An Epic Journey Through Pine Valley To The Labyrinth And Beyond

A maze of shimmering turquoise tarns surrounded by a mess of obscurely sculpted mountainous peaks, The Labyrinth lays beneath the Du Cane Range and is a destination matched to that of no other in Australia. As soon as we heard the whispers of its existence, we knew we had to explore. 

But as with most of our adventures, we knew little of the area except the bare necessities – it would be a 69 km hike over 5 days with the primary goal to summit Mt Geryon, a jaw-dropping mountain that sets the backdrop of The Labyrinth.

There was little information to be found on hiking Mt Geryon, aside from warnings that ropes would be needed for an attempt of the southern ascent. Owning no ropes between us, we chose to give the northern ascent a crack – in which even less information was available to us.

Standing at the peak of Mt Geryon overlooking the Du Cane Rage while hiking The Labyrinth Tasmania

Overview of The Labyrinth Hike 

Distance
69 km Return ( 54 km if you choose to take the ferry one way from Lake St Clair)

Grade
Grade 4/5 – Experience Recommended (Mt Geryon is less tracked with exposed rock scrambling)

Time
4 – 5 days

Elevation Gain
1760 m

Highest Elevation
1,498 m

Entrance Fees
National Parks Pass

Facilities
At Lake St Clair – Restaurant, Toilets, Showers, Visitors Centre, Car Park
Along the hike – drop toilets, huts, and tent platforms at Echo Point, Narcissus Hut, and Pine Valley Hut


Found in the southern corner of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, the Labyrinth, as the name suggests, is a network of lakes and tarns beneath the Du Cane Range. The towering peaks of Walled Mountain, The Parthenon, Mt Eros, The Acropolis, and Mt Geryon encircle the plateau, offering unique panoramas in all directions.

The peaks in the Du Cane Range are a popular side trip for the keenest of hikers to add to the famous Overland Track, a 65 km long trail that begins at Cradle Mountain and finishes at Lake St Clair. The Acropolis is the usual winner, as it has the least amount of added kilometres to reach the peak. Mt Geryon is most often summited on a separate mission, where extra time can be spent wandering about the endless peaks and valleys bordering the Labyrinth. 

The hike to The Labyrinth itself is relatively moderate, with simple navigation and boardwalks to help with some of the deepest mud – though don’t be fooled, you will still encounter plenty of sloppy sections that warrant the use of boots and even gaiters! However, the steep ascent up The Parthenon and Mt Geryon will warrant a good amount of energy and persistence. 

But the rewards offered to those that take on this mighty hike will never be forgotten.

Hiking across the Mt Geryon Plateau with the mountains of the Du Cane Range in the Background

Hiking To The Labyrinth To Summit Mt Geryon

Often with a hike that requires longer than a weekend, you aren’t blessed with the option to change dates easily. As the time to explore The Labyrinth neared, we realised we would be in for some typical Tasmanian weather towards the end of the week. 

The predictions were calling for over 60 mm of rain and strong winds for our last two days, a less than ideal situation to be hiking in if you ask me! 

After debating whether to postpone or find a new destination, we instead settled on taking the ferry across Lake St Clair to skip a day of walking, bringing our day total to 4 and our total kilometres to 54. 

DAY 1 – Lake St Clair to The Labyrinth

15 km | 5 – 6 hrs | 653 m elevation | 1,190 m highest elevation 

Lake St Clair to Narcissus Hut 

Ferry – 30 minutes ($50 per person, one way)

Walking – 15 km | 4 – 5 hrs | 213 m elevation gain

Rolling into the Lake St Clair car park early with bright eyes and loaded packs, we eagerly bounded towards the boat ramp to meet the ferry that would deliver us to Narcissus Hut. 

The weather gods had provided us with incomparable conditions for our first day in the expansive national park. The sun warmed our skin as the ferry skimmed across the lake, offering glimpses of passing swamp gums dwarfed by the towering peaks.

Catching the Lake St Clair Ferry across Lake St Clair to Narcissus Hut

Narcissus Hut to Pine Valley Hut

9 km | 3 – 4 hrs | 224 m elevation gain

Half an hour later, we reached Narcissus Hut and set off on the partially groomed Overland Track in the opposite direction to most – south to north. We bumped into a couple of tired and happy hikers, eager to reach the last hut on their long journey from Cradle Mountain.

With a trail as popular as the Overland Track, there was little need for navigation, allowing our minds to focus on tackling the mud pits that littered the path. Roots and unstable rocks provided some dry steps as we unsuccessfully attempted to keep our boots dry. Boarded paths gave respite in some of the muddiest sections.

We emerged from the forest filled with myrtle beech trees to a vast golden buttongrass plain, where the muddy gravel path is replaced with continuous duckboards to protect the fragile environment. 

