Hartz Mountains National Park | Your Complete Guide

Glacially carved over millions of years, Hartz Mountains National Park is a magical destination of alpine tarns, rushing waterfalls and bony dolerite peaks. Overshadowed by the mighty Southwest National Park and part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the Hartz Mountains will stun you with its rich landscape and breathtaking vistas. 

We recently spent a few days exploring every track leading from the single road winding through Hartz Mountains National Park and we can honestly say we were blown away. Without needing to expend too much energy, we were able to experience the entire national park within a couple of days, all the while staying in a cosy nearby campsite beside Arve River. 

If you’re planning a trip to the south of Tasmania, we highly recommend exploring the Hartz Mountains, even if you have as little as a day to spare. In this post, you’ll find answers to any questions you may have about Hartz Mountains National Park, including how long to spend there, inspiring images of the walks and how to beat the crowds. 

Sunrise over Hartz Lake with a beautiful Alpen Glow hovering over the horizon

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Your Complete Guide To Exploring Hartz Mountains National Park

Astro Shot of backcountry camping in Hartz Mountain National Peak

Where Is Hartz Mountains National Park

Hartz Mountains National Park is nestled between Southwest National Park and the verdant hills of Huon Valley, covering 71.4 ㎢ of southern Tasmania’s wild glacially carved landscape. The park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is located only 90 minutes south of Hobart. 

How To Get To Hartz Mountains National Park

Following the Huon River in Tasmania’s far south, the landscape will overwhelm you even before you enter Hartz Mountains National Park. The drive itself is worth your time, where you’ll drive the winding country road through apple orchards, forests overflowing with tree ferns and farmlands set against a mountainous backdrop. 

For this reason, we recommend visiting Hartz Mountains National Park by car so that you can take your time and stop wherever you please along the way. If you don’t have your own vehicle, we suggest taking a look at Rental Cars to find the best deals. 

By Car

Due to its popularity, you’ll find many signs directing you towards the Hartz Mountains. It’s a very simple drive that will take just under 90 minutes. 

From Hobart, take Huon Hwy (A6) south towards Huonville. You’ll continue along this winding country road for 60km until you reach Geeveston. After passing through the town of Geeveston, take a right (north) turn onto Arve Rd (C632) and follow the scenic sealed road for 13 km.

You’ll reach Arve River Camping and Picnic Area just before the left turn that will take you onto Hartz Rd. This is a beautiful campsite to base yourself for a few days of exploring. But to continue on to the Hartz Mountains National Park, follow the unsealed Hartz Rd for another 13 km to its conclusion at a visitor shelter and car park. 

Along the way, you’ll find signs and parking spaces for Waratah Lookout and Arve Falls before reaching the final car park.

Hartz Rd is unsealed yet passable for all vehicles and while there’s no need for extra clearance, you’ll most likely encounter a few potholes the higher you drive.

Note: This road is susceptible to ice and snow in winter so it’s best to check the road conditions before driving all the way out there. Tasmania Police Community Alerts is a great resource for finding this information.

By Tour

There are Several tour options that offer guided excursions into Hartz Mountains National Park, among some other attractions. They’re a great idea if you’d rather not drive or walk the trails without a guide.


Quick Tips For First-Time Visitors

  • You will need to purchase a Tasmanian Parks Pass to enter Hartz Mountains National Park
  • The Hartz Mountains are located 90 minutes south of Hobart
  • The highest peak in the national park is Hartz Peak which rises to 1,254 m
  • The weather in Hartz Mountains National Park can change on a dime so be prepared for anything when visiting
  • The ideal amount of time spent in the Hartz Mountains is 2 days
  • Visit outside of the summer holidays to avoid the biggest crowds
  • Bring microspikes if you plan to hike in winter
  • You’ll find toilets and shelters at both the Waratah Day Shelter and the Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter but no rubbish bins. You will need to take all your rubbish (including food scraps) with you  

Hartz Mountains National Park Walking Trails

Cloud waterfall forming over Hartz Peak at sunset overlooking the distant mountain peaks of Hartz Mountains National Park

Within Hartz Mountains National Park, there are four trails that begin from Hartz Rd. Arve Falls and Waratah Lookout can be found a few kilometres before the end of the road and the track to Hartz Peak and Lake Osborne begins at the final car park. 

When you take the Hartz Peak Track, you have the option to stop at multiple lakes before arriving at the summit. Each alpine lake offers a slightly unique experience and is often solely visited without summiting. I’ve listed each major point of interest below that you can walk to within Hartz Mountains National Park. 

