Hobart. There are signs along Ben Lomond Rd indicating the direction for the trailhead, as well as the campground which is the last toilet option before the hike.