Hiking To The Scott-Kilvert Hut | Cradle Mountain

If you’ve heard of Tasmania, there is a strong chance you’ve heard of Cradle Mountain. Along with the Freycinet National Park, Cradle Mountain is the most popular destination in Tasmania for travellers and locals alike. 

The reasons for its popularity are endless. From the iconic structure of the dolerite peaks set against Dove Lake to the abundance of hiking trails weaving through the ancient glacial landscape, Cradle Mountain is a hiker and photographer’s dream.

Among the plethora of trails and huts situated within the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, you’ll find the Scott-Kilvert Hut set against the beautiful Lake Rodway. The overnight hike to Scott-Kilvert Hut is the perfect introduction to the greater network of hikes you can find at Cradle Mountain.

Beautiful view of Cradle Mountain from Hansons Peak hiking in leggings

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Overview Of The Ronny Creek To Scott-Kilvert Hut Loop Hike


17km loop (Not including bus from Dove Lake to Ronny Creek on return)


Grade 3 – Some Experience Recommended


2 days

Elevation Gain

700 m 

Highest Elevation

1,545 m (Cradle Mountain Peak)

Entrance Fees

Tasmanian National Parks Pass


Drop toilet, hut, coal fire, tent platforms and water tank at Scott-Kilvert Hut.

Looking up to the peak of Cradle Mountain's summit while hiking the Scott Kilvert Hut Track

Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park is located in the central highlands of Tasmania, surrounded by mountainous peaks and buttongrass moorlands. The park spreads over a distance of 1,614 sq km and encompasses five out of the ten highest peaks in Tasmania, including the highest – Mt Ossa.

Within the national park, there are countless trails winding through the forever changing landscape, each unique in terrain and difficulty but all worthy of your time. Making up your own loop from the many tracks is common and the best practice to truly experience what is on offer at Cradle Mountain.

For our first overnight adventure at Cradle Mountain, we chose to hike from Ronny Creek to the Scott-Kilvert Hut on the south-eastern side of Cradle’s summit – and to this day we still rate this hike as one of the best things to do in Cradle Mountain. This route would take us along the beginning of the Overland Track, before intersecting the Lake Rodway track that would eventually lead us down to Dove Lake and on to Ronny Creek, allowing us to complete a loop. 

Note: You can either walk from Dove Lake to Ronny Creek along the Lake Lilla Track or get the shuttle bus back to your car. I have added more information on the shuttle bus and parking options at the bottom of this post.

Day 1: Ronny Creek To Scott-Kilvert Hut

11km | approx 6 hrs (not including Cradle Summit) | 450m elevation gain

Driving past an almost empty visitors centre, we make it through the boom gates before the busses begin and access for private vehicles is denied. Following the winding road to Ronny Creek car park, we’re reminded of the wonders of hiking in winter where everything glitters with frost as the weak rising sun methodically illuminates the landscape.

Getting started early at Cradle Mountain is a must if you want to avoid the crowds – even in winter – and park at Ronny Creek. We arrived just as the sun was breaking over the mountain creases in the east and began organising our bags for the eagerly anticipated overnight hike to Scott-Kilvert Hut.

Hiking to the base of Cradle Mountains Summit on the Overland Track

Ronny Creek To Marion’s Lookout Following The Overland Track

3.4 km | 2 – 2.5 hrs | 341 m elevation

The trail begins alongside Ronny Creek as it flows through the vast valley of buttongrass and snoozing wombats – who have accepted the human presence and couldn’t give a damn about us.

Following the well worn Overland Track, the trail splits with an option to visit Lake Lilla or continue along the Overland Track to Crater Lake. Choosing to view the larger and, in our opinion, more spectacular Crater Lake we continued south, leaving the buttongrass behind.

As we gently climb higher, the trail enters a forest overgrown with scoparia and pandanis, and their hybrid offspring. Sassafras trees, with their tell-tale serrated leaves and ancient king billy pines tower above, allowing lichen and moss to cover the entirety.

Another intersection of trails presents us with the option to continue along the Overland Track to the base of Crater Lake, or take the Horse Track up to Crater Peak. The latter option misses Marion’s Lookout and Crater Falls, so we choose to continue on the Overland Track.

Before long, the soothing sounds of the falls guide us along the boardwalk and man-made stairs that allow for the fragile vegetation to thrive beneath. The beautifully quaint waterfall cascades down a wall of quartzite rock engulfed in green moss and provides the perfect spot for a quick break.