Waratah Lookout

Distance: 300 m return

Time: 5 mins

Trailhead: Waratah Picnic Shelter

Difficulty: Grade 1

Elevation Gain: 10 m

Highest Elevation: 768 m 

Overlooking Hartz Mountains National Park from Waratah Lookout

Located 2.7 km before the main car park of Hartz Mountains, you’ll come across a rustic stone day shelter with a fireplace and a toilet block. And on the opposite side of the road, a trail leading out to Waratah Lookout. 

Waratah Lookout is a pretty little walk among waratah trees that will take you less than 5 minutes to complete. From the lookout, you’ll find extended views over the Wellington Range and hear the rushing water of the partially hidden Keoghs Falls.

We recommend visiting Waratah Lookout first as its simple beauty may not be as alluring after exploring the more mountainous alpine. 

Arve Falls

Distance: 1.4 km return

Time: 20 mins

Trailhead: Arve Falls car park

Difficulty: Grade 2

Elevation Gain: 40 m

Highest Elevation: 787 m 

Arve Falls in Hartz Mountains National Park

The next car park, 1 km further south along Hartz Rd, will provide access to the Arve Falls track. Vast swampy moorlands surround the road and car park, allowing for views of Hartz Peak in fine weather. 

The short 10-minute walk to Arve Falls weaves between the transitioning terrain that abruptly merges from a snow gum forest to an alpine herbfield. Moss spotted boulders begin to border the path as you near Arve Falls, a cascading waterfall flowing over obscure brown and grey rocks into a deep valley below. 

Arve Falls seemingly plummets forever and for this reason, I can almost guarantee that the waterfall will look much bigger in person than it does in any image you’ll find. Arve Falls is an easy and pretty walk that often offers the only views when the peaks of the Hartz Mountains are shrouded in a cloak of white. 

Lake Osborne

Distance: 2 km return

Time: 40 mins

Trailhead: Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter

Difficulty: Grade 2

Elevation Gain: 65 m

Highest Elevation: 914 m 

Lake Osborne at the brink of dawn on a clear winter morning

Beginning from the final car park along Hartz Rd, you’ll find the trailhead for Lake Osborne tucked into the northwest corner of the Hartz Mountains car park.

An easy undulating walk along a mix of boardwalks and a groomed dirt track will deliver you to the rocky shore of Lake Osborne within 15 – 20 minutes. Lake Osborne sits beneath a bony ridgeline named The Devils Backbone, ringed by snow gums and the few remaining king billy pines left in the park. 

Perfectly situated boulders allow you to hop a little way into Lake Osborne in order to view the lake’s runoff, which is the beginning of the Arve River. 

With a completion time of only 40 minutes, Lake Osborne is the perfect addition to any Hartz Mountains adventure. Sunrise was a spectacular time to visit, where you can watch the dolerite mountain glow golden as the sun slowly reaches for the glittering water. 

Lake Esperance

Distance: 3.5 km return

Time: 1 – 1.5 hrs

Trailhead: Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter

Difficulty: Grade 2

Elevation Gain: 137 m

Highest Elevation: 979 m 

King Billy Pines standing over Lake Esperance in Hartz Mountain National Park

Lake Esperance is the first of multiple stops along the Hartz Peak Track that can be included in the full summit hike or on its own for a quick and easy trek. 

Within 30 – 40 minutes, you’ll be standing at the edge of a stunning glacial lake bordered by alpine shrubs and a lonely pocket of some of the final king billy pines. Boardwalks and benches congregate at the southeastern shore, protecting the fragile cushion plants that thrive in damp and boggy conditions. 

Not only is Lake Esperance another easy alpine lake to access – with most of the gently ascending trail consisting of boardwalks – but from its pebbled shore, you’ll also witness a wonderful view out towards Bruny Island, the Wellington Ranges and even the Tasman Peninsula on a clear day. 

Ladies Tarn

Distance: 5.5 km return

Time: 1.5 – 2 hrs

Trailhead: Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter

Difficulty: Grade 2

Elevation Gain: 140 m

Highest Elevation: 979 m 

Hartz Peak Mirrored in Ladies Tarn in Hartz Mountains National Park

Located another 15 minutes south along the Hartz Peak Track from Lake Esperance, you’ll be quickly rewarded with yet another alpine lake that’s perhaps even more picturesque than the first two. 

Boardwalks continue from Lake Esperance across the fragile alpine herbfield to Ladies Tarn, a translucent lake backed up against The Devils Backbone ridgeline. Protruding dolerite rocks and the absence of benches or platforms on the banks make Ladies Tarn a more rugged experience. 

