A Local’s Guide To Visiting Cradle Mountain Tasmania

Cradle Mountain encompasses all that Tasmania is famous for. Visiting Cradle Mountain, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, will expose you to wild and rugged mountain peaks, rainforests completely covered in moss, ancient glacial lakes and an abundance of adorable wombats.

And rain – lots and lots of rain…

While visiting Cradle Mountain is one of the most popular things to do in Tasmania, what people don’t know is just how much there is to do there. All of the main activities are talked about constantly but Cradle Mountain offers so much more than a simple visit to Dove Lake or the iconic view of Marion’s lookout. 

Within our two years of living in Tasmania, we’ve visited Cradle Mountain on three separate occasions, ticking off another walk or activity each time. On our last visit, we stayed for a whole week, yet we’re still not done – not even close! 

Having so many options to choose from can be time consuming, that’s why we have created the ultimate guide for visiting Cradle Mountain that you can use as your go-to to answer every question, including the nitty-gritty bits like when to visit, where to stay, and what to pack!

Epic rainbow over the boat shed on Dove Lake in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

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Your Complete Guide To Visiting Cradle Mountain

What Is Cradle Mountain?

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

Located at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park – part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area – Cradle Mountain is an iconic peak of dolerite pillars that resemble a gold-mining cradle. 

The summit sits above an amphitheatre-like glacial cirque filled with alpine tarns and sheer slopes of snow gums, pandanis and pine trees. Unparalleled beauty is found within the extended mountain range that includes 3 of the 5 tallest peaks in Tasmania. 

You can wander through the rare and wild ecosystem of this ancient landscape courtesy of the many Cradle Mountain walks that range in difficulty and distance, the longest and most challenging being the famous Overland Track Hike. 

Cradle Mountain not only refers to the renowned mountain but also to the beautiful village that allows you to experience Cradle Mountain with ease and luxury. The village (or locality – a rural ‘suburb’) consists of a Rangers Station, visitors centre, several accommodation options, a handful of restaurants, gift shops, and an amazing wildlife sanctuary.

Where Is Cradle Mountain?

Cradle Mountain can be found towering above Dove Lake in northwest Tasmania at the northern border of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. The mountainous region sits on Tasmania’s vast central plateau, where the peaks protrude from the plains to the horizon with little else surrounding. 

The Cradle Mountain visitors centre and car park are located 4 hrs northwest of Hobart and 2 hrs west of Launceston. Due to the remoteness, there are barely any resources near Cradle Mountain, so make sure you’re prepared and stock up before you get there.

Beautiful view of Cradle Mountain from Hansons Peak hiking in leggings

Closest Resources To Cradle Mountain

The closest towns to Cradle Mountain with supplies are Sheffield – a 50-minute drive east, Rosebery – a 50-minute drive west, and Devonport – a 1 hr and 15 min drive north.


  • Hospital (In Latrobe nearby)
  • Woolworths
  • Petrol stations
  • Restaurants
  • Pharmacy


  • Woolworths
  • Petrol stations
  • Restaurants
  • Pharmacy 


  • IGA express
  • Petrol station

How To Get To Cradle Mountain

You can drive into the Cradle Mountain visitors centre or to the Rangers Station, but from there, a Cradle Mountain shuttle bus will take you the remainder of the way to Ronny Creek and Dove Lake where most of the major walks begin. 

You can see the shuttle bus route on our interactive map above.

There is no access past the rangers station during the shuttle bus operating hours which are 8 am to 6 pm (October 1st – March 31st) and 9 am to 5 pm (April 1st – 31st September). If you arrive before the shuttles begin operation, you are able to drive yourself as far as Dove Lake or Ronny Creek car park.

If you enter before the shuttles begin, to exit during the Cradle Mountain shuttle bus operating hours, you need to wait for a bus and follow them out. Give the friendly bus driver a wave so they know you will be following them as they communicate with the other buses. 

Note: The road is only wide enough for one vehicle so please follow a bus to avoid a dangerous situation.

By Car

As Cradle Mountain is one of the most popular destinations in Tasmania, there are signs all over the state offering directions and the roads leading to the visitors centre are sealed and accessible for all vehicles. 

The visitors centre has an enormous free car park and each accommodation option has its own free parking as well. The only fee required in regards to entering Cradle Mountain is a Tasmanian Parks Pass which you can purchase online or at the visitors centre when you arrive.  

Unless you’re interested in a guided tour, hiring a car is the best option for visiting Cradle Mountain because, to put it bluntly, the public transport in Tasmania is severely lacking! However, this would be our suggestion in any case as the entire countryside is breathtaking and there are so many places to stop along almost every road!

By Bus

There is a bus service from Launceston to Cradle Mountain but sadly no option from Hobart to Cradle Mountain. The only way to get from Hobart by bus is to first catch a Redline service to Launceston followed by the McDermott’s coach listed below. This would cost approximately $260 – which is more expensive than hiring a car for a day! Not to mention, the time it would take on public transport adds on an extra day of travel.

McDermott’s Coaches

  • Days of service: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday all year round (except Christmas day)
  • Launceston departure time: 7:30 am
  • Cradle Mountain departure time: 2:30 pm
  • Travel time: 3 hrs
  • Price: $80 one way

We don’t recommend this option as you can find tours for less than $200 which include your national park entry fee and oftentimes lunch as well! 

Cradle Mountain Tours

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

If you hadn’t guessed already, there are loads of options for tours to Cradle Mountain – seeing as it’s the most popular place to visit in Tasmania! These tour options range from single-day trips from Launceston to multi-day adventures that include other destinations in Tasmania. 

A Cradle Mountain tour is the best option if you’d rather not hire a car and enjoy leaving the planning up to somebody else. A tour can also be a great way to learn a little about the history of Cradle Mountain. 

