Your Ultimate Guide To Visiting Leven Canyon, Tasmania

Deep in the northwest mountain ranges, hidden among farmlands and open plains, you’ll find Leven Canyon, Tasmania’s deepest limestone ravine carved into the rugged landscape by the ferocious force of the River Leven. 

It’s not often you get to experience such raw and wild beauty in less than 20 minutes of walking, but that’s exactly what you’ll get when you visit Leven Canyon. We recently spent a day exploring the canyon’s highs and lows and were absolutely blown away by the beauty and symmetry of the gorge – photographers, rejoice! 

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover all you need to know to experience Leven Canyon yourself, including where to stay, how much time you’ll need and other things to do near Leven Canyon. 

Leven Canyon in Tasmania on a moody day

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Exploring Leven Canyon In Northwest Tasmania

Leven Canyon is a sight you need to behold to take in the true beauty of the landscape, which is far too large to fit into a single photograph. The limestone walls of the ravine plummet 275 m down to the white-capped waves of River Leven, a river named after another in Scotland and known to be paddled by some truly wild souls. 

But that’s not the only way to experience the wonders of Leven Canyon, there are two walks that offer unique views of the deep, narrow gorge that holds such force. But first, let’s cover some practical information you’ll need to visit Leven Canyon.

Where Is Leven Canyon

Leven Canyon is located in Northwest Tasmania, south of Gunns Plains and north of Black Bluff in its own regional reserve that protects the unbridled rainforest clinging to the precipitous slopes. The picnic area is found 1 hr 50 mins west of Launceston, 4 hrs northwest of Hobart, and 40 mins south of the northern coastal town of Ulverstone. 

How To Get To Leven Canyon

If you’ve visited Tasmania before, you know that the public transport system is severely lacking – especially if you want to venture away from the east coast! We recommend hiring a car to visit Leven Canyon so that you can enjoy the reserve at your own pace. 

By Car

In most circumstances, you’ll access Leven Canyon by first passing through Ulverstone, unless you come from Cradle Mountain or another town southwest of the Canyon. But for Hobart, Burnie or Launceston this will be your route. 

Once you reach Ulverstone, you’ll turn south off the Bass Hwy onto Gawler Rd. After two kilometres, the road forks into Top Gawler Rd and Preston Rd. Continue on Top Gawler Rd for another 8.5 km before making a right turn onto Castra Rd. Follow Castra Rd for 20 km until you reach the small ‘town’ of Nietta. From Nietta, the road changes names to Loongana Rd which you’ll continue on for another 8km until you reach the right-hand turn (north) onto  Leven Canyon Rd and ultimately, the picnic area. 

This is where the Leven Canyon Lookout Circuit begins, however, for the Leven Canyon Floor trail, continue on Loongana Rd for an extra kilometre until you reach a clearing with an information sign indicating the trailhead. 

All roads leading to Leven Canyon from Ulverstone are sealed and accessible for all vehicles. Even if you visit from Cradle Mountain, the country road that connects Wilmot to Upper Castra is sealed, albeit a little skinny. 

Signing book in the car park of Levon Canyon

Tours Options For Leven Canyon

If you’d rather not drive the winding country roads of inland Tasmania, there are two options for day tours. The first in the list below leaves from Launceston and includes a visit to either the Gunns Plains Caves or the Wings Wildlife Park. The second is a private tour from Burnie that includes a visit to Sheffield and Latrobe before exploring Leven Canyon. 


Free Camping At Leven Canyon 

Leven Canyon is situated among many waterfalls to visit and mountains to climb, providing an ideal base to explore all the other things to do in Northwest Tasmania. The picnic area doubles as a free campground for campers and campervans alike.

The Leven Canyon campground is dog friendly with grassy spots for tents, caravans and campervans. Other amenities include:

  • Flushing toilets
  • Fire pits
  • Picnic tables 
  • An undercover area for shelter
  • Rubbish bins
  • Non-potable water (boil first or filter to drink)

Leven Canyon Walks

Hiking the Levon Canyon Floor Track in dense green forest

The main reason to visit Leven Canyon is to step out onto the suspended platforms 275 m above the canyon floor or to witness the fury of River Leven from its bouldered banks. If time and skill allow, we suggest completing both of these experiences via the two walks below.

All the walks can easily be done in a day, but start with the Leven Canyon Lookout trails as the Canyon Floor is a little more challenging (and exciting). However, even if you’re uncomfortable on exposed and rough terrain, you can still comfortably make it halfway down the Canyon Floor trail to the bridge crossing the River Leven before turning back.

