Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

Cradle Mountain Summit

Day hike to Cradle Mountain summit. As someone who enjoys hiking every now and again, I have been spoilt by the choice of hiking spots since arriving in Tasmania.

After my recent walk around the Stanely Nut, I had been looking for something a little more challenging and found out about Cradle Mountain through a friend.

Cradle Mountain is a popular hiking spot and was named in 1827 by explorer Joseph Fossey who thought it bore a remarkable similarity to a gold prospector’s cradle. It’s located in Tassie’s Cental Highlands region and is also the starting point of the Overland Track.

The plan to go was officially finalised like most are, last minute over a game of cards and a few beers on a Friday night. Early Saturday morning we set off.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

Getting There

Cradle Mountain is located around 140 km of Launceston or 80 km from Devonport.

It’s in a relatively remote part of Tasmania so not easy to get there by public transport and driving is the easiest way. We drove from Devonport, which took around 1 hour 20 minutes along country roads.

It’s well signposted and as long as you have a good sense of direction the route is not too hard to find.

For those who wish to bring their car from the mainland, the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry links Melbourne to Devonport. Qantas also fly’s from Melbourne Airport to Devonport Airport daily.

Although further away from Cradle Mountain, Jetstar and Virgin Australia offer cheaper flights from Melbourne to Launceston Airport.


Entering the Park

Cradle Mountain has a few points for starting your hike. Visitors are required to check into the visitor centre and pay a park entrance fee of $16.50 per person. The entry fee includes a return bus ride to any of the park starting points.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

The car pass that we purchased for $60 is worth it if you have enough people.  It allows entry to any of the national parks in Tasmania at no extra for two months after your visit.

Cradle Mountain summit day hike map (

Cradle Mountain summit day hike map (


The Parks & Wildlife Service points out that the “weather is notoriously unpredictable – and can change very fast. Walkers can sometimes experience a bit of everything during their Cradle Mountain submit walk. Depending on the time of year there can be sunshine, rain, wind, or snow.

Sometimes all of the above in the same day.

Warmer weather can be found between the month’s of November to April, yet there are cases of snow and sleet in the height of summer. Winter walking should only be attempted by very experienced hikers as winter days are short (Sunrise 8 am / sunset 5 pm) and heavy snow can cover the mountain.

For the latest weather at Cradle Mountain check out the Bureau of Meteorology.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

What I Packed

  • 30-litre daypack
  • 2 litres of water, sports drinks, and Lifestraw backup filter
  • Smartphone (Telstra sim card recommended – otherwise no signal!)
  • Rain jacket & extra clothing
  • Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • Camera & waterproof pelican case
  • Lightweight and comfortable clothing
  • Well worn hiking shoes
  • Lunch and snacks

Summit Hike

If I had to write a summary of the Cradle Mountain submit walk ‘almost perfect’ would be the best description.

From the moment you’re dropped off at the starting point, the track is as forgiving as the landscape is to the eye. The first stages hardly have any incline at all – allowing you to absorb the stunning scenery.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

Cradle Mountain, in all her beauty, is one of the kindest mountains I’ve come across. Slowly and steadily increasing the difficulty, allowing time for your body to adjust and build up a good pace.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

Then right near the summit, when you are getting close, she unleashes everything almost at once.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

This stage is the breaking point, making the best of us start to question where it all went so wrong. Time to dig in and force those tired legs forward and take each oversized boulder one step at a time.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

Then just when you’re about to give up, as fast as it all started, it’s finished. You realise you made it to the top, Cradle Mountain summit.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

Get the camera out because the views are – wow!

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike #hiking #travel

My Thoughts from Cradle Mountain

Not everyone will make it – there were eight members in our group, ranging from the fit, to the not so fit. The last part of the walk (or climb) is just too much for some. Only two of us finally made it all the way to the summit, with all the others stopped within a few hundred meters of the top.

If the group separates be smart and arrange a meeting point on the way down. Remember only Telstra mobile phones have a signal.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike

Allow extra time – we had some very fast walkers and a very slow one. At the end of the day, the fast walkers can only go as fast as the slowest person in the group. It doesn’t matter how fit you are or how many hikes you’ve got under your belt. How fast is everyone else?

Allow extra time for them.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike

The weather changes – I witnessed a quite cold morning that made me question if I’d worn enough layers. This was followed by a bright afternoon with no shelter from the harsh sun beating down. When we made it to the summit the weather (in my opinion) was more than ideal, but the temperate varied a lot from the morning to afternoon.

Bring layers and strip down or build up as needed.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike

Pack plenty of fluid – some of our group did run out. Luckily we did cross a mountain stream.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike

Allow time to return – focusing so much on the summit you can easily forget the last bus leaves at 6 pm. If you miss it, there’s more extra walking to be done (I’m sure the bus driver said an extra 2 hours) back to the visitor centre car park. Descending from the summit, it became apparent that we would miss the last bus, so I ran back from Kitchens Hut to the bus collection point at Lake Dover road.

After over 8 hours stomping on and over Cradle Mountain, I was destroyed by the time arrived back at 5.55pm – only 5 minutes before the last bus departed.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike

When I was arriving at bus collection point, three guys were walking in the other direction said: “Oh wow did you run around the lake?” which is at the bottom of Cradle Mountain. Totally out of breath I tried to respond something that probably sounded like gibberish.

At this point more than likely I looked crazy. I certainly felt it, hobbling onto the bus covered stinking and covered in sweat.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike

I saw some Wombats on the way down from the summit

After all that running I made the bus back to the visitors centre and then got the car so I could pick the others from the group up.