Cradle Mountain tours:

Quick Tips For First Time Visitors

  • A Tasmanian Parks Pass is required to enter Cradle Mountain. You can purchase these online or from the visitors centre.
  • You can drive into Dove Lake or Ronny Creek before the shuttle bus begins (8 am in summer and 9 am in winter) to beat the crowds.
  • The best time to see the deciduous Fagus change from green to brilliant shades of red, orange and gold is at the end of April and the beginning of May. 
  • Snowfall is common throughout winter, sometimes even in the village.
  • The weather is chilly year-round, with an average high of 17℃ in summer and 5℃ in winter, so don’t forget your woollies!
  • It rains on average 157 days of the year. 
  • Summer and school holidays are the busiest times of year to visit. 
  • Follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles and please don’t touch or feed the wildlife. 
  • Purchase your groceries in Sheffield before arriving, there is only a small store for basic goods at Cradle Mountain.

Cradle Mountain Accommodation Options

Cradle Mountain is unique in the fact that there are several accommodation options located right beside the national park. Unfortunately, none of these options is free camping, unless you head out on an overnight hike to one of the huts located in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. 

However, the accommodation on offer is widely varied in style and price which makes it easier to find something to suit you.

Cradle Mountain Hotel

Sunrise on the balcony at Cradle Mountain Hotel

The Cradle Mountain Hotel is the first accommodation option you’ll pass after you turn onto Cradle Mountain Rd towards the visitors centre. It’s situated in a quiet and peaceful spot amongst giant gums and even has its own little forest boardwalk loop.

Cradle Mountain Hotel offers three room options that vary in price and size. On our last visit to Cradle Mountain, we stayed here in their Split Level King room and would highly recommend it if you’re looking to treat yourself. 

The hotel has a restaurant, bar and lounge all with toasty fireplaces raging all day. Along with a regular dinner setting, the restaurant offers a delicious buffet for dinner and breakfast, where we most certainly got our money’s worth! Their premises also includes a gift shop, art gallery, retreat spa and communal lounges with fireplaces.

Price range based on 2 people per night: $200 – $350

Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village

The Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village is located a little closer to the visitors centre and offers 8 different self-contained cabin styles that sleep from 2 up to 6 people. This option is a fair bit pricier than the Cradle Mountain Hotel, but you would save money by having a kitchen. 

The Wilderness Village includes a restaurant, bar and lounge as well as food hampers you can take back to your cabin.

Price range based on 2 people per night: $350 – $600
* 2-night minimum stay

Cradle Mountain Discovery Park

The Cradle Mountain Discovery Park is almost directly opposite the visitors centre and offers a wide range of accommodation options from camping to dorm-style rooms, to deluxe self-contained cabins with a fireplace. 

The Discovery Park is quite affordable and offers something for everyone. Included in the park are a kiosk/store, BBQ area, camp kitchen and laundry facilities. 

Price range based on 2 people per night: $40 – $80 camping, $100 – $400
* Some options are a 2-night minimum stay

Cradle Mountain Highlanders

The Cradle Mountain Highlanders is a 5-minute walk from the visitors centre and offers quaint wood cabins that have a beautiful rustic feel and blend in nicely with the surrounding forests. 

These cabins are self-contained and some have a spa and fireplace as well. If you’re looking for the best cosy wood cabin experience, this is it. The Highlanders doesn’t have a restaurant or bar but you can buy beer, wine, coffee and a breakfast hamper from the reception. 

Price range based on 2 people per night: $185 – $320

Cradle Mountain Lodge

Inside the rustic living area of the Cradle Mountain Lodge while visiting Cradle mountain

The Cradle Mountain Lodge is perhaps the most luxurious option and is located opposite the Rangers Station. The lodge is home to the famous Waldheim Spa which includes a giant hot tub that looks out into the ancient rainforest. 

The Cradle Mountain Lodge is owned by Peppers and offers luxury cabin-style non-self-contained accommodation with a fireplace (all wood fires except the pencil pine cabin which has a gas fireplace). The Lodge also includes a fine dining restaurant, a tavern-style bar and a selection of guided tours. 

Price range based on 2 people per night: $500 – $1,700
* 3-night minimum stay during holidays

Waldheim Cabins

The Waldheim Cabins are located near Ronny Creek within the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and are the cheapest option if you have 3 or more people. These basic cabins are equipped with bunk beds, basic cooking facilities and an electric heater. 

Two shared amenities blocks are located onsite and bedding is provided for $11 each if organised prior to arrival. These cabins are quaint and rustic, allowing you to feel as if you’re truly in the wilderness. 

Price range per cabin per night: $95 for 4 people, $135 for 6 people, $185 for 8 people
* 2-night minimum stay

Camping Near Cradle Mountain

There is no free camping at Cradle Mountain, however, there is a Discovery Park opposite the visitors centre with tent sites and campervan sites available. 

The closest camping options near Cradle Mountain are:

These are all paid options and the only free camping near Cradle Mountain is at Lake Lea in the Vale Of Belvoir Conservation area, however, there are no facilities here and the road is quite the (mis)adventure in a 2WD!

Free Camping options within 1 hr 30 mins from Cradle Mountain with toilets:

Remote Camping In Cradle Mountain

Macpac Tent on tent platform at Scott Kilvert Hut in Cradle Mountain National Park

Remote camping in Cradle Mountain is allowed within designated campsites. Most of these campsites are located along the Overland Track and consist of toilets and a hut. The only exception is Scott-Kilvert Hut which sits on the banks of Lake Rodway and is our favourite overnight hiking option in Cradle Mountain. 

Along with Scott-Kilvert Hut, you are also allowed to stay at Waterfall Hut near Barn Bluff without partaking in the Overland Track hike. Both of these require you to register as there is limited capacity. This is free and can be done here

The Best Restaurants In Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain truly is a destination for all the senses. The restaurants in Cradle Mountain are some of the best in the state to taste the deliciously prepared fresh local produce. There’s a dining experience for everyone, from a quaint tavern-style bar to a 5-star fine dining restaurant.