Leven Canyon Lookout Circuit

Distance: 1.9 km return
Time: 45 – 60 minutes
Grade: Grade 2 – easy with a few stairs
Facilities: Toilets, picnic area, rubbish bins and BBQ facilities

Elevation Gain: 149 m
Highest Elevation: 563 m
Entrance Fees: None

Gushing water in Leven Canyon on a dark moody day

Beginning at the Leven Canyon picnic area, you have the choice of two separate walks (one slightly harder than the other) that can be combined to complete a circuit by a set of forest stairs. 

While completing this circuit anti-clockwise will save you approximately 60 m in elevation, we suggest walking clockwise for two reasons. Firstly, the Fern Walk offers the best scenery which we like to start with and secondly, we find it much easier to walk up stairs than the steep slope you’ll find on the Fern Walk. 

But ultimately, these trail notes will guide you whichever way you choose to take. 

The Fern Walk
Fern walk on the Levon Canyon Circuit in Tasmania

As soon as you step into the sheltered canopy of giant gums, you’ll understand why this trail is called the ‘Fern Walk’. The well-groomed track descends through a vibrant fern glade filled with multi-coloured fungi and a tangle of moss clinging to the trunks of the tall eucalyptus trees. 

In less than 10 minutes, you’ll reach a signposted fork in the path, the right leading you to a set of stairs and the one in front continuing to Leven Canyon Lookout (also known as the Edge Lookout). 

Leaving the stairs for later, follow the trail down for another 5 minutes or less to the edge of the precipice where you’ll find the Leven Canyon lookout suspended high above the raging River Leven.

Leven Canyon Lookout 
Walking to the Leven Canyon Lookout

You’ll hear the thundering river before you even clear the treeline, which sounds a little like a ferocious wind whipping through the canyon. The sound reverberates off the steep limestone walls, adding an element of grandeur to the wild river. 

The Leven Canyon Lookout offers a closer view of the imposing ravine than the Cruickshanks Lookout, allowing you to observe the perfect circles etched into the black rocks below. 

After absorbing the absolute wonder that is Leven Canyon, retrace your steps to the trail intersection and get ready to ascend 697 steps! 

The Forest Stairs
Hiking along the forest stairs in Leven Canyon Tasmania

As you conquer the slippery stairs that snake up the steep slope, don’t forget to take a look around and take in the incredible vegetation as it morphs from the wet fern glade to a dry eucalypt forest. 

There are seats along the climb for a break if you’d rather take the stairs slowly and enjoy the surrounding forest. 

Cruickshanks Lookout
Levon Canyon Lookout on a moody day

As you clear the last of the forest stairs, Cruickshanks Lookout will be right in front of you. This lookout is directly in front of Leven Canyon’s iconic pointed mountain, with the tumultuous River Leven flowing 275 m below. The almost perfectly symmetrical ravine offers an outstanding photo opportunity. 

From the Cruickshanks lookout, you’re rewarded with views of Black Bluff to your left (southwest) and the River Leven weaving its way through the mountainous Leven Canyon Regional Reserve to your right (northeast).  

Returning To The Leven Canyon Picnic Area
Hiking along the Leven Canyon Lookout walk towards the epic view over the massive canyon

An easy 5 – 10 minute walk through windswept woodlands will deliver you back to the Leven Canyon picnic area.

Harsh winds have howled through this side of the mountain, toppling the forest giants like flies and creating chaos in the dry eucalypt forest. But while the forest surrounding the path is a mess of debris, the trail is in good condition with no need to clamber over any fallen limbs – thanks to the Canyon and Bluff Working Group. 

Leven Canyon Floor Walk To The Devils Elbow

Distance: 1.9 km return
Time: 1 – 2 hrs
Grade: Grade 3 – easy/moderate with some exposed sections
Facilities: None

Elevation Gain: 131 m
Highest Elevation: 435 m
Entrance Fees: None

Standing along side River Leven on the Leven Canyon Floor walk

For those who are searching for a little more adventure, you’ll love the Leven Canyon Floor Walk. This out and back trail will deliver you to the thundering banks of the River Leven where you can truly take in its powerful force. 

The walk starts off simple enough, through another wind-swept woodland that soon turns into a flourishing forest filled with moss, lichen and ferns. A descent aided by the occasional stairs takes you down to a bridge that crosses the River Leven. 

The sheer volume and ferocity of the river below are easy to acknowledge from this vantage point, as it smashes into boulders worn smooth over time. The limestone rocks are fascinating, seemingly divided into thin sheets stacked on top of one another to create a charcoal black boulder. 

River Leven Bridge To The Devil’s Elbow

After marvelling at the wonders of nature, you have the choice to continue to the Devil’s Elbow or return to the trailhead. 

Assuming your thirst for adventure is not yet quenched, continue past the bridge and straight into the trees, merging onto the Penguin to Cradle track – an 80 km walking trail that connects the north coast to Cradle Mountain. 

