Summiting Mt Victoria | North East Tasmania’s Best Kept Secret

Pushing through the last of the dense scrub, Mt Victoria’s towering peaks of dolerite reveal themselves, occupying a majority of the sky above. It’s crazy to think each boulder garden you cross may have once been a part of the colossal columns.

Tasmania has a unique and incredibly beautiful landscape, home to some of the most iconic hikes in Australia, such as Cradle Mountain and the Freycinet National Park. While tourists flock to the Bay of Fires on the northeast coast, few venture inland where waterfalls are abundant and many mountains are waiting to be climbed.

Mt Victoria is one of these incredible mountain adventures that many have never heard of – Tasmanian locals included. We unearthed this secret from friends who couldn’t stop raving about the sensational short hike, not even an hour’s drive from St Helens. We had to take a look for ourselves and, spoiler alert, loved it so much we summited the vast craggy peak twice in two days.

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Hiking To The Peak Of Mount Victoria In North East Tasmania

Distance
4.7 km Return

Grade
Grade 4 – Experience Recommended

Time
3 – 4 hours

Elevation Gain
392 m

Highest Elevation
1,213 m

Entrance Fees
None

Facilities
None

Hiking the epic ridgeline of Mt Victoria after climbing the the peak

Mt Victoria Forest Reserve is a temperate rainforest situated an hour and a half east of Launceston, home to two of the tallest waterfalls in Tasmania, Ralph Falls, and St Columba Falls. Yet the most impressive sight within this reserve is the staggering dolerite peaks of Mt Victoria.

Seen long before the trailhead is reached, the summit looks almost out of place as it towers above the forests with its unique shape. The hike itself takes less than four hours to complete and rewards you with incomparable views of the verdant valleys and layered mountains below.

With only half a day needed for the Mt Victoria hike, it’s a perfect excuse to grab a healthy dose of nature and fresh air, no matter if you’re exploring the entire state or day-tripping from Launceston.

However, in true Tassie style, a couple of small warnings must be expressed for this short hike…

Firstly, the beginning of the hike will surprise you with ankle to knee-deep mud, depending on the season, so be sure to wear hiking boots or gaiters to comfortably pass this section. 

Secondly, as is the pattern for the lesser-known trails of Tasmania, there isn’t so much a defined path but rather markers, reflectors, and rock cairns to guide you safely to the peak. While the markers make this hike navigationally easy, be sure to keep an eye to avoid further exploration than initially intended.

And lastly, with the summit nearing alpine levels, snow, ice, and strong winds are common year-round and can make the precarious rock hopping all the more treacherous. Checking the weather before you leave is a grand idea to avoid being underprepared in both clothing and difficulty.

Walking through the dense Myrtle forest at Mt Victoria Tasmania

Hiking To Mt Victoria’s Summit

The Rainforest

Entering from the partially hidden trailhead off Mt Albert Rd, the Mt Victoria hike throws you straight into the deep end – literally. Not even five minutes in, a stream cascades over a mud pit as it diverts through a crowd of paperbark trees. Saw-sedge grass tries to cut, tangle and trip you as you navigate through the deceivingly deep rivulets.

Luckily, this section is small, and soon enough the ground beneath becomes a little less unpredictable as the gradient begins to increase. Moss and lichen have laid claim to all that is stationary in the temperate rainforest, creating an enchanting greenish glow beneath the canopy of towering myrtle beech trees.

Staring up at the giant green myrtle trees on the Mt Victoria Hike

A labyrinth of twisted and tangled roots cover the moist forest floor, providing both helpful steps and unhelpful slipping hazards as the trail inclines towards the fading tree line. Debris from strong winds litters the ground, making the trail all the more inconspicuous. 

This was one of the many reasons we fell in love with this hike, the hidden trail – aside from the cleverly placed markers – created the illusion we were wandering through an undiscovered rainforest, almost completely unaltered by humans.

The birds above provide a peaceful tune as you wander through this enchanted wonderland, spotting the countless fungi species growing from the damp tree trunks. The smell of tea tree and wild rosemary grows stronger as you near the edge of the rainforest, finally bursting through to the sunlight.

Hiking to the peak of Mt Victoria Tasmania through the sub-alpine shrubbery

The Flat Plains

The first kilometre ends roughly as a cave created by an enormous boulder is reached, the terrain shifts from the temperate rainforest to a flat heathy expanse covered in dense shrubbery. Mt Victoria’s summit reveals itself once more, looking even more majestic as you close in on its rocky base.