Mt Gould stood magnificently in the distance as we trudged past the first of many pandani’s growing beside the trail. 

After approximately an hour we reached the turn-off for the Pine Valley track that would lead us to the Pine Valley Hut and eventually, The Labyrinth. Fewer boardwalks and less grooming have gone into this trail, creating more of a raw experience as we ventured deeper into the woods.

Before long, the tall mountain ash became engulfed in a film of green as we entered an ancient temperate rainforest. Moss drenched the entirety of the forest in hundreds of shades of green, creating an enchanted land for us to wander in awe. 

Bubbling streams and creeks flowed through the tangled roots littering the valley floor as we walked with jaws hitting our chests and eyes roving, attempting to take in all the beauty that surrounded us. 

We reached Pine Valley Hut in the mid-afternoon, utilising a tent platform to rest and fill our bellies before taking on the mighty ascent to The Parthenon’s summit. 

Pine Valley Hut is set amongst the dense rainforest, with tent platforms, toilets, a helipad, and a hut with two bunk-style platforms. This is the last option for a toilet until your return to the Pine Valley Hut.

Hiking to Pine Valley Hut on the well kept boardwalk hiking trail

Pine Valley Hut to The Labyrinth 

6 km | 2 – 3 hrs | 429 m elevation gain

After a much needed lunch break, we shouldered our packs and moved on towards The Parthenon and the first big climb of the trip. Luckily, the rainforest engulfing the slopes of the mountain was even more mesmerising than before and held our attention… at least for the beginning.

I won’t lie, after 9 km of walking with huge packs weighing us down, this was a mission! But as soon as the giant trees parted and we glimpsed Lake St Clair far beneath us, we forgot about our sore feet and were reminded why we love to hike. 

An audible squeal of excitement left our lips as we made it to The Parthenon’s summit. Dropping our bags, we scrambled over boulders to get another peek of Lake St Clair and Mt Gould dominating the horizon to the south.

The path continues north, traversing the long western face of The Parthenon. For the first time, Mt Geryon and The Acropolis edged into view, engulfing the northwest with sharp spires reaching high above the horizon. The fading golden light lit the jagged range perfectly, reflecting onto the many tarns and lakes that give The Labyrinth its name. 

Hiking up a steep waterfall on the walk to the Labyrinth from Pine Valley Hut
Mt Geryon towering over hikers as they approach the Labyrinth from Pine Valley Hut

Tired legs awkwardly led us down the steep northern face of The Parthenon and delivered us to the valley of lakes. We wandered along many banks, losing the track at times where added trails avoided the deep rivulets encompassing the old ones. Eventually, as the sun began to slouch low on the horizon, we reached Lake Elysia – our home for the next two nights.

Finding the flattest and driest spot possible, we dropped bags, hastily set up camp, and made our way to the water’s edge to watch the sunset over the magnificent Du Cane Range.

Even the incredible amount of black ants and midge flies couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces as we ate dinner, intermittently bouncing around to avoid the army of ants and looking out at one of the most incredible views we have been fortunate enough to witness. 

Mt Geryon towering above the Labyrinth on an eerily calm evening

DAY 2 – The Labyrinth to Mt Geryon North

9 km | 4 – 5 hrs | 519 m elevation | 1,498 m highest elevation 

The sound of nature brought us out of the deepest sleep. Groggy and stiff, we stumbled out of our tent to find the sun beginning its slow rise over the mountain peaks. Finding a comfortable spot at the water’s edge, we sat and watched the show as our bodies slowly became accustomed to being awake. 

After refuelling with coffee and oats, we packed a small backpack and readied ourselves for our Mt Geryon ascent. We weren’t sure what to expect from here, we had somewhat of a trail to follow yet information on the hike abruptly ended a few kilometres before the northern peak. 

The Labyrinth to The Unnamed Peak

3km | 1 – 2 hrs | 249 m elevation gain

The trail meanders north through many more alpine tarns, set amongst snow gums and tea trees. It became quite obvious this section of the track is much less travelled, with the scoparia, pandani hybrids, and other spiky bushes threatening to take over the trail completely. 

We slid through small openings, crawling up and over fallen debris as the trail began its first steep descent of the day. Without too much trouble, we made it to the Pool of Memories, a beautiful tarn perfectly positioned in front of Mt Geryon and The Acropolis. The wind had picked up slightly, blurring any hope of capturing a still reflection in the water, but the wind also meant fewer bugs which we were ecstatic about. 

From the Pool of Memories, the trail led further north and we began its steep ascent. Boulders and streams created the majority of the path, providing us with an entertaining and slippery climb to the flat rocky summit of an unnamed peak. 

