Mount Field West | Summiting The Highest Peak In Mount Field National Park

Fields of vibrant green cushion plants and translucent tarns fill the plateau beneath Mount Field West, where an exhilarating boulder scramble awaits to reach the summit of the tallest peak in Mount Field National Park

We’ve returned to Mount Field National Park on multiple occasions, continuously being drawn back by the glacially carved landscape and the iconic Tarn Shelf. But perhaps the most intoxicating adventure is hiking to the summit of Mount Field West. 

If you’re craving an adventure deep into the wild and rugged mountain ranges in Tasmania’s south, then Mount Field West is the hike for you. The variety of terrain alone is enough to keep you captivated, but the views over the sprawling southwest wilderness will leave you speechless. 

In this guide, we’ll cover every detail you need to summit Mount Field West, including the best route to take, possible camping options, and inspiring images to fuel your wanderlust.

Traversing the plateau beneath Mount Field West in Mount Field National Park

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Mount Field West Hike | Mount Field National Park

18 km return

7 – 9 hrs

Elevation Gain
908 m

Highest Elevation
1,434 m

Grade 4 (Grade 5 in winter)

Entrance Fees
Tasmanian Parks Pass

Visitor centre, Toilet block, Shelter

Where Is Mount Field West

Dominating the south of Tasmania, Mount Field West rises above a sprawling plateau filled with alpine tarns and plunging valleys. Along with the Freycinet Peninsula, the Mount Field mountain range was the first piece of wilderness to become a national park back in 1916.

The trailhead for Mount Field West can be found at Lake Dobson, 15km west of the Mount Field Visitor Centre that’s nestled into the foothills of the mighty mountain range. Lake Dobson is located 1 hr 40 minutes northwest of Hobart and 3 hrs 20 minutes southwest of Launceston. 

How To Get To Mount Field West

While there are plenty of tour options for Mount Field, none of these will allow you enough time to hike to Mount Field West. And with a very poor public transport system, once you leave the cities, the only way to reach the Mount Field West trailhead is by driving yourself.

If you’re in need of a hire car, we recommend using Rental Cars to find the best deals. 

Directions From Hobart To Lake Dobson, Mount Field

To reach the trailhead for Mount Field West, leave Hobart via the Brooker Hwy heading north towards New Norfolk. Once arriving in New Norfolk, continue onto Glenora Rd (B62) towards Bushy Park. At the intersection in Bushy Park, take the left turn (northwest) onto Gordon River Rd. After 18.6 km, turn right (northwest) onto Lake Dobson Rd and soon after you’ll see the Mount Field Visitor Centre. 

Continue along Lake Dobson Rd, which will turn to dirt soon after the visitor centre, for another 15 km before arriving at the Lake Dobson car park. The unsealed road to Lake Dobson is quite narrow and often filled with potholes once you reach the plateau. It is suitable for 2wd’s if you take it easy, however, large caravans and motorhomes are strongly discouraged. 

Note: In winter, the road to Lake Dobson can sometimes be closed due to ice or snow covering the road. A boom gate is located close to the Visitor Centre to inform visitors of the road closures. You can check the Tasmanian Police website for current road closures. 

Mount Field West Summit Hiking Notes

Camping near Clemes Tarn on an overnight hike to summit Mount Field West

There are two main routes that you can take to summit Mount Field West. You can either choose to hike across the Rodway Range into the K Col valley, summit Mount Field West and return the way you came. Or, you can choose to make your hike into a circuit by returning via The Watcher and the Tarn Shelf to complete the full Rodway Range Circuit. 

Mount Field West Via The Rodway Range Return

Distance: 18 km return
Time: 7 – 9 hrs | 1 – 2 days
Elevation Gain: 908 m

This is the most common route hikers will take to summit Mount Field West and the shortest possible distance. This is the ideal option for those wishing to complete the hike in one day rather than two. Although, if you’re simply after a shorter hike then this is still a great overnight option. 

