The Best Hiking Trails in Tasmania, From Easy to Epic

Walls of Jerusalem National Park

In Tasmania, it’s always advisable to take the long way ‘round. And with more than 1.5 million hectares of Wilderness World Heritage Area and thousands of kilometres of hiking trails, there are plenty of options for getting off the beaten track and into the wild. 

Bay of Fires Lodge Walk

Bay of Fires Lodge Walk

 Image credit: Tourism Australia

Suitable for: Beginners
Distance and time: 27 kilometres; four days
Permits, restrictions and prices: Book ahead with the Tasmanian Walking Company (from $2,395)

You don’t have to rough it to experience the great outdoors. The Bay of Fires Lodge Walk allows you to combine the best of both worlds: complete immersion in the wonders of nature and luxury accommodation to retire to at the end of the day (including delicious gourmet meals and a few spa treatments to soothe tired muscles). Starting at Launceston, the walk is split into sections tackled over the course of four days, interspersed with overnight stops at Forester Beach Camp and the Bay of Fires Lodge. Your trek will take you onto secluded sand dunes, scrubby heathland and heady eucalypt forest, as well as onto the water on day three when you kayak down the Ansons River.

Crater Lake Circuit

Wombat Pool, Crater Lake

 Image credit: Wombat Pool. Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

Suitable for: Beginner to experienced hikers
Distance and time: 5.7 kilometres; two hours
Permits, restrictions and prices: A valid Parks Pass ($25 per person for a daily pass)

Scooped out a millennia ago by glaciers, Crater Lake is a navy-hued jewel within the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, 1.5 hours drive from Devonport. The adventure starts from the Dove Lake car park, from which walkers make their way across a boardwalk past two smaller lakes, Lake Lilla and Wombat Pool, and through fields of buttongrass before a steep climb up the crater wall. Here, the terrain changes completely, from alpine vegetation into a dense, damp rainforest. Raised boardwalks allow walkers to step above the forest floor, following Crater Creek past rock pools and mossy waterfalls before the final ascent to Crater Lake (it makes its appearance around the halfway point). Pause to appreciate the reflection of the surrounding snow-capped peaks and motes of fluffy clouds on its dark, glassy surface.

Exploring Maria Island 

Maria Island

 Image credit: Tourism Australia.

Suitable for: Beginner to experienced hikers
Distance and time: Various
Permits, restrictions and prices: A valid Parks Pass (from $20 per person for a daily pass); a return ferry ticket ($45)

A pawn in the games of the sea, Maria Island, off Tasmania’s east coast, was carved by the rise and fall of the oceans and its cliffs are embedded with fossils. Visitors arrive at the island national park by ferry from Triabunna, about an hour and 10 minutes drive from Hobart. First stop is Darlington, a convict settlement that predates Port Arthur, but beyond the township, it’s all ancient forests, white-sand beaches lashed by the Tasman Sea and the miraculous Painted Cliffs. One day on the island enables walkers to explore the Painted Cliffs (2.5 hours return), the Fossil Cliffs Circuit (2.5 hours) or the challenging eight-hour walk that culminates in a rocky scramble to the summit of Mount Maria. Choose to stay a night or two and you can do all of that and more. Need a little assistance? You can hire a bike to help your cruise along some parts of the walk. There are several campsites, as well as bunk-bed accommodation in the old penitentiary at Darlington.

Freycinet Peninsula Circuit

Wineglass Bay

 Image credit: Tourism Tasmania & Adrian Cook

Suitable for: Mid-level to experienced hikers; guided tours available
Distance and time: 27 kilometres; two to three days
Permits, restrictions and prices: A valid Parks Pass (from $40 per person for a two-month holiday pass)

Freycinet National Park, about a three-hour drive from either Hobart or Launceston, is arguably Tasmania’s most beautiful reserve. The Freycinet Peninsula Circuit takes in the best the park has to offer – deserted sandy beaches, fiery orange granite boulders, craggy mountain summits and the jewel in the area’s crown, Wineglass Bay. The Grade 3 trek begins at the bay’s carpark Hazard Mountains and takes you down to Hazards Beach before heading south to Cooks and Bryans beaches (and slightly tougher terrain). Cross the peninsula via thriving heathland then descend into the famous quartz curve of Wineglass Bay. Walkers will need to bring their own water, food and tents. Beware: the idyllic beaches in summertime may have you lazing around for several days longer than intended so pack ample supplies.