Reaching the plateau, we were enchanted with many little tarns dotted between clumps of snow and rock. Looking behind us to the south, our jaws literally dropped. The valley had opened up beneath us to show Lake St Clair far in the distance and the many oddly formed peaks rose at obscure angles throughout the expanse. 

This moment will be a memory that will never be forgotten. 

Standing beneath Mt Geryon Peak admiring the size of the rocky summit
Hiking along the cliff edge in the Du Cane Range overlooking Lake St Claire

The Unnamed Peak to Mt Geryon North – Almost

1.5 km | 1 – 2 hrs | 238 m elevation gain

Wandering between the tarns and snowdrifts, we followed the rock cairn assisted trail to the east, beginning the traverse towards Mt Geryon. Clumps of ancient king billy and pencil pine grew on the alpine shores, creating a picture-perfect scene. 

As we neared the northern peak of Mt Geryon, the boulders became steeper and more precariously stacked. While the need for all arms and legs was a definite, it was still very manageable and not as exposed as we had expected.

Once we climbed the first boulder stack, we were gifted with a view of the eastern landscape and finally realised how incredibly steep and narrow the Mt Geryon and Acropolis peaks were! 

We followed the rock cairns along a plateau, looking back towards the mighty Mt Ossa in the north until we reached another set of boulders that would lead us to the final rise before Mt Geryon North. 

The peak was made of up dolerite columns, plummeting god knows how far down to the valley floor below. We chose to call it from there, where we had a perfect view of Mt Geryon North. It did look possible to scramble down the exposed boulders to the sharp crease between our peak and the next, and finally, climb up to the northern spire. But we decided the exposed climb was better left for another time – maybe – and instead lay down amongst the giant masses to take a nap. 

The precarious dolerite columns that make up the peak of Mt Geryon overlooking the Labyrinth and Du Cane Range

Mt Geryon North – Almost – To The Labyrinth

4.5 km | 2 – 3 hrs | 32 m elevation gain 

After a few hours of exploring the alpine plateau, we began the descent back to camp. Luckily for us, the sunset was hidden by a band of clouds so we made a hasty dinner, where the ants were asserting their dominance, before crawling into our beds, completely exhausted and elated.

DAY 3 – The Labyrinth to Echo Point

20 km | 7 – 8 hrs | 375 m elevation | 1,190 m highest elevation

The sound of raindrops on our tent kept us tucked into our cosy sleeping bags well past sunrise and we enjoyed a lazy start to our third day in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

The Labyrinth to Pine Valley Hut

6 km | 2 – 3 hrs | 140 m elevation gain

We said goodbye to one of our favourite campsites and began our return trip by a leisurely 9:30 am. Our tired legs and slightly loopy minds sent us down a couple of wrong paths on our way back to the Parthenon, where extra rock cairns were very unhelpful. 

The climb to The Parthenon’s peak seemed much more treacherous and steeper than we remembered and we sluggishly crept to the top. The bright idea of actually training before our next big hike was thrown around many times as we trudged back the way we came. 

The rain that was forecasted for the end of the week showed up as we made it to the shelter of the Pine Valley Hut. We took this as a sign to have an extra long lunch with a coffee to soothe the soul. 

Hikers having lunch at Pine Valley Hut while hiking the Labyrinth in the Du Can Range

Pine Valley Hut to Narcissus Hut

9 km | 3 – 4 hrs | 120 m elevation gain

After a very lengthy lunch, we donned our wet weather gear and ambled off through the vibrant and glowing rainforest. Admiring the heightened colours of green set amongst the dark damp trunks, we forgot about our sore and tired legs for a little while.

The rain didn’t last long and we began to melt in our raingear as the humidity soared. We stopped to de-layer and much to my dismay, I got hit with a bout of sickness most likely from the alpine water sources we were drinking from.

Feeling slightly dizzy and dehydrated, we continued on at a snail’s pace along the mostly flat trail towards Narcissus Hut.

Once we hit the Overland Track, we noticed many other hikers also making their way to Narcissus Hut. We reached the hut at 5:30 pm and somewhat naively decided to push onto Echo Point, where we hoped it would be a little less crowded.

The decision came with the extra incentive to tick off a couple more kilometres so our last day would be quick and easy. The forecasted rain and strong winds would supposedly kick-off at midday. 

Narcissus Hut to Echo Point

5 km | 2 hrs | 100 m elevation gain

We were pleasantly surprised to find this part of the hike, along the edge of Lake St Clair, incredibly beautiful with another dense rainforest at the foot of giant swamp gums. We tried hard to enjoy it as we begged our tired legs to continue. 