Views of Hartz Peak and Mount Snowy can be seen from Ladies Tarn, as can The D’Entrecasteaux Channel that separates Bruny Island from the mainland of Tasmania. 

A return trip to Ladies Tarn will take you approximately 1.5 – 2 hours without demanding too much effort as almost the entire trail to this point consists of boardwalks. 

Hartz Pass

Distance: 6.3 km return

Time: 2 – 2.5 hrs

Trailhead: Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter

Difficulty: Grade 3

Elevation Gain: 252 m

Highest Elevation: 1,068 m

Climbing the Scree on the Hartz Peak Hike

Hartz Pass sits above Ladies Tarn, at the southern tip of The Devils Backbone, and requires a short burst of adrenaline to navigate the steep and gnarled climb that separates the pass from the vast plateau below. 

The climb to the pass gives you a small taste of what the remainder of the Hartz Peak Track entails and rewards you with your first glimpse of the wildly breathtaking Southwest National Park, including the mighty Federation Peak. 

While Hartz Pass is only 300 m further on from Ladies Tarn, it will take a little longer than expected to climb through the overgrown forest of pandani, pepper berry trees and scoparia. Sun rarely touches this area so you can expect to find some muddy sections year-round and possibly snow in winter! 

Hartz Lake Lookout

Distance: 6.8 km return

Time: 2 – 2.5 hrs

Trailhead: Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter

Difficulty: Grade 3

Elevation Gain: 252 m

Highest Elevation: 1,068 m 

Eating Lunch while overlooking the views of the South West National Park from Hartz Lake

Leading off Hartz Pass is a barely recognisable trail that continues west towards Hartz Lake, the largest of all the alpine lakes in Hartz Mountains National Park. 

The trail ends at a flat boulder that acts as the perfect lunch spot and viewing platform of Hartz Lake nearly 100 m below. I’m sure it’s possible to reach the lake, however, there is no path and the spiky shrubs aren’t worth it in my opinion. 

It’s possible to reach Hartz Lake within 1 hour and the mountainous view you’ll find there is worth the added trek from Ladies Tarn.

Note: The track to Hartz Lake is unmaintained, muddy, and winds through fragile cushion plants that take decades to grow back after one footprint. So even if the trail is muddy, stick to it and use the half-submerged rocks to stay out of the mud as much as possible. If this doesn’t sound ideal then maybe give the Hartz Lake trail a miss. 

Hartz Peak

Distance: 8.8 km return

Time: 3 – 5 hrs

Trailhead: Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter

Difficulty: Grade 3

Elevation Gain: 400 m

Highest Elevation: 1,254 m 

Sunset cloud waterfall at Hartz Peak in Hartz Mountains National Park

There are few other mountain peaks in Tasmania that offer such a breathtaking experience in such little time, but that’s exactly what you’ll get when you hike to Hartz Peak. 

Within 2 hours, you could be standing on the tallest point of Hartz Mountains National Park with 360-degree views of the ocean, islands, serrated mountainous peaks and verdant green valleys below. 

Requiring a moderate yet short scramble over boulders and loose scree to reach the summit, we have found that Hartz Peak is the perfect introduction to other more challenging summit hikes in Tasmania, such as Cradle Mountain and Frenchmans Cap

Note: Hiking to Hartz Peak is the main event when visiting Hartz Mountains National Park, however, the weather can change on a dime so be prepared for anything – even snow in summer – and know when to turn back. 

Best Time To Visit

Standing on the summit of Hartz Peak in the Hartz Mountains National Park

Due to its close proximity to Hobart, Hartz Mountains National Park is a popular destination for day trips or weekend getaways. The park is known to be quite busy throughout summer, especially during school holidays and on weekends. 

To avoid the crowds, consider getting there early or visiting the Hartz Mountains during the week or in winter – but be prepared for wild weather and snow! 

Aside from occasionally being inaccessible due to snow and ice over the road, you’re able to visit Hartz Mountains National Park year-round. To decide when would suit you best, here is a short summary of each season’s highlights. 

