One of Australia’s defining long-distance walks, the Larapinta Trail runs 139 miles (223 kilometers) along the spine of central Australia’s West MacDonnell Ranges, from Alice Springs to the summit of Mt. Sonder. Each of its 12 sections can be reached by 4WD, and highlights include Ormiston Gorge, Simpsons Gap, and Ellery Creek Big Hole.
Whether you’re hiking one of the 12 sections individually, spending a few days hiking several sections and camping under the stars, or embarking on an epic 2-week adventure along the whole Larapinta Trail, access to the trail and many campgrounds is free. There are water tanks at every trailhead, although the water requires treating, and campgrounds at every trailhead after Alice Springs.
Larapinta Trail tours typically depart from Alice Springs and include transport to the trailhead, guiding, and basic camping gear. They span the gamut from 1-day excursions to multi-day journeys with support vehicles.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Larapinta Trail is a must for hikers and nature lovers.
- The route is rocky. Bring hiking boots, wear them in before you set out, and don’t forget blister bandages.
- Dingoes are efficient and stealthy thieves. Secure your gear and food well at night when camping.
- Redgum trees, a type of eucalypt, can shed branches without so much as a crack of warning. Avoid camping or picnicking beneath them.
- Wear long pants or gaiters to protect against cuts from the spinifex plant.
- While certain stages along the trail, such as Ormiston Gorge, offer wheelchair access, the Larapinta Trail is generally not accessible.
The Larapinta Trail starts at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, about 3 miles (4.5 kilometers) outside downtown Alice Springs, and runs west through the West MacDonnell Ranges to 4,528-foot (1,380-meter) Mt. Sonder in 12 stages. Ellery Creek and Ormiston Gorge can usually be accessed in 2WD vehicles, but most travelers will find it easiest to join a tour that includes a 4WD support vehicle.When to Get There
Don’t even think about hiking the Larapinta Trail during central Australia’s ferociously hot, dry summers: Temperatures in Alice Springs can reach over 114°F (45°C). Winter (June through August) is the best time to attempt it, with August the driest month, although early spring (September) and late autumn (April and May) are also possible.The Best Larapinta Trail Day Hikes
Few Red Centre visitors have the time to walk the entire Larapinta Trail. Get a taster on 1-day walks that cover part or all of a trail section. From Alice Springs, start at Geoff Moss Bridge and hike one-way to Simpsons Gap, or head to Wallaby Gap and back. Alternatively, drive out to Ellery Creek and hike to Serpentine Gorge, or drive to Ormiston Gorge and trek to Glen Helen Resort.