Hike the best bits of Tasmania - all within a couple of hours of Hobart
Looking to unleash your inner adventurer? We’ve got you covered. Derwent Valley’s Western Wilds offers some of the most accessible hiking trails within a short drive from Hobart. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite hikes that capture the diversity and richness of our region – from lush rainforest, cascading waterfalls to mountain peaks and alpine lakes. We’ve listed both a short and longer version for each location, catering to those who just want a taste of the wild, or those who want a challenge.
1. Russell Falls & Three Falls Circuit (Mt Field National Park) - 1.5 hours from Hobart
Russell Falls – 25 mins return, 1.4km, Easy walk – flat grade and highly accessible.
The “Russell Falls Walk” often tops the list for family friendly short walks and rightly so. The beautiful waterfall is an easy 15 mins walk from the Mount Field National Park Visitor Centre, through a luscious rainforest setting. Visit after dark and you might even see the local glow worms putting on a show in the ‘Glow Worm Grotto’. Upon your return to the Visitor Centre, stop in for a hot chocolate at Waterfalls Café at the Visitor Centre.
Three Falls Circuit – 2-2.5 hours return, 6km, Medium walk – some steps and hills.
If you want some more waterfall action, continue from Russell Falls on the 6km “Three Falls Circuit” which will take you Horseshoe Falls and Lady Barron Falls. The track will take you through magnificent forests of swamp gums (the worlds’ tallest flowering plant) and you will be able to glimpse the incredible underlying geology of marine Permian siltstone. Once finished your hike, stop in at the National Park Hotel, just 5 minutes from the Visitor Centre, for a well-deserved beverage.
2. Pandani Grove & Tarn Shelf (Mt Field National Park) – 1.5 hours from Hobart
Pandani Grove – 30-40 mins return, 1.5km, Easy walk – mostly flat, some steps
The Pandani Grove walk begins at Lake Dobson, an alpine lake 16km from the Mt Field Visitor Centre. The walk circuits the beautiful Lake Dobson, which is situated below the ski fields of Mt Mawson. As you walk among pencil pines, pandanis and other ancient conifers endemic to Tasmania you will feel as if you have slipped into a prehistoric time. In the cooler months, this walk is particularly breathtaking, as a dusting of snow and icicles transforms it into a ‘Winter wonderland’. If driving to Lake Dobson in snow conditions, ensure to take a 4WD or 2WD with snow chains.
Tarn Shelf – 5-7 hours return, 12km, Grade 3, Medium full day walk – bushwalking experience recommended
This alpine circuit hike is considered by many one of the best day hikes in Tasmania. It departs from Lake Dobson and passes through Eucalypt forest before taking you on a journey across the Tarn Shelf. You will pass several stunning glacier-carved tarns, lakes and valleys, including Lake Newdegate, Twilight Tarn and Lake Webster. Optional side walks to Platypus Tarn and Lake Seal
3. Platypus Bay & Echo Point Track (Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park) – 2.5 hours from Hobart
Platypus Bay – 1 hour return, 4.7km, Medium walk – mostly flat, some steps
Lake St Clair is an icon of Tasmania, located at the southern end of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park and within Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area. The Visitor Centre at Cynthia Bay serves as a departure point for several short walks, including the walk to Platypus Bay. You will walk by the confluence of the Cuvier and Hugel Rivers via the ‘Watersmeet Walk’ on your way to Platypus Bay. This stunning environment will leave you feeling revived and you might be lucky enough to spot an elusive platypus! Enjoy some lunch at the Lake St Clair Lodge Café & Restaurant on your way home.
Echo Point Track & Ferry – 3-4 hours return, 11km, Medium walk – mostly flat, some steps, possible muddy conditions.
Get a taste of the world-famous Overland Track by hiking the last day of the trail in reverse. Depart from the Cynthia Bay Visitor Centre and follow the edge of this tranquil and ethereal lake to Echo Point. The walk is mostly through dense, mossy forest. Coordinate the timing of your hike and book a return journey back to Cynthia Bay on the Lake St Clair Ferry. Experiencing this ancient landscape and views of Mt Ida from the water is a stunning way to finish your day.
4. Myrtle Falls & Collin’s Cap (Wellington Park) – 30 mins from Hobart
Myrtle Falls – 30 mins return, 1km, Easy walk – short hills
Myrtle Forest Picnic Area and Myrtle Falls are one of the Derwent Valley’s best kept secrets. Located in Wellington Park, via Collinsvale, this secluded woodland is a hidden gem. The Myrtle Forest Picnic Area is located 15 minutes gentle walk from the car park at the end of Myrtle Forest Road, through native bushland. Beyond that, Myrtle Falls is another 15 minute uphill walk through lush forest towards the foothills of mountains Collins Cap and Collins Bonnet. Toilet and picnic amenities make this a great jaunt for families.
Collins Cap – 3.5 hours return, 5km, Medium half day hike – bushwalking experience recommended.
If you’re craving the elation of a summit, Collin’s Cap is a perfect option. The trail commences as the Myrtle Forest Picnic Area and crosses a bridge over the bubbling Myrtle Forest Creek. This uphill hike will take you through native bushland and sub-alpine forest. The benefit of this secret hike is that you will likely enjoy the trail in relative seclusion, however the trail is not highly maintained and you may need to push the odd overgrown bush out of your way. You’ll be rewarded at the summit with stunning views north across the Derwent Valley and rare views of the Mount Wellington Plateau to the south.
With so much on offer here across the Derwent Valley region you’re going to want to dry off your hiking boots and explore some more.
NOTE: A valid parks pass is required for entry into all Tasmanian National Parks. Be sure to purchase one online or from a Visitor Centre before embarking on your walk. The trail difficulty is highly dependent on the weather conditions an, of course, on your fitness level. Always check the local weather forecast, be prepared and log your walks.
Words by Rhiannon West