The Mount Rufus Circuit – Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park

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Where is Mt Rufus

The Mount Rufus Circuit

What are the Tasmanian Ables

National Park Pass

Where to stay

Where is Mt Rufus?

Everyone from across the globe knows that Cradle Mountain is one of Tasmania’s must see destinations which is situated within Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. What a lot of people don’t know is just how large this national park truly is, 1,614km squared, which is over twice the size of Singapore! Within this incredible national park you will find mountains, rivers and lakes. Wombats, Pademelons and 11 of their 12 endemic bird species.

It is within the Southern section of the park next to Lake St Clair that you will find the Mt Rufus peak.

The Mount Rufus Circuit

Time: This is a 7 hour circuit, expect a full day hiking

Distance: 19km loop

Fees: Make sure you have purchased your park pass before setting off on your hike! It will need to be displayed in your vehicle for staff to see.

Where to start: Start this hike from Cynthia Bay at the visitor centre, sign your intentions for the day in the log book before you go!

Parking: Plenty of parking is available in the day visitor parking area.

The hike starts at the Lake St Clair visitor centre where you can fill in your walking intentions for the day, this is essential to do on a wide range of hikes within Tasmania. With a lot of popular walks within the area, unpredictable weather fronts and a large national park, the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife staff want to ensure our safety and make sure we all return from our walks.

The hike starts with a walk along one of the Lake St Clair short walks path for 5 minutes to reach the start of the Mt Rufus Circuit, from here the 7 hour loop begins.

Before starting this loop we got some advice from the staff at the visitor centre who advised we walked in a clockwise direction and I am SO glad that we asked, it is a constant ascent for the first 4 miles (6.5km) for 2000ft. I would much rather start the day with a big climb than end the day with a steep descent, what do you think?

It was a gorgeous sunny day so we set off nice and early to try and get to the summit before the mid day heat.

If you don’t fancy doing the summit, you can shorten the trail by just doing the Shadow Lake Circuit, this will take around 5 hours to complete.

Once we came out through the trees higher up we could start to see Mt Rufus summit, look at the snow still sitting at the summit! Still a little bit of climbing left to go but the scenery is spectacular.

Something I love about Australia will always be the wildlife, you never know what you will bump into. A cute little Echidna stopped by to say hello along the trail.

To make the most of your Echidna encounter stand still and observe quietly, they’re so adorable to watch! They have extremely poor eyesight but are very good listeners, if you make any loud noise they can get easily spooked.

Still on the ascent up to the summit but as we get closer the views just get better. Looking back over Lake St Clair in the distance just to see how far we have come was beautiful.

The last stretch to the cairn I found the hardest, not only because I haven’t been hiking in a long time but there was a false peak! What I thought was the summit with the snow still laying on the grass was actually hiding the true Mt Rufus behind. Sneaky Mt Rufus!

The views from the top were incredible, you could see multiple mountains throughout the national park, not a bad spot for lunch.

While taking in the views a lovely older couple walked up and we got chatting. This is actually their favourite hike throughout the whole of Tasmania and they try and do it every year, how amazing is that? Another great reason you should get yourself to Mt Rufus!

I could sit and enjoy the views all day but we haven’t even made it half way, time to continue along the trail. While chatting to the couple one thing they said was that the second half is so different to the first, I wonder what we will find.

Now, we love a boardwalk, so you can only imagine our excitement when we came across one! The landscape really starts to open up with a variety of plants and flowers along the track.

If you are a keen birdwatcher keep your eyes peeled as this national park is known to be home to the critically endangered Swift Parrot. Unfortunately we weren’t lucky enough to spot one, but maybe you will.

The next section of the walk is full of twists and turns through shrubbery and trees. Lots of wildlife to spot and views to take in, just like this one looking back at the mountain top!

If you have decided to do the full loop, don’t forget to stop and take in Shadow Lake. One of the many lakes within the region that are home to the Platypus. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars.

Since living on mainland Australia for 2.5 years I haven’t had the chance to hike a lot of mountains and I am definitely out of practice, but Mount Rufus reminded me just how much I love it. This is a definite MUST HIKE for your trip!

What are the Tasmanian Abels?

Tasmania is home to the The Abel Mountains.

Mountains within the state that are at least 1,100m above sea level and have a least 150m drop between each are classified as an Abel. 158 Mountains that fit this criteria can be found all across the state, over the years it has become Australias hiking capital with so many multi-day challenges to face.

The list was actually modelled by Scotlands famous Munros, all of which have a height over 3000ft (914.4m). I am still yet to climb a Munro, which blows my mind as I spent majority of my life living right next to the Scottish border.

Mount Rufus is number 32 on the list.

National Park Pass

On your next trip to Tasmania, if you want to visit any of the National Parks you will require a park pass. Depending on what you need there are several options to choose from. It is split into per vehicle or per person, depending on how you arrive at each park.

Our planned road trip was full of national park visits, some for more than one day so we purchased their Holiday Pass. At a cost of $82.40 this covered both of us for all national parks for the duration of our trip. It can be used for a maximum of two months too!

If you are just visiting for the day to climb this epic hike it will cost $41.20 for your vehicle.

More information can be found here on different options and costs.

Where to Stay

There are a few great options where you can stay for your trip to hike this great mountain. This national park is huge, make sure you choose accommodation in the southern section near Lake St Clair, otherwise you will have a long drive to the start.

Lake St Clair Tourist Park

Fantastic spot right next to Lake St Clair Lake, surrounded by all the local wildlife.

They offer both powered and unpowered camping, and bunkhouses near the lake depending on your budget and how you are travelling. We paid $40 for one night unpowered, yeah I know it is a lot for unpowered but it is located right next to the lake, wildlife and the walks for the early morning start the next day.

Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel

This is the best option for you budget van-lifers. A free place to camp for the night right outside of the hotel, with free toilets to use across the street. One of the things I love about travelling Australia are the number of pubs and roadhouses that offer free camping for travellers, I always make sure to pop in for either food or a pint to support them.

One thought on “The Mount Rufus Circuit – Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park

  1. Pingback: The Mount Rufus Circuit – Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park – Cradle Gateway Chalets

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