Things to do in Cradle Mountain: Walks, Wildlife & Adventure

No trip to Tasmania is complete without a visit to Cradle Mountain, even if it means packing a suitcase full of winter woollies for a summer vacation. Part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, Cradle Mountain is a magical world of mossy rainforests, spongy alpine grasslands, glacial lakes and jagged mountain peaks.

It is the most iconic natural attraction in Tasmania, rivalled only by Freycinet National Park and Bruny Island in terms of stunning landscapes and wildlife spotting opportunities. So if you enjoy exploring nature and spotting wildlife, make sure to add Cradle Mountain to your north west Tasmania itinerary.

And there are so many things to do in Cradle Mountain, from gorgeous walks to adorable wildlife to atmospheric lodges, that you will probably start planning your return trip before you leave.

How many days do you need at Cradle Mountain?

Most people spend two days and two nights at Cradle Mountain, and this is the perfect amount of time to explore all the highlights of the area. But if you have a chance to stay longer, you’ll never be short of things to do at Cradle Mountain. You could take some of the more adventurous hikes, indulge in a day spa (if you stay at Peppers Lodge) surrounded by the magical mossy rainforest, or join canyoning or a horse riding tour.

When is the best time to visit Cradle Mountain?

Things to do in Cradle mountain - see Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain
Dove Lake

Cradle Mountain is a year-round destination, with every season bringing out something special. You just need to be prepared for all four seasons whenever you visit. Cradle Mountain is an alpine environment, which means the weather here can change quickly and dramatically, even within a single day.

Summer (November to April) is generally the best time for exploring Cradle Mountains walks. The weather tends to be milder.

Spring is the time of wildflowers, even though snow is not uncommon at Cradle Mountain as late as November.

colorful lichen at dove lake in Cradle Mountain
Colorful lichen growing on a tree trunk

Autumn is the time to see fall colours at Cradle Mountain. Australia’s only deciduous tree – the Fagus starts to turn golden and red around April.

In Winter, Cradle Mountain transforms into a snowy wonderland with snow-capped mountain peaks and frozen lakes. You need to be prepared for the cold. On the plus side, it is the best time to snuggle up in front of the fire at Cradle Mountain lodges.

How to get to Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain is located at the northern end of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. It is 1.5-hour drive from Devonport and a 2.5-hours drive from Launceston via Sheffield, and 4 hours from Hobart via Launceston.

If you don’t have your own set of wheels, there are coaches available for Cradle Mountain from Hobart, Launceston and Devonport.

Alternatively, it is also possible to visit Cradle Mountain on a day tour either from Launceston or from Hobart.



Cradle Mountain Accommodation

Things to do in Cradle Mountain - see colorful lichen
Lichen covered tree trunk at Cradle Mountain Hotel

Cradle Mountain accommodation gets booked out early, so make sure to book as far in advance as you can. We like using, which allows you to reserve rooms without any upfront payment. So if you change your mind or your plans change, you can simply cancel your reservation and not worry about losing your deposit.

There are five lodges at Cradle Mountain, strung up along Cradle Mountain Road. With Cradle Mountain Hotel being the furthest from the Park entrance and Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge sitting right at the edge of the Park.

If you are looking to wrap yourself in comfort, enjoy a day spa and a good restaurant, stay at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. The Waldheim Alpine Spa is out of this world. Just imagine stepping into a hot tub looking out onto a magical mossy rainforest. For more affordable county comfort, consider Cradle Mountain Hotel.

If you don’t mind self-catering, Cradle Mountain Highlanders is the most popular choice. It offers self-contained timber-lined cottages that feature cosy interiors with fireplaces and fully stocked kitchens. Some cottages have a luxurious spa bath and gorgeous mountain views.

Alternatively, Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village also offers self-contained cabins with excellent soundproofing, nestled in an atmospheric rainforest setting. Some cabins feature a balcony and a spa bath. There is also a restaurant on the property that offers a selection of made-to-order small plates.

And if you’d rather spend your dollars on the adventure than on creature comforts, or if you are driving a motorhome, Discovery Parks offer a range of self-contained accommodation options from backpacker-type rooms to cabins and cottages.

Cradle Mountain Walks

Things to do in Cradle Mountain - walks

The most popular way to explore the alpine landscapes of Cradle Mountain is by hitting the walking trails. Cradle Mountain walks come in all shapes and sizes, from a 10-minute Rainforest Walk to a multi-day Overland Track.