  • Summer: Summer in the alpine can sometimes provide warmer temperatures than that of the valleys below, allowing for the perfect swimming weather in one of the many alpine tarns
  • Autumn: You’ll often find the calmest weather in autumn, where crisp mornings and sunny days are common, there are usually fewer people about at this time as well 
  • Winter: If you love a snowy adventure and have the right equipment to hike in the snow then this is the season for you, it’s also the quietest time of year 
  • Spring: Wildflowers cover the alpine in spring, making it the most beautiful time to walk and often a little less hot than summertime

What To Pack 

Watching Sunset from Hartz Peak over the South West National Park

Hartz Mountains National Park is located 35 minutes from the nearest town and it will most likely take two days to complete all the hikes within the park. Therefore, we recommend bringing all your food with you for the duration of your visit, including a little extra for emergencies. 

There is a water tap at the Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter where you can refill your reusable water bottles. Toilets are located here as well as at the Waratah Picnic Shelter so it’s only necessary to bring toileting equipment if you’re planning to spend the night camping in the mountains

Lastly, the weather is extremely volatile within Hartz Mountains National Park and it’s not uncommon to be hit with a snowstorm in summer. Bring warm and waterproof gear with you no matter the time of year or what the weather report predicts. 

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!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need A National Parks Pass For Hartz Mountains National Park?

Yes, to visit Hartz Mountains National Park you will need to purchase a Tasmanian Parks Pass before entering the national park. You can either do this online prior (there is little to no reception once you reach the Hartz Mountains) or at the closest visitor centre located in Geeveston at the Town Hall Visitor Centre

How Long Is The Hartz Peak Walk?

The walk to Hartz Peak takes anywhere between 3 to 5 hours depending on your skill level and whether you choose to stop at each of the alpine lakes along the way. We recommend allowing at least 4 hours to truly experience all that the area has to offer. 

How Long Do You Need To Visit Hartz Mountains National Park?

In order to complete all the trails available at Hartz Mountains National Park, we suggest spending two days in the national park and camping at Arve River Camping and Picnic Area for the night. This will allow you to take your time and stop at each of the lakes and waterfalls along the trails.  

Does It Snow In The Hartz Mountains?

It’s quite common to find snow covering the peaks of the Hartz Mountains through winter. Even through summer, a spontaneous snowstorm could be possible! 

Is Hartz Mountains National Park Worth Visiting?

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or you’re after an easy walk through the alpine, you’ll find a hike to suit at Hartz Mountains National Park. The varied level of walking trails allows almost everyone to experience the readily available beauty and wonder of the Hartz Mountains. 

Where To Stay Near Hartz Mountains National Park

Hartz Mountains National Park is just 90 minutes from Hobart within the Huon Valley, with plenty of cute and cosy accommodation options nearby. But our favourite place to camp is at the Arve River Camping and Picnic Area, just 20 minutes from the Hartz Mountains walking trails. 

Camping Near Hartz Mountains National Park

Arve River Camping And Picnic Area: At the Arve River Camping and Picnic Area, you’ll find flat tent spaces right beside the river with a fireplace and picnic table. The campground is free and equipped with a picnic shelter, water tap, rubbish bins and toilets. 

Unfortunately, cars aren’t able to enter the campground but the car park is right in front of the picnic tables and can hold up to 10 vehicles. 

Wide open space at Arve River Campground in Hartz Mountains National Park

Tahune Adventures: Located another 16 km northwest of the Arve River Camping and Picnic Area, you’ll find Tahune Adventures. Along with cabins and a lodge, Tahune Adventures also allows campervans and RVs to stay overnight for $10 with an Airwalk ticket. 


Port Huon & Castle Forbes Bay

Huonville & Grove

Remote Camping

Remote Camping on Hartz Peak at Sunrise with a cloud inversion

Remote camping within the Hartz Mountains is allowed, however, there are no facilities or designated campsites. Therefore, you must camp at least 100 metres from the trail, dispose of all your waste properly and avoid camping on fragile terrain such as cushion plants. 

Due to the shallow roots of the cushion plants and other alpine shrubs, digging a toilet is difficult and your poop will likely flow into one of the alpine tarns. We recommend bringing along a poop tube to dispose of your bodily waste properly or waiting until you return to the car park. 

Final Thoughts 

Returning to the Hartz Peak Trail Head

Hartz Mountains National Park became one of our favourite national parks in Tasmania within minutes of reaching its borders. The landscape varies from rugged peaks to vast alpine plateaus and is filled with alpine tarns. 

The only downside to the Hartz Mountains is its popularity. Unfortunately, you’ll likely pass many other hikers throughout your visit – especially in summer! But we don’t believe this is a big enough reason to avoid Hartz Mountains National Park, it’s just too darn pretty and accessible! 

We’d love to know about your Hartz Mountains experience and as always, we’re happy to answer any of your questions in the comments below. 

Happy Hiking!