A historic boatshed sits in the northern corner of Crater Lake, a lake stained brown from the peat soil growing beneath the buttongrass and the tea tree leaves. The lake is surrounded by towering snow-covered peaks, plummeting almost vertically to its shores. There’s no wondering where the name Crater Lake came from once you stand and stare at the incredible scenery encompassing you.

Moving forward, the trail skirts the eastern side of the lake, looking out to Crater Peak’s steep walls on the west. Ice now covers the track where the sun is yet to reach, providing us with much entertainment as we strategically manoeuvre up the stairs towards the saddle between Wombat Peak and Marion’s Lookout.

Hiking along the Overland track to Marion's Lookout while hiing to Scott Kilvert Hut
Climbing the steep rocky Overland Track up to Marion's Lookout in Cradle Mountain
Climbing the steep rocky Overland Track up to Marion's Lookout with snowy peaks in backdrop

From the saddle, we’re rewarded with the first glimpse of Dove Lake to the east. Another terrain shift sees the large king billy pines receding and low lying alpine shrub taking its place. Colours ranging from bright red to yellow to an almost purple-maroon cover the landscape in all directions, while the bare branches of the fagus trees lay dormant, waiting for Autumn to display its incredibly rich colours.

Continuing southeast along the overland track, the short but steep climb to Marion’s lookout begins. The trickier sections are aided with chains, providing an exciting scramble without the added difficulty. The difficulty instead comes from the ice, making the climb an arduous task as each footstep needs to be tried and tested before moving on. 

The task is proven worthy as Marion’s Lookout is reached and the endless layers of mountains take up every inch of the landscape beyond. The unobstructed view of Cradle Mountain’s Summit piques the excitement for what’s to come. 

Marion’s Lookout is the perfect spot for lunch or a snack break as you soak in the vista over Dove Lake, the ballroom rainforest standing out with its vibrant greens and flowing waterfalls.

Admiring Cradle mountain from Marion's Lookout while hiking to Scott Kilvert Hut

Marion’s Lookout To Kitchen Hut On The Overland Track

2.1 km | 40 mins | minimal elevation

A small incline from Marion’s Lookout delivers us to the plateau beneath Cradle Mountain, a wide expanse of tarns, shrubs and jaw-dropping views in all directions. Barn Bluff protrudes the horizon in the far south with its unique nipple shaped peak. 

The trail is almost completely hidden by a covering of snow and melting ice from the overflowing plateau creek. If not for the tall wooden markers and the wide expanse, the track could be quite difficult to follow.

As Kitchen Hut comes into view, the snowdrifts multiply and the wind blows in all directions – chilling us to the bone. This cosy hut is a great place for lunch or shelter on days when you’re hiking in bad weather to escape the elements for a little while. And that is exactly what we did.

Kitchen Hut at the base of Cradle Mountain summit

Optional Side Trip To Cradle Summit From Kitchen Hut

2.6km return | 1.5 – 3 hrs | 300 m elevation | Grade 4 – experience recommended

If the weather and timing will allow, summiting Cradle Mountain’s peak is a must. Not only is this climb exhilarating, but the views from the top are worth every moment of awkward clambering to reach it. But I must warn, it’s not for the faint of heart! The climb can be quite treacherous, especially in bad weather, as the entire trail is completely exposed to the elements. 

The return trail from Kitchen Hut to the Cradle Mountain Summit can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours depending on your climbing abilities and the weather. As a rule of thumb, always allow longer than you would expect for trickier trails.

The winter daylight hours were not on our side today, so we chose to miss the snow-dusted peak this time. Having summited Cradle Mountain before, this was no real loss. And the warmth of the Scott-Kilvert Hut was calling us!

rock scrambling up cradle mountain summit, climbing over a field of boulders while living the van life in tasmania

Kitchen Hut To Lake Rodway Track And Overland Track Intersection On The Overland Track

3.1 km | 1.5 – 2 hr | minimal elevation

Walking beneath the western face of Cradle Mountain, toward the smaller Benson’s Peak, the creases and contours of the mountain range beyond take our breath away. Hidden till now, Tasmania’s highest mountain, Mt Ossa, among countless other wondrous peaks, can be seen in the far distance. Many of these can be summited by completing parts of or the entire Overland Track. 

The trail continues alongside a colony of king billy pines lining half-frozen tarns. The open landscape provides too many opportunities to stop and photograph the forever-changing terrain.

As the gently undulating trail continues to traverse around the dolerite mass of Cradle Mountain and Benson’s Peak, the terrain begins another transformation into a forest of snow gums. The diversity of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park goes beyond any others I have witnessed in Australia.