Mount Field West Via The Rodway Range Circuit

Distance: 22.8 km return
Time: 10 – 12 hrs | 2 days recommended
Elevation Gain: approx 1000 m

Walking across the plateau towards Tarn Shelf after summiting Mount Field West

To make this hike into an unforgettable two-day adventure, we highly suggest including the entire Rodway Range Circuit in your plans. This is the route we took to summit Mount Field West and while it’s doable in a day for highly skilled and fast hikers, we recommend taking two in order to truly appreciate your surroundings.

Choosing this circuit allows you to walk underneath The Watcher and through the iconic Tarn Shelf on your return. 

As the majority of hikers choose the return route, this is the one I’ll explain in the walking notes below. But if you’d also like to make your Mount Field West summit hike into a circuit, read our guide to hiking the Rodway Range Circuit next. 

Lake Dobson To Lake Seal Lookout

Admiring the view from Lake Seal Lookout on the Mount Field West hike

Lake Dobson marks the starting point for the hike to Mount Field West, where a peaceful path circumnavigates the alpine lake. As soon as you walk down the steps to the water’s edge and begin your journey to the west, you’ll become immersed in a forest of gnarled pencil pine and snow gums. 

Not long after, a fork in the trail will appear where the track leading to the right continues on the Pandani Grove Nature trail around the lake while the alternate takes you onto the Urquhart Track. Choosing the Urquhart Track, you’ll begin to ascend into a forest thick with pandani and native alpine shrubs, the smell of eucalyptus filling the air from the towering trees above. 

The shaded singletrack ends abruptly at a steep dirt road that’s unfortunately for private use only. The slog up the hill feels relentless but as you climb higher, a sliver of distraction is found in the scene unfolding beneath you. Bit by bit, Lake Dobson and Mount Field East fill the landscape along with Lake Dobson Rd snaking through the brown sub-alpine plateau.

Walking through the Mount Mawson ski fields on the way to Mount Field West

After approximately 20 minutes, the torturous dirt road will deliver you to your first ski lodge where you’ll have the choice of two trails. The right takes you along the Snow Gum track where you’ll climb over a bunch of boulders before reaching Lake Seal Lookout, or the left takes you to the Mt Mawson Ski Resort and through the Tasmanian ski fields before arriving at Lake Seal Lookout. 

Considering this choice arises again as you return, it’s worth walking both trails. In any case, you’ll be standing at Lake Seal Lookout 10 minutes later, no matter which direction you choose. 

Note: The tiny ski resort is only open sporadically through winter. You’ll find no facilities here except shelter and a toilet block – the last of which until your return. 

The boardwalk trail leading from Mount Mawson ski field to the Tarn Shelf on our hike to Mount Field West

Lake Seal Lookout provides your first experience of the inner world of Mount Field, where tarns and alpine lakes fill the valleys and plateaus and the precipitous slopes are dressed in shades of green and yellow from ancient pine and snow gums. Waterfalls plunge from the Tarn Shelf, dropping into the gullies above Lake Seal. 

Lake Seal Lookout To The Rodway Range

Peeling your eyes away from the magical scene before you, continue along a mix of boulders and boardwalks towards the dolerite ridgeline of the Rodway Range looming above the Tarn Shelf. 

After another 10 minutes of wandering across the open alpine highland, watching as more and more shimmering tarns come into view below, you’ll reach another track junction. This time, your choice is between walking across the Tarn Shelf or through the boulder fields on the Rodway Range above. Take the left trail (named the Mount Field West Track) towards the rocky ridgeline for the fastest route to the summit. 

Beginning the climb through the Lions Den on the way to Mount Field West

Note: If you choose to complete the entire Rodway Range Circuit, you’ll return via the Tarn Shelf and link back to this point for the final few kilometres to your car. 

The boardwalks are left behind once you turn onto the Mount Field West Track, being replaced by a scramble up a rocky spine to the Rodway Range ridgeline. After approximately 500 m, you’ll reach the ridgeline and enter an enormous boulder field aptly named the Lions Den. 

The Rodway Range To The K Col Valley

Walking through the boulder garden towards Mount Field West

The next hour will be spent balancing on precariously positioned boulders as you hop across the long dolerite ridge, following the sporadic line of red spray-painted rocks. As you slowly move along, moments of rest are necessary to stop and appreciate the extraordinary views unfolding to your left of the Southwest National Park and Florentine Peak nearby. 

