Hanson’s Peak – Cradle Mountain National Park

Hanson’s Peak is a viewpoint which gives impressive views over Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain. It is the opposite side to Marion’s Lookout, another popular viewpoint. This is by far one of the most underrated hikes in the Cradle Mountain National Park. 

It is a lot less crowded than Marion’s Lookout and dare I say, has much better views! 

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A Quick look at the Trail 

Distance: 7-10km return 

Duration: 2-3 hours depending on fitness level 

Difficulty: Medium – one short steep section 

You will start and end this route from the Dove Lake carpark. You have the choice of two routes, depending on how long you want to hike and what sights you want to see. The following route is what I chose to do.

START – Dove Lake carpark -> Hanson’s Peak -> Rangers Hut -> Face Track -> Overland track to Marion’s Lookout -> Wombat Pool -> Dove Lake Circuit -> Dove Lake Carpark – FINISH

Another route option, which is much shorter.

START – Dove Lake carpark -> Hanson’s Peak -> Rangers Hut -> Lake Wilks -> Dove Lake circuit -> Dove Lake Carpark – FINISH

A few things about Cradle Mountain National Park

To access the Cradle Mountain National Park, you will need to purchase a park pass. I purchased a holiday vehicle park pass, which lasts for 3 months and will cost you $82.40 AUD. This pass can be used at other national parks in Tasmania and includes shuttle buses into Cradle Mountain national park. 

Shuttle Bus

The best way to access the national park is via the shuttle bus service. These shuttle buses leave every 15mins from the visitor centre and other stops in the national park. They run from the visitor centre to Dove Lake. The shuttle buses run from 8am-6pm October to March and 9am-5pm April to September. 

Driving into the Park

At this current time, you can only drive and park at Ronny Creek carpark. You are only allowed to do this when the shuttle buses aren’t running. So, you can drive into the national park before 8am, but after 8am you will not be allowed to take your private vehicle into the park. The roads are narrow, with blind corners – so this is to stop accidents with the shuttle buses. 

What if I’ve driven in before 8am but need to drive out after? You are allowed to drive out after 8am, but you will need to follow a shuttle bus out, not drive out by yourself. Wait at the carpark till a shuttle bus comes, give the driver a wave to let them know you are following and follow the shuttle bus out. Make sure you pull over when the shuttle bus does, as they will be allowing other shuttle buses to pass. 

When to go? 

The best time to visit Cradle Mountain National Park is between December and March. The weather is pleasant, with the least amount of rainfall. The average temperature during this time is about 18 degrees Celsius.

What to Expect

I started this hike on the 8am shuttle bus to Dove Lake carpark. The first section of the trail takes you around Dove Lake on the dove lake circuit, before veering off to the left (follow the signs). From here you have a few steep steps, making your way uphill. This is also where you will leave the crowds. 

Shortly after this short ascent, you will walk on a small saddle, before having to complete a bit of rock scrambling. There are chains in this section to help. You will need both hands in this section, although this is nowhere near as steep as the ascents to Marion’s Peak. On your left is the Twisted Lakes, which is a great little detour. 

Anywhere between 1-2hrs after starting the hike you will arrive at Hanson’s Peak. This is a great place to stop for some snacks and enjoy the scenery before making your way towards either the Face Track or down via Lake Wilks. 

If you are heading towards the Face Track, it does have some very steep sections! The track leads you close to the cliff faces, which gives a difference perspective of the boulder filled mountains. I personally wouldn’t hike to Marion’s Peak or the Fact Track again. If you are looking at this hike, I would take the second route option above. 

Where to stay? 

The only place to stay inside the National Park is at the Waldheim Cabins. Which can host 4-8 people and cost between $95-$185 AUD per night. These cabins are mainly used by hikers who are starting or finishing the Overland Track. They are very basic but would make for a great one- or two-night stay! 

A great budget option is Discovery Park Cradle Mountain. This is where I stayed for my 3 nights in the Cradle Mountain Area. They have a range of options from cabins, camping, backpacker dorms and chalets. The price is quite high compared to other holiday parks, but as there is limited options in this area, this is expected. 

Other options include Cradle Mountain HotelCradle Mountain Wilderness village and Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. All of which have a higher price range then the Discovery Park. 

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