On the drive back from Cradle Mountain everyone was trading war stories. Some of the group were convinced they would die out there, forever lost to the challenge of cradle mountain summit in a day.

At 1,545 metres (5,069 ft) it’s a hard and challenging day hike for a group. Challenging, but not impossible.

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike

Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike images taken by Tools of Travel. 

Barry Sproston
Barry is an English traveller and expat who spends most of his time between Asia and Australia. He has a passion for developing small businesses and can often be found in coffee shops working remotely. In addition to travelling, he enjoys learning new skills and currently reads 52 books a year.
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37 thoughts on “Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike

  1. Hamirah

    I’m coming to Tasmania on April and still considering whether to attempt the summit or not. I’ve been hiking Mt Rinjani , Mt Halla in Jeju and Mt Kinabalu which some may think they are easy climb but definitely a bit challenging for me. Is it harder than those mountains? It it safe for me to climb alone? I am a solo traveler this time.

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Go for it!
      If you’ve completed Mt Kinabalu then Cradle Mountain shouldn’t be that challenging. I don’t see it as being any less safe than any other mountain – just allow plenty of time and avoid rushing
      On both times I climbed Cradle Mountain there were other walkers around who come and offer aid if required.

  2. Cheryl

    I’m going to do the hike in January! Which path did you take for the summit trek? Did you go the whole round for the summit trek or did you go back the same way you came? Should I head towards the wombat pool or towards the boat shed first? Running for the bus sounds really crazy!

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston

      Hey Cheryl,

      Sounds like a great idea. I just returned to Cradle Mountain 3 weeks ago and summited again for the second time – It doesn’t get any easier!

      I walked (no running this time) different routes for up / down and did the loop. Basically, I walked along Dove Lake on the way up (you will see the Boat Hut early on) and then came past the wombat pool on the way down.

      Once you get to kitchen hut you can see the way to the summit quite clearly and this is where it gets tough 🙂

  3. Anna

    Looks like a rough climb at the end! Although the views along the way are so worth it… Would love to do this Cradle Mountain hike and visit Tasmania one day! Thanks for sharing

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      It creeps up on you a little. One minute you’re like ‘hey this isn’t too bad’ – then it fights back and starts getting rough! Totally worth it though.

  4. Travel Lexx

    I have always wanted to visit Tasmania and am still kicking myself for not doing so when I was living in Australia! Cradle Mountain is very much on the list and I am very jealous you got to do this hike – your photos are amazing and there are some great tips in there. Definitely something I need to do when I am back in Aus! That scenery is so beautiful!

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Don’t worry Lexx, the first time came to Australia was 2008 on a 12 month working holiday and have only just got around to doing TAS now! I was always attracted to the warmer QLD climate – but am so glad that I finally got around to Tasmania.

  5. David

    Literally about to start writing about Cradle Mountain myself! Such a wonderful spot, we didn’t make it to the top so its nice to see the view. Plus your wombat shot is much closer up that mine. Nice one!

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Great stuff David. Looking forward to reading about your experience and seeing how it went. There was plenty in our group that didn’t make it to the top but I didn’t really want to leave without checking it out.

  6. Lisa

    What an absolutely beautiful area, definitely my kind of place to hike. Just love the diverse terrain makes for a more adventurous hike. Wombats in the wild, what a bonus! Hope I can do this hike one day.

  7. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler)

    This would be a wonderful hike I would love to do. Gotta love how hiking trails that start out flat then as your hiking higher and higher over rocks your finally there. So glad you ran back and caught the last bus to save the others from the long trek back. Great info on a suggestion what is need to pack. Great photos! I pinned this for later 🙂 #feetdotravel

  8. Shona @

    I’d love to do this even with the more arduous rocks toward the summit but I’m hopeless coming down. Knees begin to shake and I imagine tumbling. Weird because it’s never actually happened. LOL! Great tips re all seasons in one day! I’ve pinned, you never know, I might get over the going down business. 😉

  9. Paul and Carole

    Wow that sounds an interesting hike, you really have to have your wits about you and some experience under your belt. Fair play to you running for the bus and so glad you made it! #feetdotravel

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      Yeah, I agreed going to the summit is more suited for those who have some experience under their belt. But a loop of the lake at the bottom is a good starting point if you don’t fancy slogging it all the way to the top.

  10. Marian

    I’ve actually done this hike! After a 3-day hike actually around Cradle Mountain. Did it about 9 years ago and I remember how the rocks got bigger and bigger the higher we climbed. Got the photo to prove it too! For me coming down was worse than going up!

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      The sounds great. I would love to return and do a multi-day hike around Cradle Mountain, or possible the Overland Track. Yeah, the rocks totally get bigger and bigger the higher you go! My backpack kept snagging on them as I slid my way down. It was slower coming down from the top part for sure.

  11. Angie (FeetDoTravel)Angie (FeetDoTravel)

    I was with you all the way for your adventure, imagining myself walking up the mountain … until you said that not everyone makes it … that would be me 🙂 I like mountains but mountains don’t like me due to issues with my hip flexor (I always end up with a walking stick, even when I was a young 19 year old lol). Love that you told those guys you ran down and how cute you saw a wombat, I do love wombats! Great story and thanks for the info, I have pinned this for other people to enjoy 🙂 #feetdotravel

    1. Barry SprostonBarry Sproston Post author

      I wouldn’t blame you for not making it Angie as getting to the summit is hard going. Having serious issues with your hip flexor isn’t going to make it any easier!

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