The Sentinel Range Hike | A Hidden Gem In Southwest Tasmania

The Sentinel Range is a dominating collection of white quartzite peaks that suddenly appear as you drive along the iconic Gordon River Rd towards Lake Pedder and, ultimately, Strathgordon and Gordon Dam.

We gawked at the formidable mountain range each time we had the good fortune to drive past until finally, we decided to summit the steep Sentinel Range and explore the bony quartzite ridgeline. 

The very little information we could find on the summit hike only fueled our excitement and as we’ve experienced with every other hike in Tasmania’s Southwest National Park, this one blew our minds from the moment we stepped onto the overgrown trail.

In this post, we’ll show you why this hike needs to be added to your southwest Tasmania road trip and explain all the necessary details you need to successfully summit the Sentinel Range.

Standing at the summit of Sentinel Range in Southwest Tasmania

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase of a product we recommend through one of our links, we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you! This helps to support our blog and enables us to continue providing you with helpful tips and exciting adventures, so thank you 🙂

What To Know To About Hiking The Sentinel Range Track In Tasmania

3.8 km return

2.5 – 4 hrs

Grade 5


Elevation Gain
630 m

Highest Elevation
974 m

Entrance Fees

Where Does The Sentinel Range Track Start?

Car park at the Trailhead of Sentinel Range Track

If you’ve driven along the Gordon River Rd to Strathgordon or Gordon Dam, you’ve likely lost your breath once you rounded a bend and saw the Sentinel Range rise from a valley of yellow buttongrass plains.

The Sentinel Range is an iconic collection of quartzite peaks found in Southwest National Park. The trailhead is located beside Wedge River at the Wedge River picnic area, 1 hr 50 minutes west of Hobart and 3 hrs 30 minutes southwest of Launceston.

At the picnic area, you’ll find a stone shelter featuring a fire pit, along with several picnic benches and enough space to park your car for the hike. While there is a large turning circle, it’s important to note that the short entrance road is quite tight and overgrown, making it difficult for large campervans or caravans to access. There are no bins, toilets or treated water at this picnic area.

How To Get To The Sentinel Range Trailhead

The southwest of Tasmania is known for its rugged and remote nature, meaning you’ll find no public transport or tour options for the Sentinel Range. The only way to reach the trailhead is by driving along the scenic Gordon River Rd that continues west from Mt Field.

Highway turn-off for the Sentinel Range Trail Head
Sentinel Range Trailhead turn-off

Approximately 43 km west of Maydena, you’ll pass by the Bitumen Bones Sculpture lookout on the left side of the road that overlooks the Sentinel Range. You won’t miss it as the giant eagle wing sculpture is an iconic landmark.

From this point, you’ll drive on for approximately 400 m until you see a sharp left turn onto an overgrown bumpy dirt track. The dirt track continues for approximately 200 m before opening into the Wedge River Picnic Area.

Click Here For Directions

Note: You’ll find this point marked on Google Maps. However, the signpost along Gordon River Rd indicates that this is now the Bitumen Bones picnic area.

Who Is This Hike For?

Climbing the steep ridge of the Sentinel Range in Tasmania

The Sentinel Range track is an unspoiled and challenging hike, true to the rugged Tasmanian style.  If you crave an off-the-beaten-path adventure that is seldom known or tracked, you’ll absolutely love the Sentinel Range hike.

Boasting breathtaking views of the mountainous southwest and both Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon, this is a rewarding hike that will test your endurance with a steep and loose climb. Due to its remote nature and the need for navigation experience and rock scrambling skills, we recommend the Sentinel Range for experienced hikers looking for a fun half-day summit hike.

What To Pack For The Sentinel Range Track

Hiking along the Sentinel Range wearing long pants and a fleece jacket for warmth

While the Sentinel Range generally takes at most 4 hours to complete, it is located in a remote area with little to no service and notoriously wild weather. We suggest wearing durable hiking boots and bringing a small daypack full of the day hiking essentials and warm gear in case the weather turns on you.