To fully appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of Cradle Mountain, it is best to take a few walks and experience different environments, from the lush temperate rainforest and golden button grass plains to the alpine heath and alpine bogs coated by a thick coat of coral fern.

If you only have a couple of days at Cradle Mountain, you could take a couple of iconic walks and a few short and easy strolls. The four walks below are my absolute favourite walks in Cradle Mountain, and you can do them all in a day if you are pressed for time or spend a couple of days exploring them at a more leisurely pace.

Things to do at Cradle Mountain - see the View of Dove River on
View of Dove River on Cradle Valley Boardwalk

To access Cradle Mountain walks, head to the Visitor Center (4057 Cradle Mountain Rd), where you can park your car and purchase your Parks Pass and the shuttle bus ticket, which is valid for 3 days. The shuttles run very frequently and stop at the following locations: Visitor Center / Interpretation Center / Snake Hill / Ronny Creek / Dove Lake.

There are a few different Park Pass options you can choose from, depending on how many national parks you wish to visit. The Icon Daily Pass (for Cradle Mountain only) is $25 (children $10). A Holiday Pass that’s valid for up to 2 months is $80 per vehicle or $40 per person.

On average entry fee for Tasmanian National Parks is $40 per vehicle. So if you are going to visit two more national parks, Holiday Pass is a more economical option. There is also an Annual Park Pass for frequent visitors for $90.

Dove Lake Circuit

Distance: 6 km / Time: 2-3 hr circuit / Grade: Moderate (short section of steps)

THings to do in Cradle Mountain - Dove Lake walk

One of Tasmania’s most iconic Great Short Walks, the Dove Lake Circuit meanders around the gorgeous Dove Lake in the shadow of Cradle Mountain.

Things to do at cradle mountain - Dove lake circuit

You can do this walk in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. I prefer to walk it clockwise and finish at the iconic boat shed. But if you are not a fan of climbing a section of steps uphill, then head in an anticlockwise direction. Apart from this small section, the walk undulates up and down gently without steep sections.

There are a few lookout points along the walk. Glacier Rock provides a good elevated viewpoint over the lake, while small side trails lead you right to the shore.

Cradle Mountain’s famously changeable weather means that you might start your walk under an overcast sky and finish it in bright sunshine. And as the intensity of light changes, so does the appearance of the landscape.

Once you reach the southern end of the lake, you’ll find a few benches – a chance to take a little break and have a snack if you brought one.

If you are lucky, you might spot some of Cradle Mountain’s furry inhabitants at Dove Lake, most likely a wombat or an echidna. We came across this very nonchalant character on our last trip to the lake.

Cradle Valley Boardwalk

Distance: 5.5 km / Time: 2-3 hr one way / Grade: Easy

Things to do at Cradle Mountain - walk Cradle Valley boardwalk

Cradle Valley Boardwalk is another gorgeous and easy walk that travels between the Interpretation Center and Ronny Creek. Unlike the Dove Lake circuit, the valley walk is more open, meandering across button grass plains and alpine bogs.

You can start the walk at either end or at Snake Hill to cut it in half. Starting from Ronny Creek, the walk crosses a few wooden bridges over Dove River and then meanders across the open plain of alpine fern, occasionally ducking into a patch of wet eucalypt forest or open woodland.

After Snake Hill, the landscape changes into a vast plain of golden button grass. There are a few seats perched here and there, one of them conveniently positioned at a lookout into a valley down below.

We saw quite a few Black currawongs on this walk, as well as an echidna and Bennett’s wallaby snoozing in a bed of alpine ferns.

Things to do at Cradle Mountain - Bennett's Wallaby on Cradle Valley Boardwalk

Just before the Interpretation Center, the trail goes through a patch of a beautiful rainforest with moss and algae growing on every exposed surface. There is another patch of the rainforest at Rangers station that can be explored via a short Rainforest Walk. It’s not as spectacular a rainforest as the one on the next two walks, but you get good views of Pencil Pines Falls from the trail.

King Billy Walk

Distance: 2 km / Time: 40 min circuit / Grade: Easy / Start point: Peppers Cradle Valley Lodge

Things to do in Cradle Mountain - take King Billy walk

King Billy Walk is my absolute favourite short walk at Cradle Mountain. Starting at Peppers Lodge, it meanders for 2 kilometres through the lushest temperate rainforest I ever saw. This forest feels ancient. It actually is ancient. Some of these King Billy pines are over a thousand years old.

This forest may not be as tall as Tasmania’s great Southern Forest, but it’s even more atmospheric. A thick carpet of dark green moss covers every rock and every log on the ground, and tendrils of lichen hang off every branch.