This is where it gets exciting, orange markers lead the way through a messy forest filled with rotting debris and moss-covered rocks and roots. Being seldom used, this track is overly slippery and the only way to truly know you’re staying on course is by following the orange markers diligently. 

Hiking the Leven Canyon Forest Floor walk

Not long after leaving the bridge, the trail returns to the river’s edge where you’ll need to clamber up and over jagged rocks as you traverse the steep limestone banks towards the Devil’s Elbow. 

A flat, rocky ‘beach’ welcomes you at the elbow where you can take a break and watch the river follow its course towards the Bass Strait. From the Devil’s Elbow, you can even see the two Leven Canyon lookouts hanging high above. 

Returning To The Trailhead
Hiking along the Leven Canyon Floor Walk in TasmaniaF

After exploring around the small pebbly beach in the crook of the Devil’s Elbow, you’ll return the way you came along the river’s edge until you reach the bridge before climbing out of the ravine.

Now, the trail does continue on from the Devil’s Elbow but this is the Penguin to Cradle trail that is 80km one way so don’t follow that into the treeline above the elbow as you’ll be walking for a very long time! 

This was our favourite walk at Leven Canyon and other than a few sections that required a bit of a scramble – which was assisted by a ladder or a rope – it is quite straight forward. And taking less than 2 hours to complete, it’s a must when you visit Leven Canyon.  

Best Time To Visit Leven Canyon

Heavy rapids in Leven Canyon Tasmania

Leven Canyon is one of those places that is known but not visited quite so often due to its remote location, which adds to its charm in our opinion! 

If you do fit it into your schedule, which you should, we recommend visiting early morning to catch the sunrise and perhaps even the mist that often clings to the tops of the trees in the canyon. 

As for the ideal time of year to explore Leven Canyon, Winter or early Spring will give you the best chance of experiencing the river at its most powerful. However, we visited in the dead of a particularly dry winter and the river still astounded us. 

Leave No Trace

Whenever you’re visiting a natural attraction, or anywhere for that matter, it’s important to leave the destination as you found it or in a better condition. There are facilities at the Leven Canyon picnic area for your use so please keep all your rubbish with you on your walk and put it in the bins provided – this includes food scraps and tissues! 

If you’re not familiar with the Leave No Trace Principles, here is a resource that you can read to learn about the guidelines that will help us protect our fragile earth. 

What To Bring

Hiking down the forest stairs walk in Leven Canyon

Leven Canyon is located deep in the farmlands of Northwest Tasmania where there is little in the way of shops within a 40-minute radius. If you’re visiting for the day, pack yourself a lunch and any other food or drink you’ll need. 

The Leven Canyon Lookout walks from the picnic area are all relatively short and the trail is well-groomed. Therefore, a pair of trail runners or hiking shoes would be our pick for these. 

As for the Leven Canyon Floor walk, the trail is uneven and overgrown with a higher chance of encountering leeches. It’s best to wear sturdy hiking boots if you have them, or long socks to prevent leeches at the very least. 

Here is our basic list of items that we recommend taking on the Leven Canyon Walks

Where To Stay Near Leven Canyon

We know camping isn’t everyone’s first choice for finding somewhere to stay and luckily there are plenty of other options. Within the surrounding farmlands and tiny towns, there are quite a few quaint cottages to choose from. Alternatively, Leven Canyon is less than a 2-hour return trip from Ulverstone, Penguin and Devonport. 

Rural Options Near Leven Canyon




Other Things To Do Near Leven Canyon

In the surrounding mountain ranges close to Leven Canyon, you will find many waterfalls, walking trails and even deep limestone cave! Here are the top things to do near Leven Canyon to make your trip into the remote countryside more worthwhile.

Gunns Plains Caves

Guided tours are offered daily through the Gunns Plains Caves which were found in 1906 and host some incredible examples of curtain stalactites, stalagmites and glow worms.

Their prices are not specified on their website but you can send an email, call or visit their Facebook page for the latest information. 

Black Bluff

Black Bluff is one for the extra adventurous. This 12.5 km return hike climbs over 1,000 m to the 1,339 m tall mountain peak that provides stunning views out to the Cradle Mountain range. It’s one we are yet to tick off our list but have heard great things about! If you’ve hiked this trail, let us know what you thought in the comments below. 

Winterbrook Falls

Another for the adventure-seeking, Winterbrook Falls is located within the Black Bluff range and takes approximately 5 hours to complete this 10.8km return track. However, you will be rewarded with a magnificent waterfall that flows into the River Leven. 

Castra Falls Circuit

The Castra Falls circuit offers a slightly easier alternative to the two above suggestions and takes you past three other waterfalls – Silver Falls, Step Falls and Secret Place Cascades. The waterfall loop takes approximately 2 – 3 hrs and is classed as a moderate hike.