The smooth path is left behind, with rocks and ruts leading the way towards the intersection of the Lake Rodway Track winding north-east and the Overland Track that continues south. This is where we say goodbye to the Overland Track – for now – to follow the Lake Rodway Track to the Scott-Kilvert Hut.

Hiking the Southern side of Cradle Mountain along the overland track towards Scott Kilvert Hut

Lake Rodway Track And Overland Track Intersection To Scott-Kilvert Hut On The Lake Rodway Track

2.3 km | 1 – 1.5 hr | 300m decline in elevation

As soon as the trail rounds the southern point of Benson’s Peak, Lake Rodway is revealed far down in the valley below. The descent to its shores almost takes us back to the elevation in which we began our journey, in under 3 km!

Needless to say, this part of the Lake Rodway Track is steep and rugged, with many roots and rocks to shimmy down as the dense forest engulfs us. Sounds of waterfalls and streams fill the cool air as we hold onto the moist branches of waratahs and myrtle beech trees for support. Moss and lichen grow happily within the deep folds of the forest, creating illuminating green shadows in the fading light.

As the ground flattens, the boardwalks return to escort us out of the marshy wetlands that border the southern banks of Lake Rodway. And right alongside the banks is the Scott-Kilvert Hut.

A welcomed sight after a long day of walking, the hut provides warmth from a coal heater inside. What a luxury! The hut is decked out with two benches to cook upon and two picnic tables in the centre. The coal heater has bench seats surrounding it in the rear end of the hut to relax around and enjoy its warmth. Upstairs, a flat expanse allows for sleeping mats to be laid out in a true sleepover fashion.

If a sleepover isn’t your cup of tea, the campsite beyond the hut provides four tent platforms for a more secluded sleep. Two drop toilets are located a little further north and a rainwater tank at the southern end of the hut. 

Inside Scott Kilver Hut in Cradle Mountain National Park

Day 2: Scott-Kilvert Hut To Dove Lake

5.5 km | 4 hrs | 250 m elevation

The warm confines of the hut kept us snuggled in our sleeping bags past sunrise, enjoying a hot breakfast before braving the frosted forest outside. The night had been below zero, causing the water tap to freeze. A word of advice, if you’re hiking in winter fill all your water bottles the night before! 

After too many failed attempts of pouring boiling water over the frozen tap, we gave up and funnelled water into our bottles from the running streams leading into the lake. 

Please note, we have been drinking unfiltered water from streams for a long time and have built up a tolerance to it. We by no means recommend this unless you have done the same. You can treat water by boiling it first or using a form of water purification.

Hiking to Hanson's peak from Scott Kilvert Hut in Cradle Mountain National Park

Scott-Kilvert Hut To Rangers Hut Along Lake Rodway Track

2.6km | 2 hrs | 170m elevation

Our journey begins by skating along a thick layer of ice that is now the trail, feeling very grateful this part of the Lake Rodway Track has a much gentler gradient in comparison to the previous section. 

The trail wanders past countless little tarns and streams with rocks coloured black and white from different lichens and algae. Ice and frost cover everything, creating a shimmering effect as the sun begins to rise higher.

Cradle Mountain’s eastern face glows in the weak morning light, not yet strong enough to melt the ice and snow clutching the dolerite columns. Snow gums surround the trail, where a new boardwalk helps in some sections of deep rivulets cascading over the trail.

A photogenic tarn hemmed by king billy pines and backed by Cradle Mountain’s vast peak, aptly named artist pools, draws our attention for a while and we snap some shots and soak up the sun.

The track winds deeper into thick vegetation, where fallen fagus leaves turn the forest floor a bright orange and exposed roots provide stepping stones to avoid the frosted water. Before long, the Rangers Hut is reached, perched on the flat expanse of the saddle between Little Horn and Hanson’s Peak.

Frozen Tarn along the Scott Kilvert Hiking trail with a view of Cradle Mountain

Rangers Hut To Hanson’s Peak Along Lake Rodway Track

800m | 30 minutes | 80m elevation

An intersection at the Rangers Hut offers the choice of continuing north-east along the Lake Rodway Track, or south-west on the Face Track. To summit Hanson’s Peak, we follow the Lake Rodway Track that will deliver us there before finishing at Dove Lake. The Face Track is an exciting trail that traverses Little Horn – the most northern tip of Cradle Mountain’s summit – and is an alternative for a longer route down to Dove Lake via the Lake Wilks Track. 

