Mount Van Dyke Circuit | Mount Roland Regional Reserve

Steep terrain through eucalypt forests and ramblings across a boundless alpine moorland await on the Mount Van Dyke Circuit, where you’ll summit the second-tallest peak in the Mount Roland Regional Reserve.

After driving past the prominent mountain range countless times on our way to various other hikes in Tasmania, we finally set off on a journey specifically to explore Mount Roland via the many hiking trails that blanket the reserve.

Of all the hikes we accomplished in three days, our favourite trail for multiple reasons was the Mount Van Dyke Circuit. In this post, we’ll uncover why it became our favourite and provide you with all the necessary details you need to complete the Mount Van Dyke Circuit yourself.

Hiking the plateau towards Mt Van Dyke Summit

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Hiking To The Summit Of Mount Van Dyke In Mount Roland Regional Reserve

13 km circuit

5 – 6 hrs

Grade 4

Car park, Information Sign

Elevation Gain
829 m

Highest Elevation
1,084 m

Entrance Fees

Where Is Mount Van Dyke?

Mount Van Dyke is the second tallest named peak in the Mount Roland Regional Reserve, which rises dramatically above surrounding farmlands in central north Tasmania. The closest town with the best view of the rugged mountain range is Sheffield, located 15 minutes northeast.

How To Get To Mount Van Dyke

The Mount Van Dyke Circuit commences from the car park located on O’Neill’s Rd, which sits between Gowrie Park and O’Neill’s Creek Picnic Area. You’ll find no public transport or tour options for Mount Van Dyke, resulting in the need for a car to reach the trailhead.

If you are flying into Tasmania, we suggest checking out Rental Cars to find the best deals on car hire.

Directions From Launceston To Mount Roland Regional Reserve

To reach the trailhead for the Mount Van Dyke Circuit, leave Launceston via Bass Hwy (1) heading southwest. Continue on the highway for 60 km before turning left (west) onto Railton Rd (B13) just before Elizabeth Town.

Follow Railton Rd for 11 km and just after the town of Kimberley, turn left (west) onto Bridle Track Rd (C156). Continue along this road for 11 km before merging onto Sheffield Rd (B14) which will take you into Sheffield.

Turn left (southwest) onto Claude Rd (C136) just before entering the town centre and follow this road for another 15 km until you reach the final left turn (south) onto O’Neill’s Rd. You’ll find the car park for the Mount Van Dyke Circuit 200 m past the turn-off.  

Mount Van Dyke Circuit Notes

Beginning the Mt Van Dyke Circuit in Tasmania

As soon as you pull up to the Mount Roland car park, you’re gifted with breathtaking views of the rugged ridgeline above. You can just make out the saddle you’re aiming for in between Mount Van Dyke and Mount Claude. To your left, the white granite peak of Mount Roland rises boldly above a forest of green.

Ascending To The Junction

Walking on a fireroad through beautiful dense Tasmanian rainforests

After registering your walk at the shelter, you’ll continue along the gravel path towards the foothills of Mount Van Dyke. Very soon after beginning the circuit, the track will veer slightly to the left and tuck into the shaded cover of giant eucalypts peppered with wattle and banksias.

The old service road continues to steadily climb for 1.3 km before you come to your first track junction. Here you’re met with the choice of shooting straight up the guts to the Mount Van Dyke and Mount Claude saddle via The Junction Track, or taking the gentler traverse to the Mount Roland and Mount Van Dyke Saddle via the Mount Roland Track.

Trail junction at the base of the Mt Van Dyke Circuit climb
Trail junction

The direction you choose to complete this circuit is entirely up to you. Ultimately, it all comes down to your preference for steep descents vs steep ascents.

Note: We chose to complete the circuit anti-clockwise, starting with the steep ascent. This is the way we’ll explain the hike but if you choose the opposite, you can still follow along. Our decision was made predominantly due to the fact my knees don’t cope with steep descents, so if you suffer from any knee pain as well, we recommend doing the same.

The Junction To The Saddle

Climbing up the Mt Van Dyke Circuit next to large granite boulders flaking track

Assuming you chose to tackle the ridiculously steep ascent to the Mount Van Dyke and Mount Claude saddle, you’ll take the right track and begin the arduous climb up an uninspiring 4wd track.