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wukalina Walk

wukalina Walk, Bay of Fires, Tasmania

 Image credit: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Suitable for: Mid-level hikers
Distance and time: 26 kilometres; four days
Permits, restrictions and prices: Between 11 October 2020 and 4 April 2021, the hike departs from Launceston each Sunday at 9.30am (from $2495)

Experience the Bay of Fires coastline in a new and old way on the wukalina Walk. This Indigenous-owned and -operated guided tour shows walkers the incredible area of north-east Tasmania around larapuna (Bay of Fires) and wukalina (Mount William) through the eyes of the palawa (the Tasmanian Aboriginal people). Their history – one that evolved in isolation for more than 10,000 years – is written on the landscape. Both hike and cultural experience, the wukalina Walk allows visitors to participate in smoking ceremonies, bush-tucker gathering and talks by Elders. Hikers spend two nights in purpose-built domed huts and one night in the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage at Bay of Fires.

Three Capes Track

Three Capes Track

 Image credit: Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service

Suitable for: Mid-level to experienced hikers; guided tours available
Distance and time: 48 kilometres; four days
Permits, restrictions and prices: Book ahead to secure a spot, as the number of people who can complete this walk daily is currently reduced ($495 per person; $396 for children and concessions)

Less a walk and more a spiritual experience, the Three Capes Track winds through some of Tasmania’s most raw and remote terrain: towering eucalyptus forests, sea-lashed cliffs and secluded beaches. The Tasman Sea is your constant companion; migratory whales, dolphins and seals are all but guaranteed to join you for part of the adventure. The journey begins at Port Arthur Historic Site, a 1.5-hour drive from Hobart, where a Pennicott Wilderness Journey Cruise awaits to deliver walkers to the beginning of the track at Denmans Cove. There follows 48 kilometres of exhilarating hiking, with evenings spent in comfy beds inside environmentally sensitive cabins with cooking facilities and communal dining tables. The walk is Grade 3 so it’s advisable to have some bushwalking experience but it’s a great choice for walkers who are new to multi-day hiking.

South Coast Track

Melaleuca

 Image credit: Melaleuca looking towards Cox Bight. Emilie Ristevski

Suitable for: Experienced hikers; guided tours available
Distance and time: 85 kilometres; six to eight days
Permits, restrictions and prices: A valid Parks Pass (from $40 per person for a two-month holiday pass)

Tracing a path along the wild southern coastline, featuring steep climbs, creek and river crossings and wet and muddy sections, the South Coast Track is a true adventure, advisable for the intrepid only. There are no cushy cabins except for a couple of huts at Melaleuca – you’ll need to carry your own tent, food and water – and snow, driving rain and strong winds can occur at any time of year. Still interested? Hikers fly via light plane (you can also get there on a private boat) from Cambridge, a 15-minute drive east of Hobart, to the hike’s starting point at Melaleuca and trek out to the track’s finish at Cockle Creek (it’s possible to do the reverse but adverse weather conditions could delay your plane ride home). It’s known as one of Tasmania’s most challenging yet most rewarding walks: for every wet sock or rocky scramble, there are private beaches, pristine rivers, thatches of ancient rainforest and a host of curious animals.

Walls of Jerusalem

Walls of Jerusalem National Park

 Image credit: Luke Tscharke

Suitable for: Experienced and self-sufficient hikers
Distance and time: 43 kilometres; three to four days
Permits, restrictions and prices: The number of walkers allowed at any one time is currently capped at 32 (from $40 per person for a two-month holiday pass

The Walls of Jerusalem National Park, accessible only on foot, is a pristine part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, a wonderland of ragged mountains, trickling streams, groves of thousand-year-old pencil pines, highland lakes and invigorating alpine air. There’s just one campsite, a three-to-four-hour hike from the carpark at Wild Dog Creek, and hikers are asked to make this spot their base from which to explore. The most popular area is inside the Walls of Jerusalem, a gently rolling alpine landscape flanked by imposing Jurassic-era fluted dolerite peaks. From Wild Dog Creek campsite, the main track takes in Herod’s Gate, passes through the interior Walls then takes hikers through the Damascus Gate to Dixons Kingdom Hut, one of three historic huts that walkers can use for emergency shelter only. In winter, temperatures frequently dip below zero; in summer, it’s an explosion of colourful wildflowers. Hiking around the natural fortress, said to resemble the city walls of Jerusalem, and its biblically named mountains, tranquil pools and rock formations, is a journey that only a few are lucky enough to have.  

Be sure to organise your valid Parks Pass before you enter Tasmania's national parks, and check individual national park websites for up-to-date details on social-distancing measures.

 Top image credit: O&M St John Photography. BBottom image credit: Tourism Tasmania and Jason Charles Hill

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Cradle Mountain

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SEE ALSO: 22 of the Most Beautiful Natural Wonders to See in Tasmania

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