Mount Claude | Mount Roland’s Most Exciting Summit Hike

If you’re looking for a short hike that will provide breathtaking views while also offering a chance to squeeze through dark caves and clamber over precariously balanced boulders, then Mount Claude is the hike for you! 

Not only does this trail offer sensational views over the prominent Mount Roland Regional Reserve in the heart of Tasmania, but the summit also provides an exciting scramble through a dark and damp cave to reach the peak.

On our recent visit to Mount Roland, we spent hours exploring the rugged peaks throughout the range and can honestly say that Mount Claude is worth your time. While it doesn’t provide as much diversity as the Mount Van Dyke Circuit, it excels in a thrilling challenge to summit the enormous bouldered peak.

But as with many lesser-known hikes in Tasmania, the trail leading to the summit can be quite elusive. But never fear, in this post, you’ll find detailed trail notes combined with beautiful imagery to help you find your way to the top of Mount Claude.

Hiking up the steep fireroad to the Mt Claude track in Tasmania at sunrise

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Conquering The Summit Of Mount Claude In Mount Roland Regional Reserve

6.5 km return

2 – 4 hrs

Grade 3 (Grade 4/5 to summit Mt Claude)

Car park, Information Sign

Elevation Gain
379 m

Highest Elevation
1,034 m

Entrance Fees

Where Is Mount Claude?

Mount Claude’s rocky summit extends from the western edge of Mount Roland Regional Reserve in central north Tasmania. The striking mountain range rises almost 1,000 m above the surrounding farmlands, allowing for breathtaking views over the entire northern half of the state from the granite peaks.

The trailhead for Mount Claude can be found at the Round Mountain Lookout on Ollivers Rd, 20 minutes southwest of Sheffield. 

How To Get To Mount Claude

Part of Mt Claude’s charm is its slightly unrenowned status, but this also results in no public transport or tour options for the hike. The only way to get to the Mount Claude trailhead is by driving yourself. If you’re flying into Tasmania and don’t have access to a car, we suggest utilising Rental Cars to find the best deals on car hires.

Directions From Launceston To Mount Claude Trailhead

Mt Claude Carpark and trailhead at Round Mountain Lookout

To reach the trailhead for Mount Claude, head southwest out of Launceston via Bass Hwy (1) for 60 km. Just before Elizabeth Town, turn left (west) onto Railton Rd (B13) for 11 km until you reach another left turn (west) onto Bridle Track Rd (C156) just before the town of Kimberley.

After 11 km, Bridle Track Rd will merge into Sheffield Rd (B14) which will take you into Sheffield. Just before you hit the town centre, take another left turn (southwest) onto Claude Rd (C136) for 17 km until you reach the final left turn (south) onto Ollivers Rd (C138). You’ll arrive at the Round Mountain Lookout and the beginning of the Mount Claude track 4 km later.

Mount Claude Trail Notes

Hiking through the alpine plants on the Mt Claude Track

As soon as you pull up to Round Mountain Lookout, you’ll be overwhelmed with the beauty of the wild and rugged west unfolding before you. One of our favourite roadside viewpoints, Round Mountain Lookout offers a sneak peek of the vast landscape you’ll witness from the alpine plateau above.

Once you manage to tear yourself away from the intoxicating view, cross the road into the unused quarry and pass through the locked gate to begin the trek to Mt Claude’s summit. 

Climbing To The Communication Towers

Walking up the service road adjacent to the service towers

The initial 1.5 km of the walk is quite uninspiring, as you slowly ascend the steep service road that snakes up the western spine of Mount Claude. That said, the scene unravelling behind you and the imposing granite peaks in front offer ample encouragement to keep moving forward.

Eventually, after approximately 25 minutes and gaining a gruelling 214 m of elevation, you’ll reach the giant communication towers marking the beginning of the singletrack that accompanies you for the remainder of the hike.

The Communication Towers To The Lookout

Hiking the start of the singletrack of Mt Claude
Hiking through flowering alpine plants at sunrise

The moment you step onto the skinny track, you’ll be transported into a thick alpine forest of woolly tea trees and stunted snow gums. The white flowers covering the tea trees in spring provide a stunning splash of colour to the reddish/brown plateau.

As you negotiate your way along the overgrown track, avoiding frequent ruts filled with mud puddles, you’ll gently begin to climb again as the trail propels you towards the lookout. 

Approximately 15 minutes later, you’ll find yourself at a track junction with a blue sign indicating a lookout can be found 120 m to the left. 

Trail sign on the Mt Claude Track

You can hardly say no to such a short detour and the views you receive of the three dominating peaks, Mt Claude, Mt Van Dyke and Mt Roland, overlapping one another are well worth the extra 340 m.

Mt Roland standing tall over the surrounding farmlands

The Lookout To Mount Claude

Returning to the main track, you’ll continue east for another 400 m on a pink granite shale path concealed by the encroaching alpine shrubs. As you begin to veer left and climb out of the dense shrub, you’ll find yourself staring up at Mount Claude’s colossal boulder summit.

The main trail dips below the peak and traverses the northern side of Mt Claude, continuing onto Mt Van Dyke. But in order to summit the obscure mountain, stop before the dip and look to your right where you’ll find a faint trail blocked by sticks that leads to the mass of conglomerate rocks.

Trail to the summit of Mt Claude
Left follows main travers, right leads to the summit of Mt Claude

Note: Attempting to summit Mt Claude should only be considered if you’re an intermediate to advanced hiker with sufficient skills to rock scramble over exposed boulders and through wet and confined caves.

Summiting Mount Claude

Leaving the main track and stepping over the sticks, the faint trail will lead you to the southern side of Mt Claude’s summit. Approximately 100 m later, the path turns left (north) and enters the thick shrub that borders the peak.