Altitude Restaurant And Lounge

Seafood selection at the Altitude Restaraunt Buffet in Cradle Mountain Hotel

The Altitude restaurant is located within the Cradle Mountain Hotel and offers three dining experiences, these are a bar menu served in the lounge, a buffet-style dinner or an a la carte option. Each dining option is set in a cosy room with a large fireplace and views of the surrounding forest.  

When we stayed at the Cradle Mountain Hotel, we ate dinner from the a la carte menu as well as the buffet. The creative dishes were absolutely delicious from the a la carte menu, but nothing could beat the value and variety of the buffet.

For just $57 per person, you’ll find fresh seafood, salads and cured meats, as well as warming soups, curries and roasted veggies. And if you allow enough room for dessert, you can dive into the Tasmanian gourmet cheeses, tasty cakes and slices and a fresh fruit platter. 

Highland Restaurant

For the ultimate fine dining experience, you can’t beat the Highland restaurant located within Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. This dining experience is regarded as one of the best experiences in Tasmania, however, it will cost you a pretty penny. 

The dinner menu has a two or three-course menu option for $65 and $80 respectively. Each course offers four options that change seasonally and are created using fresh and local produce. 

The Tavern Bar And Bistro

Wood Fired Pizza at The Tavern Bar and Restaurant in Cradle Mountain Lodge

The Tavern bar and bistro is also located within Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge and offers a relaxed and more affordable dining experience that’s set within a warm and rustic tavern-style building with a giant fireplace, pool table and cosy seating options.

We ate dinner at the Tavern on our last visit to Cradle Mountain and can definitely recommend the woodfire pizzas. The atmosphere in the Tavern is not only perfect for dinner but also a great place for an afternoon drink or lunch. 

Hellyers Restaurant

Hellyers restaurant is located at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village and offers a similar dining experience to the Highland restaurant. Their menu is also set out with a two or three-course option to sample some of the best local produce in Tasmania. 

Their 2-course menu is $69 and their 3 course is $82, both include a side to share between the main course and offer four plates to choose from for each course. 

Note: It’s highly recommended to book for dinner, especially during summer and holidays. However, you do not need to book for the Tavern or for the lounge at the Cradle Mountain Hotel.

Breakfast Options For Cradle Mountain

All you can eat buffet at the Altitude Restaurant in Cradle Mountain Hotel

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a great option for breakfast unless you’re staying at one of the hotels where most offer a buffet breakfast and others, such as the Cradle Mountain Highlanders, offer a breakfast hamper you can cook in your accommodation. 

The only alternative option is Elements Cafe that’s located within the Cradle Mountain visitors centre. Their coffees are the best we had at Cradle Mountain and they offer pre-made sandwiches, banana bread, muffins, cakes and more. 

When To Visit Cradle Mountain

Kitchen Hut in spring, with melting snow surrounding the hut
Kitchen Hut in spring
Kitchen Hut in winter after heavy snow
Kitchen Hut in Winter

Each season that you visit Cradle Mountain will feel like an entirely new adventure. There is so much beauty and wonder in each that it’s hard to choose the best time to visit. Instead, I’ll provide you with the best and worst parts of each season so you can decide for yourself! 

Before I continue with each individual season, I will warn you that Cradle Mountain receives, on average, 1,602 mm of rain each year and 157 days of the year receive more than 1 mm. But don’t let the soggy weather deter you, this allows the forests to thrive and create an atmosphere completely engulfed in a million shades of green. 

Find out more about the Cradle Mountain weather statistics here.

Due to the fact that the peak of Cradle Mountain is commonly cloaked in grey, the Parks Tas website has a Cradle Mountain webcam that shows you in real-time what the mountain looks like! This is perfect if you’re staying close by and want to wait for the best moment to visit. 

Summer In Cradle Mountain

Hiking along the King Billy Walk in Cradle Mountain National Park

Summer offers warmish weather and the smell of wildflowers fills your lungs wherever you go. During summer, the red waratahs, yellow banksias and purple orchids cover the alpine slopes in a myriad of colours. 

Due to the region, the weather in summer generally doesn’t pass 20 – 25℃ which is the perfect condition for hiking. Although do keep in mind that at altitude and with little shade, these temperatures can feel substantially hotter. 

This does, however, encourage you to take a dip in the delightfully refreshing alpine tarns scattered throughout Cradle Mountain. 


  • Warmest weather
  • Wildflowers in the alpine
  • Swimming weather for the brave
  • Generally least amount of rain


  • Lots of snakes
  • Can be hot hiking in the exposed alpine regions
  • Very busy

Autumn In Cradle Mountain

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

Autumn is our favourite time of year to visit Cradle Mountain. The Fagus leaves (Tasmania’s only deciduous tree) begin to change from green to yellow/gold to a blazing red that creates a breathtaking effect on the slopes surrounding Dove Lake. 

The weather is at its most calm during Autumn, where crisp mornings and sunny afternoons are common. We find this to be the best conditions to hike in, especially because sunrise and sunset seem to light up the sky in a brilliant display of colours far more often during this time. 

If you’re lucky, you might even witness the fiery colours of the Fagus mixed with a dusting of snow when you visit in Autumn. 


  • Changing of the Fagus
  • Calm weather
  • Possible snowfall
  • Cooler hiking conditions
  • Slightly less busy


  • Rainfall is often a little more consistent
  • Colder temperatures
  • Wildlife not as active

Winter In Cradle Mountain

Hiking in the snow along the Lake Rodway Track from Scott Kilvert Hut

There is a strong chance that you’ll see snow at Cradle Mountain if you visit in winter. And let me tell you, it is magical! The snow-capped jagged dolerite peaks look even more wild and ominous and the snow gums come to life when their striped trunks the colour of mustard yellow and lime green are covered in a dusting of snow. 

Of course, this is the coldest time to be at Cradle Mountain which also means it’s generally the least busy. While the longer hikes could be out of the question for some at this time, the short forest walks next to the Rangers Station are beautiful in winter. 