Not long into the ascent, the surrounding forest of ferns and fallen trees begin to close in, creating a skinny singletrack littered with reddish-brown leaf decay. The increasingly appealing landscape offers a slight respite to the gruelling climb, as does the fleeting glimpses of the rocky ridgeline above.

The beginning of the switchbacks marks just over halfway to the saddle and offers a chance to rest the calves as the trail flattens ever so slightly. From this point on, you’ll notice moss-covered rocks and exposed roots beginning to infiltrate the trail, creating a more enticing climb.

After 1.6 km and a whopping 340 m in elevation, you’ll finally reach the second track junction along the Mount Van Dyke Circuit. The right track will take you to Mount Claude and the left will continue onto Mount Van Dyke.

Second Trail sign on the Mt Van Dyke Circuit

Note: The wooden sign found at the junction will state that it takes 1 hour to return to the car park (which is how long we took to climb to the saddle) and 45 minutes to reach the peak of Mount Van Dyke, which is seriously pushing it! Our walking time to the summit from the saddle was 1 hr 15 mins…

The Saddle To The Unnamed Peak

You’ll notice a huge shift in terrain as soon as you leave the track junction and begin your journey on the Mount Van Dyke track. Conglomerate rocks dominate the trail, creating makeshift stairs as you continue to climb.

Not long after leaving the saddle, the trail will direct you beneath a mass of boulders intertwined with paperbark and sassafras trees. Engaging in a game of limbo, you’ll shimmy beneath the boulder cave and pop out the other side onto the rocky trail.

Rock Tunnel on the Mt Van Dyke Track
The trail leads straight through this rock tunnel
Climbing up the granite rocks on the final ascent of the Mt Van Dyke Climb
The climb continues over a mass of granite boulders

Pink granite boulders stained with moss and slippery tree roots ensue for the next little while (creating a treacherous task in the wet) as you slowly make your way up to the alpine plateau. 

Note: If it’s rained in the last 24 to 48 hours, or you’re hiking in winter, we recommend wearing gaiters and rain pants to avoid getting drenched by the encroaching woolly tea trees flanking the path.

After another kilometre of climbing, the overgrown trail eventually opens up as you reach a slanted rock slab overlooking the craggy alpine moorlands. From this vantage point, you’ll receive your first glimpse of the Cradle Mountain range carving up the distant horizon.  

Walking through alpine vegetation on the Mt Van Dyke Circuit in Tasmania

Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the overgrown trail and once you’ve had sufficient rest, you’ll dive back into the dense shrub. But luckily it doesn’t last for long and after another 500 m, you’ll have reached a second giant rock slab that warrants a little exploration.

The views from this unnamed rocky peak are mesmerising, allowing you to gaze out beyond the jagged spires of the Mount Roland mountain range and onto the lush Kentish valley below.

After clambering over boulders to gain alternate perspectives of the vast landscape, the track will continue traversing the south side beneath the unnamed peak, dropping down the rock slab into a low-lying alpine forest of snow gums.

The Unnamed Peak To Mount Van Dyke’s Summit

Navigating the steep ridge on the final push to Mt Van Dyke

As you climb into another small saddle, you’ll finally leave the overgrown trail behind and enter an alpine moorland full of stunted shrubs. This allows you to soak in the vistas surrounding as you cross the colourful plateau towards Mount Van Dyke’s summit.

Mount Roland’s imposing peak paints the perfect backdrop as you cover the final 1.5 km to the turn-off for Mount Van Dyke. 300 m later, you’ll find yourself engulfed in a field of giant pink granite boulders precariously balancing on top of one another to make the second-highest peak in the Mount Roland Regional Reserve.

Exploring Mount Van Dyke’s Summit

View over farmlands from the summit of Mt Van Dyke

The bouldered peak entices the adventurous to make their way up to the highest point, where you’ll have 360-degree views of the northern half of Tasmania. And even if you’d rather stay closer to the ground, the summit allows sensational views over the central highlands. 

Sitting and gazing south, you’ll find the Walls of Jerusalem and the iconic peaks of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park cutting across the horizon, with deep valleys forged by flowing rivers colouring the landscape below.

