With its jagged dolerite peaks standing watch over a trio of glacial lakes, Cradle Mountain is the grand centerpiece of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tasmania Wilderness, the natural landmark also marks the north end of the famous Overland Track.
Surrounded by ancient rain forest, lakes, and alpine heathland, Cradle Mountain is a favorite among hikers. The long-distance Overland Track is the star attraction, but day visitors can enjoy a variety of short and long-distance trails, including the 2-hour Dove Lake Loop, a more challenging 3-hour hike to Marion’s Lookout, the Weindorfers Forest Walk to Weindorfers Chalet, or the short Rain Forest City and Pencil Pine Falls trails.
Day trips to Cradle Mountain from nearby Launceston usually include views of the mountain and Dove Lake, a stop at the visitor center, and one or more short hikes. It’s also possible to visit on a one-way tour from Launceston to Hobart, including Cradle Mountain, Freycinet National Park, and Port Arthur.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visitors to the national park are required to purchase a park pass. A pass is also required to hike the Overland Track between October and May.
- Information, maps, park passes, and amenities are available from the visitor’s center, outside the park entrance, and from the ranger station inside the park.
- The park has a number of basic lodging options, including cabins, chalets, and campgrounds.
- The weather can be changeable in the park, even in summer, so dress in layers and be prepared for wind, rain, and low visibility, especially in the mountains.
- Some of the park’s trails are wheelchair-accessible, and all-terrain wheelchairs are available to rent from the visitor center.
How to Get to There
Cradle Mountain lies about 93 miles (150 kilometers) west of Launceston, a 2.5-hour drive. From Hobart, the 187-mile (302-kilometer) drive takes just over four hours. The mountain is located at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Claire National Park and regular shuttle buses run there from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Center, just outside the park entrance.
When to Get There
High season in the national park is from October to May, when there are regular shuttle buses and ranger-led walks. During this period, the Overland Track can only be walked from north to south and advance bookings are recommended. December to April is the optimum time to visit the park, when alpine wildflowers are in bloom and the weather is most reliable.
Hiking the Overland Track
The 40-mile (65-kilometer) Overland Track runs from Cradle Mountain in the north to Lake St. Clair. The track takes about six days to travel. It is a difficult route that’s best suited to experienced hikers, but those who accept the challenge are rewarded with spectacular scenery and the chance to spot wildlife such as wallabies, Tasmanian pademelons, spotted-tailed quolls, and Tasmanian devils.