We only recommend you take on the alpine hikes if you are well equipped and skilled at hiking in the snow


  • Snowfall is common
  • Generally less busy
  • Christmas in July
  • Snowcapped mountains
  • Least busy


  • Very cold temperatures
  • Rainfall is very common
  • Snow may not be positive for everyone
  • Wildlife is usually less active

Spring In Cradle Mountain 

Short walking in the beautiful forests around Cradle Mountain Hotel

If your main reason for visiting Cradle Mountain is to see the abundance of wildlife, then spring is the perfect time for you! The wombats, wallabies and echidna are extra playful and curious during spring, but please remember not to get too close and never feed or touch the wild animals. 

The downside to spring is the weather, it is often the windiest during this time and volatile. One minute it might be clear and sunny, then the next it’s bucketing down and blowing a gale! 


  • Wildflowers begin to cover the mountains
  • Residue snow against wildflowers
  • Temperatures warming
  • The wildlife are most active


  • Weather is unpredictable
  • Becoming busy
  • Rainfall is quite high
  • Snakes are coming out of hibernation

How Long Do You Need To Visit Cradle Mountain?

You could spend over a week at Cradle Mountain and still have unfinished hikes and activities on your list. There are over 20 hikes at Cradle Mountain that range in time and difficulty, some taking less than an hour and others taking 5 to 6 days. 

However, if all you want to do is see the legendary Cradle Mountain from Dove Lake, you could very easily do this as a day trip. 

We recommend allowing yourself a minimum of 2 full days at Cradle Mountain if you have the time. This will allow you to explore a couple of the hikes and even pop in to see the cute devils at the wildlife sanctuary! 

The best way to decide how much time you want to allow for your visit to Cradle Mountain is to choose the activities and hikes that you want to do from the list below and work backwards from there. The map above and the walk times will help you determine what you can fit in a day. 

What To Pack For Cradle Mountain

Hiking in the snow at golden our on the Lake Rodway Track in Cradle Mountain

As we’ve mentioned before, Cradle Mountain is notoriously cold and wet year-round. Therefore, we recommend packing your winter woollies no matter the time of year, just in case! Below are our recommended packing lists for when you’re out exploring Cradle Mountain.

General Packing List For Outdoor Activities At Cradle Mountain

  • Waterproof shoes
  • Beanie
  • Gloves (ideally waterproof)
  • Neck warmer
  • Spare pair of shoes
  • Waterproof backpack
  • Re-usable water bottle (an insulated one is great to carry warm drinks)
  • Nutritional snacks

Additional Items For Alpine Hikes At Cradle Mountain

  • Gaiters
  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency beacon
  • Microspikes for winter hiking
  • Headtorch
  • Compass and topographic map

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cradle Mountain Worth Visiting?

Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply love being surrounded by rugged mountains, Cradle Mountain is a must-visit destination. The dramatically beautiful and wildly unique landscape offers everything from world-class hikes and thrilling adventures, to an abundance of wildlife and pamper days immersed in nature.

How Long Is The Cradle Mountain Walk?

The Cradle Mountain walk to the summit takes on average 5 – 8 hours to complete. There are multiple routes you can take for this hike, but each one is at least a difficulty of grade 4. The summit is quite challenging and exposed and not recommended for novice hikers.

How Many Days Do You Need For Cradle Mountain?

The ideal minimum number of days to spend at Cradle Mountain is 2 full days. You can see Cradle Mountain and walk around Dove Lake in a day, but to truly make the most of the area you’ll want more time. 

Can You Hike Cradle Mountain In Winter?

You can hike Cradle Mountain in winter, however, it’s often covered in snow and requires a higher level of skill to complete. We would only recommend attempting the Cradle Mountain summit in winter if you’re an experienced hiker with the proper equipment.

Does It Snow At Cradle Mountain?

Yes, snow is quite common from May to September. 

Hiking in my waterproof hiking gear next to a frozen fagus tree

Can You Do Cradle Mountain In A Day?

You can hike to the Cradle Mountain summit in a day, however, it’s best to attempt this in summer when there is more daylight as the circuit can take from 5 to 8 hours to complete depending on your skill level. 

How Much Is A Cradle Mountain Day Pass?

To enter the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National park, you’ll need to purchase a Parks Pass. The best value pass is a 2-month vehicle pass that allows you access to every national park and costs $80 for up to 8 people. 

A day pass to Cradle Mountain costs $25 per person (children under the age of 5 enter for free) 

Can You Drive To Dove Lake Cradle Mountain?

Yes, private vehicle access to Dove Lake is accepted outside of the Cradle Mountain Shuttle Bus operating times, however, there are only 9 available parking spaces in the Dove Lake car park.

Are There Wombats At Cradle Mountain?

Yes! There are copious amounts of adorable wombats at Cradle Mountain. The best place to see the wombats are at Ronny Creek or along the Cradle Valley Boardwalk. Just remember, don’t touch or feed these animals. They are wild and our interference can cause them great harm.

Wet Wombat scratching his butt in Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park

Things To Do In Cradle Mountain

There is a vast range of things to do in Cradle Mountain, offering something for every traveller. You can spend your days wandering through the village with ease and luxury or set off deep into the rugged dolerite mountains on one of the many hikes littered throughout the ancient and wild landscape. 

While the main attraction at Cradle Mountain is the world-class walking trails, other activities include canyoning, horse riding, scenic helicopter flights over the white quartzite ranges, pamper days at the Waldheim Alpine Spa, Tasmanian devil encounters and more. 

Cradle Mountain Walks

Hiking in the snow overlooking Barn Bluff in Cradle Mountain National Park

The diversity of the environment at Cradle Mountain will leave you breathless with every step you take. One walk will lead you deep into a temperate rainforest where boardwalks save your feet from the spongy floor, while another will wander among giant snow peppermint and cider gum trees in a teeming woodland full of birdsong, and some others will scale the exposed rocky peaks that tower above these forests. 