Mount Van Dyke To The Mount Roland Saddle

Hiking along the saddle from Mt Van Dyke to Mt Roland

After basking in the natural wonders surrounding you, backtrack along the 300 m side track until you find yourself on the main trail once more. Setting your sights on Mount Roland in the distance, you’ll continue northeast towards the saddle between Mt Van Dyke and Mt Roland. 

The pink granite path begins to drop down into increasingly taller snow gums until you eventually find yourself crossing a languidly flowing Reggie Falls (which can barely be called a waterfall) that flows down from the saddle.

1.8 km later, you’ll find yourself in the saddle on an oversized platform with a bench seat and a couple of informational signs directing you where to go. 

wooden platform acting as a junction for Mt Roland and Mt Vandyke

From the track junction between Mt Roland and Mt Van Dkye, you have the opportunity to descend to the trailhead or continue straight towards Mt Roland. Continuing to Mount Roland will add an extra 5.6 km, making the grand total for the day 18.6 km.

The Mount Roland Saddle To The Trailhead

Descending down Mt Roland track towards the trailshead

The track descending towards the trailhead begins with manmade steps and boardwalks to assist in any muddy sections, which is a vast contrast to the previous trails you’ve just encountered.

This enables you to walk with ease and take in the verdant moss-covered myrtle forest. Giant tree ferns and smooth sassafras flank the trail as you wind down the gully towards O’Neill’s Creek.

Beautiful twisted trees and moss covered trail on the Mt Roland Main Track

After 1.2 km of descending through the mystical forest, you’ll reach O’Neill’s Creek where a bridge constructed from a fallen log will deliver you to the other side. Immediately after crossing the bridge, you’ll find yourself on a dirt service road with a canopy of towering eucalypts above. 

The dirt road traverses the northern slopes of Mt Van Dyke, gradually descending to the trailhead once more. The final 4 km are slightly less interesting, but the wide road makes for an easy descent with an occasional glimpse of the granite ridgeline above.

We completed the Mount Van Dyke Circuit in 6 hours, with a moving time of 4 hrs 10 mins. While the elevation requires a good level of fitness, we found the trail easy to follow albeit one section just beneath the unnamed peak. But once we searched the trees for markers, we found the way easily.

Best Time To Hike Mount Van Dyke

Always be prepared for wild weather

While the Mount Van Dyke Circuit isn’t too challenging, the addition of unsavoury weather would drastically change this. Therefore, the best time to hike Mt Van Dyke is during summer or early autumn when Tasmania receives the calmest weather.

Leave No Trace

The Tasmanian landscape is rich in natural beauty that needs our help to survive. Please follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles when you’re out adventuring in the wilderness – or anywhere for that matter.

There are no toilets or rubbish bins on the Mount Van Dyke Circuit, so please take all your rubbish with you (including food scraps and tissues) and plan ahead by using the toilets located at O’Neill’s Creek Picnic Area before your hike.

What To Bring

Hiking through overgrown alpine trees on the Mt Van Dyke Circuit

You can expect to be out hiking for most of the day when you embark on the Mount Van Dyke Circuit, resulting in the need for a day pack filled with food, water and warm clothes.

Remember, the weather is vastly different in the alpine and can change on a dime. Snow showers and surprise rainstorms are common in the alpine regions of Tasmania, so don’t forget to pack your rain jacket and extra layers 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 Roland Regional Reserve, Tasmania

Mount Roland Regional Reserve rises from the farmlands of the Kentish Municipality, which is packed full of accommodation options to suit all travellers. The best town to base yourself for a trip to Mount Roland is Sheffield, but the quaintest accommodation options can be found in Moina.

Camping Near Mount Roland

Camping at O'Neils Creek Campground at the base of Mt Roland

Final Thoughts

If you have time for just one hike when you visit Mount Roland Regional Reserve, we recommend choosing the Mt Van Dyke Circuit. You’ll find the widest variety of terrain and some of the best landscapes are found on the plateau between the unnamed peak and Mt Van Dyke.

Have you hiked Mt Van Dyke? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, feel free to ask any questions you may have and we’ll respond as soon as we can!

Happy Hiking 🙂