We finally made it to Echo Point at 7:30, 19 km later – which for us was huge due to the lack of any recent long-distance training! But we were happy. The campsite was even more incredible than the last, set right on the banks of Lake St Clair with mountainous peaks rising beyond. We found a little corner to set up and made our way down to the water’s edge to cook dinner and watch the sunset.

We had been told by some passers by that there was a mouse infestation in the hut, which became obvious with the incredible amount of graffiti etched in the hut’s posts explaining other mouse encounters. There are bins to put your bags of food in, which we did and had no issues with animals while sleeping in our tents.

Manually focusing for an astrophotography photo at Echo Point Campsite on Lake St Clair while hiking the Labyrinth

DAY 4

10 km | 3 – 4 hrs | 213m elevation | 779 m highest elevation

Our alarm sounded far too early and we almost fell back into a deep sleep, but one check outside encouraged us to crawl from our beds to watch the sunrise. 

We emerged to an almost perfect blue sky and the sun slowly illuminating the forests surrounding Echo Point. Making our way down to the jetty, we sat and blissfully watched a phenomenal sunrise throw hazy yellow beams across the still water. 

We were in heaven.

Sunrise at Echo Point Pier overlooking Lake St Claire

Echo Point To Lake St Clair 

10 km | 3 – 4 hrs | 213m elevation

With the sun shining and no sign of rain, we allowed ourselves another leisurely morning and happily ate breakfast on the shores of Echo Point before shouldering our packs one last time to finish our hike. 

And again, we were overwhelmed with the beauty of the forest. Giant twisted sassafras trees grew seemingly from boulders, their roots encompassing the rock like a giant octopus. Swamp gums and stringybark trees shot to the sky, their roots and trunks covered in a film of moss and many peculiar species of fungi. 

The trail emerged from the wet rainforest to a dry eucalypt forest for the last few kilometres of the hike. We were happy this was only the last part, as many snakes crossed this section of the path and the heat was stronger with the humidity of a brewing storm.

We returned to the car, completely exhausted and incredibly elated with the memories of the last few days. The storm hit as soon as we drove away and we couldn’t believe how lucky we were to experience such incredible weather in Cradle Mountain! 

The Labyrinth is a hike that has so much diversity in landscape and enough challenge to keep you on your toes. We have hardly even started exploring the Du Cane Range, with many more peaks to bag before we are done with one of the most alluring ranges in Tasmania. 

Tiger Snake along the Labyrinth Tasmania hiking trail
Hiking the Echo Point trail in Lake St Clair National Park

Lake St Clair Ferry Service

Lake St Clair has a ferry service that can take you across the lake, eliminating the first 15 km of the hike. The ferry service costs $50 one way and the timetable changes often so it’s best to check the Lake St Clair Lodge website before planning your trip. 

The Huts and Campsites

Along the route to Mt Geryon, you will pass three dedicated campsites with toilets and a hut. Narcissus Hut and Pine Valley Hut also have a helipad and tent platforms. Remote camping is unadvised, especially where there are campsites available nearby. The Labyrinth is an unofficial campsite with no facilities, camping there should only be done if you are well aware of and strictly follow the 7 leave no trace principles. The environment in the alpine is fragile and extra care needs to be taken to set up camp in a durable location, and to toilet in appropriate places where it won’t run into the many water sources. 

Each hut is free of charge, however, you must book for some in advance to secure your spot. You can do this via the Tasmania Parks website.

When To Visit

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is known to have the highest annual rainfall in Tasmania. While this is a huge positive for the lush vegetation within the park, it is not so positive when you want to take a walk in its wild ranges. 

Autumn is generally the driest time of year and the cool temperatures are perfect for exploration. You can still expect some frosty mornings and potential snow, but this is a possibility year-round for Tasmania. 

Due to the extensive amount of huts available in the area, mild wet weather shouldn’t deter a trip. But be sure to bring extra warm and waterproof gear! 

Quick Tips and Suggested Gear

The Labyrinth and Mt Geryon are well into the remote and wild terrain of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. While most of the well-known trails are relatively easy to navigate in clear weather, the remoteness and many trail options make some navigation experience necessary. 

I recommend at the very least knowing how to read a map and a compass, carrying an adequate first aid kit and an emergency beacon, and being comfortable with hiking on rough and exposed terrain.

Now that the serious talk is out of the way, this is the list of gear we took with us and would highly recommend.

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!
Standing at the peak of Mt Geryon overlooking the Du Cane Rage while hiking The Labyrinth Tasmania

Getting To The Labyrinth Hike

Lake St Clair, where the hike begins, is 2 hrs 15 mins southwest of Launceston and 2 hrs 30 mins northwest of Hobart. It is a well-populated destination and will pop up on many signs as you near the destination. 

The Labyrinth and Mt Geryon Pinterest Pin