The beginning of the rock scramble to the summit

Consistent pink tags make it easy to navigate through the shrub and onto the first lot of boulders overlooking Mt Roland. Looking left, you’ll see a small tunnel-like cave you’ll need to crawl through on your journey to the peak. This is where the climb steps it up a notch.

First cave to crawl through on the scramble to the summit of Mt Claude

Climbing out of the cave and back into the open, less frequent pink tags guide you northwest through a large boulder garden that requires a good dose of scrambling. Once you reach the scoparia bush hosting the second last pink tag, the trail will lead you up and around to the right and point you towards a tight gap between two boulders.

Note: If you happen to notice any pink tags leading down to your left (south), disregard them as they will simply take you back to the plateau.

Pink Tags in the distance on Scoporia trees
Small crack in the granite rock to climb on the summit scramble to Mt Claude

Shimmying your way into the crack and onto a flat boulder, the trail looks like it goes straight up the steep rock face, but this will only lead you to a false summit. Instead, the correct course to take after navigating the skinny gap is to the right where you’ll drop down into an open moss-covered cave.

Note: This is the hardest section to navigate as the pink tags end and you won’t find any rock cairns until you drop beneath the boulders. But as long as you continue moving north and search for a damp green cavern, you’ll find your way.

Cave following the track to Mt Claude
This cave we are heading into ins’t obvious so keep an eye out

As soon as you drop into the lush green grotto, you’ll notice some scrabbly rock cairns leading you anti-clockwise around a giant boulder and stopping at a deep dark cave

Sitting inside the final cave on the summit scramble of Mt Claude
Yet another cave! This one is the one you’ve been waiting for

Headtorches make the cave experience much more manageable as you step into the darkness and squeeze through the slim opening towards the sunlit gap above. You’ll find a rope attached to a damp slanted rock that sits beneath the opening. The rope assists your climb considerably as you shimmy up the awkward ascent.

Climbing up the dark wet cave to reach the summit of Mt Claude

But as soon as you reach the end of the rope, you’ve made it to the cave’s exit and back into the sunlight. Continue southeast and hop over the few remaining boulders to reach Mount Claude’s elusive peak.

Note: Inside the cave, the rock is generally wet year-round which makes the rock face extremely slippery. We were surprised by how much upper body strength the climb through the slanted cave required. That being said, for keen hikers searching for a challenge, this section shouldn’t deter you.

Exploring Mount Claude’s Summit

Overlooking Mt Roland Regional Reserve from the summit of Mt Claude

Once you’re sitting atop the summit, next to the make-shift trig point made of sticks poking out of a rock cairn, you’re finally able to take a moment to embrace the scene before you. 

From this vantage point, you have uninterrupted views of the central highlands, including the Walls of Jerusalem, Cradle Mountain and Black Bluff. To the east, the granite rock runs like white veins down Mount Roland’s forested mountain range. And right down below, you can see the trail you walked in on snaking up the spine of Mount Claude.

Returning To The Trailhead

Walking the main traverse in the Mt Roland Regional Reserve

You could spend hours exploring the summit of Mt Claude, but when you’re finally ready to return to the trailhead, begin the descent through the cave and back down to the plateau below.

Note: Descending the roped section of the cave proved to be a little more challenging but as long as you take your time to find good footholds, you’ll be down and out of the dark in no time.

Return the way you came to finish the Mt Claude walk, remembering to take your time to soak in the wild landscape surrounding.

Including a few wrong turns on the summit, we completed the return hike to Mt Claude in 4 hours, with a moving time of 2 hrs 10 minutes. If you choose to forego the peak, you’ll likely finish the hike within 2 to 3 hours. 

Best Time To Hike Mount Claude

Cradle Mountain standing in the distance on a blue bird day

The best time to summit Mt Claude is early summer or early autumn when the weather is most often calm and cool enough on the exposed climb to the peak. It is possible to complete this hike year-round, but be aware that snow is common in winter and rains in spring.

Leave No Trace

We are very fortunate to have a wealth of wild places in Tasmania for us to explore. But these pristine landscapes are also extremely fragile and need our help to survive. When you’re hiking in the wilderness – or anywhere for that matter – please follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles.

It’s as simple as sticking to the trail, leaving a destination how you found it – or better – and packing out your rubbish, including food scraps and tissues! There are no toilets or rubbish bins in Mount Roland Regional Reserve so please take your rubbish with you and be prepared by using the toilet at O’Neills Creek Picnic Area before your hike. 

What To Bring

While the hike to Mount Claude is short, the trail will send you into the alpine where the weather can be vastly different to what you’re experiencing at the trailhead. Therefore, we recommend bringing a down jacket and rain jacket no matter the weather predictions.

Here is our basic list of items that we recommend taking on The Mt Claude hike.

Where To Stay Near Mount Roland Regional Reserve, Tasmania

Mount Claude is located 1 hr 20 minutes southwest of Launceston, making it an easy day trip from the city. However, if you’d rather immerse yourself in the wilderness for a day or two, there are plenty of quaint accommodation options in Sheffield and Moina.

Camping Near Mount Roland

Final Thoughts

The short and sharp hike to Mount Claude’s precipitous summit is a worthy adventure for those searching for a little challenge. And even for those that choose not to summit the bouldered peak, the views are sensational from the plateau and require little more than 2 to 3 hours to complete.

We hope our directions to the peak are helpful and would love to hear about your experience summiting Mt Claude in the comments below. And as always, please feel free to ask us any questions and we’ll respond as soon as possible.

Happy Hiking 🙂