Here is a list of the essentials we pack for half-day remote hikes:

Best Time To Summit The Sentinel Range

While you can complete this hike year-round, the best time to summit the Sentinel Range is during autumn. You’ll be exposed to the sun during the majority of the walk, and despite many people’s idea of Tasmania, it can feel sweltering walking in the summer sun – plus, there is a high risk of snakes in spring and summer.

Another bonus to summiting the Sentinel Range in autumn is the potential for more clear days. The southwest receives slightly less rain during the autumn months in comparison to winter and spring, which is beneficial as your hike begins with a river crossing.

Admiring the view from Sentinel Range over distant lakes in Tasmania's South West

Best Time Of Day For The Sentinel Range Track

If you’re an experienced hiker that’s confident scrambling in the dark, summiting the Sentinel Range for sunrise or sunset provides the best conditions. Due to the solitude of the peak, you’re treated to sensational views out to the east and the west.

But even if you’re not keen on walking in the dark, start your hike as early as possible to avoid the heat in the middle of the day and to ensure you have enough time to wander along the bony ridgeline before returning to your car.

The Sentinel Range Track Notes

Crossing Wedge River

Leaving the small picnic area, you’ll find a pink tag at the southern edge of the car park leading into the overgrown bushes. Follow the pink tags through the thick shrubs for a few metres until you reach the banks of Wedge River.

Crossing Wedge River at the beginning of the Sentinel Range hike

A convenient fallen tree acts as a natural bridge and provides access across the river when the waterline is below the tree. If the tree is submerged, it’s best not to attempt crossing here. Instead, search for a shallow section of the river or opt for a different hike – our top alternatives are The Needles and Mt Sprent.

Thick scrub welcomes you on the other side, as does a boggy trail weaving in and out of the paperbark trees. If it’s been a wet week, the mud will most likely be ankle to shin-deep, so we suggest wearing gaiters if this is the case.

Pushing through thick shrubs on the Sentinel Range Track

After 100 m, the tall shrubs and trees begin to thin, and you’ll find yourself in the buttongrass plains with a walker’s registration book on the side of the trail.

Traversing The Buttongrass Plains

Once you’ve signed into the walker’s registration, you’ll begin to ascend towards the dominating quartzite slabs ahead. Buttongrass plains fill the landscape, dotted with the skeletons of banksias and other stunted trees left behind from the wildfires. 

Walking through the buttongrass planes towards the beautiful Sentinel Range

The track is easy to follow through the plains, but while it was relatively dry when we walked it, there were signs that it could continue to stay muddy until you reach the rocky terrain ahead.

As you continue to climb, the gradient increasing with each step, remember to take a moment to stop and look behind you at the ever-evolving vistas of the dramatic southwest landscape.

Hiking through thick buttongrass up the steep Sentinel Range Track

Eventually, after roughly 800 m of zigzagging through the plains, you’ll arrive at the mighty quartzite rock slabs that infiltrate the trail from here on out. This is where the track steps it up a notch and you’ll begin to use hands and feet to manoeuvre over boulders and cling to nearby branches.

Ascending The Steep Quartzite Rock Chute

Much-needed breaks allow you to absorb the breathtaking views over Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder that continue to reveal themselves the higher you climb, with the grey road snaking through the golden landscape.

Once you hit the 1 km mark, you’ll reach the most technical section of the trail and begin the ascent between the imposing rock pillars. We truly enjoyed this part of the trail, where you’ll pull yourself over broken boulders and squeeze between burnt tree trunks while gawking at the incredible view below.

Climbing steep Granite rock slabs in the chute on Sentinel Range

But even though this is the most technical section, other than a couple of awkward moves, no part of the trail made us feel uncomfortable or had us searching for an alternative route. And it’s all over within 500 m, after which you’ll climb onto the ridgeline and witness the true magic of the southwest landscape.

Note: Loose rocks are common in this section and can be dislodged rather easily, so take care of your foot placement and give each other enough space.

Traversing The Ridgeline To The Sentinel Range’s Summit

The scene waiting for you once you land on a smaller peak in the range makes it all worthwhile as you stare across at one of the most majestic ridgelines leading to the tallest summit in the south.