Hopping off the trail and scrambling to your right will also offer a birds-eye view of the Tarn Shelf below. But if you choose to embark on this little detour, be sure you’re confident in finding the trail again and avoid the patches of fragile vegetation.

After an arduous 1.5 km of boulder scrambling, you’ll begin to descend the other side of the long ridgeline and finally catch glimpses of Mount Field West hiding behind Naturalist Peak. The dolerite garden begins to recede as you descend and in its place, a muddy trail flanked by vibrant green cushion plants will guide you into the K Col valley.

The K Col Valley To Clemes Tarn

Walking towards the K Col emergency shelter on the way to Mount Field West

Not long after leaving the boulder garden for good, you’re met with the final track junction before the summit. The track straight ahead will ultimately deliver you to Mount Field West and the boarded trail to the right traverses towards The Watcher before descending to the Tarn Shelf. 

Continuing forward, you’ll descend into the sweeping K Col Valley before climbing the opposite slope en route for the unmissable white roof of the emergency hut. Offering little more than a few pieces of memorabilia pasted to the dilapidated walls and a respite from the weather, the emergency hut can be passed quickly in pursuit of Clemes Tarn. 

Located to the right of the hut, a short rutted trail hidden in a mess of alpine scrub traverses the mountainside to Clemes Tarn. The picturesque tarn is the ideal place to camp if you’ve chosen to complete Mount Field West in two days, where flat tent spots are plentiful around the lake. 

A tent set up beside Clemes Tarn on the Mount Field West Hike

Situated in a saddle surrounded by the imposing peaks of Mount Field West, Naturalist Peak, the Rodway Range and Florentine Peak, you’ll be gifted with breathtaking views of the K Col and Florentine Valley stretching out in opposite directions below. 

Note: There are no designated camping spots at Clemes Tarn so when you’re searching for a suitable place to pitch your tent, please camp on rock slabs where you can, stick to areas that have clearly been used and are already damaged and avoid the fragile cushion plants. It’s also not recommended to drink from the tarn due to the number of people that camp at the water’s edge. 

Clemes Tarn To The Summit Of Mount Field West

Beginning the walk to the summit of Mount Field West

Leaving Clemes Tarn on a skinny dirt track almost entirely overrun by spiky scoparia and similarly unfriendly alpine shrubs, you’ll begin climbing the long southern spine of Naturalist Peak. 

As you inch closer to Mount Field West, climbing over another sprawling mess of boulders, the vistas will continue to take your breath away as additional iconic peaks slide into view. From this vantage point, you’re able to look out beyond the deep valley to The Needles and Mount Anne rising majestically beyond.

Soon after beginning the dolerite boulder garden beneath Naturalist Peak, the intermittent poles and spray-painted rocks will guide you across the southwest side of the summit. A short detour can be included to climb Naturalist Peak, but to ensure you have enough time, we recommend summiting the second-tallest peak on the way back

As you make your way past Naturalist Peak, you’ll leave the boulders behind once more and enter a plateau filled with tiny tarns and spongy cushion plants casting a million shades of green across the landscape. The labyrinth of rivulets feeding the tarns and vegetation is consumed by frogs and the sound is nothing short of enchanting. 

Walking across the open plateau beneath the summit of Mount Field West

Note: It’s impossible to stay off the cushion plants completely as you cross the plateau, but do your best to walk where others have already made an impression on the fragile vegetation. And beware of the mud, it has an undesirable habit of devouring your entire foot if you’re not concentrating!  

After crossing the colourful plateau for approximately 1 km, the dolerite boulders return for the final climb to the peak of Mount Field West. As you make your way to the highest point of the summit, the southwest of Tasmania seemingly unravels before you.

The view over the southwest from the peak of Mount Field West

Take the time to find a flat rock and absorb the sprawling landscape, looking back at the Mount Field mountain range that you traversed earlier. These are the moments we hike for, to be completely consumed by the wild and rugged mountains surrounding us, looking out and attempting to name those that we’ve summited and those we wish to complete. 