With a huge variety of walks to choose from when you visit Cradle Mountain, deciding where to go can be your biggest concern. Each of the hikes listed below leaves from either the Interpretation Centre located at the Rangers Station, Ronny Creek or Dove Lake. The walks below are listed in order of difficulty.

Pencil Pine Rainforest Walk

Distance: 0.5 km circuit
Time: 10 mins
Start: Interpretation Centre
Difficulty: Grade 1 – wheelchair accessible

Elevation gain: 10 m
Highest elevation: 798 m
End: Interpretation Centre

Standing in awe at the moss covered trees along the Pencil Pine Walk in Cradle Mountain National Park

Located right by the Rangers Station and Cradle Mountain Lodge Tavern, the Pencil Pine Rainforest walk winds through a temperate rainforest where pencil pines grow tall and small rivulets of water weave among the spongy decaying forest floor. As you walk further into the fungi filled forest, the terrain shifts to woodlands dominated by old snow peppermints and cider gums before finishing with Pencil Pine Falls. 

This wheelchair-accessible trail is entirely on a boardwalk or groomed path and offers informational signs throughout that tell the tales of the forest and its inhabitants.

Enchanted Forest Walk

Distance: 1.1 km circuit
Time: 20 mins
Start: Interpretation Centre
Difficulty: Grade 2 – easy

Elevation gain: 30 m
Highest elevation: 806 m
End: Interpretation Centre

Hiking along the board walks i=on the Enchanted Forest Walk

Keep a look out for wombats as you wander along the open buttongrass plains before entering the moss-covered forest that hugs the water’s edge. Gnarled king billy pine trees hang over the bridge that leads to the opposite side of the creek, where the forest glows green under the dense canopy. 

The Enchanted forest walk is the top choice for families, where there are a few surprises for the kids to explore.

King Billy Pine Walk

Distance: 2 km circuit
Time: 40 mins
Start: Cradle Mountain Lodge
Difficulty: Grade 2 – easy, a few man-made stairs

Elevation gain: 97 m
Highest elevation: 894 m
End: Cradle Mountain Lodge

Hiking the King Billy Pine Walk in Cradle Mountain National Park

The King Billy Pine track was our absolute favourite short walk at Cradle Mountain and we couldn’t recommend it enough, especially if the weather is gloomy and wet – this is when the forest truly comes alive with colour!

The boardwalk trail winds through a dense rainforest filled with giant myrtle beech trees and ancient king billy pine, their gnarled branches and trunks covered in thousands of species of moss and lichen. Fungi grow happily from the deep red rotted forest floor in a brilliant display of shapes and colours. 

Knyvet Falls and Pencil Pine Falls

Distance: 1.6 km return
Time: 20 – 30 mins
Start: Opposite Cradle Mountain Lodge
Difficulty: Grade 2 – easy

Elevation gain: 13 m
Highest elevation: 798 m
End: Opposite Cradle Mountain Lodge

Pencil Pine Falls With a heavy flow in Winter after snowfall

Pencil Pine Falls and Knyvet Falls are located at the beginning of the Dove Canyon track and offer another great short walk. These two waterfalls are the only displays of basalt rock left in the national park, where volcanoes were active millions of years ago. The rest of the basalt in the area has been scoured by years of glaciation.

Watch out for platypus here, they love this area! 

Weindorfers Forest Walk

Distance: 0.8 km circuit
Time: 10 – 20 mins
Start: Waldheim Chalet
Difficulty: Grade 2 – easy

Elevation gain: 30 m
Highest elevation: 917 m
End: Waldheim Chalet

Weindorfers Hut

The Weindorfers loop can be added onto the Hounslow Heath Track (below) or you can walk along the boardwalk from Ronny Creek towards the chalet and back. The walk takes you through a forest filled with giant pandanis and king billy pine to the historic Waldheim Chalet that was once used as guest cabins and the home of the famous Weindorfers. Kate and Gustav Weindorfer played a key role in the protection of Cradle Mountain. 

Cradle Valley Boardwalk

Distance: 6 km one-way
Time: 2 – 3 hrs one-way
Start: Interpretation Centre
Difficulty: Grade 2 – easy, some steep sections with man-made stairs

Elevation gain: 200 m
Highest elevation: 882 m
End: Ronny Creek

Buttongrass Plains along the Cradle Valley Boardwalk

Also known as the wombat highway, the Cradle Valley Boardwalk links the Interpretation Centre to Ronny Creek via a long boardwalk that wanders through coral-fern fields and open buttongrass moorlands. The chances of you seeing a wild wombat along this walk are heavily in your favour, just watch out for the incredible amount of poop along the boardwalk! 

Generally, walkers will take the shuttle bus back to the Interpretation Centre from Snake Hill (the halfway point) or Ronny Creek.

Lake Lilla Track

Distance: 3 km one-way
Time: 1 – 1.5 hrs
Start: Dove Lake
Difficulty: Grade 3 – easy/moderate, some rooty sections

Elevation gain: 50 m
Highest elevation: 953 m
End: Ronny Creek

Hiking along the lake Lilla Track towards Ronny Creek Carpark

The Lake Lilla track wanders through a colourful woodland forest of twisted snow gums as it leaves Dove Lake and makes its way to Ronny Creek. The trail descends to the bank of Lake Lilla, where you’ll receive breathtaking views of Marion’s Lookout. 

Once you pass the turn-off to Wombat Pools and Marion’s Lookout, the landscape opens up to the vast buttongrass plains known as Cradle Valley. Here, you’ll almost certainly see a wild wombat or five munching on the grass or snoozing beside the boardwalk. 

You can begin this walk either from Ronny Creek or Dove Lake, and end at the other. 