We strongly suggest covering your arms and legs through this section, it was as if the shrubs that hugged the trail had a personal vendetta on us as they cut and stung any exposed skin. Sadly, while my leggings were strong enough to avoid ripping, they weren’t thick enough to save my skin and I ended the hike covered in little bumps and scratches.

Don’t forget to take a moment to look back as you wander along the flat plains, the view is breathtaking even after less than an hour of walking. Ben Lomond National Park, with its white dusted peaks, engulfs the horizon to the southwest. The seemingly flat summit of Mt Saddleback lies just beyond the snaking dirt road, this is another great short hike in the northeast of Tasmania.

Before long, the dense shrub widens to make room for the first boulder garden of the Mt Victoria hike. Choose your own path through these barely balanced dolerite boulders, scattered haphazardly through the forest to create a natural playground for the adventurous. 

For the most part, the dolerite boulders are quite grippy and make this task enjoyable. However, rain would create a different story and if you’re summiting Mt Victoria in the winter, watch out for ice in the shaded sections of the garden. 

Rock hoping on the hike to the summit of Mt Victoria Tasmania

The Boulder Summit

The trail briefly dips back into the shrub before clearing almost completely as the scree slopes are reached. Short and sharp, the steep scree delivers you to a marker leading southeast towards the trig point atop the tallest column.

Climbing between the pillars of the peak, finding ice-covered rocks hidden by the sun’s rays, it’s easy to imagine you’re walking over what could once have been a column the size of the ones surrounding. 

Tracks Less Travelled Hiking over fallen Dolerite rock to reach the summit of Mt Victoria Tasmania

Finally, the saddle is reached and the distant coastline to the east can be seen, as can the eastern pillars of Mt Victoria. Before now, you don’t really get a full understanding of how vast the peak really is. It stretches on, dipping and weaving in all directions. Many trails lead around the sprawling summit, but the track to the south will lead you to the trig point. 

Spiky honey bush’s threaten to draw blood as you grab them to steady yourself on the uneven terrain that winds around the rear of the highest peak. It’s obvious this trail is a little less tracked with the dense bush threatening to take over the thin trail. 

The push to the highest point is sketchy in high winds, but worth it as the 360-degree view unfolds around you. The sun sets magically behind the farthest collection of dolerite columns, casting a haze across the layered mountains beyond. 

We decided to summit Mt Victoria for sunset which, if you’re comfortable scaling boulders by torchlight, is absolutely recommended. The slouching sun casts a golden haze across the entire landscape and gifts you with an uninterrupted sunset that lasts well after the first star shines.

Watching the alpine glow from the sunset from the peak of Mt Victoria Tasmania
Climbing to the peak of Mt Victoria admiring the beautiful view

Quick Tips and Suggested Gear

I’ve briefly explained most of the hazards or undesirable situations you’ll face when summiting Mt Victoria, but let’s reiterate them here…

Wear gaiters or mid to high-length hiking boots to avoid a foot full of muddy water and possibly a family of leeches. Some hikers are known to bring gumboots with them for the first section, then stash them in the rainforest for the way back. 

Pushing through the thick shrubs on the flat plains of Mt Victoria

Dress in long sleeves and long pants. There is no avoiding the vengeful bushes that line the trail for a majority of the hike.

Below is a list of the gear that we took with us, and that we recommend for hiking Mt Victoria.

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!

The Best Time To Hike Mt Victoria

Due to the short nature of the hike and the fact that the northeast of Tasmania receives a lot less snow and rain than the west, you can hike Mt Victoria year-round. 

It all depends on preference. In spring, the wildflowers are in bloom and create a beautiful setting. In winter, the peaks of Ben Lomond and possibly even Mt Victoria could be covered in snow. In Autumn, the leaves are changing which is always stunning to witness. And in summer, the mud at the beginning may have dried up a touch. 

As for the time of day, we strongly recommend either catching a sunrise or sunset on top of the dolerite summit. This does mean hiking in the dark which can be more difficult, so be sure you’re confident climbing exposed rock sections if you choose to witness a sunrise or sunset.

Shooting photos at the summit of Mt Victoria

Getting To The Mt Victoria Trailhead

The trailhead for the Mt Victoria hike is easily missed, with a small clearing cut out for parking on the opposite side of the road to the entrance of the track. Luckily, Google Maps can pinpoint this location accurately but make sure to load your map before leaving a sizeable town as reception is scarce around this neck of the woods. 

Final Thoughts

If there is one hike to tick off on your visit to northeast Tasmania, make it Mt Victoria! We would love to hear your experiences of this phenomenal hike in the comments below. Or, if you have another hike in the northeast you believe tops Mt Victoria, we certainly want to hear about it!

Happy Hiking.

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