In less than half a kilometre of following the ridgeline, another intersection offers more choices. The Lake Rodway Track leads up and over Hanson’s Peak, while the Twisted Lake Track meanders through the many alpine lakes beneath the peak before climbing the saddle between Hanson’s Peak and Mt Campbell. Our desires for lunch on Hanson’s Peak cement our choice to continue along the Lake Rodway Track.

The gradient steepens as a false summit is reached and some welcomed rock scrambling occupies our hungry minds until we can sit atop Hanson’s Peak. From the rocky summit, the iconic shape of Cradle Mountain returns as the many high points fall back into view. 

The twisted lakes fill the eastern slopes, where the Walls of Jerusalem can just be seen in the hazy distance, and Dove Lake engulfs the western slopes. Needless to say, Hanson’s Peak is the perfect photo opportunity and an exceptional lunch spot when the weather is behaving.

Hiking along the board walk to Hanson's Peak from Scott Kilvert Hut overlooking Cradle Mountain

Hanson’s Peak To Dove Lake Car Park Along Lake Rodway Track

2.1km | 1.5 – 2 hrs | 240m elevation loss 

A set of chains awaits on the northern side of Hanson’s Peak, where the terrain is steep and exposed. The jagged quartzite rock forms helpful footholds, eliminating part of the challenge the gradient presents. While a fear of heights may hinder some from tackling this section of the trail, it is quite easy with the aid of the chains.

The trail flattens towards the saddle between Hanson’s Peak and Mt Campbell, where the Twisted Lakes Track meets and another leads to the peak of Mt Campbell*. The Lake Rodway Track traverses the steep slope that plummets to Dove Lake below, gradually descending to Glacier Rock on an exposed yet well-formed path.

*The trail to Mt Campbell is closed at the time of writing this post due to unstable terrain.

The Dove Lake Circuit completes the loop to the shuttle bay where a bus takes us back to our awaiting cars at Ronny Creek. The option to take the Lake Lilla Track – an hour and a half trail – can conclude the loop without the need for transport.

With easy to navigate terrain, short days and reception in most areas, this loop from Ronny Creek to Scott-Kilvert Hut to Dove Lake is the perfect introduction to overnight hiking. And with terrain as versatile as that of the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, you’ll be left wanting more!

Trekking down from Hanson's peak with a beautiful view of Cradle Mountain

Parking Options At Cradle Mountain

Private access to Dove Lake and Ronny Creek car park is allowed outside of the shuttle bus operating times. The winter bus times are 9 am to 5 pm and for summer, 8 am to 6 pm. During the shuttle times, you can park your car at the visitors centre and utilise the shuttle bus service to get you to Ronny Creek or Dove Lake. 

The shuttle service is included in the purchase of a Cradle Mountain Day Parks Pass, but for all other holiday or annual Parks Pass holders you will need to purchase a ticket for $15. Alternatively, you can purchase an annual Cradle Mountain Shuttle Ticket for $45.

For more information regarding the parking and shuttle fees of Cradle Mountain, visit the Tasmania National Parks website.

When To Visit

The Cradle Mountain region rains on average 300 days of the year, so finding a clear weather window to experience all that Cradle Mountain has to offer is easier said than done…

But don’t let that deter you, the weather – while being completely volatile – can produce some extremely wonderful experiences. Who doesn’t love a bit of snow or moody mist?

With that said, the most reliable time to visit Cradle Mountain for clear weather is between March and May. But be sure to pack for all types of weather when hiking in this national park.

Signs atop the Scott Kilvert Hut Hiking Track

Quick Tips and Suggested Gear

As I have just mentioned, the weather in Tasmania – especially Cradle Mountain – is unpredictable. We recommend alwats bringing extra warm clothes and rain gear when hiking in this national park.

Being a popular hiking destination, there is less chance of getting lost along these trails. With that being said, it is still a good idea to be packed with some essential items that could save you in an unfortunate event. And to bring along a map as there are plenty of different trails to choose from, some of which could lead you astray if you don’t do your homework first.

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!
Hiking in Cradle Mountain in my hiking Leggings surrounded by snow capped mountains

How To Get To Cradle Mountain – Ronny Creek Car Park

Cradle Mountain is just over two hours west of Launceston and four hours northeast of Hobart. Being an extremely popular destination, Google Maps has no trouble directing you to the park correctly. 

You can access either Dove Lake or Ronny Creek car park in private vehicles outside of the shuttle bus operating times..