Dove Lake Circuit

Distance: 6 km circuit
Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hrs
Start: Dove Lake
Difficulty: Grade 3 – easy/moderate, some rooty sections and stairs

Elevation gain: 171 m
Highest elevation: 982 m
End: Dove Lake

Hiking the Dove Lake Circuit on a misty day while visiting Cradle Mountain

The Dove Lake circuit is the most popular walk you can do at Cradle Mountain, but it’s worth it for the many vantage points of Cradle Mountain and the waterfalls cascading down the steep slopes of the glacial cirque.

Consisting of mostly boardwalks and man-made stairs, this is an easy walk that wanders within the dense temperate rainforests flanking Dove Lake. Expect to see many ancient king billy pine and myrtle beech trees, and a vibrant display of Fagus – especially in autumn. 

Crater Lake Circuit

Distance: 5.7 km circuit
Time: 2 – 2.5 hrs
Start: Dove Lake
Difficulty: Grade 3 – moderate, some steep sections and uneven terrain

Elevation gain: 300 m
Highest elevation: 1,074 m
End: Dove Lake

Creek flowing under Crater Lake in Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park

Showcasing three of the many alpine lakes at Cradle Mountain, the Crater Lake circuit gives you a strong understanding of the intense power the glaciation era had on the landscape. Each lake you pass offers incredible beauty with a dramatic backdrop of dolerite peaks and deep sloping mountainsides. 

Encompassing the Dove Lake boatshed, Lake Lilla, Wombat Pool and Crater Lake, this circuit offers a great diversity in landscape and allows you to view some of the best natural attractions at Cradle Mountain. 

You can also access this trail by leaving from Ronny Creek or ending there instead of returning to Dove Lake. 

Marion’s Lookout

Distance: 1.4 km return
Time: 20 – 30 mins
Start: Add on from Crater Lake circuit

Elevation gain: 60 m
Highest elevation: 1,223 m
Difficulty: Grade 3 – rock scramble with chains

Cradle Mountain Summit from Marion's Lookout on a perfect blue bird day

Marion’s Lookout arguably displays the most incredible and uninterrupted views of Cradle Mountain. Located directly north of the peak, this is an ideal place for photographers to get that epic sunrise or sunset shot.

You can include Marion’s Lookout to your Crater Lake circuit, which adds on 1.4 km in distance and 60 m elevation. 

Dove Canyon Circuit

Distance: 5.3 km circuit
Time: 2 – 3 hrs
Start: Opposite Cradle Mountain Lodge
Difficulty: Grade 3 – moderate, some steep and exposed sections with uneven terrain

Elevation gain: 210 m
Highest elevation: 862 m
End: Interpretation Centre

Climbing up a steep rock chute on the Dove Canyon Circuit hike

The Dove Canyon circuit offers a hint of a challenge as the trail leads beyond the immediate buttongrass moorlands and into the dense steeply sloping rainforest flanking Dove River. Sections will have you working with hands and feet to haul yourself higher as you make your way through the precipitous valley. 

For those wishing to step off the boardwalk trails, this is a fun and adventurous track that is ideal when the weather is too treacherous to make it to Marion’s Lookout or the Cradle Mountain summit. Or, for when you just wish to add an extra hike into your itinerary! 

The trail passes where the Cradle Mountain canyoning occurs, but unfortunately, you don’t get a very good look at the section of the river they run. 

Hansons Peak Circuit Via Lake Wilks Track

Distance: 7 km circuit
Time: 3 – 4 hrs
Start: Dove Lake
Difficulty: Grade 3 – moderate, some steep rock scramble sections

Elevation gain: 350 m
Highest elevation: 1,232 m
End: Dove Lake

Hiking to the summit of Hansons Peak for spectacular views of Cradle Mountain

While most walkers will choose Marion’s Lookout, we actually believe that Hansons Peak offers the best views of Cradle Mountain, and includes a fun and slightly challenging climb, assisted by chains, to reach the summit. 

You could make it to Hansons Peak and return the same way (or via twisted lakes) but the best way to complete this hike is to follow on from Hansons Peak along the Face Track towards the Cradle Mountain summit before descending to Lake Wilks and finally, back to Dove Lake. 

Crater Peak Circuit

Distance: 10 km circuit
Time: 4 – 5 hrs
Start: Ronny Creek
Difficulty: Grade 3 – moderate, some steep and exposed rock scramble sections

Elevation gain: 476 m
Highest elevation: 1,270 m
End: Ronny Creek

Moody Snowy day above Crater Lake while hiking the Crater Lake Circuit

The Crater Peak circuit takes you on a slightly challenging loop around Crater Lake, onto Marion’s Lookout, and returning via Crater Peak. The circuit provides sensational views of Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake and the extended mountain ranges within the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. 

Beginning from Ronny Creek, you can choose to either complete the trail clockwise or anti-clockwise. Both ways will have you ascending almost the same amount and participating in a little rock scrambling, aided by fixed chains for the climb to Marion’s Lookout. 

Speeler Track

Distance: 3.4 km circuit
Time: 1.5 – 2 hrs
Start: Cradle Mountain Lodge
Difficulty: Grade 3 – moderate, uneven terrain and minimal signage

Elevation gain: 141 m
Highest elevation: 934 m
End: Cradle Mountain Lodge

The Speeler track begins along the same route as the King Billy walk, yet casts a wider circuit that takes you off the boardwalk and onto a root covered – and oftentimes muddy – trail. 

Enclosed in the vibrant myrtle beech forest once again, this walk offers a breathtaking wander through the rainforest before entering an endless field of buttongrass. If the weather is cooperating, you can be rewarded with views of Cradle Mountain from the plains. 

Hounslow Heath Circuit

Distance: 6.4 km circuit
Time: 2 – 3 hrs
Start: Ronny Creek
Difficulty: Grade 3 – moderate, some steep sections and minimal signage

Elevation gain: 300 m
Highest elevation: 1,139 m
End: Ronny Creek

This circuit is one of the lesser-used tracks in Cradle Mountain and while it requires you to navigate over slippery roots and rocks, in deep mud at times, it does offer incredible views of Crater Lake and Cradle Mountain’s craggy peaks beyond. 