Cradle Mountain walks - King Billy Walk

If you get a chance to visit this forest in the rain, and considering Cradle Mountain’s changeable weather, you very well might you will discover a world straight out of the Lord of the Rings. And as a side benefit, the forest canopy will protect you from most of the rain.

moss and lichen growing on a tree at Cradle Mountain
Things to do at Cradle Mountain - see Uprooted king billy pine
Uprooted King Billy pine

There is so much life in this patch of the forest: pademelons, pink robins, Tasmanian scrub-wrens, that the forest itself feels very much alive. You can lose yourself in this forest, exploring all the mossy nooks and crannies and feeling a world away from anywhere.

And since King Billy walk is located outside of the Park boundary, you don’t need the Park Pass to access it. So if you only paid for a day pass, you can leave this walk for a day that you didn’t purchase the pass for.

Enchanted Walk

Distance: 1.1 km / Time: 20 min circuit / Grade: Easy / Start point: Peppers Cradle Valley Lodge

True to its name, this Great Short Walk is absolutely enchanting. It is very similar to King Billy’s walk but half the length. It also starts and finishes at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, and for the best experience, you can combine the two walks.

Enchanted walk at Cradle Mountain

It is the perfect thing to do on a rainy day. Not only will you see the rainforest at its lushest but you will be protected from the rain by the forest’s canopy. You can park at the lodge and duck straight back into the dry comfort of your car once you are done.

tasmanian scrubwren
Tasmanian scrubwren

Another perk of doing these walks in the rain is seeing the waterfalls and creeks in full flow. The Cascade Falls on Pencil Pine Creek at the start of Enchanted Walk were downright raging when we visited. Enchanted Walk meanders along the creek, and it’s absolutely lovely during or after the rain.

Around dusk, keep an eye out for wombats. They are often seen at the forest edge and, occasionally, on the boardwalk itself.

Cradle Mountain Animals

My absolute favourite thing to do in Cradle Mountain is spotting the local wildlife. Nowhere else in Tasmania can you see so many species so reliably. So what animals are you likely to see at Cradle Mountain?

Common wombat at Cradle Mountain Tasmania

Cradle Mountain’s most famous animal is the Common wombat. These adorable barrel-shaped marsupials are frequently spotted on Cradle Mountain walks, especially late in the afternoon and early in the morning.

Another common species at Cradle Mountain, and much of Tasmania, is the Tasmanian pademelon – a small dark grey wallaby with rufous underparts. These species previously occurred throughout eastern Australia, but are now restricted to Tasmania.

Things to do in Cradle Mountain - spot local wildlife

Larger and lighter than the pademelon, Bennett’s wallaby is also frequently seen in the National Park and the surrounding areas. These wallabies also occur on the mainland where they are typically referred to as Red-necked wallabies.

Bennett's wallaby at Cradle Mountain

One of Australia’s oddest animals, the Short-beaked echidna is always fun to spot in the wild. They are often seen on the trails as they wobble across open patches digging for ants – their favourite food.

echidna at Cradle Mountain

Best Places to see wildlife at Cradle Mountain

You can spot all these animals on Cradle Mountain trails. Ronny Creek area is particularly good for wombats, especially in the afternoon.

Echidnas are often seen around Dove Lake. On our latest trip, we also saw one on Cradle Valley Boardwalk.
Wallabies and pademelons are often seen near the forest edges in the park.

But if you would like to see Cradle Mountain animals at a close range, the best place to look is the grounds of Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge.

Tasmanian pademelon joey
Tasmanian pademelon joey

We started and ended our days at Cradle Mountain with a walk around Peppers boutique and spent some time watching wombats, wallabies, pademelons, and green rosellas from the shop’s veranda.

A welcome perk of this strategy was the shelter provided by the veranda’s roof that kept us out of the rain.

Wildlife Watching Tour

There are, of course, many more animals living at Cradle Mountain than the four species I mentioned. Most of them are harder to spot because of their nocturnal habits and shy nature.

For a chance to see the more secretive species, like the Tasmanian devil and quolls, you need to go spotlighting at night. And you also need to know where to go.

The easiest way to do this is by joining a Wildlife Spotting Tour. This 2-hour tour takes you to a couple of areas within the National Park that are known as hotspots for nocturnal wildlife.