Returning To The Trailhead

Once you’ve finished soaking in the immense power of the wilderness, begin backtracking across the spongy plateau and through the boulder garden to Clemes Tarn. This will be your day done if you choose to camp overnight, otherwise, a trek back through the Rodway Range and down to Lake Dobson will conclude the summit hike to Mount Field West. 

Lookout out on the K Col valley from our campsite on our overnight hike to Mount Field West

To complete a circuit, you’ll cross back over the K Col Valley and take the K Col track north towards The Watcher and the Tarn Shelf. Read our guide to hiking the Rodway Range Circuit for more details on this option.

The return hike from Clemes Tarn to Mount Field West takes approximately 2.5 – 3 hrs and can be done either the afternoon you arrive or the next morning. We suggest letting the weather decide as the mountains in southwest Tasmania are notorious for sudden weather changes.

Best Time To Complete The Hike To Mount Field West

During winter, Mount Field receives a healthy coating of snow and attempting the trails through this time is only suitable for those with sufficient experience hiking in the snow. And while snow is not uncommon throughout the remaining seasons, it’s much more manageable. 

Hiking through the boulders garden of the Rodway Range Circuit in Mount Field National Park

In our opinion, Autumn is the best time to summit Mount Field West as the days are generally crisp and clear. However, to help you decide for yourself, we’ve listed the highs and lows of each season below. 

  • Summer: Summer offers long days and the best weather for swimming in the lakes, however, there is very little shade on the alpine which can cause the walk to be increasingly strenuous
  • Autumn: Autumn offers the calmest weather with mild clear days and crisp nights, however, the daylight hours are shorter and completing the hike in one day is not recommended
  • Winter: The hike to Mount Field West is a completely new experience in winter, where the mountains transform into a white wonderland, but only highly skilled hikers should attempt to summit during Winter
  • Spring: While Spring begins to offer warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours, the weather can be extremely volatile with high winds and copious amounts of rain

Leave No Trace

Mount Field National Park has been protected for over 100 years, and while this has enabled the fragile and endemic flora and fauna to flourish, the park still needs our help to stay healthy and safe. 

When you’re hiking through Mount Field, or anywhere for that matter, please follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles and pack out what you pack in. Stay on the trail as much as possible and avoid the cushion plants, which can die from a single footprint. 

There are no facilities once you pass the ski resort so you must carry all your rubbish with you, including food scraps and toilet paper! 

If you plan to camp in the alpine, ensure you use the toilet before you leave and carry a poop tube to do your business if necessary. The alpine is extremely fragile and most water sources are connected underground, making digging holes undesirable. 

What To Bring

The hike to Mount Field West is an all-day commitment, or even two, making it necessary to pack the hiking essentials for your adventure. Even if you plan to complete the summit hike in a day, we suggest wearing sturdy hiking boots and bringing warm clothes and a rain jacket – no matter the weather forecast. 

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!

Where To Stay Near Mount Field, Tasmania

Due to its close proximity to Hobart, it’s possible to visit Mount Field in a day if you plan to camp in the alpine. However, if you’d rather not drive after an exhausting day of hiking, there are plenty of accommodation options nearby. 

Our favourite place to stay while exploring Mount Field is at the Mount Field Campgrounds at the base of the mountain range. While you do need to pay, a hot shower after a long hike is oh so worth it! 

Looking over the river from our campervan at Mount Field National Park Campsite

Camping Near Mount Field

National Park


New Norfolk

Final Thoughts

The hike to Mount Field West offers a wealth of variety in landscapes and will not disappoint. The entire track is relatively well marked and easy to follow in good weather, however, if the mountains are cloaked in mist or covered in snow then it may be more difficult. 

We recommend taking two days to complete the track if you’re experienced in camping in the mountains. This way, you’ll have time to complete the Rodway Range Circuit which we highly suggest including. 

We hope you enjoy Mount Field West as much as we did and as always, feel free to ask any questions or share your stories with us in the comments below.

Happy Hiking 🙂