Traversing the Sentinel Range
Traversing the Sentinel Range before the summit

Once you’ve finished soaking in the sweeping panorama and have caught your breath, begin trailing east across the subalpine field for roughly 200 m before dropping into a saddle. 

As you climb out of the saddle and begin one last ascent across the rugged ridgeline, make sure you take the right trail that leads into the thick bushes rather than the left, which takes you onto an extremely exposed rock slab.

Pushing through the bushes on the ridge to the Sentinel Range Summit
For the correct route, push through the bushes

Before long, you’ll pop out of the bushes and onto the ridgeline leading to the Sentinel Range’s summit. The ridgeline is pretty exposed, and while it doesn’t require many technical moves, it can be quite daunting for some, so take it easy and ensure you’re following the pink tags to stay on the best possible route.

Pushing through thick scoporia bushes on the Sentinel Range Track in Tasmania

After a final 500 m of squeezing between giant scoparia bushes and hopping across the precipitous bouldered ridgeline, you’ll arrive at the highest peak of the Sentinel Range, where you’re afforded 360-degree views of Tasmania’s magnificent South West.

Exploring The Summit Of The Sentinel Range

Wandering on the Sentinel Range Summit during the soft morning light

The Sentinel Range’s prime location treats you to unobstructed views of the sweeping southwest mountain ranges. We enjoyed a lengthy break at the summit, lounging on the white quartzite boulders and pointing out some of our favourite mountains piercing the horizon, including the Western Arthur’s to the south and the Cradle Mountain range in the north.

Returning To The Trailhead

Once you’re finished admiring the breathtaking vistas from the Sentinel Range’s summit, you can either continue off-track to explore the various other peaks along the curving ridgeline or begin the steep descent back to the trailhead.

Descending the steep and jagged Ridgeline of Sentinel Peak in Tasmania

We completed the Sentinel Range hike in 3.5 hrs, which included a long break at the peak and copious amounts of stops for photography. If you’re an experienced hiker, you should have no trouble with this hike, which we rated grade 5 only due to its exposed and steep nature.

Other Important Information For Summiting The Sentinel Range

Leave No Trace

Part of the Sentinel Range’s allure is its untouched nature and remote ruggedness. You’ll find no toilets, bins or manicured trails here, making following the 7 Leave No Trace Principles even more imperative.

It’s as easy as sticking to the worn areas of the landscape rather than making your own tracks, packing out what you pack in – including food scraps and tissues – and using the public toilets in Strathgordon or Maydena before your hike. If you need to go while you’re on the trail, please ensure you dig a deep hole and cover your business and toilet paper.

Where To Stay Near The Sentinel Range Track

The Sentinel Range is 40 minutes west of Maydena (the closest town with bare essentials) and 20 minutes east of Strathgordon. You’ll find the Pedder Wilderness Lodge at Strathgordon and a small array of holiday rentals in Maydena.

It is possible to complete the Sentinel Range hike on a day trip from Hobart, which is roughly 2 hrs east of the range, but if you’d rather spend a night or two away from the city, then we recommend staying near Maydena. That way, you can also include some of the Mt Field National Park hikes in your trip.

Camping Near The Sentinel Range

There are several great options for camping near the Sentinel Range, some of which have made our list of the best campsites in Tasmania. Our all-time favourite is Ted’s Beach campground on Lake Pedder, just under 20 minutes west of the trailhead. 

Final Thoughts

Hiking the ridgeline of the Sentinel Range

Looking up at the Sentinel Range from the winding Gordon River Rd, we expected it to be far steeper and more technical than it actually was. Although there’s no denying it’s still steep and technical, it was at a fun level that is doable for most experienced hikers.

In saying that, we were gifted with sunny and clear skies when we hiked the trail and it does become more treacherous in icy or wet conditions. Remember to check the weather conditions before your hike and bring waterproof hiking boots and gaiters if it’s been raining.

Have you hiked the Sentinel Range? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. And as always, please feel free to leave any questions we haven’t answered and we’ll respond as soon as we can.

Happy Hiking 🙂