Meet Tasmanian Devils @ Cradle

Young Tasmanian devil at Davils at Cradle Tasmania

If you weren’t lucky enough to spot a Tassie devil on a nocturnal tour, you can see these iconic Tasmanians up close and personal at Devils @ Cradle located on Cradle Mountain Road between the Visitor Center and the National Park Entrance.

Part of the Tasmanian government’s Save the Devil program, the sanctuary houses 60 Tasmanian devils as well as a number of Spotted and Eastern quolls.  

“The balance between conservation and tourism is a challenge we face every day,” says the sanctuary CEO and the former park ranger, Wade Anthony.

While providing educational experiences for over 28,000 visitors a year, the sanctuary is also involved in programs to release captive-bred animals into the wild. All Tasmanian devils at the sanctuary are part of the insurance population, and the animals earmarked for future releases are housed in off-display enclosures to minimize contact with humans.

The biggest threat that the released Devils face in the wild is being hit by cars, and with the growing visitor numbers, the issue of wildlife deaths on the roads is becoming even more pressing.

The sanctuary is open day and night, every day, and offers a range of experiences, from General Entry and Day Keeper tours throughout the day to After Dark Feeding tours in the evening.

Canyoning Adventures at Cradle Mountain

If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Cradle Mountain, check out canyoning tour options with Cradle Mountain Canyons. The adrenaline-packed option is the Full Day Dove Canyon Tour, which involves waterfall jumps, natural water slides and abseiling. This is the tour the girls at our lodge took and were raving about.

The second option is the more relaxed and family-friendly Lost World Canyon Adventure. This one is perfect for beginners or anyone who likes to get a bit of adventure without any hardcore thrills. You can still participate in jumps and other challenges along the tour, but this is entirely optional.

Horse riding Adventures

horse riding

Horse Riding at Cradle Mountain

If you are visiting between November and April, you can also experience Cradle Mountain on horseback with Cradle Adventures. A four-hour adventure in the saddle will take you to the magical alpine Eucalypt and Myrtle forest and the button grass plains on the way to the Speeler Plain.

From the plain, you get spectacular views of Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff, Western Bluff, Mt. Roland and even Black Bluff, all the way in Loongana.

Take a flight over Cradle Mountain


For something extraordinary, you can take a 20-minute scenic helicopter flight over the striking alpine landscape of Cradle Mountain with Cradle Mountain Helicopters. The flight takes you Dove and Crater Lakes to the stunning Fury Gorge and then over the plateau from where you can see the entire southwest mountain range, including Tasmania’s highest peak, Mount Ossa, and the famous Overland Track, before returning via the Twisted Lakes and Dove Lake.

The landscape will be even more jaw-dropping during the autumn foliage display, known as the turning of the fargus in Tasmania. Fargus is Tasmania’s only native deciduous tree that changes colour to golden and orange in mid-autumn. So if you are visiting Cradle Mountain in April-May, consider the Fagus Helicopter Tour.

The helipad is located just north of the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, and if you are staying at the Cradle Mountain hotel, you can book your flight at reception. The cost of a 20-minute flight is $275 per adult (minimum two paying adults) and $150 per child.

Relax in the Alpine Spa

What is a better way to relax after a day of hiking than by stepping into a hot tub and looking out onto a magical mossy rainforest? The Waldheim Alpine Spa is the decadent cherry on top of any Cradle Mountain itinerary. With floor-to-ceiling windows, it is an enchanting and immersive experience.

The spa offers a variety of treatments, from a simple soak in the luxurious tub to facials, massages, and spa rituals. You can book a treatment even if you are not staying at the lodge. But make sure to book well in advance! 

Hit the Tasting Trail

cheese tasting

Once you’ve explored Cradle Mountain nature, you might like to reward yourself with a different kind of trail – one of the culinary delights. The famous Coast to Cradle Tasting trail pack 37 local producers who grow, make, and brew everything from truffles to cider to seafood.

You can spend days following your taste buds from one establishment to the next or visit a few producers on a day trip from Cradle Mountain. The nearby growers include Wondering Trout Taphouse, Melita Honey Farm, The Truffledore, and Seven Sheds Brewery.

Find Local Art at the Wilderness Gallery

If you are looking for a cultural experience amidst all the adventures, visit the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery, adjacent to the Cradle Mountain Hotel.

The gallery has a permanent gallery of Peter Dombrovskis’ stunning Tasmanian landscape photography as well as several other galleries showcasing the art and photography of local Tasmanian artists.

Plus, the gallery has a fantastic gift shop that sells a variety of photographic prints, fine art and crafts by Tasmanian artists. The entry to the gallery is only $5 (unless you stay at the hotel or dine in the restaurant).