If you’re after a hike that provides unique vistas of Cradle Mountain with barely another soul in sight, you may consider taking on the Hounslow Heath circuit. Along the way, you’ll witness some of the largest Fagus trees you’ve likely seen, making this track ideal to hike in Autumn, when the leaves are turning from green to gold.

Cradle Mountain Summit

Distance: 2 km return
Time: 1.5 – 2 hrs
Start: Add-on – Kitchen Hut
Difficulty: Grade 4 – challenging, exposed rock scramble sections

Elevation gain: 300 m
Highest elevation: 1,545 m
End: Kitchen Hut

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

The final trail to reach Cradle Mountain is challenging yet exhilarating. The summit scramble is basically 1 km of scree and exposed boulders that lead you 300 m higher in elevation to reach Cradle Mountain’s magnificent dolerite peak. 

From the top, you’ll find a sundial and an uninterrupted viewpoint that offers panoramic vistas of the entire Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair range, including the mighty Walls of Jerusalem far away in the southeast. 

There are multiple circuits that you can take to reach the Cradle Mountain summit but our favourite route is:

Ronny Creek – Crater Lake – Marion’s Lookout – Cradle Mountain summit – Hansons Peak – Dove Lake. 

For more information on hiking to the Cradle Mountain summit, you can visit our dedicated post here

Scott-Kilvert / Lake Rodway Circuit

Distance: 17 – 20 km circuit (optional bus from Dove Lake to Ronny Creek)
Time: 2 days
Start: Ronny Creek
Difficulty: Grade 3/4 – camping experience recommended, steep scramble sections

Elevation gain: 700 m
Highest elevation: 1,545 m
End: Ronny Creek

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

If you’re looking for a chance to embark on an overnight hike to one of the Cradle Mountain Huts, we highly recommend the Scott-Kilvert / Lake Rodway circuit. This circuit begins at Ronny Creek, passes by Crater Lake and onto Marion’s Lookout before summiting Cradle Mountain (optional) and finishing for the day at Scott-Kilvert Hut on the south-eastern side of Cradle Mountain. 

The second day will take you to Hansons Peak before descending to Dove Lake, where you have the choice of returning to Ronny Creek via the Lake Lilla track or taking the shuttle bus to your car. 

The highlights of this overnight hike include incredible views of Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff, dense forests full of pencil and king billy pine, and wide-open vistas over the mountainous valley where the Overland Track descends into. 

Visit our in-depth guide for all the details on hiking to Scott-Kilvert Hut.

Barn Bluff Circuit

Distance: 33 km circuit
Time: 2 – 3 days
Start: Dove Lake
Difficulty: Grade 4 – experience required

Elevation gain: 1,533 m
Highest elevation: 1,559 m
End: Dove Lake

Looking over Barn Bluff on the Overland Track in perfect weather conditions at Cradle Mountain

Basically a longer version of the hike above, Barn Bluff is another option for a short multi-day hike if you don’t have enough time for the famous 6-day Overland Track. The circuit, which can be altered to add in other points of interest, will take you up to Cradle Mountain before traversing around its southwestern face towards Barn Bluff and completing the circuit via Lake Rodway. 

The ascent to Barn Bluff’s summit is similar to Cradle Mountain, yet a little more demanding in sections. We recommend spending a night at Waterfall Valley Hut and a second at Scott-Kilvert Hut on your return to Dove Lake. This will allow you plenty of time to summit both Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff, and experience one of the best huts in Tasmania – Waterfall Valley Hut. 

Overland Track

Distance: 65 km one-way
Time: 5 – 8 days
Start: Ronny Creek
Difficulty: Grade 4 – experience required

Elevation gain: 2,327 m
Highest elevation: 1,617 m (Mt Ossa – optional)
End: Lake St Clair

The beginning of the Overland Track covered in Snow

Arguably the most famous multi-day hike in Tasmania, and possibly even Australia, the Overland Track will leave you breathless both from the challenge and the incredible landscape throughout its entirety. 

You’ll find yourself wandering through deep glacially carved valleys, craggy ridgelines and dense rainforests before settling in each night at the quaint huts. With multiple side-trips to the surrounding mountain summits (including the tallest in Tasmania – Mount Ossa), you can really step up the challenge on this hike. 

During the summer months (from 31st October to 1st May) you must pay to hike this trail, which costs $200. If you’re brave enough to attempt the Overland Track in winter, where deep snow drifts and icy trails are common, you can hike the trail for free – although you still need to register as there are limited spots available year-round.

Cradle Mountain Wildlife Encounters \ The Cradle Mountain Wildlife

Spotted Quoll chewing on hoodie draw string at Devils at Cradle Wildlife Sanctuary

Due to its diverse and rich ecosystem, Cradle Mountain offers an ideal habitat for many Tasmanian animals including wombats, platypus, wallabies, quolls, Tasmanian devils, and hundreds of bird species. 

On your walks around Cradle Mountain, you’ll almost certainly encounter a wallaby and many wombats, but to see the quolls and devils – who are nocturnal – you’ll either need to go out at night or visit the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary. 

Devils @ Cradle Sanctuary

Tasmanian Devil on a log at the Devils at Cradle Wildlife Sanctuary in Cradle Mountain National park

The Devils @ Cradle Tasmanian devil sanctuary is a conservation and breeding facility located at Cradle Mountain. While the concentration was primarily for the devils, to begin with, the sanctuary also protects the closely related spotted-tail and eastern quolls. 

We visited the sanctuary on our last trip to Cradle Mountain and couldn’t recommend it any higher. All the proceeds go to helping these funny little animals and the keepers did an excellent job in providing loads of information on the quolls and the devils. 

