The hiking trails in the Australian island state of Tasmania have been voted as some of the world’s best by travel publications such as National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Tasmania is widely celebrated as one of the most rugged and least explored places in Australia, many tourists flocking here intrigued by it’s wonderfully conserved wilderness and surprising variety of landscapes. With craggy mountains, pristine lakes, ancient rainforests, rolling hills, towering cliffs, dusty white beaches, wild bushland and some of the most unique wildlife in the world, Tasmania seemingly has it all.
For a state roughly the size of Ireland, there are over 880 walking tracks throughout national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas. Impressively, over 40% of the total land in Tassie is marked as a ‘world heritage’ area, meaning for keen walkers or outdoor enthusiasts, Tasmania really is an unspoilt adventure destination.
So to inspire you, here are just five of the best hikes that you absolutely must do when visiting Tasmania:
1. Mount Wellington, Hobart
Mount Wellington (otherwise known as kunanyi) is an old volcano rising over 1,200 metres above the beautiful Tasmanian capital, Hobart. Although you can actually drive all the way to the top of the Mount Wellington viewpoint, it is absolutely all about the hike to it instead. You can either drive to Fern Tree (the small ‘town’ at the bottom) or get a bus here from Franklin Square, to then begin your ascent up to Hobart’s most iconic mountain.
From Fern Tree, the walk is roughly 6km taking you through beautiful woodland and past a cute waterfall before a very steep, knee-wrenching upward hike. After a while, the dense, tall woodland breaks open to reveal colourful low-lying bush plants, shortly followed by tantalising half-glimpses of the blue bays and city between the shrubs.
Once at the very top, you have the most spectacular 180 degree views all over Hobart and beyond making it worth every single step. The beauty of the view is beyond words and definitely Hobart’s most flattering angle.
The weather conditions on the top are drastically different to the bottom and so it is advised that even on the warmest of days, you bring extra clothing. I can confirm the temperature change is quite staggering!
You can then either walk back the way you came, partly along the road to later join a walking track or hitch a ride down with one of the many tourists there if your legs are too wobbly!
2. Cradle Mountain (Marion’s Lookout/Dove Lake/Overland Track)
Cradle Mountain is one of the most popular tourist stops in the whole of Tasmania. It is located in the central highlands in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, just over a two hour drive from Launceston.
The best thing about this hike is that the walking opportunities can be tailored to suit different abilities and conditions. The first option is the Dove Lake circuit, an all year around easy option that is a 1 hour 30 minute loop on a well maintained track around the dark blue lake. It is a spectacular vantage point, but definitely not as impressive as the most popular hiking route, Marion’s Lookout.
This harder walk passes various smaller lakes before a steep ascent up to a viewpoint. The last 10 minutes require some serious scrambling (there are chains to help pull you up though) but the staggering view is the best reward. If you loop back down behind Marion’s Lookout back to the car park, this should take about 3 hours in total.
Alternatively, you can proceed on the famous Overland Track to the base of Cradle Mountain (to get views like those on the cover of this article) and then back through the ancient Ballroom Forest and partly along the lake, taking 4-4.5 hours. This is pretty tough going on the knees as the downhill is a very long section, but the view from the base of Cradle Mountain was probably my favourite vantage point. On a clear day, and if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can hike to the very top of jagged Cradle Mountain, the Pinnacle (taking 6.5 hours).
For those who want a serious challenge, the full Overland Track can be hiked over 6 days. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but you will need to be prepared to lug a 50-60L backpack with all your supplies the whole way (including up those brutal steep parts!)
You definitely cannot leave Tasmania without at least a walk around Dove Lake, or even better, to Marion’s Lookout!
3. Three Capes, Tasman National Park
The newest addition to Tasmania’s portfolio of hiking trails is the Three Capes Track in the Tasman National Park. This is located on the most southerly part of mainland Tasmania – the next place south being Antarctica!
The National Park only accepts 48 pre-booked walkers a day, taking them on a four day, three night guided hike. No camping gear is required though (so you just need to carry your food and personal gear) as overnight stops in ‘eco cabins’ are provided along the way. The walk starts and ends at the historic convict town of Port Arthur, winding 48km along some of the rawest, cliffside landscapes that Tasmania has to offer.
If you want a longer, epic hike that throws you into the pristine rawness of Tassie, this is the one for you. However if this sounds like too much, there are some easier day walks in the Tasman National Park, such as point number 4 below.
4. Waterfall Bay, Tasman National Park
The Waterfall Bay walk is an easy 2 hour (4.5km) self-guided cliff-side return walk, showing off some of Tasman National Park’s most intriguing geological formations and coastal bush land. On the way, you can find Devil’s Kitchen, an unusual slab of rock carved out by the ocean and the remarkable Tasman Arch, the stunning remnants of a previous giant sea cave.
The walk here is a great way to snap some shots of some iconic coastal features. It can also be added on to the beginning or end of a day exploring the peninsular, such as before visiting the Port Arthur historic open air museum.
5. Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park
The Freycinet National Park lies on the east coast of Tasmania and is the state’s oldest conserved yet accessible park. The entrance to it lies near Coles Bay and the most popular walk starts here, heading to the Wineglass Bay Lookout. Just like any walk up to a high lookout, the hike is pretty tough going on the legs but it is definitely manageable as the paths are well-constructed and the uphill gradient generally steady.
Just to the lookout and back to the car park will take 1.5-2 hours but to really make the most of the walk, it is definitely recommended to bring a picnic and head down to Wineglass Bay so you can see the azure water and squeaky powdered sand up close. From there, you can walk down the opposite bay (along Hazards Beach), discovering its hidden lagoons, then back through the woodland to the car park (roughly 12km taking 4.5 hours).
The Wineglass Bay area had some of the most crystal clear water and white sand I saw in Tasmania. The contrasting bay colours side by side surrounded by granite mountains is breathtaking, however the downside is that it was probably the busiest hike I did (at least for the first part to Wineglass Bay).
That concludes the list of my five recommended must do hikes in Tasmania! As a side note, please be advised that you will need to pay park entrance fees for all of these walks (unless you can get hold of a pass or join a tour group) and for many you will need to sign in and out with the park admin office.
If you’ve been on any of these walks or if any are on your bucket list, let us know in the comments below!