Cradle Mountain Shop

cradle mountain Souvenir

To keep your memories of Cradle Mountain alive, get a souvenir or two. I personally prefer meaningful or useful souvenirs like art or tableware, or clothes. And Cradle Mountain is a great place for finding such souvenirs.

For art, head to the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery gift shop in Cradle Mountain Hotel. They sell stunning art and photo prints. For home decor, drop by Peppers Lodge Boutique. And for adventure wear, head to the Cradle Mountain Visitor Center gift shop. You’ll be there to buy your park pass and shuttle ticket anyway.

2 Day Itinerary for Cradle Mountain

Depending on what time you arrive at Cradle Mountain, you may need to swap days 1 and 2. The idea is to spend one full day walking the trails in the National Park (so you only pay for a single day in the park) and spend the other day exploring the area around the park.

Day 1

  • Make your way to the Visitor Centre, purchase your park pass and catch the shuttle to Dove Lake.
  • Walk Dove Lake circuit (2-3 hrs)
  • Catch the shuttle to the Interpretation Centre.
  • Take the short rainforest walk to Pencil Pines Falls and have your picnic lunch (30 min)
  • Continue on Cradle Valley Boardwalk to Ronnie Creek (2-3 hrs)
  • Catch the shuttle back to the Visitor Centre and make your way back to your accommodation.
  • In the late afternoon, enjoy a well-deserved relaxing soak at Waldheim Alpine Spa (1hr).
  • Have dinner by the open fire at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, right by the entrance to the National Park.
  • Don’t forget to look at the sky on your way back to your accommodation – on a clear night, the sky at Cradle Mountain is spectacular.

Day 2

  • After breakfast, make your way to Peppers Lodge and wander through the magic rainforest on King Billy Walk (40min-1hr).
  • Have a coffee at the lodge restaurant and walk the Enchanted walk (20-30 min)
  • Take a stroll around the lodge grounds to see local wildlife up close, especially Tasmanian pademelons and Bennett’s wallabies (30 min).
  • Visit Devils@Cradle for a close encounter with Tasmanian devils and spotted and eastern quolls (1hr).
  • For lunch, head to Cradle Mountain Hotel (1hr).
  • Visit the wilderness art gallery at Cradle Mountain Hotel to see some spectacular photography of Cradle Mountain landscapes and pick up some souvenirs in the art shop.

If you have more time, consider adding another adventure from the list above.

Packing for Cradle Mountain

The only predictable thing about Cradle Mountain weather is that it is unpredictable. You can start your walk in bright sunshine and finish it in the pouring rain. Cradle Mountain is cooler than most of Tasmania and has a high annual rainfall simply because of its elevation. So in true alpine fashion, you can expect all four seasons in a day at Cradle Mountain.

This unpredictability presents a number of challenges for packing for your Cradle Mountain adventure. The rule of thumb here is layers. Consider the following:

If this feels a bit over the top, consider this – on our last trip, we visited Tasmania in late December. The weather was sunny and in the high 20s across most of the state. When we arrived at Cradle Mountain, it was 4 degrees, raining and blowing a gale. You really can’t be too prepared for Cradle Mountain’s weather.

More Wildlife Destinations in Tasmania

6 thoughts on “Things to do in Cradle Mountain: Walks, Wildlife & Adventure”

  1. I spent a morning at Cradle Mountain and vowed to return for a more thorough exploration. This is a great guide which I have saved for future reference.

  2. Wow Cradle Mountain looks like a dream location for the prettiest walks! Each hike is so scenic and I love all the fern covered trees. I’d be bursting with excitement to see all these animals! I’ve never had the chance to see any of these in the wild. Be fun to photograph them all!

  3. Squeee! You got to see soooo many cool animals! I would love love loooove to do all these hikes near Cradle mountain and try to see them! I especially love that you got such a fab photo of the Short-beaked echidna and wow that you saw a tassie devil! You must have been so excited!

    All the walks you mentioned are quite short. Are there longer options in the area too if you fancy really stretching your legs?

    • For sure, Josy! You would love the longer hikes. There are some epic hikes from 10-km adventures to 7-day Overland Track.

      Echidnas are surprisingly easy to see at Cradle Mountain. They are such nonchalant campers – walking around with their nose to the ground, completely oblivious to everything around them.

  4. Cradle Mountain is a stunning Australian wilderness area & teeming with wildlife. I enjoyed this guide & can’t wait to go back to explore further, hopefully without pouring rain.


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