You can simply get an admission ticket and wander around yourself, or you can book onto one of the more interactive tours listed below. If you choose the admission ticket only, try to get there for the free keeper’s tour that begins at 10:30 am and again at 3 pm. 

  • General admission: $25 per adult, keepers tours at 10:30 am and 3 pm.
  • Day feeding tour: $37.50 per adult, includes general admission and tour at 1 pm.
  • Joey encounter: $75 per adult, includes general admission, tours at 12 pm and 4 pm.
  • After dark feeding tour: $37.50 per adult, includes general admission and tour at 5:30 pm (additional tour at 8:30 pm from December to April)

* Prices as of June 2022 – check up-to-date information on tours and prices here

Cradle Mountain Wildlife Spotting After Dark

Wild Pademelon at Scott Kilvert Hut in Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park

While wombats and wallabies will come out during the day, they are actually nocturnal creatures – along with quolls, possums, devils and pademelons. 

To see these native animals in the wild, you can book a night tour with McDermott’s Coaches who will take you into the national park in their custom-made 4wd coach. Their tours cost $54 per person and run for 2 hours. The tour times adjust seasonally to maximise the chances of spotting the animals. 

You can visit their website here for up-to-date information on times.

Alternatively, you can take yourself on a walk at dusk and try your luck at spotting the nocturnal native animals. We would recommend choosing an easier walk that begins from the Rangers Station – and don’t forget your torch! 

The Best Spots To See Wombats At Cradle Mountain

Wet Wombat chewing on buttongrass in Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park

While your chances of seeing a wild wombat when you visit Cradle Mountain are extremely high, to hedge your bets there are a few spots where they congregate most. 

For the best chances of seeing wombats, take a walk along the Cradle Valley Boardwalk or the beginning of the Overland Track that’s located at Ronny Creek. 

Cradle Mountain Canyoning Tours

This one is for the true adventure seekers out there. Far beneath the peak of Cradle Mountain, you’ll find a wild experience in the depths of Dove River. 

The Cradle Mountain Canyons offer a day of exhilaration and adventure with three different canyoning tours that range from kid-friendly to very much not kid-friendly! Due to the water level and temperate of the Dove River, these tours only run seasonally from November to April.

Dove Canyon

The Dove Canyon tour will lead you through vibrant rainforests before abseiling into the Dove River and making your way through the canyon, navigating 6 waterfalls along the way. You’ll either jump, slide or abseil off each waterfall on this epic tour. 

  • Price: $285 per adult
  • Time: 6 – 8 hrs
  • Minimum age: 15 years old

Lost World Canyon

The Lost World Canyon tour offers a fun introduction to the world of canyoning where all the challenges are optional. A short 20-minute walk delivers you to the river where you’ll float and walk through the stunning valley. 

  • Price: $155
  • Time: 3 – 4 hrs
  • Minimum age: 8 years old

Phoenix Gorge

Located an hour from Cradle Mountain, this one is strictly for the adventurous! The Phoenix Gorge tour is their newest option and is only recommended if you’ve already completed Dove Canyon and involves bigger waterfalls, longer abseils, ziplines and giant drops! 

  • Price: not specified
  • Time: 8 hours
  • Minimum age: 15 years old

Indulge In The Waldheim Alpine Spa

Let’s bring it back a touch and find luxury and indulgence at the Waldheim Alpine Spa. The spa is located at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge and offers spa treatments, spa sanctuaries and experiences for two. 

Their hot tub, which can be booked through the spa sanctuary options, looks out onto a forest full of king billy pines and small streams weaving their way between the moss-covered trees. 

This is the perfect way to end a day of hiking. To view all the packages and for further information, you can visit the Cradle Mountain Lodge Waldheim Alpine Spa website

Explore The Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery 

If you’re after a break from the walks and outdoor activities, or the weather is just too damn atrocious, the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery is the perfect place to while away an hour or two. 

Located at the Cradle Mountain Hotel, this gallery holds pieces from Tasmanian artists that showcase the wilderness around Cradle Mountain and share stories of Tasmania. 

The gallery is split into a series of experiences that offer something different in each room.

Horse Riding Near Cradle Mountain

For a different perspective and a break for the legs, you can take a tour around Speeler Plain on horseback with Cradle Country Adventures. This experience allows you to reach the breathtaking views on the plains of Barn Bluff, Cradle Mountain, Mt Roland, Black Bluff and Western Bluff. 

These tours run from November to April and take 4.5 hours including transfers from your accommodation in Cradle Mountain. The cost for a tour is $449 with a minimum of two riders and includes lunch. 

Cradle Mountain Helicopter Tour

Imagine seeing Cradle Mountain and the surrounding ranges from above!? A Cradle Mountain Helicopter experience will stick with you forever, as you witness the rugged landscape laid out beneath you. While it does cost a pretty penny, it most certainly will not disappoint. 

Their most popular tour is the Cradle Mountain and Fury Gorge Adventure, which takes you on a 20-minute flight around the immediate area. Other tour options include flying over the entire Overland Track, the Walls of Jerusalem, and the southwest. 

Prices start at $275 per adult (minimum of two adults) for the 20-minute Cradle Mountain and Fury Gorge adventure and go up to $4,000 per flight (maximum of 5 people) for the 100-minute Ultimate Indulgence tour which combines the southwest and overland adventures. 

Final Thoughts On Cradle Mountain

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

Cradle Mountain is a destination that will excite all the senses and leave you with a longer list of things you want to experience than when you arrived. It’s a hiker’s paradise but also offers a little something for every traveller. 

Whether you are looking for an indulgent holiday surrounded by wild wilderness, or you want to emerge yourself deep into the rugged terrain, you’ll find something you love here. While it is a very popular destination, which we often try to avoid, an exception can be made for Cradle Mountain as the beauty and adventure are worth it.

Just remember, pack your winter woollies no matter the time of year and check out our other more specific posts on Cradle Mountain below.

Visiting Cradle Mountain Pinterest Pin